Updated Mon, Apr 28, 2014 9:39 am
Someone wandering into the Athens Community Center on Saturday might have thought they'd fallen down the rabbit hole.
Instead of people in gym shorts trying to sweat off calories, Batman could be seen strolling around the gym, a futuristic bounty hunter was trying to "sell" weapons and the crack of a bullwhip could be heard.
In other words, it was your typical day at Ratha Con, a pop culture convention held annually at the community center. This was the third year for Ratha Con, which is held under the auspices of ARTS/West.
The event featured vendors of comic books, toys, original art and other items, as well as a panel discussion by comic book creators, workshops, game-playing and more.
A big hit with the youngsters was Redd Fett, a futuristic bounty hunter who claimed to be such a bad bounty hunter that he had to become a weapons dealer. He had samples of his wares — ranging from futuristic guns to medieval-looking weapons — that kids could try out (without doing any real damage, of course).
Those who wanted to learn some skills in the art of fake sword play could take a combat workshop taught by Brian Evans and Tom Fiocchi of the Ohio University Theater Department. Among those who took lessons were sisters Mary and Billie Wright of Athens, who are also members of Airship Athena, a Southeastern Ohio steampunk group that had a booth at Ratha Con.
Steampunk enthusiasts like to combine Victorian culture with science fiction.
"We're a new group in the area," said Lt. Victor Valiant, who when he is not steampunking is Andrew Modro of Nelsonville.
Airship Athena formed last November, and the group will be participating in the Steampunk Spectacle in September at the Athens Public Library and ARTS/West.
"We haven't planned any events ourselves as a group, but it's something we're discussing," said Valiant (aka Modro).
Jacob Hand and his daughter Marajade, of the Glouster area, spent some time Saturday checking out the artwork of 13-year-old Emi Olin, who had a booth a Ratha Con.
"This is our first time here," said Jacob Hand. "We're enjoying ourselves."
That sentiment was echoed by Madelynne Fiocchi of Athens.
"I think it's pretty cool," she said. "It's a lot bigger than it was last year."
One of several new attractions was Daniel Trout, a writer, filmmaker and media development consultant who is a bullwhip artist. The crack of his whip could be heard by people circulating among the booths of Ratha Con.
There was also something for people who wanted to bring out their inner-zombie — a "Wearable Wounds" workshop in which Danetta Pratt taught techniques for creating makeup appliances to simulate wounds.