Jason Martin normally avoids walking around with two guns in holsters on his hips and a bright red bandana covering much of his face.
But the 36-year-old teacher’s aide from north Georgia was right at home as the DC Comics cowboy hero Vigilante at the Charlotte Convention Center Saturday. So was his daughter, Destiny, 12, in her Black Spiderman costume.
What better place for a father and daughter to bond over their shared love of comic-book characters than HeroesCon, the 34th annual gathering of comic creators and artists and their fans?
The three-day convention drew at least 40,000 fans in 2015 and could hit 50,000 this weekend, said Seth Peagler, a HeroesCon manager. HeroesCon has more than doubled its space since 2012, to 240,000 square feet this weekend, Peagler said. The show continues 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday.
“It’s family-friendly, so I feel safe bringing my daughter,” said Jason Martin, attending his third HeroesCon with his daughter. “We can do everything together here.”
“Everyone’s friendly, and it’s just good to be here with my dad,” said Destiny, who prefers Black Spider-Man because “everyone else wears red and blue, and I want to be different.”
R.B. Propst, 45, drove for the third straight year from Harrisonburg, Va., with his wife, Michele, and their 11-year-old daughter, Grace. It was the first time Grace dressed as a fantasy character, Maggie, The Ranger’s Apprentice. She colored part of her hair teal, wore a gray cloak and gray tunic and strapped an arrow-less arrow holder on her back.
Fans like the Martins and Propsts can visit at least 200 vendors and 600 professional comic creators and artists at HeroCon, including Northwest School of the Arts grads Natalie Andrewson, 24, Abby Howard and James Nelson, both 23.
Howard and Nelson sat beside each other. Nelson sold copies of his web comic “Monster Lands” as Howard greeted fans of the first book in her “The Last Halloween” series.
Catie Phillips, 16, of Wilkes County dressed as Susannah, the monster of the young girl Mona in Howard’s book, including the ram-like head with two horns Catie sculpted.
Shane Blackwell, 28, of Charlotte is among Howard’s 20,000 followers on Tumbler. He paid her $5 on Saturday to draw a Digimon character.
“This is like my home,” Blackwell said of the HeroesCon. “This is your home if you’re into superheroes and comics.”