Comic Con is coming to Cortland

CORTLAND, N.Y. – The Heroes and Villains comic store, located at 75 E. Court Street, will be holding a free Heroes and Villains Con to celebrate the store’s first year of business.

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Since opening in April 2015, co-owners Vanessa Mielke and Stephen Vincent, Jr. have made it their mission to provide Cortland residents with the latest and greatest graphic novels and gaming supplies in an effort to promote the genre among youth in the community.

“A brighter future starts with the current adults providing the current youth with positive things to do,” Vincent said.

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Stephen Vincent, Jr. and Vanessa Mielke, co-owners of Heroes and Villians (Photo by Matthew Castoral)

Comic book conventions, more commonly known as Comic Cons, are mass celebrations of comic book and gaming cultures. While most Comic Cons vary in size and in subject matter, they generally feature events and activities pertaining to comic book culture as well as guest appearances/signings by well-known industry professionals.

The Heroes and Villains Con, which will be held on April 9 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., will feature a variety of entertainment, including live music, a raffle, and a cosplay contest. Cosplay, a performance art in which individuals dress and act like a certain comic book or gaming character, is commonplace at most Comic Cons and is a selling point for many event goers. The event will also feature Magic the Gathering and other gaming play. The event is expected to have several vendors in attendance – including those specializing in Dr. Who and Rocky Horror products, among others – and is drawing interest from local vendors such as Bubble Tea and Family Video.

“This comic-con is an opportunity, in our eyes, to bring a little something extra to Cortland,” Mielke said. “We want it to draw attention to this awesome historic building that we are located in and the other phenomenal entrepreneurs that have shops here, along with bringing awareness to those who haven’t discovered our existence yet.”

But the real highlight of the event will be the guest signings held throughout the day by local and legendary giants of the industry, headlined by Roger Stern, a comic book author and novelist who is renowned for his many works produced under both the DC and Marvel brands. Stern will be joined by other industry professionals such as comic book colorist Michael Garland, Cortland cartoonist Jim Coon, and author/creator of The Eon Chronicles, Dan Sopp.

“I feel the superhero genre influences American culture in a positive way,” Sopp said. “Comics are a medium where writers can tell stories, artists can bring them to life, and fans can enjoy their work. It’s a collectible form of entertainment with such a vast array of sub-genres that there’s something for everybody, both young and old.”

Mielke, who is originally from Middletown but now lives in Marathon, and Vincent, a Lansing native, were inspired to turn their interest in comic books into a full-fledged business after Mielke’s son, Dallas, was diagnosed with neurofibromatosis, a genetic disorder that causes tumors to form on nerve tissue. After chemotherapy treatments, Mielke and Vincent would bring Dallas to nearby comic book stores so that he could enjoy his favorite superheroes. Seeing how happy the comic books made him was the primary motivation to open the store, said Mielke.

“Even though superheroes aren’t real, they can save real people by capturing them in their adventures and giving us an escape from the real world, and inspire us to do something that’s greater than ourselves,” Vincent said.

Mielke and Vincent are fundraising the Heroes and Villains Con through the store’s GoFundMe account. All proceeds will go towards funding the event and will be used to fund future events as well.

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