Comic Expo Explodes

Inaugural Con Lures Pop Culture Icons

Devin D. O'Leary
5 min read
New Mexico Comic Expo
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Thanks in large part to the efforts of Marvel Comics (and their rather successful partnership with Disney), comic book superheroes have become the dominant force in today’s pop cultural landscape. A generation ago, the brightly colored exploits of costumed heroes existed only in print media and were confined to the spinning wire racks of a corner convenience store. Nowadays, they can be witnessed in countless movies, TV shows and video games. Among the more immediate repercussions of this revolution: Comic book conventions have been popping up across the country in towns big and small with increasing regularity. For the majority of convention organizers, all it takes is a handful of Power Rangers, a couple of retired professional wrestlers and a community center. But as comic books become more prevalent, the demands of fans grow larger. Fortunately for the ever-increasing legion of fans in Albuquerque, our city is about to host a major comic book convention.

The inaugural
New Mexico Comic Expo kicks off this weekend (Aug. 16 through 18) at the Albuquerque Convention Center. Organizers, including the owners of Albuquerque’s Age of Comics and the staff of New Mexico Entertainment magazine, have spared neither effort nor expense to make their first outing a first-class event. Whether you’re an old-school comic book collector looking to haunt the dealer’s room in search of some Silver Age treasures or a new recruit wanting to shake hands with your favorite TV star, this gathering of sci-fi/fantasy/horror/comic lovers will have something to fan the flames of your personal fanaticism.

There will, of course, be guests from the field of comic books. It wouldn’t be a comic book convention without them. We have noted writers (such as storied
X-Men scribe Chris Claremont), famed artists (including Marvel Super-Heroes Secret Wars’ Mike Zeck) and celebrated creators (Kevin Eastman of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles fame). Local talent is also well represented, with Albuquerque artists Andy Kuhn (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles), David Harrigan (Lady Death) and Aaron Campbell (Infidel) on hand to sketch, sign cherished comics and chat with folks.

However, the majority of people familiar with comic books these days got to know them through movies and TV shows. And it’s hard to have a “comic book” convention without at least a few Hollywood guests. It’s here that the New Mexico Comic Expo is pulling out all the stops.

Actor Elijah Wood (star of “Wilfred,” “Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency” and Peter Jackson’s
Lord of the Rings film franchise) is going to be at NMCE doing a Q&A on the Lord of the Rings films Sunday at 4pm. British actress Hayley Atwell, who appeared as founding S.H.I.E.L.D. superspy Peggy Carter in ABC’s “Agent Carter” TV series and several of the Marvel Cinematic Universe films (including the most recent Avengers: Endgame), leads a Captain America/Peggy Carter panel Saturday at 3pm. Jason Isaacs and Tom Felton, who took on the father-and-son roles of Lucius and Draco Malfoy in the Harry Potter film series, each helm their own panel (Isaacs at noon on Saturday and Felton at 3pm on Sunday).

Among the notable TV guests is Jon Bernthal from Netflix’s “The Punisher” series and AMC’s “The Walking Dead.” Fellow “Punisher” cast members Josh Stewart, Giorgia Whigham and Jason R. Moore will be joining Bernthal, as well several folks from “The Walking Dead” including Seth Gilliam, Steven Ogg and Cooper Andrews. Jewel Staite and Sean Maher of Joss Whedon’s cult TV series “Firefly” have a talk on Saturday at 5pm. Nerd icon Felicia Day (“The Guild,” “Supernatural,” Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog) discusses her career in the industry on Saturday at 2pm.

If you’re a fan of animation, there are highlights for you as well. Julia and Eric Lewald, showrunners of 1992 to 1997’s much-loved “X-Men: The Animated Series” are reuniting with several of the show’s voice actors, including Cal Dodd (Wolverine), Lenore Zann (Rogue), George Buza (Beast), Tony Daniels (Gambit) and Chris Britton (Mr. Sinister). Their panel on Saturday at 1pm is sure to be a nostalgic highlight.

Of course, the New Mexico Comic Expo’s biggest “get” is red-hot actor Jason Momoa. Momoa has made a splash (so to speak) recently, appearing as barbarian leader Kal Drogo in HBO’s smash hit series “Game of Thrones” and tackling the role of Aquaman in DC’s
Justice League and Aquaman features. Momoa will only be around for autographs and photo opportunities on Sunday. These must be purchased in advance and are rapidly filling up, so act quickly if you wanna fulfill your Momoa fantasies.

Individual day tickets for NMCE ($30 Friday, $45 Saturday or Sunday) can be bought by going to Three-day admission passes are $85 and VIP passes (which include the opening night party at the Hyatt Regency) go for $165. Guests are charging for individual autographs and photos. Most of the major media guests require an advance purchase of autographs/photos, as their space and time is limited. For complete details and a full schedule of events go to
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