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Coffee Talk
Business Observer Thursday, Dec. 23, 2021 9 months ago

Nerd alert: Comic Con to debut in St. Pete

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Thanks to a PR pro and his teen daughters, the Sunshine City finally gets its own geek gala.
by: Brian Hartz Tampa Bay Editor

St. Petersburg nerds, rejoice: The Sunshine City, at long last, is getting its own Comic Con.

Organized by Dewey Caruthers, a local public relations and marketing professional, and his teenage daughters Blu and Scarlet, the geek gala takes place Jan. 8-9 at the Coliseum in downtown St. Pete. Tickets are $20 per person for one day or $30 per person for both days; a VIP ticket is available for $100.

“Ticket presales are going really well,” Caruthers tells Coffee Talk. “We will probably end up selling around 1,500.”

Courtesy. A Tampa-based cosplayer in costume as Sylvanas Windrunner, a character from Blizzard Entertainment's "Warcraft" series of video games.

Caruthers declines to disclose how much he’s invested in the event, other than to say it’s “significant.” But he has secured a sponsorship from I Love the Burg, a local news and events website, and he has partnered with locally owned accommodation venues such as the Hollander, the Avalon and the Cordova Inn. “It will be very much about St. Pete,” he says.

Caruthers and his daughters are huge fans of anime, comic books, fantasy and sci-fi films and TV shows and cosplay, a practice that involves fans creating and wearing the costumes of their favorite characters. The St. Pete Comic Con will feature cosplay contests that award cash prizes between $50 and $200.

A longtime collector of comic books, Caruthers says he got the idea for St. Pete Comic Con while traveling around the state to “cons” in more than a dozen other cities. Blu and Scarlet, students at the Academy of Entertainment Arts at Hollins High School, helped him launch a website, FloridaComicCons.com, that curates news about cons and cosplay and publishes a comprehensive “Con Calendar” with links to cons happening around the state. They discovered St. Pete was the largest city in Florida not to have a Comic Con, while more than 20 smaller cities, including Lakeland, Pensacola and St. Augustine, have them.

“It’s long past time for St. Petersburg, a worldwide destination city, to have a high-end, annual comic convention,” Caruthers states in a news release. “There has been an enthusiastic welcome from comic con fans, cosplayers and comic-related vendors locally and statewide.”

St. Pete Comic Con will feature appearances by numerous comic book artists and voice actors whose work runs the gamut from Pokemon, Sailor Moon and Sonic the Hedgehog to Spider-Man, Superman, the Flash, Batman and the Avengers. Some of the guest stars will participate in panel discussions and Q&A sessions.

Caruthers and his daughters are also organizing an anime con for Sept. 17-18 in St. Pete. He expects both events to become annual traditions. “St. Pete deserves an annual Comic Con,” he says.

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