Story by Caden Kinard
Photos by Theresa Callaway
Growing up reading comic books or deliberating whether alpha-male James T. Kirk or Earl Grey fanatic Jean Luc Picard was a better Starfleet Captain was not “popular” at the start of the new millennium. Nerdom in the past was really an esoteric avocation, and now geek life is becoming trendy in Austin and across the country.
Here There Be Monsters, a convention held on Sunday, Sept. 14, was created to change the perception of comics for the general public. Zane Messina, event creator, producer and organizer, created the annual science fiction convention, not only for himself but also to develop cohesiveness in the comic community in Austin. “Coming from New York after doing theater, I was disappointed when I went to a previous comic con-like event here in the city and thought Austin deserved better,” Messina says. “I wanted to prove it’s not just a bunch of guys who live in basements.”
Since its founding three years ago, Here There Be Monsters has grown. Held at the Shoal Crossing Event Center this year, the event featured many different activities. University of Texas at Austin alum and Godzilla comic series artist Matt Frank competed against fellow Austinite, Nick Pitarra, in a Japanese monster, inner demon draw-off. Over the span of 22 minutes, the two artists enchanted the crowd and wasted no movement while producing captivating works of art.
With the growing popularity of the convention, some have been using the event as a platform to showcase new products. Martin Whitmore creator of a table-top, zombie apocalypse, role-playing game “Against the Dead,” said, “it’s a great place to build awareness for the game. The audience here has a greater chance of being interested than just a generic area.” Not only is it a showcase, other booths used the convention as a trial period, judging the reception of their game or product.
“Whether it be comic books, science fiction, horror, side-shows, entomophagy [insect cooking], if you think there isn’t something here for you at “Here There Be Monsters,” you’re wrong and there is,” Messina says.