Comic book convention will be Columbia's first

Wednesday, November 19, 2008 | 5:24 p.m. CST

COLUMBIA — Mid-Missouri collectors will have a chance to whet their appetites for comics and collectibles at Columbia's first-ever comic book convention from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. this Saturday. The event is free and open to the public and will be held in the Quality Inn, 1612 N. Providence Road.

Dealers from Missouri, Illinois, Minnesota and Kentucky will be there to buy and sell new and old comic books as well as other comic collectibles, such as action figures.

Patrons of Rock Bottom Comics, at 1013 E. Walnut, are concerned that the turnout will be low because they were unaware of the convention. 

"The fact that I don't know about it is a bad thing," said Kevin Ballenger, a self-described "hardcore comic book fan."

Convention organizer Alan Morton has been setting up conventions in Kansas City since 2001 and St. Louis since 2002 and has decided to expand. He decided to branch out to “medium-sized cities because a few people would regularly come to the Kansas City and St. Louis convention from Jeff City, Columbia and Boonville,” he said. 

This year, Morton has organized 10 new conventions across the Midwest. Out of the eight that have already occurred, six had great turnouts, he said. According to Morton, flooding during the summer contributed to the poor turnout at the least successful convention in Waterloo, Iowa.

Because the convention is not being advertised at Rock Bottom Comics, Ballenger thinks it might not draw many people.

"Rock Bottom is the comic book store in Columbia," Ballenger said, "I've been going to Rock Bottom since fifth grade, and I'm 47 now."

John Doerslinger, a Rock Bottom employee, did not know about the convention either. "It's news to me," he said. 

Ballenger said he needs to know more about the convention, but he is planning on attending.

"There are a few things I need, so I might drop by and take a look," he said.

On Sunday, Morton will host another convention in Springfield. Justin Dominguez, another Rock Bottom patron, said he might find the convention in Springfield because he will be there over the weekend.

According to Morton, Springfield had a convention in the 90s, but this is Columbia's first. Ballenger said he also thinks this will be Columbia's first convention.

Morton said he expects a good turnout for the Columbia convention, and he knows that, regardless, people will find good deals. According to Morton, because dealers don’t have to pay as much as they would at larger conventions for their setups, patrons can expect better deals.

Morton's Web site lists some of the best deals that he has seen at smaller conventions. There, patrons can sign up for the mailing list to receive a special gift when they attend on Saturday. For more information, call Morton at 309-657-1599.

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