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Fans of comics, video games, and everything in between won’t have to travel far to get their money’s worth this weekend.

Springfield Comic Con, which opens its doors for two days this weekend at the MassMutual Center, promises a game room, vendors, artists and cosplay contests.

This is the third year of the convention in the heart of the city, a run that got off to a rocky start. In 2022, attendance was higher than expected, causing crowds to stay outside in the humidity for long periods.

“In the second year, we worked with the venue to get everyone in quicker, which made a huge difference,” showrunner Mike Federali said in an email interview with The Republican. The second year of the convention – which took place last summer – went much more smoothly.

This year’s show will take place over two days: Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

“I’ve always been a fan of comics and geek culture in general,” Federali said. “Bringing a show to Springfield was just one of those fun ideas, and I’m happy that it’s found a fan base.”

Massachusetts hosts several major comic book conventions throughout the year, and New York and Connecticut have neighboring conventions. But Federali said it’s important to have “medium-sized” shows as well.

“I think it’s important to give everyone the chance to experience a show in their community,” he said.

Springfield Comic Con offers fans a real convention experience and offers numerous special guests as well as the opportunity to meet comic artists and voice actors.

These guests include Alyson Court, who voiced Lydia Deetz in Beetlejuice and Claire Redfield in the Resident Evil franchise, and appeared as the clown Loonette in The Big Comfy Couch. Other guests include John Morton, best known for his role as Dak Ralter, Luke Skywalker’s tail gunner, in The Empire Strikes Back, and Ralph Macchio, a longtime Marvel Comics writer and editor whose stories include The Avengers and Doctor Strange.

Local special guests include the Western Massachusetts Ghostbusters and Mandie Strange FX, a cosplayer, body painter and special effects makeup artist from West Springfield.

Mandie Strange FX – born Amanda Pacitti – has gained thousands of followers on social media with her cosplay and makeup looks, which include homages to well-known characters such as Beetlejuice, Corpse Bride and Art the Clown from “Terrifier”, as well as her own original looks, such as a pop-art zombie and a “zombunny” (that’s a zombie bunny).

“I’ve always been a creative person and very into art, especially when I was younger, I was always drawing and painting,” Pacitti said in an interview with The Republican. “I’m also interested in comic books. That’s probably where cosplay came from, and my love of horror movies got me into specialty makeup. After cosmetology school 12 years ago, I just merged my passion for art and makeup.”

Pacitti’s looks usually start with a rough sketch of her idea — and sometimes “the looks just pop into her head,” she said.

“I usually put on music and ‘get in the mood,’ I say,” she said. “The time it takes to paint a body can vary depending on the complexity of the look. Most paintings take me between two and six hours.”

Although she won’t be doing full body paint this weekend due to the expected high heat and humidity, Pacitti will be there in cosplay. However, guests will need to visit her booth to see who she will be dressed as.

“I set up a little fun photo area for everyone so we can take pictures when they come to visit me,” Pacitti said.

The convention also features a Game Room, operated by Haven Games and Hobbies, open both days in Meeting Room 4, as well as cosplay contests for individuals, groups, and children, with prizes for each category. Cosplay contests, which celebrate the art of dressing up as a character from a movie, book, or video game, are open to all.

The exhibition hall is lined with vendors, including:

  • Holeymoleys Comics & Collectibles
  • Couple customs
  • CHIBI WISHES
  • Plant cycle
  • Artness! by Justin Brown
  • NEStalgia Gaming
  • Dragon’s Den Candles
  • Riverview Sewing Studio
  • Smart Dork Designs
  • Solar Eclipse Pop
  • Made with magic and love
  • Galaxy Pops and beyond
  • Photographer Lab
  • Amazing Comics
  • Newtuft City
  • CH collectibles
  • I once had this…Pop culture toys and collectibles
  • Zombie Hideout
  • Phantasm Gaming
  • Dragon Moon Creations LLC
  • Jumpmaster Press
  • MetaMats
  • Elite Achemie 3D
  • Buzz Comics
  • Gadget Depot
  • Captain’s Comics and Collectibles
  • Peacock’s Nest, Magic Circle Collectibles
  • This is MartyMar
  • GAGS & ANNIE ANIMATION CEL
  • The Country Witch
  • EpicMpire
  • Too sketchy type comics
  • Cellar dwellers
  • JEM Cards&Comics
  • Rusty Dog Collectibles
  • Sewn by Shannon
  • A blast from the past
  • SSUPhoto Designs
  • Re-Up Hunter
  • Robber Baron Ink
  • Confused Geeks
  • BUYSIGNED
  • Goat Collectibles
  • You Name It by Lynn Ash
  • Bop City Comics
  • Cards Ultra
  • JOC companies
  • RedFive Toys and Collectibles
  • Game replica
  • Haven Games and Hobbies LLC
  • Ram Imports

Weekend Panels

The diverse panel discussions on Saturday include a question and answer session with John “Dak” Morton from 11 a.m. to 11:45 a.m., a question and answer session with Duncan Rouleau from noon to 12:45 p.m., a question and answer session with Wayne Grayson from 1 p.m. to 1:45 p.m., a question and answer session with the X-Men voice actors from 2 p.m. to 2:45 p.m., and a question and answer session with various comic book creators from 3 p.m. to 3:45 p.m.

On Sunday, there will be a Q&A with WWE Superstar Tugboat from 12:00-12:45 p.m. and a Q&A with Ralph Macchio, creator of the Marvel Legends comics, from 1:00-1:45 p.m. All panels will take place in Briefing Room 3.

Further down the hall there is a special “Kids Love Comics” room with guests and programs especially for children.

Ticket prices range from $15 to $50, with a $50 VIP package including a limited edition print, an exclusive badge, VIP entry to the first wave on Saturday at 10am and Sunday at 11am, and advance seating for the panels.

A weekend pass is $30 and admission is available at 10:15 a.m. Saturday and 11:30 a.m. Sunday. Day passes are $20 on Saturday and $15 on Sunday. Children under 10 are admitted free when a parent or guardian purchases a day, weekend or VIP pass.

For more information about Springfield Comic Con and tickets, visit springfieldcomiccon.com.