Community Lifestyles

JoeFest brings comics, cosplay, celebrities

(Featured image is of Archie Comics artist Bill Golliher (right) at the 2021 JoeFest. Charmain Z. Brackett/Augusta Good News)

Do the names Sgt. Slaughter, Jem and the Holograms, Jason Voorhees or GI Joe bring back good memories? Do you like cosplay and comic books?

JoeFest Toy and Comic Convention at the Augusta Convention Center on 901 Reynolds St. will bring together those childhood memories and more with a grand confluence of pop culture all in one place June 9-11.

Courtesy JoeFest website

 “We have celebrities such as Sgt Slaughter, Samantha Newark aka Jem from Jem and the Holograms, Tom O’Connell aka Darth Vader, Warrington Gillette aka Jason Voorhees from Friday the 13th Part II, and Keone Young, aka Mr. Wu from Deadwood,” said Ed Schumacher, who coordinates the convention with his wife, Loren. “And we have artists – lots of them. Highlighted by Eisner Hall of Famer Larry Hama, Marvel artist Robert Atkins, as well local talent, Shelby Puckett, Theron Cartwright and Randyl Bishop.”

That’s just to name a few of the guests who will be appearing at the annual event.

Sgt. Slaughter is a former U.S. Marine who became not only a well-known WWE wrestler but was made into a GI Joe cartoon character and action figure. Many who grew up in the 80s and beyond adulate his character.

He has been a major draw at many similar events across the country. A breakfast with Sgt. Slaughter is planned for June 11.

Samantha Newark

Joining Sgt. Slaughter is Samantha Newark known for her voice over work as “Jem” and “Jerrica” on “Jem and the Holograms.  She’s also part of Transformers with guest-starring roles as “Ariel” and “Elise Presser.”

Also, Keone Young, the voice of Storm Shadow in the original Sunbow GI Joe cartoon, is also coming to the convention and is sponsored by Chicken Fried Toys – Dime Novel Legends. Like last year, Chicken Fried Toys will have a special figure of Keone Young at JoeFest for convention-goers to purchase and have autographed.

Some of Young’s other credits include Mister Wu on HBO’s Deadwood; Commander Sato in Star Wars: Rebels; Buck Bokai in Star Trek – Deep Space Nine; Mr. Wu in Men In Black III; Silver Samurai from Xmen; Jeong-Jeong in Avatar; Grandpa in Jake Long – The American Dragon; Chen Stormstout in World of Warcraft – Mists of Pandaria.

One special guest calls Aiken home – Wakanda Forever and Stranger Things‘ actor and comic creator Jason Conley.

Though he has had roles in a major film and a television series, he said he’s not always recognized.

“I have only been acting since 2018; that’s probably why no one immediately recognizes me. (Acting) wasn’t anything I planned. I mean at some point everyone dreams of acting. This fell into my lap, mostly because when COVID hit no one, not even actors, wanted to work. So then I actually saw I could get fairly big supporting roles with Wakanda Forever being the biggest,” he said.

This will be his second appearance at JoeFest. Conley will sign autographs and sell signed merchandise while his comic staff runs the Fate68 Comix table.

“As far as comics, I have been writing stories since grade school, collecting them my whole life,’ Conley said.

They’re Action Figures is one of the 160 vendors scheduled for JoeFest.

He owned a small comic retail shop in Aiken in the 1990s and always wanted to publish his own comic.

“Little did I know that it would take off so fast. Now we have six titles, even artists and a full time staff assisting me. I still maintain all writing control though. We hit number one every month we released a new title or issue and beat Marvel three times in the top 10. So I think that is a good thing,” Conley said.

Wakanda Forever set in motion for Conley to have a recurring role in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

“My character got introduced in the Black Panther sequel, but they cut a large portion out. Later, Julia Louis Dreyfus and I found out our scene was too humorous for the tone the movie was going for. Which is fine because I know she will be in more to come and as her partner I am looking to revisit my role with her,” Conley said. 

He said he is crossing his fingers that the writers’ strike in Hollywood does not affect that.

For another of Conley’s comics, Pumpkin, JoeFest guest artist Gregbo Watson, who was already a well-established artist, drew some of the covers.  

“Since then Gregbo has become a huge part of the company, even taking over some of the creative director roles,” Conley said.

He said Watson has allowed the company to have full access to his pinup art and his vault art which dated all the way back to art school to create the first ever Gregbo Watson Trading Card series 1.

“It was a hit and we will have some of the special edition card sets available at the Fate68 Comix table at JoeFest,” Conley said.

This is JoeFest’s sixth year. It brings more than 5,000 people from across the U.S. and some other countries.

“With over 160 vendors from around the globe, we have every genre to excite your fandom (not just G.I. Joe but that is part of it),” Schumacher said.

Vendors will have action figures, comic books and other merchandise.

Convention goers are invited to participate in the Saturday cosplay as well as the celebrity panels. Aiken Lightsaber Academy will do a demonstration.

Correspondent Ron Baxley Jr. is a veteran journalist who has worked with multiple news organizations in his career. Subscribe to the Augusta Good News’ newsletter here.

Support local journalism: Local stories on local people, organizations and events. That’s the focus of Augusta Good News. And you don’t have to go through a paywall to find these stories. An independent voice in Augusta, Ga., Augusta Good News is not funded by a billionaire or a large corporation; it doesn’t have celebrity reporters who have agents. It’s local women and men who are invested in the community and want to tell its stories. You can support local journalism and help us expand our coverage by becoming a supporter. Through Ko-Fi, you can give once or set up a monthly gift. Click here to learn more. Thank you!