Convention: East Coast Comic Con
Location: Secaucus, NJ
The East Coast Comic Con returned this past weekend for its 4th annual show. Previously held in Asbury Park, NJ at the Berkeley Oceanfront Hotel, the show relocated this year to the Meadowlands Exposition Center in Secaucus, NJ over cost and space concerns.
Pre-Show: Leading up to a show, attendees rely on the show’s website for information on guests & vendors as well as for any questions they may have regarding the event. The East Coast Comic Con had their website updated fairly early on, giving attendees an early look at the guest list and information about the show. There was a news feed on the site where you were able to find updates periodically. Although the name of the show has changed, the website remained asburyparkcomiccon.com which wasn’t a big deal, but made for an awkward conversation when trying to tell people about the show. Although the website provided a contact section, I did not receive a reply for two separate inquiries I placed about a month apart. I also tried reaching out through social media, but found what appears to be 3 different Twitter handles for the same show and didn’t receive a response there either. But I appreciated the early release of their guest list, and overall think the show did a well enough job providing information to the public.
The Venue/Staff: This was the first year the show was held in Secaucus, NJ at the Meadowlands Exposition Center and it definitely showed. The show advertised a 10am start time, and offered a special “early admission” ticket option that would allow entry to the show at 9:30am. I arrived around 8am for the show, and the few people that had already arrived were just standing around looking at each other, no one quite sure where to be lining up. The security team assigned outside had no information about the show or where guests should begin to line up, advising only to “hang around. Eventually a line was started, and then moved, and then placed back where it was moved from. Eventually volunteers for the show started to arrive, but didn’t have much more information than building security. I found it odd that volunteers were not assigned to manage the line, as you see with most comic conventions, until about 30 minutes prior to the show starting. While everyone was very friendly (which you don’t always get from workers at cons), managing the crowd is something that has to be done at every show so I can’t give them a pass for it being the first year at a new location. Also, there apparently was no guest list provided to the volunteer staff. I watched the Legendary Neal Adams be denied access to the building until a phone call was placed and someone from inside came to allow entry. That should NEVER happen.
I do want to take a moment to highlight show co-founder Cliff Galbraith. On numerous occasions Mr. Galbraith made his way out to the crowd to speak with fans and greet creators. With all time and stress I’m sure goes into running and organizing a convention, it was nice to see him interacting with fellow comic lovers. Very Cool….
The show floor was a good size. For the most part everything was laid out well. The show made one major floor plan mistake by putting all their most popular creators in the same row, all seated around each other. Due to this decision, a portion of the show floor was overcrowded the entire show, while other rows had limited traffic. For the sake of the crowds, I find it is usually good to spread the big names around. Also, I think it might help some of the lesser known creators with exposure if they are slotted next to a big name.
Guest List: The East Coast Comic Con was able to snag some pretty big names for this year’s show. Longtime professionals like Simon Bisley, Arthur Adams, Whilce Portacio, Steve Rude, Herb Trimpe and Ann Nocenti were all in attendance. There were a lot of indie creators, but not much in between. In years to come, I would like to see the show mix in more current, established artists while keeping an indie presence as well. I do give two thumbs up to the COMIC convention having COMIC guests.
Guest List: 2.5/5
Exibitors/Vendors: For a smaller show there was a lot to see. Comics, toys, apparel and everything in between were available. There was something for everyone at this show. The best part was almost everything was comics related. It’s good to see a show book actual comic vendors instead of general pop culture retailers.
Cosplay: Professional cosplayers made up most of the cosplay crowd, but there were a handful of guests who attended in costume. As usual, Star Wars and Deadpool costumes ruled the weekend.
Final Verdict: The East Coast Comic Con definitely has some areas to improve in, but for a show only in its 4th year they did a pretty good job. While it had its issues, nothing was a big enough problem that I wouldn’t return. I look forward to an even better show next year.