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A hero's welcome

Cottage CountryCon draws eclectic crowd to Orillia

There are few places where you can find Deadpool sword fighting with a Kingsguard from Game of Thrones.

This weekend, Rotary Place is one of those places.

It wasn’t a planned duel, though. Deadpool (Gavin Fockens) and the Kingsguard (Daniel Ford) just happened upon one another outside Rotary Place on Saturday and decided to draw their weapons.

Cosplay is a major part of the festivities this weekend at Cottage CountryCon. Almost every superhero, villain and comic book character imaginable, and unimaginable, can be found taking in the fantastical function, which continues Sunday.

That includes Oro-Medonte’s Ed Campbell, a cosplayer who showed up dressed as Thor. Campbell can be found at various events throughout the region.

“It’s taken over a lot of the artistic and creative things I used to do,” Campbell said, noting he used to do a lot of writing and drawing. “It fills the creative side.”

Most importantly, he added, “it’s a lot of fun.”

“You get to meet a lot of great people.”

Young Emma Slack felt the same way. The four-year-old Phelpston girl donned a Wonder Woman outfit Saturday while checking out the event with her mom, Kaitlin.

Comic conventions and cosplay aren’t really Kaitlin Slack’s thing, but she didn’t have much of a choice.

“I’m here because Emma told me, ‘We’re going,’” she said.

So, she threw together a Poison Ivy costume and headed for Rotary Place.

Comic book characters aren’t the only draw this weekend. There are some iconic machines parked in and outside Rotary Place. The Optimus Prime truck from Transformers is one of the first attractions as visitors head toward the entrance. Inside, they’ll find a replica of the 1969 Dodge Charger from The Dukes of Hazzard, as well as Herbie the Love Bug, Knight Rider and others.

Michael Bergeron, of Hollywood on Wheels, brought his 1993 Jeep Wrangler Sahara edition, popularized in Jurassic Park, from Burlington.

“If you’ve got a love for the movie and you make something like this, you want people to enjoy it,” he said. “Kids love it.”

One of the popular panel discussions Saturday featured Kevin Eastman, co-creator of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Eastman explained how he and Peter Laird turned four amphibians into crime-fighting, pizza-loving heroes.

“It really started as a joke, in many ways,” he said, noting it all began with with a 40-page black and white comic book in May 1984.

It turned out to be anything but a joke, even if it took Eastman’s parents some convincing after he told them he wanted to be a comic book artist.

“Oh, my goodness,” was their reply. “We’re going to have one of those kids who never moves out of our basement.”

But Eastman did leave his home shell, with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles becoming wildly successful, featuring numerous incarnations on TV, in movies, comic books and video games.

Comics books and their characters are about much more than fun and games, however, and one author who is set up at Rotary Place this weekend wants to share that side of the story.

Travis Smith recently released his book, Superhero Ethics.

“Whether in comic books or on movie screens, superhero stories are where many people first encounter questions about how they should conduct their lives,” reads a description of the book.

Smith, an associate professor with Concordia University’s Department of Political Science, is no stranger to Orillia. He has family here and has visited many times over the years.

“It’s kind of like a home away from home for me,” he said.

Superhero Ethics is Smith’s first single-author book, and it allowed him to combine his areas of interest.

“I got to write a book that combines political philosophy with classical ethics and popular culture and comic book movies,” said Smith, who hosted a discussion Saturday afternoon. “My goal is to continue to do the political theory I was hired to do and continue to do writing like this.”

Cottage CountryCon continues Sunday. In addition to the multiple displays and vendors, there will be panels and seminars featuring Ren and Stimpy creator Bob Camp, Butch Patrick (who played Eddie Munster on the classic TV show The Munsters) and others. A complete schedule can be found here.

Nathan Taylor

About the Author: Nathan Taylor

Nathan Taylor is an experienced multimedia journalist and editor who covers Orillia and other parts of Simcoe County.
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