RVACON delivers full lineup with variety of exhibitors: Comics, gaming, costumes, and local business

photo courtesy of Mishaal Abbasi; by David Bromley

Richmond, Va. - The first day of the three day RVA Con event, new to the River City, was off to an eclectic start that promises to further RVA's reputation for creativity. Held at the popular Canal Club venue, which only last night hosted the RAW Artist's Translations event, today's conventioneers were off to a busy start. Alex Gentile, one of the Project Managers, was available near the entrance to cheerfully answer questions. A year in the planning, this is an ambitious undertaking that should bring together fans and creators of similar interests. The doors today opened at 10:30 a.m. and events are planned well into the evening with an after party featuring a full slate of live music - appropriate, given that the Canal Club is one of the best known music venues in town.

Some of the exhibitors, perhaps expecting a slow first day, had signs on their tables indicating they would set up on Saturday. But as has been discussed in this column before, the enthusiasm among these creators and fans is admirable. Some early arrivals were already dressed in costume, adults dressed like superheroes bringing their children. The 'Fantasy Fiction' subculture is moving further into the light of day.

One such group of fans represented purportedly the world's most popular video game- a dedicated group that paid to attend as exhibitors just to create more interest in the game and online participation. The self-described 'League of Legends guild' is more than 400 strong and growing.

As of this early date, only one used comics dealer was present and a few comic art exhibitors. Typically, the work was good but unoriginal - prints, drawings and chapbooks of licensed characters seemed to have a steady audience, but rely on the continued forbearance of large publishers that hold the copyrights and, for now, choose to allow a certain infringement that seems to enhance the popularity of properties such as the Hulk or Superman. Whether the notorious strictness of Disney copyright enforcement will ever filter down to the level of Marvel Comics, now their property, remains to be seen.

A return to the local scene was Jonny Lupsha and his Carrier of Fire imprint. In between answering questions and selling a nonfiction book or two, he reports he is nearing completion on his next book, a compilation of reviews of video games that began as e-publications. Surprisingly, his fan base requested a paper version, even though it would cost them more. Bibliophiles are alive and well, it appears. Lupsha is compiling new articles in preparation for the printed release, and plans are underway for a book he will begin next year. The presence of a nonfiction writer remains refreshing in a field dominated by fantasy and illustration.

Perhaps the most unique exhibitor in this group today was My RVA Card, an advocate for local business and charity. Entrepreneur Joe Domino explains that membership provides a discount for shoppers that spend among business participants from the Richmond market. Already, restaurants, art galleries, bike shops and costume shops are involved. Not to mention the proceeds that go to charity. Their table display featured various products featuring the increasingly famous "RVA" logo of which residents are so proud. The lovely Mishaal Abbasi posed with one of the brightly colored sweatshirts in front of the RVACON display poster, bringing the entire day full circle.

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