South San Francisco is poised to host its first-ever comic book convention next month in what town officials are hoping will be a boon to the local economy.
And if all goes well at the South City Comic Con on June 5, organizer Steve Wyatt says he will consider bringing additional science fiction and fantasy conventions to the South San Francisco Conference Center in the coming years.
The list of celebrities in attendance is yet to be finalized, but one highlight is a “Land of the Lost” cast reunion, featuring Wesley Eure, Kathy Coleman and Philip Paley, who played Will and Holly Marshall and their ape-boy comrade Cha-Ka in the 1970s-era dinosaur adventure show.
Other actors scheduled to appear at the convention are Vincent M. Ward, who played Oscar in the third season of “The Walking Dead,” and C. Andrew Nelson, who played Darth Vader in new footage for the “Special Edition” of “The Empire Strikes Back” and numerous LucasArts video games, commercials and live appearances.
Nelson’s name might not have widespread recognition, but Wyatt noted he has officially logged more time in the Vader costume than any other actor.
The list of comic book artists appearing at the event includes Tim Bradstreet, whose work on comic book covers includes titles like “The Punisher,” “Aliens” and “Hellraiser.”
Also featured is Dan Brereton, currently working on the Batman comic, “Legends of the Dark Knight,” and described by Wyatt as “one of the best painters in comics.”
Berkeley resident Lee Marrs, who created “The Further Fattening Adventures of Pudge, Girl Blimp,” and is recognized as one of the first female underground comic artists, is also on the guest list.
The convention will be held at the South San Francisco Conference Center, which city officials are promoting as a less expensive alternative to other better-known Bay Area event centers like Moscone Center in San Francisco.
Wyatt agreed the economics of holding a convention in South San Francisco are favorable, allowing him to charge less for admissions and vendor spaces. Parking at the one-day event is free, and admission is $10 at the door. Exhibitors are charged $100 per table.
Wyatt attributed the arguably low prices to the relatively low cost for renting the Conference Center, which he said came to about $7,000 after expenses. When Wyatt rented the San Jose McEnery Convention Center for his Silicon Valley Comic Con, the promoter said the fee started at $400,000 for the two and a half-day event.
That necessitated charging vendors $800 for their tables, Wyatt noted, and attendees paid $100 for three-day passes.
While about 36,000 people attended the event in San Jose, Wyatt said he expects to sell between 1,000 and 2,000 tickets for the South San Francisco convention
If the event is a success, Wyatt said he might bring additional conventions to the area. Wyatt hosts Mouse-Con, a convention for Disney collectors, Nov. 6 in Concord. But he said if all goes well with the South City Comic Con, he might relocate Mouse-Con to South San Francisco next year.
Wyatt said he might also create a “Doctor Who” convention in South San Francisco. Such a convention is needed, Wyatt claimed, because the extant “Doctor Who” convention, Los Angeles-based Gallifrey One, always sells out months in advance, leaving many fans unable to attend.Wyatt said he expects the South San Francisco event will be popular, partly because comic book franchises are no longer a fringe pursuit, and have become central to America’s pop culture.
“When I was a kid, comics were a nerdish thing,” Wyatt said. “I had friends that didn’t talk about their comic love.”
Mayor Mark Addiego said that while he expects the South City Comic Con to start as a smaller event, the name recognition from the “Comic Con” franchise — which was even featured on an episode of the sitcom “The Big Bang Theory” — will no doubt help put South San Francisco on the map for travelers.
“We’re excited that anything with such a high profile and regional draw is coming to the Conference Center,” Addiego said.
Local hotels especially stand to benefit from the event, the mayor noted.
“If you have another 400 guests in [a hotel] one evening, that completely fills one or two of our mid-size hotels,” he said.
Meanwhile, an expansion study for the conference center that began in 2014 is ongoing.
If you go:
First Annual South City Comic Con
Sunday, June 5, 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
South San Francisco Conference Center
255 South Airport Boulevard, South San Francisco