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5 ways to geek out at Tampa Bay Comic Con


Published:   |   Updated: August 22, 2013 at 11:45 AM

The Tampa Bay Comic Con just keeps getting bigger and more packed with Hollywood star power. This weekend, the biannual geekfest debuts at its new, larger home in the Tampa Bay Convention Center with guests from “The Hunger Games,” “Game of Thrones” and “The Walking Dead,” along with hundreds of exhibitors, panels and other events.

Here are five ways you can enjoy the con, whether you're a newbie or a seasoned fanboy or girl.

Autograph hunt: You can pay for an autograph and a photo with a star (Willow Shields aka “Primrose Everdeen” in “The Hunger Games” charges $30, for example) but the smarter way to go would be getting your comic books signed by an artist or writer, which could actually increase the value and make you money someday. Among the more than two dozen comics pros on hand will be George Perez, whose hundreds of credits include “Avengers,” “Justice League of America,” “Teen Titans” and “Wonder Woman.”

Ask away: Want to know what Lauren “Maggie Greene” Cohan eats for breakfast before a day of zombie killing on “The Walking Dead” set? Want to tell Jason Momoa (“Game of Thrones,” “Stargate: Atlantis”) that his pecs weren't as big as Schwarzenegger's in the 2011 “Conan” remake? You'll get your chance during celebrity panels for “The Walking Dead” (2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday) and “Game of Thrones” (4 p.m. Saturday, 5 p.m. Sunday).

Shop till you drop: The Con sold out every bit of its exhibitor space, which means more than 200 vendors will be there selling every toy, poster, T-shirt, DVD and comic book a geek could want. Where else can you pick up a stuffed “Dr. Who” Cyberman plush toy, a medieval broadsword, a painting of Muhammad Ali boxing Superman, earrings made from Legos and a copy of “Detective Comics” No. 27 (THE FIRST BATMAN COMIC!) under one roof.

Get into character: Show off your geek pride by wearing a costume to the con — one of the few public places on Earth where you'll actually fit in better if you're wearing a red cape and spandex or a Storm Trooper helmet. You can enter the cosplay contest (3 p.m. Saturday) for a shot at $500 in prize money, march in the cosplay parade (3 p.m. Sunday), or learn how to perfect those Vulcan ears for next year in one of the costuming panels (4 p.m. Friday, 11 a.m. Saturday, or noon Sunday.)

Find love: You don't have to travel to a galaxy far far away to find a special someone. The Tampa Bay Comic Con will feature a speed-dating event Sunday at 2 p.m., allowing participants to experience dozens of two-minute mini-dates over an hour to see whether they make a connection. Host Croix Provence told us she's seen couples who are still together a year after meeting at a previous con. Men pay $5 and women are free.

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