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Tampa Bay Comic Con releases superhero personalities

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Published:   |   Updated: March 18, 2013 at 06:32 PM

From the moment she came into the world, Abby Romero was destined to be a superhero. Her mom and dad made sure of it.  

 The three of them —1-year-old Abby and her parents, Melissa and Luis Romero —donned masks, capes and utility belts Saturday morning, and traveled from Tarpon Springs to attend the Tampa Bay Comic Con.

 "(Abby)'s been collecting comic book stuff since before she was born," said Melissa Romero, between posing for cell phone photos with the stream of people who wanted pictures with the young family in the matching Batman costumes. "Before she was even born, we were already filling her room with superhero stuff."

Hundreds of costumed and noncostumed fans of superhero movies, anime, comic books and zombies swarmed the Doubletree Hotel in Tampa for the 12th year of the annual convention.

 The two-day event celebrates not only comic books, but also cult movies, games, toys, cartoons and science fiction in general.

 Saturday afternoon featured a standing-room-only discussion with actor Chandler Riggs, who talked about his role as pre-teen zombie apocalypse survivor Carl Grimes on the hit cable series "The Walking Dead." There were celebrity comic book artists, costume contests and table after table of vendors selling toys, posters and thousands of comic books in protective plastic sleeves.

 And for some, like the Romeros, it was a chance to combine their love of geek culture with some family bonding time.

 Tampa resident Tony King was there with his father, son and daughter, selling comic books out of his vast private collection. Also for sale at their table was a series of paintings his father E.J. King had done, including a large portrait of Muhammad Ali boxing Superman.

 "It's all about togetherness," Tony King said. "Comic books are something you can share with people."

 Tony King, who now works as a respiratory therapist, started collecting during his childhood, but eventually realized it could be a lucrative business too. He said he started selling his comic books as a street vendor in New York City's financial district, and turned a nice profit until the Sept. 11 attacks made him decide to stop.

 He left the city behind, but never his love for comics.

 "To me, comic books are a positive thing," he said. "When I was a kid, you'd sit on your stoop and you'd read with your friends, and it kept you from going out and doing all this criminal stuff. It kept you out of trouble."

You can check out more photos from the convention here.

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