MegaMania! Pima public library celebrates fandom of all sorts at its con

By Laura Latzko

Fandom is as diverse as the people who have a passion for popular comic book, manga, book, video game, anime, TV or movie series.

The Pima County Public Library’s annual summer event MegaMania lets fans of all ages take part in hands-on activities, get dressed up as their favorite characters, play board or video games against others or learn something new through workshops.

In its seventh year, the event will take place on Saturday, July 13, at the Pima Community College downtown campus.

The event is a lead-up to Tucson Comic-Con, a larger-scale fandom event held in November. It offers cosplay opportunities, workshops, video and board games, lawn games, crafts, community partner tables and free pizza and snacks.

The library partners with Tucson Comic-Con for the summer event. The organization will have a presence with giveaways and superhero characters.

Event Coordinator Kendra Davey says MegaMania celebrates many different types of fandom.

“There are all sorts of things that people are excited about, get into and want to share that excitement with other people,” Davey says.

Each year, local organizations and individuals help to shape the event.

“It’s really about the people in our community that are participating,” Davey says. “They are all people from our community. We don’t bring in people from the outside.”

Cosplay is a major component of the event. Each year, people of all ages dress up as beloved pop culture characters.

Many serious cosplayers create custom-made costumes and props. One year, a cosplayer wore a zombie Stormtrooper costume.

“It’s fun to see people’s different takes on their costumes and how they put it together in different ways,” Davey says.

A Cosplay Showcase will let attendees at different levels show off their costumes.

The event will have chances to play popular and retro video and board games, including Minecraft and Fortnite.

Guests looking for something a little more interactive can solve puzzles and clues to try to find a way out of an escape room or adopt a new persona to fight monsters and go on adventures as part of a role-playing game.

An outdoor patio area will offer lawn games such as large-scale versions of Connect 4, Chess and Checkers.

For the first year, the RTEAM Robotics Club will stage robot battles for crowds.

Throughout the day, authors and artists will lead workshops on cosplay, writing and arts-related topics, including comic book self-publishing, character creation, a zombie fairy make-and-take, color theory, cartoon and comic strip creation and action scene or dialogue writing.

Guests can meet with and get autographs from Arizona-based children’s book, fantasy, sci-fi, young adult and comic book authors and artists.

For families, the event will offer hands-on crafts such as mask-making and cape-decorating.

During the event, fans can get more information on local cosplay organizations such as the Arizona Ghostbusters, Tucson Zombies, Ashling Studio, Star Trek Tucson, the Tucson Dread Fleet and the Rebel Calico.

“I think it’s a great way for people to learn about something that they might be interested in and a group that they can participate with,” Davey says.

The partnering organizations will have interactive activities and games for attendees, and their members will come out dressed in costume.

The Arizona Ghostbusters, a returning participant, plans to bring custom-made props such as proton packs and a containment unit.

Jeff Lewis, the group’s co-founder, says in their costuming and props, the members don’t stray far from the originals but may customize them. One member of their group, for example, has a pink proton pack.

The group uses items such as old vacuum tubes, a reel-to-reel tape player and computer parts in its props and set pieces.

“That’s the whole concept in the movie, that they were just finding stuff and putting it together. We try to keep that spirit alive,” Lewis says.

This year is a special year for the Arizona Ghostbusters costuming group because of the 35th anniversary of the original “Ghostbusters” movie.

Lewis says the series continues to be popular among different generations because of its humor and effects.

“A lot of parents who were fans as kids now have passed it on. Luckily, both of the movies and the cartoon are timeless classics,” Lewis says.

Arizona Ghostbusters started in 2007 with four members and has grown to over 30.

Along with MegaMania, the group does hospital visits and toy and food drives and takes part in events such as the Desert Financial Fiesta Bowl Parade in Phoenix and the Ghostbusters Fan Fest event in Hollywood.

Lewis says during events, group members can share their passion for “Ghostbusters” with others. “Ghostbusters” have held a sense of wonder for him since he was 4 years old.

“As a kid, I wanted to be a Ghostbuster. So, it’s a strange twist of fate that now I’m a Ghostbuster,” Lewis says.