Culture Convention | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Culture Convention

 Jason Pollan as the Joker at Pulp Con 2012.

Jason Pollan as the Joker at Pulp Con 2012.

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Pulp Con attracts fans from many corners of pop culture, such as sisters Rachel, Christine and Diane Ward, shown here at last year’s convention.

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Artists, such as Nikki Campbell Costilow, will be on hand to discuss their work.

Mississippi Pulp Con is a place where steampunk zombies can rub elbows with Wookiees. Roller-derby girls can exchange numbers with comic fanboys. Vampirellas, paranormal investigators and pop artists can dance the night away. It's a melting pot of pop culture and nerd culture, inclusive of everyone.

The con (short for convention) is the brainchild of Chuck Jett, a local illustrator and graphic designer. He founded the event to fill a niche between fine-arts events and on-the-street pop-art demonstrations.

"Pulp, the word, is based on the pulp dime books on the newsstands in the first half of the 20th century," Jett says. "The detective stories, westerns, sci-fi and superhero comic books and fantasy. It was kind of trash as far as how it was looked upon at the time, cheap trash novels--but those are the ones we remember: the fun, interesting, new fantastical things you had to hide from your mom."

Jett stresses the multifaceted nature of the event, which includes visual arts, film, literature, music and dance. "It's definitely a whole-family event," he says.

More than 30 artists and authors will be on hand to discuss their works, do Q&As, exhibit their art and do live demonstrations. Jett is particularly excited about this year's guests of honor, including comic artists Mitch Byrd, who has illustrated for Green Lantern, among dozens of other titles; Steve Scott, known for work on X-Men and Batman; and Geoffrey Gwin. Author guests of honor will be Allen Brown and James Bell, who will discuss his recently released novel, "Vampire Defense." Costume contests and a pop-art contest will continue throughout the day, Jett says.

As the afternoon fades into evening, The Consortium of Genius, a band out of New Orleans, will play for the first time in Jackson. Another first follows with the premiere of "Dead Weight," an independent horror film making its Mississippi debut. The night ends with the MissiHIPPY Black Hearts Ball, which Jett calls "Jackson's original anti-Valentine's Day party," this year taking on the theme "zombie apocalypse." The MissiHIPPY belly dancers have four choreographed dances planned.

Jett is pleased with the way the whole state has embraced the convention. "We have comic stores from Biloxi and Tupelo coming in for it," he says. "It makes me feel like the state has adopted it as Mississippi's con, not just Jackson's." The first Pulp Con, held four years ago, attracted around 60 people. Jett hopes to see 400 or more at the third-annual convention this year.

Mississippi Pulp Con is Saturday, Feb. 16, from 11 a.m. to midnight at the Arts Center of Mississippi (201 E. Pascagoula St.). Tickets are $10 in advance and $15 at the door. Visit mspulpcon.com or facebook.com/MSPulpCon. Advance tickets are available at Comic Commander (579 Highway 51, Suite D, Ridgeland, 601-856-1789) and Heroes and Dreams (5352 Highway 25, Suite 1700, Flowood, 601-992-3100).

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