Benefit comic convention HurriCon is a super time

There’s something for everyone at Bethany Church’s fundraising comic convention


What do you get when you cross a comic convention with a hurricane aftermath story? HurriCon, of course. The seventh benefit comic convention at Bethany Congregational Church, in East Rockaway, last Saturday was a hit, as it has been every year since it was created in 2018.

“It’s the best feeling,” Rich Drezen, who self-publishes his own comic series, said of the convention. “It’s almost better than breathing. I say almost because I’m asthmatic, and I need to breathe.”

More than 100 people from across the state gathered at the church for the much-anticipated event. What began as a fundraiser to repair the church’s floors — which had taken a beating when the building serving as East Rockaway’s resource center in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy in 2012 — has expanded to the full-sized comic convention that it is today, while still maintaining its original purpose.

“Bethany is an open and affirming congregation, which simply means that everyone is welcome to come and worship regardless of who you are,” David Donovan, founder of HurriCon, said. “I want you to come to HurriCon and feel welcome and comfortable, just as we want you to feel the same way at Bethany Church.”

“It’s not just about us — it’s really (meant) to be a community outreach,” Donovan’s wife, Linda, said. “This community of people is awesome. You couldn’t find friendlier, nicer, more talented people.”

The church was filled with booths manned by comic lovers selling original artwork, vintage comics, stickers, Funko collectibles and more. Even the Long Island TARDIS — a life-sized replica of the iconic time-traveling phone box from “Dr. Who” — was there.

The conventions grand finale was a raffle that included sought-after items like replicas of Negan’s bat and Michonne’s katana from “The Walking Dead,” a signed Archie vs. Predator comic, a coupon for a pet portrait by local artist Meghan Taylor, a signed print by late Batman artist John Buscema, and a Captain America statue.

Kimball Thorpe, of East Rockaway, a comic artist, has been coming since the inaugural HurriCon in 2018. He and lithographer Phil Mitchell created art pieces right at their booth, taking requests and creating portraits of beloved characters. The two artists have known each other since high school. “It’s like kindred spirits when we come here,” Thorpe said.

“People like the characters and the stories,” Mitchell said. “They’ve grown up with them.”

“And we meet a lot of people that do their own art,” Thorpe added. “It’s interesting to see what they’re doing, and trade ideas.”

The attendees, who ranged in age from 7 to 93, included professional and amateur creators, comics fanatics and casual enjoyers, and all seemed to find something of interest among the varied attractions. At the core of it all was the warmth of an accepting community, and the excitement of bonding with others with a love of the decidedly offbeat.

“That’s what’s great about it: You know you’re with people who have an appreciation,” Tom Travers, who self-publishes an original comic series, said. “They’re into a lot of the same stuff — comics and animation, movies. Similar tastes and interests. That’s what’s cool, to be around that atmosphere. You’re not always getting that anywhere else. It’s a collection of fans and passionate, creative people.”