Comics, art and more

By Guy D’Astolfo

The ensuing show will feature appearances by Adam West and other actors.

NILES — The Screaming Tiki Comic and Pop Culture Convention opens at Eastwood Expo Center next month, and to get the hype started Darth Vader is coming to town tonight.

The “Star Wars” villain will be at the Eastwood Mall Gallery at the premiere of an exhibit featuring works by comic book, sci-fi and fantasy artists, illustrators and sculptors. Many of the artists who will be attending Screaming Tiki — including Joe Jusko, Rubin Procopio, Jay Brant, Craig Rousseau, Patrick Block and Shelly Block — will display works at the mall gallery.

The premiere is from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., but the exhibit will be open weekends only through mid-November. The gallery is on the concourse between Macy’s and J.C. Penney’s.

Some of the artwork will be for sale, with proceeds going to Warren Junior Women’s League. Tickets to Screaming Tiki will also be for sale.

Screaming Tiki is the brainchild of Youngstown-area resident Peter Smith. The Oct. 17-19 convention will be the first he’s staged, but probably not the last. He has plans to bring it to other cities, starting with Indianapolis. Also in the works is an anime festival.

Smith had a few goals in mind when he decided to launch Screaming Tiki.

“I wanted to bring a large convention to Northeast Ohio and western Pennsylvania that had tons of activities, both during and after the convention,” he said. “For example, not only are we holding an art exhibit, but we have secured several movies that will be running after hours at USA Cinema.” The multiplex is in the Eastwood shopping complex. The films will include “Superman, the Movie” and the 1966 “Batman” movie.

The convention will include movie props, including the classic Batmobile and Batcopter, which will give rides; KITT from the TV series “Knight Rider”; guest stars Adam West and Julie Newmar, who played Batman and Catwoman in the original 1960s series; and “Superman” movie stars Margot Kidder and Sarah Douglas.

Also appearing will be Yvonne Craig, who played Batgirl in the ’60s series; Jeremy Bulloch, who played Boba Fett in “Star Wars”; and Peter Mayhew, who played Chewbacca in “Star Wars.”

Smith grew up in the Youngstown area and graduated from Ursuline High School. After graduating from Columbus College of Art and Design, he interned for Marvel Comics in 1999, and went on to work for several independent comic companies.

An instructor at Youngstown State University, Smith is currently developing his own comic title “Chronicles of the Crimson Phoenix.” His tattoo artwork has gained attention in national skin art publications and shops nationwide.

Smith said Screaming Tiki will stand out from other shows of its type by welcoming children.

“I wanted to put together a show that everyone could enjoy,” he said. “Many shows seem to exclude children. I wanted to put on one that included them as well.”

To that end, Screaming Tiki will offer three children’s lunches: Oct. 17 at the E-quarium in Eastwood Mall, with pirates; Oct. 18 at Inner Circle Pizza at the Expo Center, with superheroes; and Oct. 19 at Inncer Circle with “Star Wars” characters. The 90-minute luncheons start at noon. Tickets will be available at tonight’s art exhibit premiere.

“We will also be holding video game tournaments for those die-hard video game junkies,” said Smith. The games will include “Call of Duty IV,” “Guitar Hero,” “Halo 3” and role playing games.

Screaming Tiki tickets are $15 ($25 for a weekend pass), with VIP packages available at premium prices. Hours are noon-8 p.m. Oct. 17; 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Oct. 18; and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Oct. 19.

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