PEORIA — Organizers of PeoriaCon, which salutes comics, games and costumed characters, didn't have to go to Hollywood to find someone to do a presentation on animation.
Bob Doucette, an animator for 23 years for Warner Brothers and Splash Entertainment, recently moved from Los Angeles to Peoria. "I'll talk about my career as an animator, perhaps encouraging people who have an interest in that," he said about the event set for 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. March 2 at Exposition Gardens.
Doucette, who will illustrate his talk with images and short videos of cartoon favorites he worked on such as "Tiny Toons," "Animaniacs" and "Freakazoid," is just one of many artists and game developers on hand for PeoriaCon.
"It's not just a comic book show, but a cosplay (dress in costumes) and game — both board and video — show," said organizer Jason Johnston, who feels that central Illinois was ripe for a show of this kind.
"There's enough interest in the pop culture genre. I've been a collector myself, but this is the first time I've organized a show. There have been several attempts to have shows like this in the past. They all failed for one reason or another," said Johnston, who believes his trade show experience will make a difference.
"We've got more than 40 vendors set to go. We could have sold more but we wanted to make sure there was plenty of space for the public," he said.
Johnston has plenty of events planned — from card and game tournaments, a cosplay contest, demonstrations and seminars to go along with dealers of toys and comic books. As far as the games go, don't look for Monopoly or Scrabble sets. The competition here involves spell-slinging in Legends of Draxia or dodging evil in Fates of Madness.
Individuals dressed as "Star Wars" characters will also be on hand, raising money for charity, said Johnston.
Judging the cosplay contest, which offers a $200 prize to the best costume, are Doucette and Larry Kenney, the former radio DJ who provided the voice of Lion-O in the "ThunderCats" cartoon series.
Kenney is no stranger to Peoria. The Pekin Community High School graduate, who worked at WIRL-AM 1290 in the 1960s before going on to radio jobs in Cleveland, Chicago and New York, will also host a seminar.
You've probably heard Kenney's voice without even realizing it. In addition to a 35-year career providing voices for the syndicated "Imus in the Mornin" show, he's been the commercial voice of Sonny, the animated bird that’s cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs as well as Count Chocula.
Kenney was doing voices from the start, noting that he broke into radio as a 15-year-old junior in high school, sharing the mike with another WIRL alum, Bill McCluggage, a student at Peoria High School at the time, on a weekly one-hour show called School Scope.
While Kenney now hails from Connecticut, many of the others assembled by Johnston to entertain at PeoriaCon live right here in central Illinois, said Johnston. "I'd say about half of them are local or live pretty close. Some are coming from Chicago and St. Louis," he said.
Among the artists on hand will be Mitchell Blumenshine, creator of "Dragon-eX," Landon Ruan, Jeremiah Lambert, Zac Atkinson, Kiley Beecher, Camron Johnson and John Rodriguez.
Also on tap will be tattoo artist Skyla Mae Tegg, welder Angry Parrot Forge, Patrick McLaughlin, who wrote "The Zoo," William Haun, creator of "Weird, Weird West" and Hugo Negron, author of "Forging of a Knight."
Admission is $10, with children 10 and younger admitted free. For more information, visit www.peoriacon.com.
Steve Tarter can be reached at 686-3260 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him at Twitter@SteveTarter and facebook.com/tartersource.