Fear Not Fantasy Fans: Comic Con Vibes Abound in Virtual Form
Local Artisans Turn to Technology following Cancellation of Medford Comic Con
While the cancellation of this year’s annual Medford Comic Con (MCC) caused many cosplayers to hang up their tear-stained costumes, online offerings from local vendors are helping comic book junkies and anime aficionados keep the spirit alive, no matter their particular fandom or fantasy.
Check-out the short-list of exhibitors below to revel in some sequestered fictional fun, and visit the MCC Facebook page for even more from the 70+ previously scheduled event purveyors.
RABBLE GAME STUDIO
Rabble Game Studio has come a long way since first introducing the prototype for their tabletop game, Dead Sprint, at the 2017 MCC, an accomplishment they were planning to showcase during this year’s event. Since that initial debut, this fast-paced and competitive zombie themed board game was officially released to the public in 2019.
“Unveiling Dead Sprint at MCC allowed us to get the real-time feedback needed when creating a game,” said owner and game developer, Robert Elliott. “We also engaged a few superfans to help shape the game’s final artwork, and they’ve been following us ever since.”
In fact, the establishment of Rabble Game Studio itself resulted from Dead Sprint’s success, allowing Robert and his wife to turn their passion project into a homegrown, independent business for the love of gaming, from card and dice to digital and mobile. When not quarantined, Dead Sprint can be found being demoed and sold at local game stores throughout the Valley, including Astral Games, Rogue City Comics, Iguana Comics in Grants Pass and Funagain Games in Ashland. In the meantime, check-out a virtual version through the online community group.
VISIONS OF WONDERLAND
As an inherently creative spirit and artist, Tika Nicole Weeks has attended MCC since its inaugural occurrence in 2014, first as a passionate patron and eventually as the proud owner of her own artistic endeavor, Visions of Wonderland, in 2017. Continuing her tradition and focus on community engagement, at this year’s event Tika planned to offer participants an onsite ‘Paint & Sip’ session, along with several live painting demos throughout the weekend.
“We take pride in our local community and strive to help make art accessible and enjoyable for everyone, supporting other local businesses with public events as well as our private classes,” said Tika.
Since the cancellation, Tika has leveraged her creativity to develop new virtual painting classes and continue encouraging and engaging budding artists, providing students with live, interactive instruction and step-by-step feedback that can be done from the socially distant comfort of their own homes.
With multiple weekly sessions already scheduled through early May—including the Star Wars themed design originally planned for MCC—virtual lessons use basic supplies and provide easy to follow instructions along with the ongoing encouragement Visions of Wonderland is known for. Plus, these convenient classes are also cost-friendly at only $5 per household.
Often known by fans as “The Book Guy”, Vincent Chiantelli first started sharing his one-of-a-kind grimoires (magic books) and handmade journals at MCC in 2015, with plans of this year showcasing the expansive growth of his portfolio, which now includes custom leather and wood crafts, illustrations, sculptures and newly-added 3D printing.
“I am a jack of all trades when it comes to the arts—I love it all!,” Vincent said. “MCC has been a great way to grow my interests and abilities, with so much creativity and inspiration it’s practically bursting at the seams!”
Following a childhood love of dinosaurs and dreams of one day working in the movie industry, Vincent first introduced his studio as Raptor Arts, but after years of creating costumes, props and special effects for movies (plus the occasional cameo in independent films including “Harbinger Down” and “Kaiju Fury”), he decided to expand beyond the film industry and five years ago unveiled Whimsical Griffin as his new studio venture. Since the shift, Vincent has built a strong fan-following online thanks to his fast, friendly and affordable offerings, which he also provides as an exhibitor at several seasonal events and farmers markets in Brookings, Gold Beach and Kings Valley.
While it may be mere coincidence, the fact that MCC occurs in Youth Art Month is particularly fitting for Larkin Hamilton, who, at just 15 years old, was invited to return as a vendor with her brand, Idle Talons. Following her debut in 2019, Larkin’s booth was set to feature her ever-changing assortment of creative crafts, emphasizing those of specific appeal to fantasy-folk including dragon eye earrings, Avatar pendants, Gallifreyan jewels, fairy-wing cuffs, mermaid wraps, dragon beaded sculptures and plant jewelry.
Growing up in a household of art enthusiasts, Larkin followed in her entrepreneurial parents’ footsteps and started peddling her beaded animal creations at local markets as a 7-year-old. She’s continued fueling her passion and skills since, venturing into stone and wire work, lapidary and wire wrapping, leveraging YouTube to learn the fundamentals and develop her own style.
“It can be hard to balance business work with everything else, but I don’t think that’s an age-specific dilemma,” Larkin explains. “I have a lot of hobbies and rarely find myself without a project, a trait that influenced my brand name and nod to the saying ‘idle hands are the devil’s workshop’.”
Typically a regular merchant at the Rogue Valley Growers and Crafters Market and event guest at ScienceWorks, Roxy Ann Gem and Mineral Society and Talent Maker City, Larkin’s online offerings – which include a blog of whimsical musings – remain active for confine-conducive bliss.