The growing city of Las Cruces, New Mexico, is finally getting its own full-on comic con. Las Cruces Comic Com (aka LC3) debuts this weekend.
One of the standouts of LC3, which bills itself as a nonprofit educational organization, is a focus on family and young artists. A percentage of net proceeds from the event will go towards purchasing needed art supplies for local schools.
The event will also feature a “Youth Booth” area where artists high-school age or younger will have a chance to set up their own mini booth, at a fraction of the cost of a standard vendor or artist booth. From there, participants can display and sell their art for a paid commission.
LC3 Coordinator Troy Stegner said that even with the positive response from the public in anticipation of the event, knowledge of what a “comic con” actually is still a mystery to some.
“There are still some folks I talk to that don’t know what a comic con is, but once I explain it to them, they like the idea,” he said. “I am approaching the convention as a pop culture experience. I want there to be something for everyone at the con.”
He said LC3 is following the trend of many comic cons to not just be about comics, but be a more inclusive pop culture event that appeals to a broader audience.
“The stereotype of a ‘con nerd’ doesn’t fit just one demographic anymore,” he said. “More people are flying their geek flag now than ever before. There is no shame in admitting you enjoy things from pop culture.”
He said that people should never feel reluctant to attend a con or use the excuse that they might not fit in with the comic con crowd. The beauty of events like LC3, he feels, is there’s a place for everyone.
“You will see people from every walk of life, from your ‘stereotypical nerd’ all the way to business men that enjoy sci-fi,” he said. “Once you walk through the convention door, you are all the same.”
As an avid con attendee, Stegner said he tried to take the elements that made some of the comic cons he attended in the past and incorporate them into LC3. This includes making the event more than a just a vendors’ expo, although an exhibit hall, costume contest, and celebrity guests will be part of the appeal.
Like many comic cons, there will be a “game” room, but it will be more than just an area for role-playing scenarios. One of LC3’s leading sponsors, Zia Comics, which hosts free board gaming demonstration nights every Thursday, is the meeting place of choice for a group known as South West Area Gamers (SWAG).
SWAG will run the board game area, with more than 100 games ranging from popular role-playing games like Dungeons & Dragons, as well as family card and dice games such as the Fluxx series. There will also be plenty of geek-friendly party games like Time’s Up: Title Recall. Demonstrations are planned throughout the weekend and SWAG will have “gaming gurus” available for those wanting to learn to play new game. Con organizers hope to not just encourage serious gamers to attend, but urge families to discover the value and joy of tabletop games.
Stegner said LC3 will promote the competitive edge of cons through large Magic The Gathering, Yu-Gi-Oh!, and HeroClix tournaments, but also bring an element of nightlife that would appeal to teen and adult con visitors into the mix.
“I don’t want the con to end when the exhibit hall doors close, which is why I planned for after-hours events in the convention center,” he said. “Friday night will be a pop culture burlesque show and Saturday will be the Nerd Rave.”
Three-day passholders receive tickets to both the burlesque show and the rave, while no badge is needed to participate in gaming tournaments.
Even during the planning of the inaugural event, Stegner said he would like to see LC3 become more than an annual occurrence, with events spread throughout the entire city.
“In a few years, I’d like to see a lot of the local businesses’ participation in the event,” he said.
Stegner said he owes a word of gratitude towards regional events including Sun City Sci-Fi and Las Cruces Anime Days for helping to make this con happen, as well as Las Cruces-based groups like SWAG and LC3’s many volunteers.
Stegner’s ultimate plan is to see LC3 grow “bigger and better” each year, a goal that relies heavily on the reaction to this year’s convention.
“I am looking forward to seeing people leaving Las Cruces Comic Con with big smiles,” Stegner said. “I want folks to look forward to next year’s con.”
Las Cruces Comic Con runs September 5 to 7, 2014 at the Las Cruces Convention Center.