ELKHART — Superheroes and supervillains mingled with movie, comic book and anime characters at the Center Six One Five convention center in Elkhart Saturday afternoon as the third annual Hall of Heroes Comic Con kicked off to an impressive crowd.

During the two-day event, held in honor of all things art, history and pop culture, many attendees showed up dressed in costume or ready to cosplay, a combination of both costuming and taking on the character’s personality as a street-level performance.

The third year of the Hall of Heroes Comic Con also featured numerous free attractions, games, contests and Q&As with guest celebrities, including actress Lori Petty of “Tank Girl” and “A League of Their Own” fame, actor John Wesley Shipp of the CBS superhero series “The Flash,” and artist Mike Grell, known for his work on the comic books “Green Lantern” and “Green Arrow.”

“This is the biggest one yet. We’ve sold about 10,000 tickets for this weekend, so it’s pretty great,” Eric Williams, an employee of Hall of Heroes Superhero Museum, said of the event. “With all the celebrities, all the people coming in, you just see a whole lot of different stuff. There’s something here for everybody. There’s art, there’s collectibles, there’s gaming, there’s cosplay. ... It’s pretty great. It’s just a really fun event.”

So fun, in fact, that this year’s event had to be moved from its former, smaller venue at The Lerner in downtown Elkhart to the Center Six One Five convention center on the city’s north side in order to accommodate the convention’s growing number of attendees.

“I think it’s just what you might call nerd culture, and people love it because it’s a really relaxed atmosphere, a judgment-free zone, somewhere you can just be yourself and be really passionate about anything,” Williams said of the appeal of events such as Hall of Heroes Comic Con. “And the best thing is, you’re going to find a bunch of other people that are exactly the same way. So it’s just really fun to see everything and everyone come together in that way.”

For friends and longtime cosplayers Melissa Petersen and Racheal Mowrer, both of Elkhart, the draw was both the community and the craft.

“We both go to cons a lot, and we’ve been to this one every year its been out,” Petersen said of the Elkhart event. “It’s really cool to see it get bigger and bigger, and we always have a good time. I was in anime club back in high school, and it’s just really fun. When you’re at these events, no one makes fun of you for liking this stuff, and it’s just a really welcoming atmosphere.”

Mowrer offered a similar sentiment.

“I’ve always liked the comic book thing, but when I met Melissa in high school, she got me into anime club, and that’s kind of how I got into the con world,” she said. “And it’s just so nice to see that our town has its own con. It’s just a lot easier to have it here than to have to travel somewhere else. And I just love that you get to meet so many people, people you would probably never meet on a day-to-day basis, and you’ll find people who have a similar fandom or who like and introduce you to different things that you end up liking as well. So it’s just a really nice community.”

John Kline can be reached at john.kline@goshennews.com or 574-533-2151, ext. 315. Follow John on Twitter @jkline_TGN.

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