Silicon Valley Comic Con brings pop-culture characters to San Jose

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- SAN JOSE, Calif. - The world's most recognizable villains, heroes and comic book characters will be in San Jose for the 4th annual Silicon Valley Comic Con.

The three-day event at the San Jose Convention Center is expected to attract 70,000 people between Friday and Sunday.

"We're not nerds," Matthew O'Connor told ABC7 News. "We're the creative types. We have an outlet. We want to come and express our gratitude for what we grew up with."

On Friday, O'Connor was the infamous Alien many have come to fear on the big screen. Representing the East Bay Costume Community, O'Connor said the costume was 16-years-old.

"It's been a great weight loss program ever since," he joked.

"For a lot of the costuming people, we do this to be able to encourage kids that we're not 'crazy,' or 'weird' people," O'Connor added. "We're people that are in costume that they see on TV. And that they can fall in love and be inspired."

Behind the elaborate costumes are regular people with a passion for pop-culture.

Modesto resident Manuel Hipol was dressed as Spawn on Friday.

"Dressing up and just doing something different," is what Hipol said is his favorite part about SVCC. "Having fun, being able to do that and be that little kid again."

When asked about his costume choice, Hipol said, "You know you want to go as something, and then you just start working on it like four or five months ahead of time. Hopefully, it all comes together at that time."

For others, it's "incredible" the impact they can make without having to be all made up.

"I have women coming here, they're crying, hugging me. Mothers are telling me how much they hated me because their children broke TVs and had green makeup all over the house," actor Lou Ferrigno described.

Ferrigno was cast as the Hulk in The Incredible Hulk back in the late-70s. He's also a respected fitness trainer, fitness consultant and retired bodybuilder. He said his favorite part of any Comic Con is meeting face-to-face with fans.

On Friday, many guests who spoke with ABC7 News identified themselves as "freaks," "geeks," or "nerds."

"What those words mean is we're into something, passionately," filmmaker Alexandre Philippe said. "And that thing happens to be pop culture."

"I'm a filmmaker, but I'm also fundamentally a fan," he added. "I'm a geek. I totally identify with this. So for me, it's like being around me folks, my people."

Philippe directed "Memory: The Origins of Alien," which is expected to be released later this year.

The downtown event doesn't discount the "science" in science fiction. Real-life NASA researchers are on-hand, offering an opportunity for people to connect.

"Everyone here is already excited about science and engineering," Dr. Mary Beth Wilhelm explained. "Being part of NASA, we can actually come here and talk about the real science and engineering that we do, and relate that to the things they're really excited about in comics or movies or television."

Wilhelm was part of the team that discovered water on Mars in 2015. Now, she's working to help design the next generation of instruments that will fly to the moon and Mars.

While SVCC is a comic book convention at its core, organizers admit there's something special about the Silicon Valley.

"The technology that you get and the science that you get, coupled with the pop culture that you get is a recipe that doesn't exist anywhere else," SVCC Chairman Trip Hunter said.

"In Silicon Valley, that works really well because the people that are here are the 'techies' and they are the scientists," he added. "They get to come here and have fun too."

This year's SVCC brings the Terminator Reunion. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Michael Biehn, Danny Cooksey, Edward Furlong, Jenette Goldstein, Kristanna Loken and Robert Patrick are expected.

SVCC hours of operation are as follows: Aug. 16, 2019 from 12 p.m. to 7 pm., Aug. 17, 2019 from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Aug. 18, 2019 from 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.
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