Counting down to Comic Con

A sci-fi nerd boldly goes to Dover’s thrilling street fest

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When I think of Dover Comic Con, I see wide avenues, costumes, color and some of the friendliest people around. It’s the best kind of festival: an open-air street fair, with free admission, where people can just come and go. And it completely takes over the downtown.

Plus, this is a welcoming place where everyone can really embrace their “geekdom”: video games, TV, movies, comic books, pretty much any fictional character belongs here.

The 2022 festival returns on Saturday, June 18, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. (Anyone who attended during the gloriously sweltering August 2021 will be relieved at this new spring rescheduling, as Comic Con takes over the weekend previously held by Firefly Music Festival).

Costumes are encouraged, whether professionally done or homemade — those are my favorite because they’re made with love.

Last year, I met a little boy with overalls, a hand-painted mustache and what appeared to be a paper bowl stuck on a tire pump. “Hold on, we just need to put your gloves on,” his family said. Suddenly I gasped with recognition, “Are you ghost-hunting Luigi?” He grinned. He represented the “Luigi’s Mansion” video game quite well.

So, I might not have heard of your niche anime character — but I promise that I still love your costume. And just wait five minutes, when somebody else jumps out and says, “I love that show!”

Personally, I’m a huge Star Wars fan. I usually spend the weeks before Comic Con deciding whether to wear Princess Leia buns or braids or Rey’s three pigtails. Everyone who’s ever had a similar dilemma will probably appear on stage that day at the cosplay/costume contest, sponsored by Red Bandana shop, a pillar of the comics and gaming community.

Treasures abound at a con. The avenues are full of crafts, vendors and food all day long. Commemorative tankard mugs? Check. Tacos, fried chicken, Italian sausage and smoothies? Check. Original paintings, independent and collectible comics, jewelry, action figures, toys, adorable hand-knit Pokémon? Check-a-roo.

One of my favorite moments was watching a young man joyfully pick out his very own Harry Potter-style wand. Similarly, you’d better believe I’ve happily carried my own treasure around since last August: a hand-made pocket watch.

Plus, the Dover Comic Con event T-shirts are only $10, with fun illustrations and a very cool mission statement: “Celebrating our unique identities and the fandoms that bring us together.”

Dover is fantastic because so many agencies help make this event happen. At the Biggs Museum of American Art, I watched children create superhero cuffs (or bracers) before hearing a lecture on the “History of American Comic Books.” (He and other great panelists will present at the Old State House this year.) I also made small talk with a yellow-dressed young woman who resembled “Jane” from Disney’s Tarzan.

Glad for some air conditioning on that hot August day, I also found respite at Dover Public Library — and immediately met two Star Wars droids in the lobby. Cosplayers from the 501st Legion First State Garrison happily pose for photos all day long. After geeking out and (and dodging a few stormtroopers), guests can head upstairs to watch rare and popular animation with the Delaware Anime Society.

And that’s just a fraction of the day! Inevitably you’ll find kids who are raving about the face paint booth or the Pursuit for Peace Princesses (all your favorite Disney heroines). We’ll see classic cars from my other favorite fandoms: dinosaurs (the Jurassic Park jeep), comic books (the Batmobile) and 1980s time travel movies (“Delores the DeLorean”).

Nintendo heads can sign up for a Super Smash Brothers tournament, hosted (and streamed on Twitch!) by Small Town Gaming. It’s a chance to put all your couch skills to the test; my college pals would be thrilled.

As the afternoon turns to evening, grab an ice cream and head for The Green, where Middle 8 will close out the event with some rock tunes. I was definitely digging on their sound (“Led Zeppelin to The Beatles to Outkast and everything in between”).

And, because moms and dads have the right to a safe, clean space to change baby diapers, there will be a special P&G wipe baby changing station available.

Dover Comic Con and the programs are free to attend, but VIP tickets are also available online for extra access and amenities. Learn more (and get excited!) at DelmarvaEvents.net, or Facebook and Instagram.