Presented by Garland County Library and Visit Hot Springs, this year’s Spa-Con welcomes stars from the hottest shows and promises enthusiasts an unforgettable convention – one for the (comic) books.
By Barrett Gay | Photography by David Yerby | Shot on location at The Pancake Shop Hot Springs
Special thanks to Scott Horne & Jay Powell of the 501st Legion
Get ready to get your comic-con on.
Thousands of sci-fi, comic book, cosplay, gaming and Anime enthusiasts from around the country will gather at the Hot Springs Convention Center for the second annual – and highly anticipated – Spa-Con.
Garland County Library and Visit Hot Springs – the official Advertising & Promotions Commission for the Spa City – joined forces and presented Hot Springs Spa-Con last year. The inaugural convention was a smashing success – welcoming Star Trek’s Nichelle Nichols as well as Michael Hogan and Richard Hatch from Battlestar Galactica.
Erin Baber, public relations coordinator at the Garland County Library, attributes a portion of the convention’s popularity to the city-library partnership. “I think Spa-Con is unique because it’s the product of two organizations in a small town that exist for completely different purposes. Visit Hot Springs puts on events that bring tourists to town. Sure, they want the locals to come out too, but ultimately they are the driving force behind Hot Springs tourism. In contrast, the Garland County Library serves the residents of Garland County. We love when visitors come to our programs and stop by our library, but we exist for our own community. By joining forces, we’ve created an event for everyone.”
This year’s Spa-Con promises to exceed expectations with exciting highlights and something for everyone. “The convention will feature celebrity guest appearances from Sheryl Lee and Sherilynn Fenn from David Lynch’s Twin Peaks, and Shannon Purser – aka Barb – from Stranger Things,” Bill Solleder, director of marketing for Visit Hot Springs, explains. “Spa-Con will also see the Batmobile, Ecto-1 Ghostbusters car, a laser tag arena, Star Ship Bridge Simulator, Virtual Reality Lab, comic book artists, professional cosplayers and some of the best people-watching in Hot Springs!”
Comic-cons – short for comic book conventions – gained popularity in the 60s and 70s, when small groups of comic-book and sci-fi fans would gather to discuss, share and highlight their favorite niche art forms. Through the years, comic-cons have grown exponentially and are hosted all over the world, attracting a community of hundreds of thousands to iconic conventions such as the San Diego Comic-Con International.
You don’t need to be a die-hard comic-book fan or cosplayer to enjoy Spa-Con. “Attendees proudly ‘get their geek on’ at comic conventions,” Bill says. “Many people, myself included, don’t realize that today’s comic conventions like Spa-Con celebrate a wide variety of fandoms that reach all ages, races and interests. The culture includes everything from Rod Serling’s Twilight Zone to popular TV series like Game of Thrones and Stranger Things. Just about everyone has enjoyed flipping through a comic book, whether it’s Marvel, DC or the Japanese-born Anime style. Video gaming is also a cornerstone of Con culture and a multi-billion dollar industry. Spa-Con will host one of the largest Wii Smash Bros video game tournaments in the region: The Spa-Con Showdown.”
In anticipation of the second annual extravaganza, Bill offers this advice to eager attendees: “Wearing capes can be fatal, don’t wear a red shirt, avoid The Upside Down and enter the Black Lodge at your own risk!”
Beginner’s Cosplay with Ginny Di Panel
Stranger Things Panel with Shannon Purser
Comic Illustration Workshop with Pat Moriarity
SCA Sword Fighting Demonstration
Harry Potter Wand Shop and Sorting Hat
Props Workshop with Nightingale Vixen
Twin Peaks Panel with Sheryl Lee and Sherilynn Fenn
501st Legion – Stormtrooper Costume Challenge
The 501st Legion is a worldwide Star Wars costuming organization comprised of and operated by Star Wars fans. While it is not sponsored by Lucasfilm Ltd., it is Lucasfilm’s preferred imperial costuming group. Copyright and Trademark Lucasfilm Ltd. All rights reserved. Used under authorization.