Updated Mon, May 13, 2013 11:36 am
Ratha Con, a comic, sci-fi/fantasy convention in Athens, is growing in popularity.
Attendance to the second annual convention, held on Saturday at the Athens Community Center, doubled. Last year, roughly 300 people attended, according to event organizer Kelly Lawrence.
The convention included a full day of artist and collection displays, gaming, panel discussions, a dance party and costume contests, including a "Build Your Own Superhero" contest.
The convention also featured a special guest, Joanne Padgett, the self-published author of the Vampires of Camelot series. Padgett, of Nashville, Tenn., wrote the series from the perspective of Merlin, the famous wizard and mentor to King Arthur. Padgett signed books and also spoke during a panel discussion on self-publishing.
Desmoria, one of the characters in the Vampires of Camelot and Merlin’s niece, even made an appearance at Ratha Con. She was portrayed by Nashville-based actress Jennifer Richmond.
For Terence Hanley, 49, of Athens, conventions like these give him the chance to showcase his new material.
Hanley, an independent forester by day, has been publishing his art work since 2009, but he’s been drawing ever since he could pick up a pen. He specializes in monsters, aliens and the paranormal.
He was inspired to publish his first book after attending the Mothman Festival in Point Pleasant, W.Va.
"At the festival, they had folks with booths and tables just like at this convention," he said. "I saw what they had and what they didn’t have. And I thought I could offer something."
Hanley said there wasn’t much geared toward children. In response, he published Mothman Aliens and Flying Saucers as a coloring book in 2009, an endeavor that took him three months to complete. Since then, his goal has been to create something new every year.
"Most of the stuff I write and draw are based on supposed real events," he said, "so I do a lot of research and make the stories as authentic as I can."
His works have included other creatures like the Flatwoods Monster and Vegetable Man. He’s also created a trading card collection of UFOlogists and cryptozoologists. One of those cards features Mary Hyre, a former reporter and columnist with The Athens Messenger, who investigated sightings of Mothman and flying saucers in the Point Pleasant area.
A new project that breaks from his trend of covering monsters is his series called Lucky Girl, a character based on his niece. Lucky Girl has no superpowers, she is just extremely lucky, he explains. She solves mysteries and investigates crimes.
"Not a lot of comic books appeal to kids, especially girls," Hanley said. "When kids come by my table, their eyes just gravitate to Lucky Girl."
Most of Hanley’s work is done the old-fashion way — by hand, he said. He draws using a paint brush and India ink, a dense black ink. He then colors in by hand. For some projects, he has colored in using a computer.
For now, the endeavor for Hanley is a labor of love, but he said he hopes to one day turn a profit.
"Even if I never make a penny off of it, I would still do it," Hanley said. "It’s something I’ve always liked."
For future Ratha Con conventions, the organizers have said they hope to have celebrities attend, like actors from famous sci-fi favorite like the Star Wars and Star Trek films.
Slideshow: Ratha Con 2013
Attendees of the second-annual Ratha Con convention (including Batman) play video games
Desmoria, one of the characters in the Vampires of Camelot and Merlin’s niece, made an appearance, played by Nashville-based actress Jennifer Richmond
Tom Fiocchi of Ohio University's School of Theater shows off some of the props he has made over the years
Terence Hanley also created a trading-card collection of UFOlogists and cryptozoologists. One card features Mary Hyre, a former reporter and columnist with The Athens Messenger, who investigated Mothman sightings.
Artwork by Jesse Marks of Grafton was displayed at Ratha Con