Attribute the current surge in superhero movies to one thing. Superheros give hope. Organizers of Hillsville’s first comic book convention want to do just that for a local eight-year old (and others) with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD).
Organizers of “Khan-Con” are promoting the event as family-friendly fun for a serious cause. It is set for August 15 at Grover King VFW Post 1115 from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Admission is $5 with children under 12 admitted free. Refreshments will be offered by VFW Post 1115. Cash only sales at the door the day of the convention. Persons may find out more information on the event at www.khan-con.com, following Khan-con on Facebook and twitter. Donations may be made at http://www.gofundme.com/nkdyxs.
Local organizer David Guynn teamed up with Glen Richardson (Artist/Writer of Sgt. Sasquatch, “The Bigfoot of Liberty” series) in response to Guynn’s eight-year old son, Jack, who suffers from DMD, a genetic disorder characterized by progressive muscle degeneration and weakness. It is one of nine types of muscular dystrophy. The disease primarily affects boys, but in rare cases it can affect girls. There is no cure for DMD with current treatments used to slow the disease’s advance.
Guynn said DMD is not well-known, so there isn’t nearly enough funding and legal support for research. A cadre of friends and family have stepped up including Jack’s mother, Autumn Sullivan, and sister, Molly Lawson. The family uses its limited resources and gaming, fantasy, sci-fi, and cosplay (costumed role playing) interest to create an event everyone’s inner kid can enjoy.
He said Jack is a “ridiculous, loud, hilarious little boy” who loves all things super-hero and cartoons. Jack must climb three flights of stairs to reach the family’s current apartment and it is becoming increasingly more difficult for him to climb each day.
“Soon he will not be able to make it at all; we carry him up and down whenever possible. He is very strong willed and usually insists on doing it himself,” said Guynn. “He doesn’t understand why his body is failing him, but this doesn’t stop him from trying and it won’t stop us either.”
Sullivan said part of the proceeds from Khan-Con will not only go to fund a clinical trial program for Jack, but for DMD research to help other victims. Guynn said this is in gratitude for all who have pitched in to help. The two praised the support of VFW Post 1115 members for Khan-Con once they found out about Jack. The Khan-Con name was inspired by Star Trek villain Khan Noonien Singh.
In typical superhero fashion, Jack has beaten long odds to be a perfect candidate in a clinical trial which could offer a cure for him and other boys with DMD. The trial requires travel to Baltimore, Maryland two days weekly for two years. Sullivan said there are no trials closer and the fact that Jack was selected is a miracle in itself.
“Jack fits the criteria for this trial perfectly and that just doesn’t happen. He’s really something, especially his humor now. His eight-year old mind is putting it together,” said Sullivan. “He’s really smart. He’s a pattern and numbers guy though. He’s awesome. He really gets things.” She said Jack is a high-functioning autistic child. When the family took Jack in for genetic testing for autism, his DMD was discovered.
Khan-Con boasts a family-friendly slate of talent. The “501st Legion:Vader’s Fist,” a costumed “Star Wars” themed group will be patrolling Khan-Con. The Mandalorian Mercs Star Wars Costuming Club will also participate. The group founded “Little Warrior International,” a non-profit charity fulfilling the needs of sick and underprivileged children.
Brian Funk, the writer and creator of Enforcer (a crime noir/fantasy comic with artist Artyom Trakhanov), is also slated to attend. Funk owns MadLab Studio, which makes custom action figures. Richardson will also participate. His other projects including Space Daisy, Zenith: Phase of the Werewolf, and Steamborg Union.
Fries sculptor, model maker, special effects makeup designer and airbrush artist Chad Tate will be featured. His sculpting and fabricating business “Ex-Treme Kustoms” creates custom high-end replicas of television and movie characters.
The “Night Watch Haunt” group will perform make-up and special effects “magic” by creating zombies and monsters and host a cosplay contest for all genres. “Critical Hit Creations” (created by Jack’s parents) will offer handmade products including bead art, String and plush dolls, dice, dice bags, buttons, cosplay props.
Other vendors and artists featured include Momma Cricketz (fabric artist), Tim Cannon Comics and Toys, Untamed Worlds: comic and gaming shop, D & J Hobby Center: Models, comics, hobby products and accessories, paints, Warhammer 40,000 and fantasy, Paradise Games: gaming and toy shop, Dreampunk Press (an independent publishing cooperative in the Hampton Roads area), Across the Board Games, which specializes in Magic: The Gathering, role playing games, and board gaming. Guynn said organizers are looking for more vendors for the convention.
David Broyles may be reached at 276-779-4013 or on Twitter@CarrollNewsDave.