Music like the “Rick and Morty” theme song played as pop culture fans young and old wandered from booth to booth at Sunday’s Santa Clarita Comic & Toy Expo, eyeing collectibles and digging through boxes of comics hoping to find some treasure.
The expo, hosted for the fourth time by Kimzar Kollectables, took place at College of the Canyons. This year’s event featured numerous vendors and artists, including Kimzar, Brave New World Comics and Dreamworld Comics, as well as raffles, a scavenger hunt, face painting and activities for kids.
Lisa Simonian, who owns the Saugus-based Kimzar Kollectables with her husband, Raz, said that the biannual event started in response to public demand.
“In our comic shop, people kept saying that they wish they had a local expo to go to,” Simonian said. “They wanted something family friendly that’s easily accessible. We host the event twice a year, in March and October, to meet the demand and to help people who have other commitments throughout the year.”
Simonian emphasized the calm, newcomer-friendly atmosphere of the expo, and said she likes to help guide potential interests for new comics readers. While their first event only attracted about 400 people, this year Simonian is expecting upwards of 1,000 attendees, she said.
Expo volunteer Sarah Nelson said events like this one are great for fans on a budget because vendors will often sell things for much cheaper at a convention than they would at a store, and it also provides a sense of community for people who have what she refers to as “nerdy” interests.
Artist and second-year vendor Antonio Flores, who combines his love for comic books and graphic design by creating art pieces using his action figures, said that he discovered the event directly through Kimzar Kollectables, where he purchases his comics.
“It’s good to be in an environment where you’re surrounded by people with similar interests,” Flores said. “I really like interacting with the other artists and cosplayers or people who dress up like different characters. My favorite cartoon is ‘Justice League,’ and last year one of the show’s creators was here, which was really special for me because it was like meeting a part of my childhood.”
Cesar Orozco, who attends comic conventions around Los Angeles with his family, said that he appreciates the variety of vendors and merchandise at Kimzar’s expo, and believes that it helps attract a more diverse crowd.
“Events like this gather people of all ages and characteristics together,” Orozco said. “There’s a mindset that only a certain kind of people enjoy retro toys and comic books, but there’s a variety of people here.”
Steven Franchini, who attended the event dressed as a Star Wars Stormtrooper chef serving up a roasted porg, encouraged those not familiar with pop culture or nervous to come to a comic convention to try attending one regardless of any preconceived notions.
“You like what you like, and if anyone says anything, ignore it,” Franchini said. “This isn’t just cartoons, all of this is art. The drawings are all art, the toys are sculptures, the stories are all literature. This is educational and it all just depends on how you frame it in your mind.”