Photo: Mike Millerick began StocktonCon as a family-friendly event that would raise money for charities. (ROBYN JONES/CONTRIBUTOR)
All this talk about following your passion. Come on, who really gets to do that?
Apparently there are a chosen few and one of them resides in Stockton and lives to share his passion with others, especially the very young.
“The best part of all this, the part I never tire of witnessing is the sheer joy and delight in a child’s face when he gets to meet Spiderman up close,” says Mike Millerick, the founder and president of StocktonCon.
This weekend, StocktonCon will celebrate 10 years of making dreams come true for thousands of loyal fandoms. Far surpassing the first StocktonCon attendance of 4,000, promoters expect 15,000 or more over the 2-day event at the Stockton Arena.
Truly a labor of love for Millerick, StocktonCon has raised over $180k for local charities. This year a portion of the profits will go to support Child Abuse Prevention Council.
Formerly an Assistant Athletic Director for Media Relations at University of the Pacific, Millerick attended a comic-con several years ago in San Diego. He decided he wanted to assemble a similar event in Stockton to represent what was happening with pop culture and attract sci-fi, collectibles, card, anime, manga and comic enthusiasts. The bonus was raising money for charities and creating a very family-friendly and extraordinarily fun event. Who doesn’t like a photo op with Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, or the chance to trade Funko Pop Collectibles or meet artists like starring actor Ron Perlman of “Sons Of Anarchy” and “Hellboy” fame.
Unleash your inner comic-con self and join the fantasy.
In 2011, Millerick emailed Andy Prokop, then executive director of United Way, and explained that creating a StocktonCon would be a great way to promote Stockton, bring families together and raise money for local non-profits. Prokop said, “Yes, let’s do it.”
They hoped to attract a few hundred people at Pacific’s Spanos Center. Well, as the number climbed to 4000 at the one day event, Andy spoke to him and said, “ I think we will need a larger venue for next year.”
As a young man Millerick loved Marvel Comics. Smiling, he eagerly explained, “The storyline, artistry and just the overall visual appeal was so inspiring to me.”
These days it’s all about sharing that joy and inspiration with others.
“My life changed when I started StocktonCon. I love bringing this event to Stockton and creating the magic for families.”
One element that has remained the same all these years and that Millerick is committed to keeping is children 12 and under are admitted free with a paying adult.
He is a big believer in lifelong learning, and is dedicated to continuously researching new artists and trends in the comic-con world.
“These days, wherever I am, whatever I am doing, I have a heightened sense of awareness about my surroundings. I’m always thinking of ways to improve our event,” Millerick said. It’s all about enhancing attendees’ experiences as they celebrate the magic.
Millerick is especially proud of the fact that this year will mark 10 years of participation from Tony Fleecs, creator of “Stray Dogs” and “My Little Pony.”
“Today, Tony is one of the hottest artists around, and we were the first event he participated in as an artist,” Millerick said.
StocktonCon has continued to raise awareness of talented local artists and given them a platform to share their artistry. This weekend may be a record setter as StocktonCon fans come together to celebrate 10 years and create new memories for kids and adults alike.
Let the Magic begin.
Note: Costumes are encouraged at this two day event with the StocktonCon costume contest on 4 p.m. Saturday, August 13, and the kids costume contest 4 p.m. Sunday, August 14.Pre-Sale 2-Day tickets are on sale online for $20. For more information, go to the StocktonCon website.