Rogue, a character from the superhero series “X-Men,” walked a small scarecrow by the hand Saturday morning.
Nearby, a Demogorgon steered Eleven from Netflix’s “Stranger Things” between booths. And Jill Stanley, of Platteville, Wis., bounced a baby Deadpool while keeping an eye on her 8-year-old Naruto jogging excitedly through Five Flags Center.
Quad Con was back for its second year in Dubuque, bringing enthusiasts of comic books, board and video games, toys, science-fiction, fantasy and more to Dubuque’s convention center.
With any such convention comes cosplaying — fans dressing as their favorite characters from their favorite genres.
These days, it’s a family affair.
Stanley — who recently moved to Platteville, but grew up in several area cities, including Dubuque — had gone to a few comic conventions in college. Those included Comic-Con International in San Diego, Calif.
“I didn’t get as into the cosplaying as much as some of my friends, but it was so much fun and such an experience every time,” she said. “Some of these people are pretty dazzling.”
But once she began her career and Blaine — dressed as Naruto — was born, she forgot about that phase.
That was until she and her son happened past some folks dressed up for Quad Con in Davenport, Iowa, last year. Blaine was enticed.
“When he was little, he would want to put on a costume to go to the playground,” Stanley said. “He was so excited. It was like another Halloween. So we went.”
After their move, she was happy to hear there was a convention in Dubuque.
All over Five Flags, parents perused boxes of comic books or played demo video games right beside their kids. Several said they had been to conventions before they had children and were happy to bring their kids along once they were old enough.
A few parent-kid duos even competed in the cosplay competitions Saturday afternoon.
Quad Con draws its name from the Quad Cities. Throughout the year, its organizers also throw conventions in Burlington, Cedar Rapids and Davenport in Iowa, and in Rockford and Peoria in Illinois.
It came to Dubuque in 2018 after another similar convention folded.
Quad Con Executive Director John Wells said earlier conventions followed the model of bringing people in with celebrity guests.
“It was great,” he said. “(Events) had a bunch of sluggers there. But we can’t afford that. So we changed from celebrity-driven, and it’s worked great.”
Wells said 979 attended the event in 2018. Five Flags General Manager H.R. Cook said he estimated there would be 1,500 to 1,600 this year.
This year drew more than 30 vendors, which helped draw a bigger crowd. That, Cook said, was a result of Wells’ policy to allow vendors to get their first table for free.
Des Moines-based comic book writer Von Ahnen brought his Saturday Morning Entertainment imprint to the Dubuque show. He said he had a great day, with lots of interest from attendees.
James Nurss, owner of First Aid Comics in Chicago, said, “There’s all different-sized shows. This one’s one of the smaller, but it is also a very good one.”
Cook said Five Flags would definitely host the event again next year. Which is good news for Wells and, he says, the public.
“We have this thanks to Five Flags, basically,” Wells said. “If they didn’t support this, let us charge just $3 for admission, we wouldn’t be able to have it. They’re bringing this to the community for the good of the nerds of the Midwest.”