Comics show back at Covelli

Greg Bartholomew refers to Youngstown Comic Con as “an old-school comic book show.”

The emphasis is put on comic book creators and comic book vendors instead of the movies and television series the industry has spawned. But the show has managed to grow like the Hulk in less than a decade.

Bartholomew, who own All-American Cards and Comics in Warren and Boardman, said All Ameri-Con (its original name) drew about 1,200 people the first year he moved the event to Packard Music Hall in 2014. Last year, in its first year as two-day event and first year at the Covelli Centre in in Youngstown, the show drew about 4,400 visitors.

“We had people from Michigan, Indiana, a couple from Brooklyn (N.Y.), West Virginia, obviously Cleveland and Columbus,” Bartholomew said. “We drew from a four-hour radius. This year, at least with our social media, we’ve increased to a six-hour radius.”

This year’s guests include Jim Steranko, who appeared at Bartholomew’s 2014 event. An Entertainment Weekly profile that ran shortly after his 2014 appearance described Steranko as a “superhero” and said he “elevated 12-cent rags into modern art, with mature themes and storytelling innovations that attacked the page and stripped it of its strictly formatted structure.”

He was inducted into the Will Eisner Comic Book Hall of Fame in 2006.

“I saw him at a show in Canton in 2016,” Bartholomew said. “He said, ‘I still tell people about the little show in Warren I did where my line was five-hours deep the whole day.'”

Other guests this year include Jim Shooter, former editor in chief of Marvel Comics and founder of Defiant and Broadway Comics; John Beatty, who has worked on such iconic characters as the Batman, Captain America and The Punisher; Mike Zeck, best known for his work on Spider-Man, Captain America and The Punisher; and Renee Witterstaetter, a writer, editor, colorist and publisher who’s worked on such titles as “Hercules,” “Xena” “Conan” and “X-Files.”

In addition to the artists and the vendors, one other growing element of the show is the number of guest who come in costume and participate in the cosplay contests — 4:30 p.m. Saturday for adults and 2 p.m. Sunday for children.

“It’s just ballooned,” Bartholomew said. “It’s as good as any local show within six hours of here. I’ve seen people on cosplay message boards post things like, ‘If you’re going to that convention, you better bring your A game. A lot of good costume people show up for that event.”