Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Local News

June 16, 2014

Comics catching on in Tri-State area

Huntington — Entertainment is like everything else that depends upon the public for success — it has to start somewhere.

Sometimes that growth is quick, and other times the growth slowly builds over time, but the growth begins and then spreads out to other areas; and along the way it builds a loyal base of customers that in turn adds to that growth.

“We had been going to conventions for years,” James Maddox said. “When I moved to the Huntington area, Eric Watkins and I thought that this area needed a convention.”

Maddox and Watkins are the owners of Broken Icon Comics, and both are diehard comic fans.

“We started paying attention to how they worked,” Maddox said of his and Watkins’ numerous trips to various conventions in other cities and states. “And we realized that we hadn’t had a convention in this area that was specific to comic books since 1983. We talked about it and decided to do it. By that time we had made enough friends in the industry that when we approached them with the convention idea, they were very supportive.”

In May of 2014 Broken Icon Comics hosted Tri-Con at the Big Sandy Superstore Arena in Huntington for the third consecutive year, and each year has seen considerable growth. “

It’s been a lot of work, but it’s also been a lot of fun.” Maddox credits the success of Tri-Con to both longtime fans of comics and readers who may be discovering comics for the first time.

“This area supported two different comic shops within blocks of each other, and more than one hobby store as well,” Maddox said.

Another appeal to the local convention is that local artists like Dan Petrie, who created the Monster Series for Children, are showcased prominently. The series demonstrates the flexibility of the medium that has the capacity to both entertain and educate. Petrie works with children, and uses the comics as a learning tool. There are plush monsters of each character, and subjects covered are shapes, colors, and even candy.

The past and future success of Maddox and Watkins’ Tri-Con can be attributed in part to Hollywood. In recent years, the box office has been dominated by superhero movies, and individuals who might never have read a comic now know Iron Man, Captain America and other characters that previously had only existed in comics.

The popularity of the genre and all things related has fueled an increase in interest nationwide, and this area is no exception. Large scale conventions have been hosted in Lexington and Louisville, and those events are good not only for fans and supporters, but also for their communities as well, in the form of increased revenue.

Jarrod and Jaimie Greer, the people responsible for the Lexington Comic and Toy Convention, opened The Inner Geek, a comic book store, in the Ashland Town Center last week, and the turnout on the first day was eye-opening. The local support of the new store and of Tri-Con is an obvious indication that residents of the area have a serious interest in the genre and are willing to foster that interest with their patronage.

Given the combination of factors, there should be no reason why the tri-state area can’t grow and, in time, compete directly with conventions in other states and even nationwide, according to those running the comic books store.  


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