Comic books and mixed martial artists might not seem like a natural combination at first glance, but Michael Campbell, owner of Captain’s Comics and Toys, sees where the lines converge.
“A lot of comics, especially the superhero books, are about guys who train themselves to be fighters,” he says. “If you look at the guys who are doing mixed martial arts, there’s a similar idea.”
That works for Campbell, because for him, the Captain’s Comics Expo is all about bringing together a community with common interests.
“Lots of times, guys don’t just pick up their books and go,” he says. “If they have time, they’ll hang out with us, talking about comics or just about life in general. When you take the time to get to know the people who share your interests, you have more invested.”
What he finds is that people who like comic books also tend to like video games, movies, and pop culture in general.
“What it seems to be is an appreciation for the storytelling style of these things,” he says. “Comic books and movies have a similar approach to visual storytelling, and video games are developing more of the character-driven storyline that you see in both of those.”
Accordingly, Monster Music & Movies, Play N Trade Video Games, and P.Y.A.A.T. (Protect Yourself at all Times) Mixed Martial Arts will be on hand, along with several comic book vendors from North and South Carolina.
“The MMA guys will have DVDs of previous events and they’ll be basically introducing themselves to the Charleston community,” Campbell says. “There will also be video game tournaments going on throughout the day, door prizes, a jump castle for the kids, and plenty of food. It’s going to be a celebration of fun.”
“G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero” artist Jeremy Dale, who currently resides in Columbia, will be at the Expo, doing sketches for fans, along with a mix of local and regional artists doing either traditional comic book art or other pop culture-inspired art.
“We’ve started featuring local art in the store as well,” Campbell adds. “We’re finding more and more artists are interested in that pop culture style.”
For this year’s expo, he intentionally chose a smaller venue, with the view that it would encourage more people to mix and mingle.
“We really want people who like these kinds of things to talk to one another, get to know another, and learn what’s going on,” he says.
A steady stream of blockbuster superhero movies (this summer it’s Iron Man 2, the supernatural western Jonah Hex, and the already controversial Kick-Ass) coupled with a triple play of good characters, good art, and good writing, have restored some of the old glory to the comic book genre.
“A lot of people who left comic books behind years ago are rediscovering them today,” Campbell says. “I think that’s because, in the last 10 years, comic books have really gotten back to their roots. They figured out what they’re good at it and they’re doing it.”