The Team Behind Asbury Park Comic Con Expands Northward
It was an overabundance of options for pop culture aficionados in the greater New York City region this past weekend, with three shows competing for attention: New York Comics Fest in White Plains, Special Edition: NYC in New York City, and Eternal Con in Garden City.
Two of the three — New York Comics Fest and Special Edition: NYC — were geared specifically toward comic books, eschewing the wider fringes of pop culture fandom. It was also the inaugural year for both of these events. New York Comic Fest was mounted by Cliff Galbraith and Robert Bruce, the team that produces Asbury Park Comic Con (or, as typically published, “Comicon”).
Despite the competition, New York Comic Fest assembled an impressive line-up of comic book creators. Featured guests included Scott Snyder, Jim Steranko, Mark Waid, Paul Levitz, Denny O’Neil and Bill Sienkiewicz.
New York Comic Fest offered two simultaneous sets of panels throughout the single day of con. Sessions included:
The “Gender in Comics” panel with Ann Nocenti, Forrest Helvie, and Shawn Martinbrough, moderated by Christy Blanch.
The “Archie Comics: Riverdale Lives” panel.
The “Batman at 75: Then and Now” panel with Paul Levitz, Scott Snyder, and Dennis O’Neil, moderated by Dan Greenfield.
The “Marvel Days” panel with Ann Nocenti, Peter B. Gillis, Rick Parker, and Jim Salicrup.
The “Writing Comics” panel with Dan Goldman, Dean Haspiel, Justin Gray, and Fred Van Lente, moderated by Hannah Means-Shannon.
The “Animation All-Stars” panel with J. J. Sedelmaier and Bob Camp, moderated by Craig Yoe.
The “Tribute to Wally Wood” panel with Jim Steranko and Paul Levitz, moderated by J. David Spurlock.
Although seats were readily available for the panels in the morning or those focused on niche topics, other sessions, such as “Batman at 75,” played to a full house.
Many of the comic book creators were available throughout the day to sign their works. The line to get Scott Snyder’s signature extended far across the hall. Jim Sternanko also had a long line of fans seeking an autograph from the innovative artist. And Denny O’Neil had a crowd waiting for an autograph from the famed Silver Age writer and editor.
The event’s closing activity was a costumed cosplay contest. In contrast to the crowded event at the recent Asbury Park Comic Con, the White Plains version was relatively subdued, perhaps due to the newness of the event in the area or the competition from the other pop culture cons in the area.
Show producers Gilbreath and Bruce plan to expand their comic book related events for the coming year. They announced plans to expand Asbury Park Comic into East Coast Comic Con (or Comicon), to be held at New Jersey’s Meadowlands Expo Center in April, 2015. The move was driven by the desire to expand past 10,000 attendees, according to Bruce. Rather than subsuming the other comic cons produced by the team, Galbraith and Bruce stated they plan to return for a second New York Comic Fest and offer new Asbury Park cons in the future.
For a tour of New York Comic Fest 2014 in 170 photos, see the Flickr photo album: New York Comic Fest 2014.