Atlanta’s MomoCon draws animation, comic books and video game fans

Somebody give MomoCon a cape.

This annual geek gathering flexes some serious super powers. A celebration of animation, comic books and video games, MomoCon has grown faster than a speeding bullet since its 2005 debut.

What began as a free conglomeration of 750 fans on the Georgia Tech campus has blossomed to Gundam-like proportions. According to co-founder Jessica Merriman, MomoCon expects about 30,000 visitors this year. To serve the masses Memorial Day weekend, the convention will be held at the sprawling Georgia World Congress Center.

Merriman credits the con’s video game focus as one of its secrets to success. Some of the most prominent gaming companies, including ArenaNet and Aksys Games, will show off their wares at MomoCon. In its fighting game tournament alone, MomoCon will be giving away more than $10,000 in prizes.

“The video game industry is enormous,” she said, “and there’s almost nothing else of our size or close to it for video game events. And that’s a big piece of our growth, because there’s so much pent-up demand.”

Merriman recently opened MomoCon’s hard drive, giving us a peek at some of the key components:

Who’s that voice?

You may not know the name, but you likely know the voice. Some of the biggest pipes in the animation voice-over game will set up shop at MomoCon. From Disney heroines such as Belle and Pocahontas — Paige O’Hara and Irene Bedard, respectively — to Steve Blum, the voice of Spike in “Cowboy Bebop,” an array of voice-over performers will sign autographs for fans and participate in panel discussions. Merriman said not to miss the “Star Wars” script reading at 5:30 p.m. Saturday. This will feature voice artists such as Jim Cummings reading a “Star Wars” script as their most famous characters. Imagine Winnie the Pooh as a Sith Lord.

Playing dress up

Like most fan conventions, cosplay, the art of dressing up like genre characters, proves to be a huge MomoCon pastime. Sure, expect to see plenty of comic book cosplayers donning Captain America garb or portraying their favorite member of Suicide Squad. But Merriman said the bulk of MomoCon cosplay focuses on video games. In fact, one of the con’s largest photo shoots will be dedicated to the “League of Legends” game, featuring more than 100 participants.

Not-to-miss highlights

Fans with homemade remote-control robots will rumble in a robot battle competition. Attendees will hunt for clues in an escape-the-room game located in the middle of the MomoCon game floor. Members of the 501st Legion, a group of “Star Wars” cosplayers, and Q100’s “The Bert Show” will hold a special Blast a Stormtrooper event in which, for a fee, participants can shoot a “Star Wars” Stormtrooper, with proceeds benefiting the Bert’s Big Adventure charity program. Late-night revelers can dance to live band and DJ performances. Friday night will feature popular EDM artist Shawn Wasabi.

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