Great Comics Getting Greater
Austin’s newest comic and film convention leaps into action
This weekend, Greater Austin Comic Con kicks off its first installment out in Cedar Park. Headlined by Doug Jones (star of the Oscar-winning The Shape of Water), and featuring comics legends and local rising stars, it promises to be a weekend of panels, live drawing demonstrations, a costume contest, and even a superhero-themed car show. Co-founder Vo Nguyen sat down with the Chronicle to talk about not only the attractions, but why he wanted to start this new convention in Austin.
Austin Chronicle: How long have you been on the Texas convention scene?
Vo Nguyen: As an artist, I've been doing shows for about 26 years. My first one was the Dallas Fantasy Faire, when I was in high school.
AC: Austin already has the much-beloved indie comics-focused Staple!, as well as a Wizard World "celebrity con" each fall. Why did you want to start a show of your own, and how does it fit alongside those cons?
VN: I set up a Facebook group called Rate That Comic Con because I found so many Texas promoters were setting up comic cons that weren't doing right by the artists or the fans. Years ago, there was one con in particular that I helped out with here in Austin that had an incredible guest list, but the promotion of the event didn't get the word out to the local community, and no one was there. It was a ghost town. That looks bad on the promoter, but it also looks bad on Austin. I got tired of it. A bad con like that gives the city a bad name with anyone who was a guest, and people talk.
I grew up here, and now I feel like I have the skill set, having helped run a few shows on top of attending them for almost 30 years. A lot of the people I've reached out to have offered a great deal of support. Alamo Drafthouse has let us promote the convention on big movie premiere weekends. I've been out there myself drawing free sketches for people and handing out fliers. I want Austin to have a good con that started here and cares about what Austinites want.
AC: So why did you choose Cedar Park?
VN: Cedar Park is a family area, and the H-E-B Center is more friendly to families than going Downtown. When you go Downtown, you have to deal with parking and traffic and keeping your kids safe. At the H-E-B Center, there's plenty of parking, and when you think about going to Cedar Park, you don't think, "Oh, do we have to?" like you do with kids when an event is Downtown.
AC: Who are some of the guests fans can expect this weekend?
VN: A little bit of something for everyone in terms of celebrities and comics creators. Sam Jones from Flash Gordon is so well-known for being very generous with his time. Doug Jones [hasn't] been back to Austin for a con in almost 10 years. We have original Mighty Morphin Power Rangers stars, the little girls who played young Elsa and Anna in Frozen, voice actors from Dragon Ball Z, and overall a great combination of talent that appeals to the whole family.
On the comics side, we have Evan Narcisse [an Austin local], whose new Rise of the Black Panther comic for Marvel has been getting great reviews, and everyone wants anything Black Panther that they can get. We also have comics legends like Howard Chaykin and James O'Barr, the creator of The Crow. We're very proud of the mix of comics writers and artists we have, since after all, it wouldn't be a "comic con" without the comics.
AC: What kind of expectations do you have for it, being a first-year show?
VN: We want to build a family-friendly event that everyone can enjoy. We want the first year to give people memories that will last a lifetime, and establish something that people keep coming back to every year. Austin deserves a con like this that has a little bit of something for everyone, and feels like home.