Local cosplayer Christina Dark will be a guest at this year’s EPCON. Here, she is painted up as Mera, the undersea queen in DC Comics’ Aquaman.

Don’t forget your cape and mask if you head out to the El Paso Comic Con this weekend. You certainly won’t be alone if you decide to don such accessories. Plus, Adam West and Burt Ward – the Batman and Robin of the 1960s television series – will be there, and so will the co-creator of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Kevin Eastman.

With a new leader of the annual event, organizers aim to make this year’s convention an enjoyably memorable one.

“This is our first El Paso Comic Con; it was ran by a different person before, and we hope it does well,” said EPCON owner Troy Stegner, who’s also behind Las Cruces Comic Con.

Andy Perez, a local comic book illustrator who was a guest at the Las Cruces Comic Con, assures that EPCON is in good hands.

“I was really impressed on how well they did the show, so much that I returned for their second Las Cruces Comic Con, so when they mentioned that they were taking over EP Con, I didn’t hesitate to be a part of it,” Perez said. “They put on a very professional fun show.”

Rather than focusing heavily on merchandise, Stegner said most of EPCON will be made up of artists and celebrities and will have meet and greets, autograph sessions and Q&A panels with featured guests.

“We want you to come in and we want you to be entertained all day, not just walk around and within the hour, you’ve seen everything and you’re ready to leave,” Stegner said. “After the Comic Con closes, attendees don’t have to go straight home.”

This year, EPCON will continue afterhours with an event each night. Friday night features a nerd rave at Tricky Falls, the comic con’s costume contest goes down on Saturday night and a fire performance will conclude the festivities on Sunday night.

The convention will also have many cosplayers from in and out of town. Cosplayers are fans who meticulously construct and wear costumes of his or her favorite characters and have become a fixture in comic cons worldwide.

“That’s like the ultimate homage you can give to that character,” Stegner said. “You spend the time to make that costume, dress up as that character and actually go in front of other people and be seen. I don’t think you can be a much bigger fan than that.”

Christina Dark is a featured local cosplayer. She cosplays as Marvel Comics’ Elektra and DC Comics’ Black Canary and says cosplaying is fun and a source of empowerment for her.

“I’ve been cosplaying for about six years now, and when I started cosplaying, I was very shy,” Dark said. “It really got me out of that funk. It made me feel like a heightened version of myself; this alter ego I’ve had that I was always afraid to show.”

Some fans have gone beyond constructing costumes to constructing vehicles their heroes roll in.

Jason Ybarra, an avid Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles fan and former stunt actor for the Power Rangers series, custom made a replica of the Turtle Van from the original cartoon series that will be on display at the convention for fans to gawk at.

“When I was a little kid playing with the turtle van toy, I always thought it would be cool to drive it around,” Ybarra said. “Then one day, I saved up a lot of money, did a little research, found the people to make it, and the Turtle Van was created!”

Other television and movie vehicles that will be on display include a replica of the 1960’s Batmobile, the Breaking Bad RV and the Jurassic Park jeep.

Stegner hopes the EP Con will grow in scope and into a more city-wide event.

“El Paso is the 19th largest city in the U.S.,” Stegner said. “It’s bigger than Albuquerque and it’s bigger than Denver by population – both of those cons get over 40 to 50,000 attendees. There’s no reason why we can’t have that in El Paso.”

El Paso Comic Con

Feat. Adam West, Burt Ward,

Kevin Eastman, Seth Gilliam

Friday-Sunday, April 15-17

Judson F. Williams Convention Center 1 Civic Center Plaza

5 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. Sunday

$20-$30, $50 3-day pass

Guest info and schedules at 575-405-0461 or elpasocomiccon.com

Tickets at 800-745-3000 or ticketmaster.com