Eragon the dragon rider arrived at Hilliard's Lattimer Square on May 5, joining the hundreds of other comic-book and graphic-novel readers who gave the gathering the look of a superhero reunion.
Mike Wong, 58, of Fairfield in suburban Cincinnati, was seated in a dragon made from papier-mache, construction foam, cardboard and other material, and he could pull a handle that opened up the dragon's 15-foot wingspan.
"It took about a year to make," Wong said.
The dragon was based on its counterpart in "Eragon," the first novel in the Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini.
Wong and others gathered to celebrate the national Free Comic Book Day at Packrat Comics, 3864 Lattimer St.
Jamie and Teresa Colegrove, owners of Packrat Comics, organized the party, which has grown each year since the couple opened the comic-book store in Lattimer Square about 15 years ago.
Jamie Colegrove, 46, and a 1991 Hilliard Davidson High School graduate, opened Packrat Comics 25 years ago, in 1993, with the help of a $5,000 loan from his wife's father.
The first Packrat Comics was in London; it was relocated to a site that is today Landmark Lofts and then to Westpointe Plaza in west Columbus before settling in Lattimer Square.
"It was tough at first but we made enough to live on (and) it has continued to grow," Colegrove said. "It's great to see everyone here who enjoys comic books."
The shop has a selection of graphic novels and action-figure toys.
Its increasing customer base was evident by those gathered at the May 5 event, including Sebastian Luu, 28, of Zanesville. He arrived at Packrat Comics as Thor, as he is seen in "Avengers: Infinity War."
Luu said he discovered Packrat Comics after visiting a convention in Columbus and now patronizes the comic-book store "about once a month."
For Luu, his interests in comics began with "Spider-Man" comic books he began reading as a middle school student and then spread to other Marvel comics.
"I have about six crates (of comic books), but also digital ones," Luu said.
The Packrat Comics event also attracted Andrew Terrell, 31, and his girlfriend, Stacy Jackowski, 42, of northwest Columbus.
The couple met not long ago at The Laughing Ogre, a comic-book store on North High Street in Columbus.
They were dressed May 5 as WWE's A.J. Styles and Asuka, respectively.
"I've been coming (to Packrat Comics) several years for their events," Terrell said, such as "Not at Comic-Con," an event held at the Hilliard shop in conjunction with Comic-Con International held each year in San Diego.
Superheroes and WWE personalities were not the only characters on hand.
Tristan Walker, 9, of Pickerington arrived as a member of the iconic rock band KISS. He won first-place in the children's division of the costume contest. (Wong won top honors in the adult division.)
Tristan said his fascination with KISS began five years ago with a Christmas tree ornament that played a KISS song, said his mother, Sara, a fan of the group.
He said he has met each member of KISS – both current and former – except for Ace Frehley, whom he is set to meet this weekend at a KISS Expo in Indianapolis.