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Business Observer Monday, Aug. 29, 2022 1 month ago

St. Pete Comic Con organizer turns focus to anime, manga

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Dewey Caruthers says vendor booths are already sold out for the Sept. 17-18 Anime St. Pete festival.
by: Brian Hartz Tampa Bay Editor

Dewey Caruthers, the nerd culture ambassador who brought St. Petersburg its very own Comic Con earlier this year, is at it again with Anime St. Pete, a two-day celebration of Japanese animated cartoons, known as anime, and comic books, commonly referred to as manga.

Set for Sept. 17-18 at the Coliseum in downtown St. Pete, the event will feature appearances by six voice actors from popular anime shows, panel discussions, cosplay contests, a lip-sync competition, a TikTok film festival and a K-pop (Korean pop music) and J-pop (Japanese pop music) dance showcase. Some events will take place at the nearby Sunshine Center, and some require advance registration. See the complete event schedule, at AnimeStPete.FloridaComicCons.com/schedule, for details.

“We were already planning to do (Anime St. Pete),” Caruthers says. “But we sold 3,500 tickets for St. Pete Comic Con, so that made us even more excited to do it. We want to put St. Pete on the map with conventions. St. Pete deserves this.”

According to Caruthers, most other major cities in Florida, and even some smaller ones, such as Ocala and Fort Myers, have anime conventions. Based on the number of advance ticket and vendor booth sales, demand is strong.

“The vendor booths sold out months ago,” Caruthers says, adding that the booths cost anywhere from $225 to $375, depending on location. “And we’ve already exceeded the ticket sales that we thought we would have at this time. We’re doing well.”

Tickets cost $25 for a single day or $40 for the entire weekend, if purchased in advance. Prices go up to $30 and $45, though, a couple days before the show.

Caruthers is covering all costs for Anime St. Pete, with no help from other investors. “When you put it like that, it makes me nervous,” he says with a laugh. But based on the success of St. Pete Comic Con, which he also financed himself, he shouldn’t be.

“We’re doing other cons, too,” Caruthers says. “We’ll be doing a holiday cosplay event at the Tampa Convention Center, and we’ll have an announcement for another con that’s going to happen in St. Pete in April, but we’re not ready to announce the name of the con or the genre.”

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