GREENACRES, Fla. - No biggie: Darth Vader just walked by with Rapunzel and Dr. Doom.
At PalmCon 2012, it was a common sight — considering you likely walked past the Stormtroopers and Ghostbusters near the front doors first.
More than 600 people showed up to the second annual one-day comic book and collectibles show at the American Polish Club in Greenacres on Saturday, fingering through long boxes of old comics, chatting with artists and sporting the costumes of their favorite characters.
Martin Pierro stood near the stage most of the day, watching droves of families explore 68 tables flanked by 49 vendors and artists.
"I'm feeling really great about it," said Pierro, 39, of West Palm Beach. "It's packed."
Never a great student in school, Pierro said he most often escaped to the fantastic worlds and stories of his favorite comics. But over the next 20 years, he said, he watched comic culture slowly shrink in Palm Beach County .
"As a kid, the comic community was very strong — there would be a show every other month at the mall," said Pierro said. "It's been struggling."
He then thought up PalmCon, which debuted in Palm Beach County last year, and saw an opportunity to revive the culture he always adored.
"Comics are a great gateway drug to get into reading," he said. "I'm trying to get the kids to come back."
And on Saturday, they did.
Kayla Deleon, 11, thumbed through artwork, wearing a Batman shirt and Batman skirt. She left her Batman cowl in the car, too embarrassed to wear it for the convention's costume contest.
Her parents, Ricky and Sheila, also sported the yellow and black Batman logo on their T-shirts. Batman is the character with whom the family shares an affinity.
Kayla Deleon summed up what she loves about Batman and PalmCon with one word.
"Everything," she said. "Everything."
When PalmCon ended last year, 28-year-old Aaron Smith had a new goal: win first place in the costume contest next year.
And he did.
"I started making this after PalmCon last year," said Smith, of West Palm Beach, pointing to his impressively crafted green and silver costume resembling Dr. Doom, a villain made famous in Marvel's Fantastic Four storyline. "It took me a year to make it."
After winning the contest, Smith stopped often to take pictures with convention-goers impressed with his costume. Others showed off costumes from movies, such as "Batman," "Star Wars" and "Ghostbusters."
PalmCon offered a dozen area artists a chance to showcase their work for new audiences.
Manuel Aguilera, a graphic artist and illustrator, traveled from Miami to run a table featuring his artwork. To Aguilera, it was a rare opportunity to mingle with the community he knows best.
"I feel the area is really starved of geek culture," Aguilera said. "There's a great family atmosphere here and you feel like you know everyone."
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