Tidewater Comicon is Virginia's fastest growing comic book convention and returning to the Virginia Beach Convention Center May 21-22, 2016 with Celebrity Guests, Comic Book Creators, Arcade, Panels, and Events.
Mike Federali won’t have to sell his car for the third time to help bankroll another comicon venture. But he’s willing.
“It’s a joke I’ve made many times: Everybody wants to have a party,” he said. “But nobody wants to have it at their house.”
The 36-year-old from Virginia Beach has hosted a couple of times and is gearing up to do it again. He recently challenged area comic, superhero, sci-fi fans that if they could raise enough awareness, he would put on a Hampton Comicon in 2016. Federali created a page for the event on Facebook and gave the ultimatum: 1,000 likes in 30 days, and it’s happening.
He got 600 in the first 24 hours. And four days after he made the pledge, he started getting his comic books together for another garage sale.
“Not enough stuff comes to (Hampton Roads) and we’re trying to change that,” Federali said. “It’s not going to be starting from scratch. It’s a spin off show. It’s like going from ‘Cheers’ to ‘Frasier,’ ‘Star Trek’ to ‘Star Trek: The Next Generation.’”
The Hampton show will be the Fall variant of the Tidewater Comicon, which Federali started back in 2014 and has quickly grown. On the back of “Mega Nerd” sales, where he sold his car and comic books, he funded the event hoping for about 200 people. In the first hour, the event cleared 1,000 and hit about 3,000 at the close of it.
The next year, Tidewater Comicon in Virginia Beach was a two-day event. It brought in the 1966 Batmobile and celebrity guests, such as Kelly Hu, from “The Scorpion King.” Federali had to sell his car again to raise enough money.
“It sucks to lose some good comics, but it’s so cool to see the guy who made the comics show up,” he said. “When you see a Batmobile in front of you, then it’s totally worth it.”
As a sneak peek to Tidewater 2016: There are four Batmobiles.
That kind of exponential growth is what inspired the Hampton show, a companion to the Virginia Beach one. Federali said people told him they couldn’t commit to driving to the south side or the dates didn’t work. So he decided to bring the party to them.
He wants to attract people from D.C., Richmond and, of course, the Peninsula. There will be at least one big guest, and he hopes the interest and cash raised will open the doors to bring higher and higher profiles.
Who will the big guest be? It’s all in the hands of the fans. Federali said he will put out a survey in the next couple of months, and he will go after whoever gets the most votes (and is still practical).
“The show really is a full-time job,” he said. “All-year-round, you’re putting out calls. You raise money for (guests’) flights and hotels.”
But the payoff is good, for next Tidewater comicon, John de Lancie, who played Q from ‘Star Trek: The Next Generation,’ will make an appearance.
“To my knowledge, there hasn’t been a ‘Star Trek’ guy here before,” Federali said. “To be the first guy to bring a ‘Star Trek’ guy to the area is a big deal.”
The first Tidewater comicon took 10 garage sales. Federali estimates fewer for Hampton, but he’s not sure. He’s already developed some traction. And if Tidewater is any indication, fans will come from many unexpected places.
That’s what Federali hopes for. He wants to foster the fun.
“I go to every damn comic shop. When I go to the show and walk around, I know 75 percent of the people,” he said. “It’s cool to say ‘we.’ ‘We as a community.’”