The Daily Gamecock

Horror fans find community, belonging at 1st annual SC Horror convention

The Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center held the South Carolina Horror Convention from Sept. 16-17, 2023. This event marks the first Horror Convention in South Carolina. The two-day event featured local and regional vendors, special guests and a short haunted house from the Dark Castle Haunted Attractions company. According to pre-sale ticket sales, more than 2,500 horror fans attended the event. Many attendees cosplayed as their favorite horror villains, with some competing in the cosplay contest on the last day of the convention. The South Carolina Horror Convention is set to return in 2024.

As the hot 90-degree weather gives way to the cool temperatures of autumn, those who couldn't wait for Halloween celebrated early this year at South Carolina's first Horror Con.

For Cerise Bayne, the SC Horror convention was a chance to be themself. They were dressed as their 'fursona' named Caelum for the convention, complete with a head and fur mittens. 

 “It is great to meet a bunch of people, and I do feel like I belong in this kind of space because online there is not a lot of pleasant people," Bayne said. "I just feel a lot more safe.”

Inside the convention, there were activities such as a haunted house complete with scarers attracting attendees to come inside the scare attraction. On Sunday, Sept. 17,  SC Horror Con also offered a cosplay convention where people could show off their complex recreations of their favorite characters. On top of the attractions at the conventions, Vendors sold products ranging from high value SFX masks, horror themed crochet plushies, vintage graphic novels and other forms of artwork. 

Chimeras Haven, a vendor at the convention, sells art full of vibrant colors and intricate details. Emma Malone is the owner of Chimeras Haven, and her mother, Dana Malone, helps her create art featuring scary-looking teddy bears. 

After struggling in high school, Emma Malone gained a community through her horror art. 

Among the other vendors was Destiny Rector, an actress with 'Be Your Own Hero Productions.' South Carolina Horror Con was her first Horror Con. She said she felt a sense of community inside this event due to her love for Halloween. 

"I'm a horror baby. I love horror. I love anything to do with halloween. You give me a horror movie, I'll watch it. You give me a documentary, I'll watch it. You give me something cute and preppy, I'm not going to watch it," Rector said. 

Some vendors, like Atropos Mediaworks, had a different outlook on the event. Owner, Shelly Strickland, is a licensed taxidermist who said she wants to bring light to the true value of unconventional hobbies. She adds clothes and tiny props to create a story. Through conventions, she found other vendors who create taxidermy art as well, creating a niche community of taxidermy art. 

“All the animals I have here with me today — they're feeder animals, so they’re meant to be food for other animals," Strickland said. "But it’s like, to me, it's taking something that is not gonna really — I mean, people just gonna throw it away or people don't appreciate that, and then you turn it into something that brings people joy. ... For me, it’s these little guys."

J Moulton, the owner and founder of South Carolina Horror Con, helped to create a family-friendly convention, while also keeping the prices affordable. He said he noticed how difficult a working week can be, so he wanted to make sure the convention would be accessible for families.  

“(People have) a tough enough time working 40-hours (a week) with their kids bills and everything else," Moultan said. "They shouldn’t worry about going to my show ... And that is just my personal philosophy." 

Moulton said making the convention affordable and creating a comfortable environment for everyone were some of his greatest values when creating South Carolina's first Horror Con. He said he wanted attendees to feel welcome to come as they are whether they are covered in tattoos, body modifications or in cosplays as their favorite horror movie or television show characters. 

"It's more of building a community and building a place where like-minded people can go that are not judgmental and can have fun and celebrate the fandom while making memories with everybody they know," Moulton said. 


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