Bam! Pow!

SiestaCon Is Saturday. Break Out Your Masks, Capes and Armor.

The event, organized by Dark Side comic shop owner Brian Polizzi, will feature more than 100 vendors as well as food, panel discussions and more.

By Kim Doleatto May 7, 2024

Take a break from being a mere human at SiestaCon.

Calling all comic nerds, pop culture enthusiasts and superhero aficionados. Get ready to transform into your favorite alter ego, because this Saturday, May  is SiestaCon at Robarts Arena. The full day’s lineup is packed with a whirlwind of fun for cosplayers of all ages.

Sure, it’s Mother’s Day weekend. Still, for $10 for general admission (free for kids younger than 10), “it's cheap enough to be a family event," says Brian Polizzi, owner of The Dark Side comic shop in Sarasota. "We didn't want to interfere with Mother's Day on Sunday. Maybe you could buy Mom some comics." Or she could check out water bending or belly dancing, both of which will also be happening at SiestaCon.

Brought to life by Polizzi, who has been a leading force in the local comics scene for 18 years, SiestaCon will offer tournaments, comic creation classes, Lego robotics, tai chi water bending, a belly dancing show and a lightsaber choreography demonstration. The public is invited to show off their best costumes in two contests, one for kids and one for adults.

Brian Polizzi with Pikachu
Brian Polizzi with Pikachu

There will also be panels, including an in-depth workshop on the skills and techniques involved in costume and prop construction; a Q&A with industry voice actors Lenore Zann, the voice of Rogue in the X-Men cartoon series, and Anthony Bowling, the voice of many anime characters; and a discussion with Nathan Szerdy, Anna Zhuo, Sam De La Rosa and Andrea Mutti about what it’s like working in the comic industry. There will also be a panel on how to use comics in early education and the impact of AI on pop culture with game designer Rick Dakan, who's also the AI coordinator for Ringling College of Art and Design.

Although there’s been a Sarasota ComicCon event in the past, SiestaCon will be the first one of this size, says Polizzi. "Our hope is for 2,000 people [to attend], but we’ll see how it goes. We have more than 100 vendors, including one guy who sells skateboards with anime art and another guy who prints lifesize 3D Pokemon characters."

As far as food, Myrtle's Sweet Treats will be on-site and Five-O Donut Co. will be slinging donuts. "It's a lot of snacky local vendors, but people from out of town who want to get in front of new fans too," Polizzi explains.

Polizzi's longtime friend Eugene Nock—brother of daredevil stuntman Bello—will be displaying his Batmobile and Batcycle, too. Both vehicles are from the original Adam West-Burt Ward Batman series from the 1960s. (Eugene, Bello and their other brother, John, who own Nock Entertainment Group, also own the original Batcopter.) The Batmobile and Batcycle are often displayed at The Dark Side's annual Free Comic Book Day event.

The Nock brothers with the Batmobile and Batcylcle.

The hope, Polizzi says, is to make SiestaCon an annual event.

"I like bringing fun to the community and creating a sense of sharing," Polizzi says. "We're going to have a great time."

SiestaCon is Saturday, May 11, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. at Robarts Arena near downtown Sarasota. Click here to learn more or buy tickets. Tickets will also be available at the door. 

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