Bakersfield comic convention shows other side of community

Gabino Vega Rosario
November 6, 2008
Filed under Features

Thanksgiving is near, and that’s one of the reasons the Bakersfield Comic-Con convention was held at the Double Tree Hotel on Oct. 26.
Steve Wyatt, 44, was the promoter for the first official annual event. In the past, there have been conventions that brought together comic books and the public, but a very low interest led to some unsuccessful Comic-Cons.
This year, in order to get more people involved in the event, Wyatt gave away free passes to involve the city. “My purpose was to expose people to things that they are not exposed to: comic books,” said Wyatt. He also mentioned that the event was not for the money, but it was for the public’s benefit, so that they would feel like getting involved.
A charity raffle was one of the main attractions because the grand prize was to be drawn like a “Simpsons” character. “All the raffle money will be going to the Bakersfield Food Bank,” said Wyatt. There was also a raffle-like opportunity for anybody who paid the entry fee. Every 30 minutes, names would be drawn from the registration box and a free prize distributed for the one with the winning name.
Scott Shaw from Oddball Comics held a comedy presentation, discussing comics with his Oddball Comics. The convention sold a variety of items like comic books, video games, movies, pornographic comics, posters and even custom-made shirts.
Robert Quinn, 38, was selling shirts for $10 with any design chosen by the customers. This Anaheim resident spent about $2,000 for equipment but is looking forward to doing more conventions. “A couple of years ago, it was pretty slow, but now we have a great crowd that showed up,” said Quinn.
Companies like Game Crazy, Russo’s Bookstore and Bakotopia all had booths selling and distributing their products. Comic books, toys and rare record albums were sold at the booth of Dennis Yaviku, 51.Yaviku also sells his comic books at Ryan’s Toy Collection, the best toy collection store in the Valley, according Yaviku.
He gets his comic books from Diamond Distributors and has decreased his order form as the years progressed. “When I buy these comic books, they are non-refundable, so it gets pretty tough.” Because the economy is shrinking, the paper cost has increased, and ink cost increased, the industry has done a phenomenal job keeping the prices down, according to Yaviku.
Actors Rod Reed and Josh Reed made a Batman and Robin appearance with detailed costumes. “This is a custom-made suit take from the ‘Batman and Robin’ movie with George Clooney,” said Josh.
According to Rod, a lot of pieces of the suit were imported from Germany, Switzerland and the United Kingdom and carefully sewn together by both Josh and Rod. “We get a lot of attention,” said Rod. “We can’t even walk.”
Both relatives participate in parades, movie premiers and children’s hospitals. “Bakersfield needs to expand the line,” said Josh. “This (Comic-Con) is going to get bigger and bigger, and we are here to be a part of it.”

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