SARASOTA, Fla. — There's some exciting news for comic fans as a new comic convention is set to take place.
The first ever SarasotaCon is happening this weekend. Organizers said attendees should expect everything from cosplay to collector merchandise.
Some local comic fans and vendors say they are glad to finally have a comic-convention closer to home which they can call their own.
"I'm happy that we have a cosplay con here close to home as traveling is a bit hectic sometimes," said Layla Ali, 27, of Bradenton.
Ali cosplays anime characters and has been doing so since she was a teenager. She also travels occasionally to comic conventions within and outside the state and looks for collector items.
"Funko pops, the most popular thing that you can collect now especially depending on the genre of the anime character," Ali explained.
Fans like her in the Suncoast region now have a new platform to showcase themselves and make new connections with other fans and vendors.
SarasotaCon Kicks off at 10 a.m. and runs until 5 p.m. on Saturday, August 13 at the Carlisle Inn.
"It's a comic book convention, a pop culture event for the family. It's a day to come out and look for items for your man cave or your woman cave and It's not just comic books anymore it's a vast variety of products," said Carmine De Santo, SarasotaCon organizer.
The organizers promise that SarasotaCon would have exhibitors who cater to a wide spectrum of interests including comic books, magazines, toys, video games, movies, wrestling, sci-fi, sports cards, anime manga, cosplay, artwork sketches, apparel, gaming, sports cards, retro toys and horror.
The event will feature comic industry professionals and fandom-related celebrities, more than 100 vendors and a cosplay contest.
"It's a great time to be in pop culture for the people that are looking for the stuff that they grew up with in the 80s, the 70s, and the 90s and it's all coming back, that's what our show was all about," said De Santo.
When it comes to experiencing comic books and animation, what sticks out to many is art and creativity. But the experts say the underlying theme is about the storytelling and the narratives that bind people together and creates communities of fans.
"These are Pokémon pocket monsters, you basically collect them and then have them battle each other," said Brian Polizzi, owner of Dark Side Comics.
Dark Side Comics is one of the popular destinations for comic fans in the Sarasota area, and Polizzi is one of the vendors featuring at SarasotaCon.
"There are people that are cosplaying as anime characters, as comic book characters, and Star Trek characters or Star Wars characters and there are all these different fandoms out there and people enjoy and are enmeshing themselves in it," explained Polizzi.
Attendees can also purchase their admission tickets at the door for $20. Kids under age 11 can get in for free.
"This convention will open opportunities to grow your platforms and let people know, 'Hey this is me. I'm here,'" Ali said.