Mike Olivares
Spider-Man was the first comic-book hero Mike Olivares discovered when he was a little boy. His fascination with comic books developed into a lifelong passion, and in the last year, Olivares has spent most of his free time putting together the first Tucson Comic Con, scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 8. While most of the vendor space is taken, Olivares encourages local comic-book lovers to mark their calendars--and there aren't many excuses for locals to stay away, since the convention is free. Comic geeks will unite from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the Sheraton Four Points, 1900 E. Speedway Blvd. For more information, go to the Con Web site or MySpace page.

I noticed you're taking donations for the American Cancer Society. What does that have to do with comics?

Michael Turner. He was a comic-book artist who did Witchblade, Superman and Batman. ... He died of cancer in June. He was still working when he was going through chemo. He had bone cancer. His art fueled my love of comics. I've thought to myself that he did all the things he wanted and loved, even through cancer. I figured I can do (this Comic Con) to celebrate what he did. The donations to the American Cancer Society will be made in his memory.

What is it about comics?

For me, it's the stories, the great tales and the art, obviously. It keeps your imagination, and it doesn't matter if you're 25 or 50. It can take you back. Nothing can replace that feeling. Everybody should read comic books.

And now you're putting on a comics convention. What were you thinking?

Well, I pitched it to a couple of friends who really liked the idea. There's the Cactus Con in Phoenix, but not everyone likes driving up to Phoenix. It seems like Tucson's time has come. Then I met a couple of local artists, Eric Schock and Taylor Garrity of Evil Robo Productions. They helped put together the logos, and from there, more people got involved.

How is this going to be better than or different from what's happening in Phoenix?

The Cactus Con has been going on for at least 10 years. It's a lot bigger. Maybe we'll be there someday, but right now, the great thing about us is that we have been able to bring together local artists in Tucson. There are probably more than people think. And (admission is) going to be free. That's important.

Who is going to be there?

We have about 30 vendors and artists, even tattoo artists. Lulubell Toys will be there. Fantasy, Heroes and Villains ... pretty much every comic store is going to be involved in one way or another.

Every major city has a comic convention. What is it about comic folks wanting to get together?

There are so many different types of comics nowadays, and I think that's part of it, because there are so many different kinds of fans out there, too. ... But they all have a love of the comic book, as simple as it sounds.

The one in San Diego seems to have gone beyond the comic book.

That's an example of where Hollywood has overshadowed comics. It's not about the people and not about the comic as much as it is about the media when you go to San Diego.

Will there be a little flavor of San Diego here?

The 501st Dune Sea Garrison will be there. They're a costume group that has a chapter in Phoenix. They'll come down as Storm Troopers and set up some Death Star walls to be available for pictures.

What's been exciting for you about organizing a Comic Con?

Everyone I've met who wants to be a part of this, (like) all of these artists, like Eric Esquivel ... and the guys from Evil Robo Productions. We don't always get a chance to bring all of these people together, and I've gotten a chance to get to know them, too. I know some of the artists are working on putting together special issues just for this Comic Con.

You love comics, but do you make them, too?

Yes. I hope I can have my own debut at the Comic Con called The Questionables. It's about a group of characters who have powers that aren't particularly amazing. One girl can turn to static, like you see on TV, and she's able to travel through outlets. ... Another is a nudist who also has the ability to control dogs. The dogs happen to be strategically placed wherever the guy is standing.