Culture

Florida Supercon Adapts to an Ever-Evolving Geek Culture

Cosplayers, get ready for the return of Florida Supercon.
Cosplayers, get ready for the return of Florida Supercon. Photo by Daniella Mía
This weekend, Florida Supercon returns to the Miami Beach Convention Center to celebrate the universal culture of comic books, animation, video games, science fiction, and everything in between. Curated by pop-culture syndicate ReedPop, Supercon is a friendly, open-world experience that combines tangible memorabilia of the fictional realm with interpersonal bonding and immersive events.

Kristina Rogers, ReedPop's vice president of global comics portfolio, puts it simply: "This community is so much fun."

Founded by Mike Broder, Florida Supercon debuted in 2006 at the Ramada Hollywood Beach Resort, then bounced between Broward and Miami-Dade counties before settling at the Miami Beach Convention Center. In 2019, ReedPop acquired the convention and held its first event that same year. But the pandemic stalled any momentum produced by the ownership change.

During the lockdown, ReedPop, which also produces New York Comic Con, London's MCM Comic Con, PAX East, and PAX West, took the opportunity to hold virtual gatherings to maintain the excitement level. It helped organizers and eager attendees build a massive hype train for Supercon's eventual return last September.

Rogers and her team are looking forward to being widely embraced by South Florida's geek community once again.

“We ran a show in the Midwest, in New York, and another event in the Pacific Northwest and each community is completely different," she says. "[Miami] is just so kind, so excited, so supportive, too. It’s been really nice.”

An estimated 55,000 attendees await appearances by comic book legends like Jim Lee and Brian Azzarello, voice actors like Colleen Clinkenbeard of One Piece (Luffy) and Dante Basco of Avatar: The Last Airbender (Zuko), and anime YouTubers like Trash Taste and AmaLee.

The inclusion of YouTubers, podcasters, and streamers represents a shift in the gaze of geek culture in recent years. Supercon's Gen Z audience noticeably deviates from other age groups, having grown up with the internet and social media at arm's reach. As a result, they've built more of a kinship with content creators who align with their niche interests.

Anime has held significant sway within the community for decades, but its influence has been amplified even more so with today's youth. A genre that was ridiculed by outsiders a generation ago has evolved into a heavily commercialized medium that has brought like-minded devotees together.

“We’re really taking what comic cons do traditionally and blending it with this younger audience that is just not into the same things people were into 30 years ago," Rogers says. "It gives us this brand new sandbox to explore in.”
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ReedPop, the organizer behind Florida Supercon, has worked on making the event a more inclusive experience.
Photo by Daniella Mía
Trash Taste, a Japan-based podcast built on anime discourse, and AmaLee, an American musician who covers music from anime and video games, have created their own spaces for dedicated anime fans to feel accepted. Rogers looks forward to bringing these spaces to life, alongside other widely popular acts like the Living Tombstone.

Supercon features like Pop Asia lean into overseas lore even further through K-pop dance events, manga libraries, samurai sword training, and several other interactive experiences related to anime and other forms of Asian media. The convention maintains close contact with cultural groups and invites them to represent their countries in person in order to bring forth authenticity and legitimate representation.

Ensuring the safety and inclusion of minority groups and subcultures at Supercon is of paramount importance. Representation exists in every corner: on-site staff, event organizers behind the scenes — even something as simple as bilingual signage for Latino attendees.

There's a Pride Lounge for LGBTQ attendees at Supercon, but Rogers emphasizes that inclusivity doesn't stop at setting up an isolated island: "True allyship isn't just having a space for somebody," she says. "It's making sure that community is represented throughout everything you do."

In unison with multiple nonprofit groups like PRISM, Outshine, and Pridelines, education and assistance services will be given to those in need of resources, insight, and creative inspiration related to LGBTQ representation. Drag screenings and performances will be sprinkled throughout the weekend.

There's a lot to look forward to for this year's Supercon. As usual, Gaming Zone will fill up quickly, and thousands of eyes will fixate on yearly staples like Cosplay Central and Artist Alley. Some things never change (much). But when new things do require accommodation, ReedPop vows to do all it can to adapt to the needs of their clientele.

"It’s really important to us to create a space, no matter who you are, [where] you can come and see yourself," Rogers says. "And that’s really important for something you love."

Florida Supercon. 10 a.m. to 2 a.m. Friday, July 8, and Saturday, July 9, and 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday, July 10, at Miami Beach Convention Center, 1901 Convention Center Dr., Miami Beach; 800-598-1055; floridasupercon.com. Tickets cost $10 to $300.
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Olivier Lafontant is an intern for Miami New Times. He's pursuing a bachelor's in digital journalism at Florida International University. He specializes in music writing and photography and got his start as a writer for South Florida Media Network in 2021.