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A trio of cosplayers talk about the art and inclusiveness of cosplay in the days leading up to the Lexington Comic & Toy Convention.
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A trio of cosplayers talk about the art and inclusiveness of cosplay in the days leading up to the Lexington Comic & Toy Convention.

Despite being relatively young in the world of comic cons, the Lexington Comic & Toy Con has grown by almost superhuman leaps and bounds since the inaugural event in 2012.

Back then, there wasn’t really a blueprint for what Central Kentucky’s biggest con should look like and who it should feature. But after a few years in the game, Lexington Comic Con promoter Jarrod Greer said despite never going in with a specific gameplan, one always seems to emerge.

“Themes always seem to develop over the course of the booking year,” he said. “And once you can kind of see the direction, you can emphasize it.”

With that in mind, in addition to getting to mingle and interact with notable personalities and creators in the world of cosplay and comics, or drop some dollars on various types of pop culture paraphernalia, we figured we would break down some of the notable themes we picked up while highlighting some of the Lexington con’s biggest gets.

Ian McDiarmid
Ian McDiarmid, who played Palpatine in the original “Star Wars” trilogy and prequels, will be a guest at the 2018 Lexington Comic & Toy Con. Eric Risberg AP

The Force Is Strong With This Con

Greer said booking any talent from the “Star Wars” franchise is about the surest bet to draw out crowds at a con, but this year’s lineup features a total of 16 guests from nearly every single “Star Wars” film and “The Clone Wars” animated series.

The biggest “Star Wars” stars at Lexington Comic Con include Ian McDiarmid (Palpatine, in his various forms, from the prequels and last two films in the original trilogy) and a return appearance from Lando Calrissian himself, Billy Dee Williams.

Greer said that getting someone like Williams from the original trilogy is becoming a rare treat.

“The original cast is getting harder and harder to book, and they are doing less shows, so I wanted to get Billy Dee here at least one more time,” he said.

Billy Dee Williams
Billy Dee Williams, who starred as Lando Calrissian in the “Star Wars” movies “The Empire Strikes Back” (1980) and “Return of the Jedi” (1983) returns to the Lexington Comic & Toy Con, this year. Richard Shotwell Invision/AP

In addition, “Star Wars” fans will get the chance to meet actors in smaller roles that play huge parts in the franchise’s lore, whether it’s puppeteers like Dave Barclay (the chief Yoda puppeteer on “The Empire Strikes Back”) or Brian Herring (BB-8 in “The Force Awakens”) or the actors who portrayed Admiral Ackbar (Tim Rose) or Jabba’s dancer Oola (Femi Taylor). Toss in some voice actors, stunt doubles, a couple of X-Wing pilots from “A New Hope” and the original Rancor Keeper Paul Brooke, making his first U.S. appearance with a life-sized Rancor, and you’ve got enough to make even the biggest “Star Wars” fan or autograph-seeker happy.

Waiting For Walker

Even with a packed lineup of guests, it’s pretty easy to see Lexington Comic Con’s biggest celebrity guest is international action star and star of “Walker Texas Ranger” Chuck Norris.

Even though Norris’ long career has gotten even more legs thanks to any number of Chuck Norris jokes, memes and GIFs making the rounds on social media, one place you won’t typically find Norris is at cons, making this appearance by the Texas Ranger in Kentucky an even more noteworthy event.

Things That Make You Go “Whooo!!!”

Ric Flair
Ric Flair Carolyn Kaster AP

Similar to Lexington’s other big convention, Scarefest, professional wrestlers continue to be a slam with fans. This year, Lexington Comic Con managed to snag WWE active roster talent like Rey Mysterio and Booker T, retired fan favorites like Kevin Nash and trailblazing WWE women wrestlers like Trish Stratus and Lita. But the wrestler that is garnering the most excitement is the Rolex wearin’, diamond ring wearin’, kid stealin’, limousine ridin’, jet flyin’, wheelin’-dealin’, son of a gun: The Nature Boy Ric Flair.

