Western North Carolina is gearing up for the first-ever Asheville Beer City Comic Con, to be held Sept. 29–Oct. 1, 2023, at Harrah’s Cherokee Center in downtown Asheville. The event, of which Mosaic Realty is a proud sponsor, brings together fans and experts from varied backgrounds to celebrate comics, science, cosplay, local art – and of course, craft beers. We caught up with Beer City Comic Con producer Johnny Shields to learn more about the event, and what attendees can expect from this fun-filled weekend.
Explain what a comic con is, for those of us who might be unfamiliar with the concept.
Simply put, a comic con is a convention that’s direct to consumers, instead of an industry-only convention. Cons have moved from just being about comic books to include other aspects of pop culture, fringe pop culture in particular, like anime, cosplay and myriad other artforms. There are usually special guests such as comic book creators, writers, artists, actors and voice actors from different shows, for the autograph hounds. A major element is panel discussions, traditionally around topics such as comic books and other industry talk that consumers are interested in. Cosplay contests are usually part of it as well; it’s mind-blowing to see the costumes people have created from scratch! These are sort of the core elements, but more important is the culture and community of a comic con. Because cons are a celebration of fringe culture, there’s a lot of openness and a welcoming spirit for everyone. A lot of these people were rejected and teased because of their interests (I know I was); a comic con is a safe place where they can express themselves and their interests in a group that will not only accept them, but celebrate them for whatever wild thing they are into!
Do you have to be a comics fan to enjoy Beer City Comic Con?
Not at all. Our vendors are more diverse than most comic cons. It’s Asheville, and we strive to be a celebration of the weird and wonderful wackiness of our city. We’re an artsy crafty town, so we’ll have more artists and craftspeople than a traditional comic con would have. Additionally, and this is what really sets us apart, instead of just having guests from comic books, TV shows, and things like that, we’re bringing in psychologists, philosophers,
physicists, astrophysicists, biologists, community activists, Navy SEALS and many more to expand the conversations in our panel discussions to explore myriad aspects of life and the sciences. I like to say we are putting the science back in Sci-Fi! The point of this is to create a fun and entertaining event where our attendees can be exposed to new ideas and deeper understandings. Hopefully, by doing this we can ignite peoples' imaginations and inspirations, prompting them to continue to explore their newfound interests after the con.
What kinds of events and experiences can attendees to Beer City Comic Con expect?
Interesting talks and panel discussions, with a mixture of academics but in a fun, geeky way. For instance, one of the discussions will be “The Biology of Star Wars,” with an evolutionary biologist who’s going to take different aliens from Star Wars and examine the environment they had to adapt to, getting into the fun science behind that. … We’ll also be partnering with Pisgah Astronomical Research Institute, so they’re bringing a portable planetarium, right there on the arena floor of the event, and you can learn more about space and stars – you get to hold a moon rock – and a hands-on workshop on meteorites. This could be the inspiration for a kid or an adult to think, “This is what I want to do, I want to get into this!” The idea is fun first, have a great time – and for me, having a great time involves learning.
What makes Beer City Comic Con special? How is it unique to Asheville?
There will be sponsoring breweries, which isn’t necessarily a highlight of most comic cons. We’ll also we have a lot of satellite events, partnering with breweries and other organizations outside of the con itself. We want out-of-towners coming to the comic con to experience Asheville, and support our businesses. We have a lot of events leading up to the weekend of Beer City Comic Con. For instance, we’ll be working with Dssolvr Brewing, exploring the science of super villains in partnership with the Asheville Museum of Science. We’re also working with Asheville Pizza and Brewing, holding a screening there of the 1990 “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” live-action movie, followed by a Q and A with the screenwriter, who is a guest of the comic con. Our website lists the satellite events, some of which are ticketed events and some of which are free.
For more information about Beer City Comic Con, including a schedule of events, a list of the celebrity guests, artists and vendors, and ticketing information, visit https://beercitycomiccon.com.