Want to see anime fans dressed in pink wigs and outrageous cosplay outfits become even more animated and hysterically energetic than they already are? Just add a live-gunman-on-the-run to their anime/ horror convention. This was ZonaCon 2009.
Alright, maybe I should back up a bit. When we arrived at the convention center, a gunfight broke out – a Nerf gunfight. My photographer, Sally Evans, was a casualty as she was shot in the face in a drive-by Nerfing.
Inside the main room of the convention center at the Holiday Inn on International Drive in Orlando, only about 25-30 booths – artists and vendors alike – lined the walls. I have never seen a convention so tiny. As I strolled around the room, I took the opportunity to chat with a few of the illustrators present. I first came across Ted Techlin whose comic-board displays included inked drawings of recognizable characters like Wolverine, Master Chief from the HALO video games, Thanos, and Batman.
After the not-so-surprisingly awkward conversation with Alfonso, I came to a booth in which a certain cover of a comic caught my eye. It was a cover illustration I have seen in numerous comic book stores and plays to the popular theme of super humans living normal lives. The cover itself contains an image of a man standing on his front lawn in the morning holding a newspaper clothed in a blue bathrobe, pink bunny slippers and an ominous chrome helmet. “This guy’s actually not in the comic at all,” the cover’s illustrator, Greg Kirkpatrick, told me. Living in Infamy takes place in a sleepy town called Infamy where super villains go to gain protection from other super villains. Think of it
like a witness protection program for people with superpowers. Kirkpatrick penciled all four issues of the miniseries. He told me that the concept was first created as a pitch for a movie. The creators are still waiting on the word whether that will become a reality or not.
When Sally and I step outside for some fresh air, a barrage of costumed teenagers ran passed us, and I could hear excited shouts – something about there being a guy with a gun around. It wasn’t until I noticed the police helicopter and the numerous bike cops that I realized they weren’t talking about the drive-by Nerfers. Apparently, there was some dude running around I-Drive with a loaded gun. Of course this made all the cosplayers run – loudly, I might add – in fear of being shot by something besides Nerf darts. When we walk back into the convention center, just before the screening of Repo! The Genetic Opera, one of the head organizers of the convention is on stage telling all the scared kids that there is a shooter in the convention, adding more confusion to the situation. It took Terrance Zdunich, creator of Repo!, to tell the lady to back off and calm the crowd down.
Obviously, no one was shot at ZonaCon 2009 (except for Sally, that Nerf dart to the face really shook her up). And I got to snag an interview with Zdunich, but that’s next time.
Coming Soon: An interview with Terrance Zdunich – creator of Repo! The Genetic Opera.
All photos by Sally Evans.