Come join our cast of characters as you experience Auburndale’s third annual City Con. The event will be held Jan. 20‐21, 2017 in the city’s beautiful downtown park. See below our celebrity guests, moderators and cosplay clubs for the event.
City Con Guests
Larry Hama (celebrity guest)
Larry Hama is a comic book writer, artist, actor, and musician who has worked in the fields of entertainment and publishing since the 1960s. During the 1970s, he was seen in minor roles on the TV shows M*A*S*H and Saturday Night Live, and appeared on Broadway in two roles in the original 1976 production of Stephen Sondheim‘s Pacific Overtures. He is best known to American comic book readers as a writer and editor for Marvel Comics, where he wrote the licensed comic book series G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero, based on the Hasbro toyline. He has also written for the series Wolverine, the Ultimate Ninja, and Elektra. He created the character Bucky O’Hare, which was developed into a comic book, a toy line and television cartoon. At DC, Hama became an editor of the titles Wonder Woman, Mister Miracle, Super Friends, and The Warlord, and the TV-series licensed property Welcome Back, Kotter from 1977–1978. He then joined Marvel as an editor in 1980.
Watch this video about Hama being interview about G.I. Joe: https://www.nytimes.com/video/movies/100000003326335/gi-joe-the-rise-of-cobra-larry-hama-featurette.html
Jeremy Palko (celebrity guest)
Jeremy Palko is an American actor in film and television. He was born in LaGrange, GA to Bruce and Sabine Palkowetz. Raised in Washington State, Jeremy grew up in Puyallup, WA where he attended Rogers High School. A graduate of the University of Washington in Seattle, Jeremy had his first experience in the theater after a knee injury sidelined him from collegiate sports.
Jeremy found his first speaking role in the film Never Back Down where he used his athletic background to play the running back in the film’s opening scene. Jeremy has since gone on to play numerous parts in such television shows as The Vampire Diaries, Are We There Yet?, Burn Notice, and Sleepy Hollow. Most recently, Jeremy can be found on the Emmy Nominated show Bloodline, as Nicholas Widmark and Andy on AMC’s The Walking Dead.
Mary McDonald Lewis (celebrity guest)
Mary McDonald Lewis
When she auditioned for the GI Joe series, she was originally auditioning for a smaller role, but voice director Wally Burr heard something in her voice that he liked, so he asked her to read for Lady Jaye instead. She said a big part of reading for Lady Jaye was shouting “Yo Joe!” into the microphone as loud as she could, and believes that she got the part because she wasn’t afraid to give her all in her readings. Mary has also played numerous roles in animated TV shows, such as The Mask, Batman, Where’s Waldo, and many more. Grimm is one of her only physical roles. She portrayed Frau Pech in the NBC hit series.
Marc "Omegaman" Wilkes (celebrity guest)
Growing up with a speech impediment, Marc struggled with many of the common schoolyard bullying tactics that children sometimes demonstrate. In 2008, after seeing the rise of school bullying in national headlines and other disturbing issues facing our youth, Marc Wilkes aka Omegaman decided to tackle these matters head on. Marc creating a one of a kind school assembly called “Omegaman & Friends”, Aa superhero theme school presentation. The program was birthed from a passion to tackle the issues of bullying, drugs, alcohol, violence, peer pressure, obesity and much more to motivate our youth toward exercising positive habits early in life. From elementary to high school, young people all over the nation have been challenged to “Be The H.E.R.O. in YOU! Helping Everyone Respect Others !
Marc & his team has spoken in over 5000+ schools and is considered as one of the top school assembly & youth speakers in the nation. For more information go to
Dr. Paul Bearer II (celebrity guest)
Paul Bearer II
Legend has it that after Dr. Paul Bearer died in 1995, a group of slightly crazed scientists
Roland Mann (panelist)
Roland Mann is a writer, editor, speaker, and professor. As writer, he is best known for his work on Cat & Mouse, a comic which ran for nearly two years, garnered critical acclaim, was optioned by Hollywood, and led Roland to other work. Some of his other work includes Miss Fury, Planet of the Apes: Blood of the Apes, Rocket Ranger. As editor, Roland is best known for his work as a Malibu/Marvel Comics editor where he edited The Protectors line of comics and many Ultraverse titles. Roland also served as Editor and Publisher of Silverline, a line of independent comics that included such titles as Switchblade and The Scary Book.
Roland is also a college professor and a speaker at writing workshops/conferences where many find his sessions encouraging. Roland’s recent work includes his first novel, Buying Time, graphic novel adaptations of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Roland teaches Creative Writing for Entertainment at Full Sail University. He occasionally blogs at www.rolandmann.me.
Roland earned an MFA in Writing from Spalding University, a MA in English from the University of North Alabama, and a BS in Creative Writing from the University of Southern Mississippi.
Mary Beth Bradford (panelist)
Mary Beth Bradford, Ph.D., is a communication professor at Florida Southern College. She is also the Director of the Women and Gender Studies program. Her research focuses on the influence of media on self-image. After obtaining an undergraduate degree in mass communication, Bradford worked as a television news photojournalist for 10 years in the Baltimore and Washington, DC area. Eventually she returned to graduate school for my Ph. D. in mass communication. Bradford came to Florida Southern College in 2007.
Lisa Carter (panelist)
Lisa M. Carter is an Assistant Professor of Criminology at Florida Southern University. Her research interests include female criminality, corrections and rehabilitation issues of incarcerated women, and death penalty sentencing. Dr. Carter teaches courses in the Criminology and Women’s and Gender Studies departments at Florida Southern College in Lakeland. She has been a Wonder Woman fan since early childhood.
