Abby McHenry

Central Florida Comic-Con (CFCC) was hosted for the first time by the RP Funding Center in Lakeland Jan. 19-20.

The event  hosted more than 100 exhibitor-vendors and artists attending, selling comic books, toys, T-shirts, original art and games, according to The Ledger. Ben Penrod, Central Florida Comic Con owner, owns a few other Comic-Cons as well and was excited to bring the event to Lakeland. CFCC is unique in the fact that the event is smaller than most Comic-Cons so that people can have conversations with the celebrities and the artists and not have to worry about long lines. 

“Lakeland is the perfect place to host a Comic-Con because it’s a community of people who enjoy comics and pop culture,” Penrod said. “It’s also easily accessible from Tampa and Orlando so even more fans can come and have fun with us.”

Comic-Cons are hosted nationwide to celebrate comic book characters by hosting speakers who wrote and designed comics, and people who sell comic merchandise. Central Florida Comic Con included a costume contest, question and answer sessions with comic guests, and more.

The event brought in 12 celebrities, including wrestling superstar Matt Sydal, Phil LaMarr-best known for his roles in Pulp Fiction, Futurama, MAD TV, and Samurai Jack, and Austin St. John – the Red Power Ranger. Some of the comic guests included Sara Richard-an artist best known for her illustrations on My Little Pony and Rick & Morty, Daniel Govar-partner of Marvel/DC Comics, and Castillo Studios-illustrators of Batman and Green Arrow. 

Comic-Con, to many who attend feels like a place where they can freely express themselves and their love for comic book characters.

“[I enjoy] how ‘together’ everyone is and that we can all come here and ‘nerd out’ together and no one is being judged or anything,” Jared Wilson, a man in a dinosaur costume said.

Most vendors and attendees cite the costumes as one of their favorite aspects of Comic-Con-many people go “all out” and wear a full character body suit. Many see it as an opportunity to meet new people as well.

“[There is] a lot of good positivity here [and there are] a lot of nice people,” Jonathan Renante, a man in a “Venom” costume said, “nobody is rude or in a hurry or frustrated, everybody is just here to see art, artists, and see some cool costumes.”

Comic-Cons are comprised of art, celebrity guests, and average people to make up one event to celebrate heroes and villains alike. CFCC brought in all of these aspects, while having a very local touch to a very large, nationwide event.

For any questions about CFCC contact Ben Penrod at


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