Stevie and John take a day trip with the family to Tampa to attend Friday of Tampa Bay Comic Convention. Here they'll share some of their favorite moments, interactions, and of course loot purchased from vendors.

Tampa Bay Comic Convention which on swirl purple and pink background
Tampa Bay Comic Convention logo

The Convention

Tampa Bay Comic Convention was held at the Tampa Bay Convention Center, from Friday July 28th through Sunday July 30th. We were there for Friday, which the floor was open from 12:30pm until 8:00pm. They were spread over 3 floors. Floor 3 was the home of the majority of the convention. It held the "celebrity row" for autographs, the vendor hall, and one of our favorites artist alley. They had a large number of panel rooms on the first floor. The 4th floor had some more panel rooms, including an anime screening room, an area for workshops, and the photo ops area.

We didn't prepurchase parking. We went for a nearby garage that has 1400 spaces and it was full at 12pm. Thankfully, this area has the convention center and arena in the general area, so there were plenty of parking options. We ended up just 3 blocks from the convention center at another nearby garage that was hourly, but capped at just $12 for the day.

Getting in was a breeze. We were there just after opening. There was a line winding around the side that was constantly moving. They actually had us switching between two escalators to get up to the 2nd floor for entrance. That was nice so you didn't have to worry about bunching up. Weapon and security flowed through quickly and easily. We then needed to wait in line for our wristbands. There was no separate line for prepurchase from day of, only VIP had their own line. But even that took at most 10 minutes to get through. All in all, getting in was pretty painless.

The Celebrities

Tampa Bay had a good mix of celebrities in attendance. They had actors from classic TV such as Jamie Farr and Loretta Swit from M*A*S*H* or Bob Eubanks, famous game show host. They had super heros such as Grant Gustin, Banielle Panabaker, and Carlos Valdes from The Flash, Michael Rooker who played Yondu in Guardians of the Galaxy (to stick to super hero theme but also known for many other roles across TV and movies), and Manu Bennett who played the role of Slade Wilson in Arrow. They even had 3 of the 4 hobbit: Billy Boyd, Dominic Monaghan, and Sean Astin. Unfortunately Elijah Wood had to postpone. They also had a plethora of voice actors, legends like Jim Cummings and Rob Paulsen, video game voices like Steve Downes, Jen Taylor, and Steve Burton, and anime voices such as Neil Kaplan, Chris Sabat, Stephanie Young, and Dameon Clarke. You can see the full list of who they had this year on the Film and TV actors page.

I think one of the highlights for us was meeting Jim Cummings, Maurice LaMarche, and Rob Paulsen. We found a Darkwing Duck funko pop when wandering the vendor floor and decided to purchase it and have it signed as we are big Darkwing fans. We've met Jim Cummings at conventions before, including getting him to record as Pooh and Tigger inviting our daughter to Disney World, as a part of a video we made to surprise her for a birthday trip. Both of the kids were amazed watching him switch between all the voice he does.

Darkwing Duck Funko pop with silver signature of Jim Cummings with gold backpack in background with Morkor the Kobold on it.
Darkwing Duck Funko pop signed by Jim Cummings

When we got out of line there, TJ asked to go meet Pinky and the Brain, as both Rob Paulsen (the voice of Pinky) and Maurice LaMarche (the voice of Brain) were the next two tables and he had been looking over their banners. We jumped into Maurice's line as it was short and both kids lit up talking about loving Animaniacs and hearing him switch to other voices on the fly made their day. TJ picked out a Pinky and the Brain photo to get signed then we looped over to Rob Paulsen. There, TJ stood in the corner of the line just loving listening to him talk in voice to people. Rob even broke out into the full countries song for someone. Unfortunately, he had to take a photo op break, so John stayed in line and the kids did some walking with Stevie. When he returned they ran back to the line. When it was our turn, he was so kind and thoughtful. He thanked us for being patient, as he had ruffled TJ's head in line calling him "his new favorite chia pet" in character voice so knew we were there before his break. The kids asked him to say "narf" (a la Pinky) and they were all giggles every time he did that and his other voices including some Ninja Turtles and Yakko. The interactions with the three of them was easily the highlight of the day.

