By Jamie Miller
The Byron Center Comic Con is in the books and, if you missed it, you have good reason to kick yourself for missing a phenomenal event. When I entered the quaint little Con at the Byron Township Community Center what did my eye’s spy but a Mandalorian cosplayer. Thankfully he was kind enough to pose for a photo although he was reluctant when I described what pose I wished him to do. I guess he wasn’t expecting me to ask him to point his blaster at me as I pretended to beg him not to.
I also ran into Charlie Carden “commanding officer of the U.S.S. Grand Petoskey.” Basically he is in charge of the Michigan Chapter of the Star Trek fan club. He said this was his first time as a vendor and described himself as a “lifelong” Star Trek fan.
“I’ve been watching Star Trek since I was 10,” he said.
I had quite the time after that. I got a picture of me “dueling” a man with lightsabers, took a pic of a Twi’lek and Mandalorian cosplayers. I got to talk to people dressed as Luke Skywalker, Rey, Han Solo, and a Speeder Bike StormTrooper. I also talked to a Stone Cold Steve Austin cosplayer complete in custom Detroit 3:16 black T shirt, shaved head, denim shorts, black boots, and even a knee brace. I got him to do the wrestler’s signature pose with his fists raised in the air.
I then came across a booth at which I met a man by the name of Derek Padula otherwise known as the Dragon Ball scholar, who in his words fell in love with “Dragon Ball” when he was 14 years old. “Dragon Ball” is an anime franchise which tells the story of Goku, a warrior with a monkey-like tale and great power who seeks the seven dragon balls that when gathered together summons the mighty dragon, Shenron, who will grant the user one wish. Goku and his friends and family often fight those who seek to use the dragon balls for their own evil purposes.
Padula said he studied martial arts and used that knowledge later to write nonfiction books about “Dragon Ball.”
“I studied abroad in Beijing, China,” Padula said. “I trained with the Shaolin monks.”
His studies apparently paid off and led him to a fun career. Now Padula travels to cons selling his self-published books.
The Con may not have been as big as some other Comic Cons, but this low key Comic Con was free and had a certain kind of small time charm.