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Tricon descends on Huntington, capes and all

By Staff | Apr 29, 2015

Photo by Tony Rutherford Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cover artist Matt Slay.

Enthusiasts assembled as Storm Troopers, caped crusaders, winged warriors, princesses, and even Disney’s Maleficent made an appearance in Huntington for the annual Tri-State Comic Con. Iron Man and Thor captured cos-play contest awards, although in a humorous, ironic twist, some of the bulky “players” had to be helped up and off stage to prevent stumbles from heavy boots, swords or headpieces that obstructed sight.

Tricon offered all kinds of collectables, customized art and introductions to independent comics that don’t have the corporate constraints of Marvel and DC.

One author/illustrator, Mark Kidwell, works mostly with sword and sorcery, horror, war and western comics, including “Bump” (in movie pre-production) and Image Comics’ “68,” a Vietnam-themed comic drawn from the perspective of soldiers who trudged ‘Nam tunnels as zombies trailed them. The “68” designation is a reference to the release date of George Romero’s “Night of the Living Dead.”

Having designed creatures and makeup effects for Robert Kurtzman’s Creature Corps. FX studio on such film projects as Kevin Smith’s “Tusk” and “Yoga Hosers,” as well as “Strangeland II” and “Hiss,” Kidwell told the Big Sandy Superstore Arena audience about distorting reality and placing people out of their comfort zones.

Kidwell offered an interesting diversion on creating fear and developing storytelling stills. He suggested planting naive small towners, nearly penniless in the middle of 42nd Street. He challenged artists and writers to imagine … how do they survive or do they perish?

Asked for his response to the surge of graphic media blamed for triggering random acts of violence, such as the Aurora, Colo. theater shooting during “The Dark Knight Rises”, the artist retorted, “I always tell about how Son of Sam, the serial killer, started because his neighbor’s dog told him to. If you’re already balls-up crazy, your toaster could tell you to kill somebody,” he said with a straight face. “You don’t need a horror movie or a horror novel to do it. Your dishwasher can make you dismember a family of twelve. I don’t think outside influence will turn you into a psychopath if you do not already have the tendency.”

He agreed that something can be a ‘catalyst’ if seen in a distorted manner. “Horror is the opposite. It is a window for angst, depression and feelings of anxiety, just like a roller coaster. You can get your ya-yas out by reading horror, watching horror, or riding a thrill ride.”

Could there be an invisible line in the sand that distinguishes between thrills and explicit torture?

“There’s a place for every type of horror within the horror genre,” Kidwell says. “Some people call ‘Saw’ torture porn. I enjoyed the first three saw movies, and ‘Hostel.’ I love Eli Roth stuff. I used to do splatter punk in the 80s. It doesn’t matter how gory as long as its well done, well-constructed, well-acted, well-written. I’m a fan.You can go too far for exploitation sake.”

Speaking more rapidly for emphasis, he continued, “If there’s no story, no plot and you don’t care about the characters and it’s just a bloodbath, then, you have nothing.” On the other hand, “if you have a great story, good characters that you care about, and you have momentum in the story which has a lot of splatter, then it all works together as a whole.”

For film, a repositioning has emerged. Filmmakers have reigned in stretching the edge of so called “torture porn,” instead substituting an increasing amount of unnecessary nudity.

“I have my own personal line I draw in depicting sex in horror fiction. You can insinuate it and people know what’s going on. You don’t have to turn it in to pornography. You can let people know there’s an adult situation between a man and a woman and in the middle there’s a chainsaw maniac. You do not have to go into the (no pun intended) blow by blow of the sexual encounter.

He suggests that adding senseless sex causes one to “veer away from the horror story, you derail the plot, you derail the plot and mood that you have created. It goes off to ‘I’m going to flip through the book and look at the sex scenes.’ The horror goes away.”

— Strolling another aisle found local cos-play performer “Bunny Bombshell,” who dressed as Amethyst, a member of DC’s Legion of Superheros. “Bunny” a.k.a. Lauren Littlepage, said, “I’ve never done this much work on any particular cos-play. This involved making certain costume pieces.” Further, she had challenges matching purple.

“Purple does not photograph the same way in every lighting (configuration).” Littlepage, who has appeared as Frozen’s ‘Elsa,’ Masters of the Universe’ ‘She-Ra,’ ‘Sailor Moon’ and ‘Catwoman,’ said she used different “shades” to her advantage.

Later, she turned up for a group photo with other female cos-players foretelling a superhero girl’s night out.

Others lamented the warning after the costume contest: 15 minutes left in this year’s Tricon. Most wished it would have lasted forever, preferring the fantasy inside.