HANNIBAL, Mo. – There is a growing industry in two different genres that has taken root in America’s hometown, and rather than competing on the streets like the Jets and the Sharks in “West Side Story “, the two prominent organizations have chosen to join forces instead.
“The Big River Steampunk Festival already has a huge following, and the Big River Comic Convention is increasing our audience, so we decided to bring the two worlds together,” said Deb Logue. Logue is the organizer of Hannibal’s Big River Comic Convention, which returns for its fourth year in April.
Logue said she and Steampunk Festival organizer Tammy Riley got together to plan a collaboration between the two groups for 2022 when a new idea was born.
“Tammy said ‘it would be nice if we could do something together for Christmas, maybe with a few of our salespeople,” said Logue. “We decided it would be a good way to introduce fans of either band to share what they like. So the two universes have collided here.
In this case, “here” was Admiral Coontz’s armory in Hannibal, which on Saturday hosted the very first Comic Steam Extravaganza market and the Yule Ball.
“We had pretty good throughput,” Logue said. “We had some trouble getting some of the comic book convention vendors here because there are still comic book conventions across the country. They are still catching up with last year. But we have already started to brainstorm for next year.
Logue said she plans to get an earlier date to hold the market again next year, while adding items like food vendors to help attract customers. Both groups also plan a greater effort to publicize in advance.
Ben Luna of Luna Creations in Des Moines, Iowa has brought his products to market based solely on the reputation of the organizers.
“I mostly do Renaissance festivals,” Luna said. “I attended the Central Missouri Renaissance Festival, but this is my first time going to Hannibal. I heard about the Big River Steampunk Festival, so I thought I would give it a go.
Luna said this year was the first time he started exploring events outside of the Renaissance celebrations, but said if his schedule was open he would consider returning for one of the other Hannibal events.
The Saturday market welcomed a visit from Santa Claus for kids to snap photos along with comics, books, and other items for hard-to-buy genre fans. This was only the first step in the collaboration between the two Big River groups.
“This will continue next year, as we’re both going to have a ‘Steam Comic’ cosplay contest,” Logue said. “People can mix comic book characters and steampunk looks. At the BRCC in April, the contest will be judged by members of the steampunk community, and then over the Labor Day weekend, members of the comic book convention will have the chance to judge the steampunk version of the contest.
Logue said big plans are underway for his comic book convention, which will take place April 8 and 9 at the Tabernacle of Praise Assembly in Hannibal. One item to change will be a cosplay karaoke party for guests 21 and over. She also said the third big guest announcement for the convention will take place right after the New Year.
“It’s an A-list name for sure,” she said.
The Big River Steampunk Festival is held annually in downtown Hannibal from Friday to Monday over the Labor Day weekend. Both events can be followed through their respective Facebook pages for updates and announcements. Logue said she was excited about what joining forces with the Steampunk Festival could do for fans of both groups.
“Having this mix just opens up more opportunities for both of us,” she said.