The North Texas Comic Book Show prides itself on being an OG comic-con.
In the past decade or so, fan conventions have grown into a now Godzilla-sized business offering generically named cons so chock full of fandom pandering that actual comic books seem to take a back seat. With a trend of comic-cons trying to be all things to all fans, NTCBS has established a niche as the comic book convention that puts comics first.
In 2019, comic-cons are popping up just about everywhere. If you pull out your phone and Google “comic-cons near me,” you’ll see there’s no shortage of cons in North Texas, including Fanboys Comic-Con, Arlington Con, and Dallas Fan Days, to name a few.
In this hot mess of nerd culture, there are still specialized cons that offer a smaller lens. In fact, there’s one called Supernatural Con, devoted to the CW show Supernatural, that just wrapped up last weekend in Plano. NTCBS falls somewhere between the super-powered comic-cons that offer nearly everything imaginable and the hyper-focused conventions built around single TV shows.
NTCBS’ Chris Latshaw put it this way: “We are getting back to the roots of where it all started and celebrating the men and women who have brought us such great stories and art.”
Back in the day, comic conventions were about comic books and their creators. Rarely would there be a slew of TV and movie guests at an event. Old-school comic-cons were smaller, and you could actually spend time talking with writers and authors, Latshaw said.
Founded in 2017, NTCBS has the goal of “putting comics back into comic-con” and has hosted several small one-day shows, eventually finding a home at the Irving Convention Center. Their sixth full-sized show will be Saturday and Sunday.
Local independent artists are just as welcome as big shots from large publications to discuss their passion for comic books and graphic novels, Latshaw said.
Two Texas-based publishers, Unearthly Comics and Atomic Detonator Comics, as well as Charles Breakfield and Roxanne Burkey, co-authors of the Enigma fantasy book series, are just a few of the guests at the upcoming show.
“This will be our fourth appearance at the North Texas Comic Book Show,” Breakfield and Burkey said. “We are really excited to be back.”
Unearthly Comics cofounder Scott Beecher said, “As a publisher, the con experience is great for networking. It also allows us to reconnect with friends and fans that have supported our independent comics and their creators. A lot of fans might not realize the amount of comic history packed into a NTCBS event. The wealth of knowledge and incredible stories to be had is staggering.”
The one exception to NTCBS’ comics-only vibe is their cosplay contest that is welcoming to all cosplayers of any genre of fandom.
The NTCBS cosplay contest on Saturday will be judged by Lewisville’s Rachel Maddalena, better known as Rachel EFX. Maddalena was asked to return to the event this year as a judge after she attended the show in 2017 and 2018 dressed as Harley Quinn and Vampirella, respectively.
“I’m excited to be a guest at this convention since I’ve previously loved it as an attendee” Maddalena said. “NTCBS definitely has a special place among other cons since it is very comic-focused. I’m a fan of Dynamite Comics and express it by dressing as Red Sonja and Vampirella.”
The best-in-show prize for the adult cosplay contest is $100 and bragging rights, followed by the next two runners-up at $50 apiece.
“North Texas Comic Book Show has allowed us to see the latest and greatest in North Texas cosplay,” Breakfield and Burkey said. “We have some talented, creative players that attend the event and bring their costumes that capture the essence of famous comic book characters.”
NTCBS has clearly made its place as the comic-con that gets back to the most basic truth of comic book conventions: the love of comic books. To partially quote both Mark Twain and Captain America: Civil War, NTCBS “plants itself like a tree beside the river of truth.”