Star Wars novelist to headline Rob Con

Matthew Lane • Jul 28, 2017 at 9:39 AM

BRISTOL, Tenn. — Anyone who knows anything about Star Wars novels will be excited to hear who the headliner will be at this weekend’s annual Rob Con convention at Viking Hall.

Timothy Zahn — the author of the popular Thrawn trilogy of Star Wars novels — will be at the 32nd comic book convention Saturday and Sunday. The convention runs from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. both days. Admission is $10 for one day, $15 for both and children under 10 are admitted free.

Zahn, a writer of science fiction for more than 30 years, has published 40 novels, nearly 90 short stories and novelettes and four collections of short fiction. He won the Hugo Award in 1984 for his novella “Cascade Point” and is probably best known for his eight Star Wars novels, including the popular Thrawn trilogy and the recently released “Thrawn” novel.

“That’s a big deal,” said Robert Pilk, co-owner of Mountain Empire Comics, of having Zahn as the headliner for both days. There will also be a special dinner with Zahn Saturday night, with a portion of the proceeds going toward the Holly Help spay and neuter fund.

The annual convention will host a variety of vendors selling comic books, toys and games, movie and television collectables, anime and manga and other “geek” related merchandise. In addition to Zahn, there will be a number of other writers, artists, novelists and craftspeople, including Tom Lyle, Budd Root, Steve Mannion and John “Roc” Upchurch.

New York Times best-selling author Jennifer Estep and Wise, Va., comic creator Jeremy Massie are both returning this year.

The costume contest will take place at 3 p.m. on Saturday and is expected to draw a huge crowd. Last year, more than 140 entrants participated, and this year the number should be even more, Pilk said. Other special appearances will be by the Tennessee Ghostbusters and their Ecto-1 car, the R2 Radio Control Club and the Star Wars “501st” gaming club.

“It just gets bigger every year,” Pilk said. “This year we’ve got a lot of gaming that we haven’t had before, demonstrations and tournaments for tabletop games, card games and video games.”

G2K Games is sponsoring Rob Con this year, bringing in events not seen before at the annual comic book show.

More than 1,600 people attended last year’s event. This year, Pilk said, organizers are hoping to top 2,000. In the early days of the convention, Pilk and partner John Stone (who runs the Johnson City Mountain Empire Comics store) handled all of the organizing. Today, at least 40 people are needed to make sure Rob Con becomes a reality.

“It sounds like I’m exaggerating, but I took about a week off last year and then started on this year’s convention. It’s pretty much a year-round thing,” Pilk said. “We work really hard on it, and it makes me feel good we can offer something like this to the people of the Tri-Cities.”

For more information visit www.robcon.org.