Third annual Comic Con spotlights sci fi, fantasy horror at University Library

In a world where superhero movies still are flexing considerable muscle at the box office and in the culture at large, the third annual, free University Library of Columbus Comic Con swoops onto the scene from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. today at the Columbus Learning Center.

North Vernon native and Los Angeles filmmaker Mark Bessenger of Thrillsville Productions will be part of a panel discussion focusing on “The Future is Fantasy.” He has spoken at some of the largest Comic Cons nationwide, including the annual San Diego Comic-Con. He considered a bit of the science fiction, fantasy and horror markets during a brief phone chat on a recent afternoon.

“There always will be a place for fantasy fans,” Bessenger said from his home in Los Angeles. “Now, if you get more specific and you look at the Marvel films and specifically the superhero genre, if you glut the market with those without keeping the quality up, there could possibly be a downturn.

“But Marvel has been doing a great job of interweaving new stories between films and keeping fans excited about the next chapter coming out.”

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He specifically referred to “Avengers: Endgame” as a recent example of that effective excitement. The film is slated for release at the end of the month.

The local gathering, a joint effort among IUPUC and Ivy Tech Community College, will feature a slight growth in vendors, from 10 last year to 13 today, according to coordinator Abby Hilyard, a librarian at the University Library.

They include makeup artists to graphic artists to authors.

More than 200 people attended last year. She expects 300 or more this year. Hilyard is enough of a fan, triggered by “Lord of the Rings” and “Star Wars,” that she is passionate to see more growth in the local Comic Con.

“I always was a big fan of comic books and graphic novels — any and all formats,” Hilyard said. “I’m kind of a geek like that. I suggested this first because I thought it would be a good way to bring people into the library. And I knew a lot of the younger students especially love the graphic novels, comic books and movies.”

Bessenger acknowledged that Comic Con and related gatherings attracting speakers such as him perhaps validate sci-fi, fantasy and horror aficionados’ often-hidden fandom

“I think it does,” Bessenger said. “But I also think it’s sad that it even needs validation.

“I know there have been a lot of people, for example, looking at horror films as the pornography of film genres. But horror is just as valid a genre as drama or comedy or anything else.”

Bessenger sees these events as more than mere fun.

“It’s like getting together with an extended family, because you can be together with people who love what you love,” he said.

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What: University Library of Columbus Comic Con featuring vendors ranging from makeup artists to illustrators and a filmmakers panel discussion.

When: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. today.

Where: University Library at the Columbus Learning Center at 4555 Central Ave. in Columbus. 

Food: BoxBurger Food Truck and Dancing Goat Coffee offerings available for purchase.

Admission: Free.

Information: Facebook page for University Library of Columbus Comic Con.