David Simpson (moderator)
David Simpson is a real-life G-I Joe. The Arizona native has traveled the world as a member of the U.S. Air Force. His primary job in the Air Force was Security Forces. With his K-9 Robson, he provided explosive detection services in Lebanon, Portugal, Italy, Germany and Iraq. They conducted over 75 combat missions, found several improvised explosive devices, and discovered a weapon cache filled with mortar rounds. In between missions, he volunteered time at a hospital transporting injured U.S. military personnel from the helicopter pad to the hospital emergency operating room. He now lives in Polk County with his wife and three children.
Meredith Pope (moderator)
Meredith Pope is a Lakeland-based artist, writer, graphic designer, marketing professional, and self-described geek. Her love of science-fiction and fantasy started in her childhood while watching Star Trek and Buck Rogers with her father, and it grew through books, TV shows, and movies. Favorites include Star Trek TOS, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and The Wheel of Time. Her first cosplay was probably her Wonder Woman Underoos when she was four, but she began seriously channeling her skills and creativity in 2012.
Since then, she has created original characters including a burlesque March Hare from the Tron Universe, a Snow Queen, and a Sugar Plum Fairy. This year, she is looking forward to tackling her own version of Angela from the Spawn Universe. In addition, she actively collects well-sculpted female action figures, and when asked how many she has, she says she lost count around 85.
Pope received her B.A. in studio art from the University of South Florida where she specialized in sculpture. She is an active member of the local arts community and recently co-created a temporary sculpture installation for downtown Lakeland with David Collins. She served on the EMERGE Lakeland Steering Committee for seven years, including terms as the Marketing Committee Chair and Co-Chair, and the Board of Florida Dance Theatre for six years. She is currently working on her M.B.A. from Louisiana State University, Shreveport.
Jason Geary (moderator)
Jason Geary is a writer with more than a dozen years of experience as a journalist working in Florida. He grew up reading hard-boiled detective fiction from authors like Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett. As a middle schooler, he asked his mom to rent Humphrey Bogart movies and zealously watched them. He still considers the actor to be one of the coolest celebrities of all time.
In addition to mysteries, he became a full-fledged geek in high school – spending his free time reading science fiction, comics and horror tales. His love of television horror dates back to watching the X-Files to more recently becoming an avid fan of The Walking Dead. His favorite films include Blade Runner, the Star Wars movies, Conan the Barbarian, Ghostbusters, Evil Dead II, Army of Darkness, and The Big Lebowski.
Cathalina Liebel (entertainer)
Cathalina Liebel, is a Cosplay Circus Entertainer. She tours annually across the United States. Cathalina is a 16th generation Circus performer and award winning Cosplayer. She performs a wide variety of circus acts all completely themed for Comic Conventions.
The Finest - GI Joe Costuming Club
The Finest: A G.I. Joe Costume Club is the world’s premier G.I. Joe costuming organization. Founded in 2007, the club has expanded to include several hundred members in nearly 40 states and six countries. The Finest celebrates the G.I. Joe universe through the creation and wearing of high-quality costumes and props based upon canon characters from the G.I. Joe universe.
Each year, Finest members appear and exhibit at nearly 75 pop-culture conventions, parades, and other events worldwide. Since 2014, we have raised more than $30,000 for military and veteran charities, with all proceeds donated to organizations such as the USO and K9s For Warriors!
For more information about The Finest, please visit http://www.thefinestcc.com
U.S. Haven Star Trek Club
The U.S. Haven Star Trek Club is named after U.S. Naval Hospital Ship USS Haven AH-12. We are based in Orlando, FL. Our mission is to promote fandom and serve our community by sharing Star Trek & Science Fiction information, fan activities, ideas, news, and promoting a positive future for Humankind by our involvement in educational and charitable activities. Our friends include hundreds of members, fans, friends, media persons, dealers, and Star Trek/Science Fiction Clubs worldwide.
The 501st Legion is a worldwide Star Wars costuming organization comprised of and operated by Star Wars fans. While it is not sponsored by Lucasfilm Ltd., it is Lucasfilm’s preferred Imperial costuming group. The Legion is an all-volunteer organization formed for the express purpose of bringing together costume enthusiasts under a collective identity within which to operate. The Legion seeks to promote interest in Star Wars through the building and wearing of quality costumes, and to facilitate the use of these costumes for Star Wars-related events as well as contributions to the local community through costumed charity and volunteer work. The Legion is an all-volunteer organization formed for the express purpose of bringing together costume enthusiasts under a collective identity within which to operate. The Legion seeks to promote interest in Star Wars through the building and wearing of quality costumes, and to facilitate the use of these costumes for Star Wars-related events as well as contributions to the local community through costumed charity and volunteer work.
Guardians of Justice
Guardians of Justice was initiated by local residents of Central Florida to merge their passion of costuming and combine it with a deep-rooted desire to give back to the community. Each member of the Guardians embodies the mantra to “inspire, support, motivate and empower” children and adults alike by fully bringing the characters they portray to life.
Brianna Blackfire (professional cosplayer)
CelestiialMoon is a cosplayer/model who travels to various conventions in the southeastern US hosting panels, judging contests, and hosting cosplay workshops. With over 5 years experience in the cosplay community, she hopes to share her vast knowledge in armor building, prop making, and sewing with as many cosplayers as she can. She has more than 19,000 Instagram followers and her Facebook posts get anywhere from 1,000 to 2,000 likes.
In addition to being an experienced cosplayer she is an alternative model representing various large name brands such as the SuicideGirls. CelestialMoon also prides herself very much on sharing tips with others on how to find durable materials for cosplay while having a reasonable budget. Her main goal for hosting panels, traveling, and attending conventions is to share with others how to express themselves and make the world a better place using the art of cosplay.