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Comics, sci-fi fest Fanaticon2 invades Asheville

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5/20/2011 - Comics, sci-fi fest Fanaticon2 invades Asheville
by Mike McWilliams

What are you doing this weekend?  No doubt 1000's of folks in and around Western North Carolina will be in town for this!  An UNBELIEVABLE good time, a packed-house every year...ASHEVILLE FANATICON2!  Take time out this weekend to view the spectacle of dozens of costumed superheroes, walking around Downtown Asheville!!  Young and young at heart will love this unconventional convention!

--Tammy Mansell

                   ASHEVILLE -- Where could you possibly see Darth Vader, Mr. Spock and Batman socializing together without experiencing a serious time and space paradox?

Those beloved characters and many others from the sci-fi, comic book and pop culture worlds will invade downtown Asheville on Saturday during Fanaticon2 at the Asheville Art Museum/Pack Place. The event lasts 10 a.m.-6 p.m., and admission is free.

Headlining this year's event is Gail Simone, an acclaimed comic book writer of Wonder Woman, Secret Six and Birds of Prey fame. She will be giving a talk followed by a question-and-answer session and autographs.

"She's going to talk about her career and comic books in general," Fanaticon co-founder Chance Whitmire said. "We're very excited to have her. She's a big deal in the comic book world."

This year's Fanaticon also includes a costume dance party at 8 tonight on the upper level of the Pack Place parking deck. The dance will unveil French Broad Brewery's Superhero IPA and showcase food from local restaurants. Proceeds from the $25 admission to Dancin' on the Deck will benefit the Asheville Art Museum.

Whitmire, who moved to Asheville from Los Angeles in 2008, said about 3,500 attended the inaugural Fanaticon last year, and with some additional advertising this year, he hopes to attract more people.

"As I made friends here and visited comic book stores, one thing that kept coming up in conversation was wouldn't it be nice to have a comic book convention in Asheville," Whitmire said. "It all started with hanging out at local comic book stores and talking to other comic book fans."

Although Fanaticon was born out of a love for comic books, the festival is about much more than graphic novels. Whitmire said he describes it to people as more of a celebration of pop culture and science fiction.

Hillary Frye, Asheville Art Museum's visitor services and events manager, described Fanaticon and something you have to see to believe. "There's just so many people with amazing costumes; the Ghostbusters car was here last year," Frye said. "It's just something to experience and see, even if you don't read comic books.

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