Ringgold resident Rocky Spurlock and his buddy Jared Allen shared some common interests. First, they were both pro-wrestlers – "Rocky Star" and "Jay Farley" on the circuit.
Second, they shared a love of the heroes and villains of their childhood days, figures that have recently gained renewed popularity – Star Wars characters, GI Joe, He-Man.
"Jared went to comics conventions to sell toys and collectibles," says Spurlock, who also deals in what he calls "nerd merchandise." "He and I talked about doing a combined wrestling and comics convention."
But in February 2016, Allen died unexpectedly after a short illness, leaving behind a wife and three young children.
"It was devastating," says Spurlock. "He was a good friend, and three great kids and his wife were left without their dad and husband."
Spurlock wanted to do something to honor Allen and to help his family, which led to the birth of Farley Con – the combined conference the two friends had imagined.
The first Farley Con was held in April 2016, just two months after Allen passed away. The proceeds of the event went to Allen’s family.
"We inducted Jared into the Chattanooga Pro-Wrestlers Hall of Fame at the event," says Spurlock, who teaches web design and cyber security at Georgia Northwestern Technical College.
In December, Spurlock, dressed as the Joker of Batman fame, and his family, as well as friends from their church and from his wife’s work, costumed as a wide variety of superhero characters, rode in the Fort Oglethorpe Christmas parade to advertise the second Farley Con, which will take place in April at the East Ridge Community Center.
The conference will feature some big names in the world of comics and wrestling. Larry Hama, writer of the "G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero" comics and creator of the Bucky O’Hare character that became popular in comics and as a TV cartoon, will be a featured guest and will be doing a presentation, signing comic books, doing on-site sketches and posing for photos with attendees. Hama has a long list of accomplishments in the comics arena and has appeared on the TV program "M.A.S.H." and on "Saturday Night Live."
"This will be a great opportunity for people to get autographs and pictures of themselves with some pretty famous people," says Spurlock.
Another well-known writer of comics appearing at Farley Con will be Bobby Nash, an award-winning author who has also appeared in some television shows and movies.
On the wrestling front, Midnight Express member and multi-champion "Beautiful Bobby Eaton" will be at Farley Con to talk to fans and do autographs.
Cosplayer and model Bella Sparkles, a regular at Anime Blast Chattanooga for the past six years and co-host of Untitled Nerd Network’s podcast, will be another featured guest at Farley Con.
"Farley Con is a great event for cosplayers," says Spurlock. "We encourage people to come dressed as their favorite comics characters or superheroes – or villains. We’ll have judges and will be giving out prizes for best costumes."
In addition to Farley Con’s special guests, there will be vendors set up selling comics and comics-based merchandise, superhero and vintage toys, wrestling merchandise and "geekery-fandom" products. A formal ceremony will be held to induct more wrestlers into the Hall of Fame.
"Above all," says Spurlock, "Farley Con is meant to honor Jared 'Jay Farley' Allen. We want to keep his memory and accomplishments alive for his wife and kids who are still adjusting to life without him."
Farley Con takes place April 29 from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the East Ridge Community Center, 1517 Tombras Ave., East Ridge, Tenn. The cost to attend is $10 for adults and children over 12. Children 12 and under get in free with a paying adult.