Expo draws fans of vintage comics, toys

Dozens of comic book and memorabilia vendors set up shop in College of the Canyons' East Gymnasium for the semiannual Santa Clarita Comic and Toy Expo Sunday. Cory Rubin/The Signal

College of the Canyons became a nexus for all things pop culture Sunday as 70 vendors from across California met with about a thousand fans of all ages at Kimzar Kollectibles’ Santa Clarita Comic & Toy Expo.

Lisa Simonian, co-owner of Kimzar Kollectibles, said she is proud to see how the biannual event has grown and that people were lined up at 8 a.m. to get into the venue, which opened at 10 a.m.

“It’s really special to be in Santa Clarita because there are a lot of comic book artists and writers who live here,” Simonian said. “One of the things I love most about holding this event is bringing these kinds of people together to build community and to have a place where different people can find something that’s for them.”

Simonian said she is glad to see the event continue to thrive and grow, and knew it would take time for the expo to reach its greatest possible momentum. However, the Simonians are not trying to grow the event big enough to compete with the larger Los Angeles and San Diego conventions and want to preserve the smaller, more relaxed feel.

Lyndon Garvida has attended the expo with his son for the past three years.

He also frequents the bigger conventions but said he’s glad to have found a local event where he can go to find more comics and toys for his collection.

Garvida said he appreciates having a smaller venue, because it provides more opportunities for the vendors and attendees to interact as well as helping to maintain the high level of energy.

“I like going to this event, because it brings back the nostalgia of when I was young,” Garvida said. “There are toys and other things that I remember from the ’70s, like ‘Star Wars’ and ‘Hot Wheels’ toys. You can bring the next generation here that can collect both new things like ‘Fortnite’ or the old things that we collected. It’s a good place to start collecting.”

Business connections

Vendors like Brad Sloan, owner of FVF Comics, said he is glad the expo is gaining steam because it helps him to both share his love for vintage comics and to acquire valuable customers and business connections.

“Vintage comics are where it all started, and anyone who wants to think of a legacy should start to think about high-end vintage comic books because they go up in value better than gold,” Sloan said. “I had a collection when I was a boy in the ’60s, and I had the opportunity to buy $1,500 of comics at 50 cents each in the ’80s that are now worth about a half-million dollars, so my passion really paid off. It’s great being at the expo today to see even more people interested in vintage than the last time I was here, so I think more people are beginning to understand.”

In costume

Tony Monton, who remembered watching the original “Star Wars” film in Hollywood when it was first released, showed up at the event in a movie-accurate costume of Darth Vader and was one of the attendees who expressed their geek passion through costume.

“My favorite part of coming to these comic book events is meeting all the different people and learning about costuming or movies from all the other attendees,” Monton said. “It’s hard getting into the costume, and I need someone with me to help, but it’s all worth it to see other fans and their kids react and want to interact with me and take pictures.”

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