Picture of Pinky and the Brain on a black background signed by Rob Paulsen and Maurice LaMarche
Pinky and the Brain autographs

The Vendors

I can't help but like a good convention vendor area. It always is so much fun to see what they have to offer. I love finding handmade and unique items. We didn't quite have enough time to walk it all, but we did see a large portion. We did try to focuse first on Artist Alley, as we love to see what people create and bring and then span out from there. As this was more a general comic convention, there was not a lot of tabletop games being offered, but that didn't mean there wasn't plenty to love.

It's hard to really talk through it all, so I'm just going to share some of the awesome items we got and who they were from. This was fun being another Florida based convention as there were plenty of new vendors, but also saw some of our favorites again and were able to support them.

One of the familiar vendors we saw and purchased from was the Shoppe of Many Things. The Shoppe is "a couple of nerds who love to spread joy". They offer a lot of unique crafted items such as stickers, keychains, earings, t-shirts, and pins. In particular, Stevie picked up a cute sticker and then the new Gelatinous Cube Shaker keychain, which is so cool.

Sticker of cup with straw and floating tentacled creatures. Keychain of green gelatinous cube with sword sticking in it and skulls and bones inside. Logo reading the Shoppe of Many Things.
Drink sticker and Gelatinous Cube Shaker from the Shoppe of Many Things

Another shop we had previously seen (and supported) is Pieces of Melee. She makes tea infusers with geeky touches. As Stevie loves her tea, she picked up a weeping angel tea ball, that has a fantastic angel charm on the end. We do love our Doctor Who.

Tea ball with beads connecting to metal angel covering eyes.
Weeping angel tea infuser from Pieces of Melee

We also found a new vendor, Glowing Vista Gifts, selling two types of statues. One was skeletons wearing costumes called Furry bones, which TJ absolutely loved and got one dressed as a raven. Second, they had fantasy statues. What drew us in where the steampunk style, that we got a werewolf and dragon. They have great detail to them and were really nicely priced. We thought they'd stand out and add a little something to our decor with that steampunk touch to it.

Silver werewolf status in steampunk style on top of skulls.
Silver steampunk werewolf from Glowing Vista Gifts
Silver dragon with gold touches and steampunk style gears.
Silver and gold steampunk dragon from Glowing Vista Gifts

Whats a TTRPG player at a con without some dice? Well, there were plenty of dice available around the convention. We settled on some beautiful sets and a chonk d20 from Dice Sorcerer. They are handcrafted and just gorgeous. They also offer pointed d%s and d4s in their sets, making them unique from some other sets.

Hand holding purple dices that are sprakly with gold lettering.
Purple sparkling dice set with gold lettering from Dice Sorcerer

We actually ended our night with a great surprise. We were turning around from the end of the row to head back towards the front and found a friend from a previous con: Merlin Munchies Coffee. We saw them last year at LeakyCon Orlando when they were just starting out. We had talked about our podcast and TJ talked to them about his love of audio books. They were about to launch their own audio book in the near future. As we walked up, she immediately grabbed her QR code for the book, remembering us and TJ's love of audio books. It was so great to see them and of course buy some more coffee. Though Morkor is disappointed non have kobolds or dragons on them.

Three black bags of coffee. First one called Costa Rica Pura Vida. Second with wizard called the Universe Blend. Third called the Creme Brulee Crypto Trader.
Costa Rica Pura Vida, The Universe Blend, and The Universe Blend coffees from Merlin Munchies Coffee

This is just a sampling of the vendors and artists that were present at Tampa Bay Comic Convention. We had a great time, got to talk to some great artists, and look forward to doing it again in the future.