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Jamie Lusch / Mail Tribune Sarah Bechtol, 'Seventh Sister,' and Vaughn Bechtol, 'Kylo Ren,' take a photo with Bernie Keesee, 6, during Saturday's Comic Con event at the Medford library.

Medford Comic Con set to draw 20,000 in 2 days

Super-villains best beware: Costumed heroes are in downtown Medford through the weekend.

The fourth annual Medford Comic Con landed at the Medford library this weekend, and organizers anticipated as many as 20,000 people would flock downtown.

Light rain didn’t deter several hundred early arrivals outside the Medford library Saturday morning, the courtyard brimming with dozens of otherworldly styles and vibrant colors from stories familiar and fresh.

Dressed in a light-blue shawl and holding a magic staff, Living Opportunities employee Rachel Rawlins called the energy “nerdy fun-ness.”

Rawlins’ costume was of Beauregard, a character from the web series “Critical Role,” in which professional voice actors play Dungeons & Dragons.

With her was her co-worker David Van Hook, who was dressed with a chest plate, brown fur cape and an armaments necklace like the Wakanda-born hero M’Baku from the recent Marvel film “Black Panther.”

Getting their looks involved multiple trips to Magic Man and JoAnn Fabrics, according to Van Hook, who said he got lots of help from Rawlins.

“It was weeks of last-minute effort,” Rawlins said.

Though plenty drew inspiration for homemade costumes from the pages of popular stories such as Harry Potter and Star Wars, others drew inspiration from Japanese entertainment.

Rachel Massey, formerly of Medford and now living in Portland, said her costume was inspired by Makoto, from the “Persona” PlayStation role-playing games. Her costume involved a 3-D printed mask and about 50 hours of effort.

“I love cosplay,” Massey said, adding that representing a character is an opportunity to introduce people to new series.

Dressed as Wonder Woman, Medford Comic Con Project Manager Laura Kimberly said early turnout suggested organizers would reach their estimates of between 15,000 and 20,000 people through the weekend. Though admission is free, a system of handing out tickets helped organizers get a more accurate head count.

The numbers dwarfed the first Comic Con event in Southern Oregon four years ago, when 185 people showed up in Ashland for a comics-themed event as part of a teen summer reading program, according to Ashland teen librarian Esther Mortensen, who organized the first event and helped out Saturday. Turnout grew to 2,500 in 2015, 8,000 in 2016 and 12,000 last year.

Elsewhere, young Pikachus, Hulks and Batmans lined up for photos with a gregarious bunch dressed as Marvel’s Avengers characters, including Black Panther, Spider-Man, Star-Lord, Thor and Captain America. A similar DC heroes photo-op is planned for Sunday.

“Captain America is my husband,” Kimberly said.

Kimberly highlighted a new Harry Potter world in the children’s department, funded through Jackson County Library Foundation and Blum Family Foundation grants. Activities included a sorting hat so participants could find their Hogwarts house, try butterbeer, make a magic wand or get their picture taken with Dobby.

The event included information about ways to learn more about making costumes, drone racing, Rogue Community College and Southern Oregon University programs for graphic design and illustration, as well as ways to get involved in team-based projects for next year.

It’s also a way to bring people together.

“We need a thing like this downtown,” Kimberly said.

The event continues from noon to 4 p.m. Sunday at the Medford library, 205 S. Central Ave. See jcls.org/mcc for details.

Reach Mail Tribune reporter Nick Morgan at 541-776-4471 or nmorgan@rosebudmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter at @MTCrimeBeat.

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