TAMPA — The Tampa Bay Comic Convention returns this weekend for what will feel like its first normal fan gathering since 2019, with thousands of costumed fans ready to get their hands on lots of merch and pictures with celebrities.
The superhero count is high this year, with appearances from William Shatner, the original Capt. Kirk from “Star Trek”; and Dean Cain, the hunky ‘90s Superman from the television series “Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman.” There are also actors from “Doctor Who,” “Once Upon a Time” and “The Walking Dead,” as well as artists, writers, and voice actors making appearances. This weekend brought a last-minute cancellation by critically acclaimed actor Paul Bettany, who plays Vision in the Marvel universe.
The fan convention — don’t call it “comic con” because they were sued by San Diego over the name — will be Friday through Sunday at the Tampa Convention Center. It was canceled in 2020. In 2021, it opened the doors with mask warnings as the Delta variant was raging through the state. Even though there is a new subvariant circulating, organizers say things are feeling a little closer to normal this year.
The convention, which started in 2010, drew more than 50,000 people before the pandemic. Organizers said ticket sales are strong, and that they’re on track to exceed last year’s attendance and be on par with pre-pandemic attendance numbers.