“Ric Flair is the Wrestler,” Greer said. “We have definitely stepped up our game this year.”

Hearing Voices

One thing Lexington Comic Con fans have always appreciated is the chance to meet the voices behind some of their favorite animated characters. This year’s event features a rare reunion when Tara Strong (Bubbles), E.G. Daily (Buttercup) and Catherine Cavadini (Blossom), the original voices behind the title characters of the hit animated series “The Powerpuff Girls,” will be in one convention together.

E.G. Daily
E.G. Daily poses with the “Rugrats” Tommy Pickles, one of many characters she has voiced, including Buttercup on “The Powerpuff Girls.” Damian Dovarganes AP

Tara Strong
Voice actor Tara Strong, whose characters include Buttercup in “The Powerpuff Girls,” will be a guest at the 2018 Lexington Comic & Toy Con. Eric Charbonneau Invision/AP

While voice actors from other animated series will also be featured this year, Greer said one of the con’s “sleeper” picks is nailing down voice actors from the popular anime series “Attack on Titan” like Josh Grelle (Armin) and Matthew Mercer (Levi). Mercer has gained an even greater and younger following thanks to his part in the popular Geek and Sundry YouTube channel series “Critical Role,” where voice actors play campaigns of the role playing game “Dungeons and Dragons” while using the voices that made them famous.

The Cat and The Archer

Greer said last year’s booking of Robin Taylor (The Penguin) from Foxs hit series “Gotham” was a highlight for anyone enthralled by all things Batman. This year, Lexington Comic Con will be returning to the world of “Gotham” with the booking of Camren Bicondova, who plays Selena Kyle/Catwoman in the series and had a noticeably long line when Greer saw her at a con in Florida.

Camren Bicondova
Camren Bicondova, who plays Selena Kyle/Catwoman on “Gotham,” will be a guest at the 2018 Lexington Comic & Toy Con. Brent N. Clarke Invision/AP

Speaking of actors from TV series about superheroes, one of this year’s headlining guests happens to be John Barrowman, who fans of the CW hit series “Arrow” know as Malcolm Merlyn a.k.a. The Dark Archer (he also played Captain Jack Harness in “Doctor Who”). But the word “dark” is the complete opposite of how fans could describe getting to meet Barrowman in person.

“There’s two types of celebrities at conventions. You’ve got the guys that always seem disgruntled to be there...and then you’ve got guys that embrace it,” Greer said. “John Barrowman has absolutely embraced the convention community as a whole.”

Here are a few other folks to expect:

One Hercules (Kevin Sorbo)

One Goonie (Key Huy Quan)

Shannon Elizabeth
Actress Shannon Elizabeth of “American Pie” fame will be at the 2018 Lexington Comic & Toy Con. Evan Agostini Invision/AP

One mini-“American Pie” reunion (Shannon Elizabeth and Thomas Ian Nicholas)

One girlfriend of “Joe Dirt” (Brittany Daniel)

Too many Might Morphin Power Rangers actors and actresses from various versions of the franchise to mention.

Lou Diamond Phillips
Lou Diamond Phillips Willy Sanjuan Invision/AP

One Weasel (Pauly Shore)

One Lou Diamond Phillips (“Young Guns,” “La Bamba”). “That was for my wife,” Greer said.

And one for the Trekkies (Jonathan Frakes a.k.a. Commander William T. Riker from “Star Trek: The Next Generation”).

“At a minimum, you have to have one ‘Star Trek’ person,” Greer said. “And when you do it, you get a good one.”

If you go

Lexington Comic & Toy

When: 1-9 p.m. March 9, 10 a.m.-7 p.m. March 10, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. March 11

Where: Lexington Convention Center, 430 W. Vine St.

Tickets: $40 Friday only, $60 Saturday and Sunday, $45 Saturday only, $30 Sunday only. Photo ops and autographs often cost more. See website for more information.

Online: Lexingtoncomiccon.com

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