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New comics, pop-culture convention in downtown

Wrestler “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan in an undated publicity photo.
bf689a51 5703 4e7a 882a ed84714e69fb hacksaw jim duggan.jpg

Southwest Florida has a brand-new pop-culture convention. And this one’s in downtown Fort Myers.

The Hero Con debuts this weekend with a roster of 10 celebrity actors, artists and wrestlers. The lineup includes WWE legend “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan, Marvel Comics writer/artist Al Milgrom and four voice actors from the anime series “My Hero Academia.”

They’re all ready to meet their fans, sign autographs and pose for photos, says The Hero Con co-founder and co-producer Dan Eckhardt.

“Everybody is really excited about seeing the fans,” Eckhardt says. “And that’s really what it’s all about.”

Southwest Florida already has several other pop-culture conventions, of course, including SWFL SpaceCon and SW-FloridaCon. But Eckhardt promises that his event will be more comparable to conventions in bigger Florida cities.

That includes about 15,000 square feet for the celebrities and vendors to spread out at the new Caloosa Sound Convention Center, which opened in 2020.

“There’s really wasn’t a show in Fort Myers that was comparable to the ones that are in Tampa Bay and Orlando,” Eckhardt says. “And then the Caloosa Sound Convention Center opened up, and it was a venue that can house such an event.”

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Hector David Jr. (aka the Green Samurai Power Ranger) is one of many celebrities appearing at the new Hero Con.

The convention is a labor of love started by a group of people who adore comic books, movies and everything else pop culture, he says.

For Eckhardt, it’s mostly about the comics. “It started out of a love of comic books,” he says. “I’m a big comic book collector.”

The con’s lineup of celebrities features:

  • Actor Sean Kanan, best known as “Karate’s Bad Boy” Mike Barnes in the movie “The Karate Kid Part III”
  • Marvel Comics writer/artist Al Milgrom (“Peter Parker, The Spectacular Spider-Man,” “West Coast Avengers”)
  • WWE legend “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan
  • Actor Hector David Jr., who played the Green Samurai Power Ranger in the TV series “Power Rangers Megaforce” and “Power Rangers Samurai” and also the movie “Power Rangers Super Megaforce: The Legendary Battle.”
  • Pro wrestlers Amber Nova and Santana Garrett
  • And four voice actors from popular anime series “My Hero Academia”: Joel McDonald, Jarrod Greene, Jad Saxton and Megan Shipman.

Wrestler Amber Nova

Eckhardt is especially excited about Milgrom, one of the last living artists from comic books’ Silver Age. “He worked with Stan Lee at Marvel Studios,” he says. “He collaborated with Stan Lee and created a lot of characters.”

Another big draw should be WWE Hall of Famer Duggan. “He wrestled in the first WrestleMania,” Eckhardt says. “He’s wrestling royalty.”

Then there’s Kannan from “The Karate Kid Part III.” Eckhardt remembers “Karate’s Bad Buy” quite well, he says. “As a young guy watching the movie, Sean actually scared me.”

But don’t let that worry you. Kannan isn’t at all like that in real life, he says. “He’s one of the nicest, most personable guys.”

In addition to those celebrities, The Hero Con will feature cosplayers (including stormtroopers cosplay group The 501st Legion and the G.I. Joe “costume club” The Finest), a cosplay contest and vendors selling everything from toys to comic books.

Organizers hope to make The Hero Con an annual event for downtown Fort Myers, Eckhardt says.

Connect with this reporter: Email crunnells@gannett.com or connect on social media at Charles Runnells (Facebook), @charlesrunnells (Twitter) and @crunnells1 (Instagram).

If you go

What: The Hero Con

When: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 16-17

Where: Caloosa Sound Convention Center & Amphitheater, 1375 Monroe St, downtown Fort Myers

Tickets: $20. Free admission to all Lee County first responders. Free for ages 12 and younger (one child per adult).

COVID protocols: Masks and social distancing are encouraged, but not required.

Info: theherocon.com

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