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See retro comic book classics on the big screen at the ComiQuest Film Festival


NC Comicon Panel Director Matt Conner M.D. (far left) and Ssalefish Comics owner Bret Parks (far right) interview legendary "Fight Club" author Chuck Palahniuk (center) about how his books transition into films. Photo courtesy of NC Comicon lead photographer Cordelia Danan.

It’s a celebration of all things pop culture this weekend in Durham at the ComiQuest Film Festival, an annual partnership between the Carolina Theatre of Durham and NC Comicon.

The ComiQuest Film Festival, running from Nov. 8-10, works in tandem with NC Comicon, which happens the same weekend at the Durham Convention Center. NC Comicon is locally owned and operated, and seeks to inspire creativity and education while also ensuring attendees have fun celebrating all things comics and pop culture.

Jim Carl, the senior director of film programming at the Carolina Theatre of Durham, said the ComiQuest Film Festival began when the founders of NC Comicon approached him and asked if the Carolina Theatre would be able to run comic book-themed classic films in conjunction with the convention. The partnership allows for the opportunity to screen films based on the work of artists who will be attending the convention.

“We work together in that aspect,” Carl said. “Every year, once the con starts to get a better idea of who’s coming and who their guest artists are, we get together with them and start looking at what films we can bring in to supplement the con.”

This year, NC Comicon will welcome James O’Barr, the creator and artist of the comic book series “The Crow.” Brockton McKinney, the creative director for NC Comicon, said O’Barr’s attendance at the convention will allow for an entirely new experience when viewing the 1994 film adaptation of the series, which will show at the film festival.

“Maybe you’ve never seen ‘The Crow’ before, but how cool is it that you get to see (the film) in the theater with a box of popcorn and James O’Barr just told you all about it?” McKinney said. “You sat through his panel, heard all the cool stuff about it, and for the first time or the hundredth time, you get to go into the theater and sit down and watch the film.”

One of the draws of the ComiQuest Film Festival is this unique opportunity for audience members to see some of their favorite films in a theater. McKinney said the aim of the festival is to bring back the fun of seeing these classic movies, especially if attendees didn’t have the chance to see them on a big screen when the films first came out. 

“It’s always such an event to see a film in the theatre,” McKinney said. “We want to bring that to you — the legacy of the films from yesteryear that you love.”

All of the films are shown in the historic Carolina Theatre of Durham, which adds to the experience of seeing retro films on the big screen. 

Siena Fallon, the director of media and communications for NC Comicon, said attendees are encouraged to check out the theater by including ticket vouchers to film screenings with the purchase of their festival pass. 

“There’s just something about going to a theater like the Carolina,” Fallon said. “It’s much more of a communal experience, I feel like, because a lot of people are going to see their favorite movie or see a movie that they haven’t seen in years, and that’s just a really fun thing to be a part of as an audience member.”


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