Atlanta anime, gaming and cosplay con marks 15 years

Patrick Warburton headlines evolving MomoCon

There are thousands upon thousands who go to MomoCon every year, and each has their own reason for attending the four-day celebration of gaming, music, costuming, comics, visual arts and voice acting.

For D’Andrea Seabrook of Dunwoody, it started as a lifelong passion for Halloween and all its trappings — specifically, the delicious anticipation of planning and executing the perfect costume.

“I’ve always been that kid who couldn’t wait to dress up as my favorite character for Halloween,” Seabrook said. “It was amazing to learn that (at conventions like MomoCon) you could actually celebrate Halloween throughout the whole year.”

Seabrook – who has been attending the convention since 2008 – is dressing up as the main character from a Japanese anime series at this year's 15th annual MomoCon, scheduled for May 23-26 at the Georgia World Congress Center and Omni Hotel, where she will join an estimated 38,000 other fans of Japanese anime, American animation, comics and gaming.

The convention features hours of panels and sessions, including the opportunity to meet celebrity voice talent, designers and writers from shows, games and comics as well as a massive exhibitor’s hall, which MomoCon Co-Chair Chris Stuckey described as “a giant shopping mall full of geek merchandise — from anime and video games to ‘Star Trek’ and sci-fi kinds of stuff.”

Stuckey said the Atlanta-born convention has come a long way since its birth 15 years ago.

What started as the brainchild of founder Jess Merriman (Stuckey’s wife) at Georgia Tech 15 years ago, boasting about 800 attendees, has since changed venues multiple times to keep up with the growing number of people who come out every year.

And no, MomoCon isn’t the celebration of a scary, big-eyed YouTube monster – “Momo” means “peach” in Japanese, a tribute to the event’s Georgia roots.

“It’s been awesome to watch this grow,” Stuckey said. “A lot of the years blend together, but every year there’s a highlight or a momentous moment in (the convention’s) history that we manage to accomplish … that we didn’t think we could have accomplished before.”

He said this year’s highlight was getting celebrity Patrick Warburton (known for his role as Puddy on “Seinfeld” as well as voice acting on “Family Guy,” “A Series of Unfortunate Events” and “Bee Movie”) to sign on for MomoCon.

»»RELATED: Read Rodney Ho's interview with Patrick Warburton

Credit: Andy Kropa

Credit: Andy Kropa

Beyond celebrity meet-and-greets, Stuckey said first-timers to MomoCon can expect “a general sense of excitement, a sense of energy” around them as they enter the event.

“People are going to walk in the door and they’re going to see a lot of people — most of which will have on some type of costume — but, you don’t have to wear a costume to attend,” Stuckey said. “Even for a first-timer who might not even know anything about fandom or geek culture or anything like that, it feels very special to be there.”

As a fully costumed attendee, Seabrook said what makes MomoCon special for her personally is “seeing kids and grown-ups light up when they see you, and you’re one of their favorite characters, or people wanting to take a picture with you because they really like your craft or can truly appreciate all the work you put into the costume.”

Added Seabrook: “It’s the same kind of excitement you always felt as a kid, when Halloween was right around the corner.”

In addition to the four-day convention, there will also be a career fair prior to the general event kicking off from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. May 23, offering attendees access to gaming, animation, comic book, film and staffing companies.


May 23-26. The exhibit and gaming halls open at 2 p.m. Thursday, May 23; registration begins at 2 p.m. Wednesday, May 22. Register for four-day ($77) or single-day ($30-$50) memberships as well as game tournaments. Georgia World Congress Center, 285 Andrew Young International Blvd. NW, Atlanta.