The Daytona Beach Comic and Toy Show XI was held from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the hotel on North Atlantic Avenue. Fans and vendors from around the area and beyond came to buy, sell or trade comics, figurines and other toys. Tables adorned with boxes of shrink-wrapped comic books were packed tightly into one of the hotel’s conference rooms.
Fans circulated around the makeshift trading post, talking to vendors, buying and trading and debating finer points of plots and story lines.
In an adjacent room sat Bill Black, who jokingly titled himself “editor, publisher and janitor” of AC Comics, a Longwood-based independent comic book company celebrating its 30th year. He explained how a rejection earlier in his career laid the groundwork for his company and its comics.
“It’s all Roy Thomas’ fault,” said Black. “He was editor at Marvel Comics while I was doing some freelance work for Marvel in 1978. I pitched them on an idea of teaming up all the female heroines into one comic book and he said: ‘No no no, female characters don’t sell.’ ”
He decided to go his separate way and prove the industry giant wrong.
“I started AC Comics and our main thing was I created the first super-team comprised solely of women,” said Black. “And it’s been running since 1985.”
That “super-team” is known as Femforce, short for “Federal Emergency Missions Force.” First printed in 1985, the Femforce comic is the flagship title of Black’s company.
Sitting nearby was Mark Dail, who works as a writer and artist with AC Comics. The Daytona Beach native said he’s always been drawn to the medium.
“The art, the stories,” said Dail. “It’s all about adventure.”
To his right sat Mark Holmes, one of AC Comics’ newest writers. He described how his love of comics and movies turned into a career.
“I used to spend a lot of time just reading comics and I loved watching action movies, so I would sit in front of the computer and I actually decided to put my thoughts down and I started writing fan fiction,” said Holmes.
Fan fiction refers to fan-created works that includes characters from a professional series. Holmes wrote his own stories featuring characters he’d seen in comics he read.
“So I sent them into the editor of AC Comics and he said, ‘Instead of writing fan fiction, why don’t you write me an actual story?’ ”
Holmes decided to do just that. He now has one story published and two coming down the pipeline for a 30th anniversary issue.
One of many vendors present Sunday was Glen Cohen, who drove several hours from South Florida to attend. He said he mainly sells and trades comics online, but decided to show up Sunday because he’d been at this convention in the past and enjoyed it.
Cohen feels that comic books are growing in popularity, thanks in part to recently released movies like The Avengers.
“It’s actually catching on pretty big because of the movies,” he said. “Everyone has interest in where the characters came from.”
John Tischler from Mount Dora – who has a particular affinity for the “silver-age” titles of the ’60s like Batman and Superman — was another vendor selling comic books.
“I got into comic books and actually learned how to read reading comics,” said Tischler. “I’ve been collecting comics on and off and selling them all my life.” He said he was pleased with the convention’s turnout.
But of course, the fans at the convention far outnumbered any vendors or the comic-world celebrities. Marco Falletta, a Port Orange resident, was one of many such fans who showed up.
“It’s pretty good, I like the fact that it’s a free event,” said Falletta. “Kind of brings everybody back to their childhood.”