AC Boardwalk Con Adventure Part 1

You couldn’t move in AC last weekend. Everywhere you turned there was a bachelorette party going on. It was like an old B-movie, but, instead of the Jersey Shore getting infested with 50-foot mutated soon-to-be brides, it was overrun with literal hordes of drunken twenty-something girls wearing dresses that could barely fit my arm. They were stumbling all over the boardwalk, making a scene at the casinos, and even loud talking (slurring) on line at Starbucks. Believe me, I’m all for partying, but the combination of drunkenness only amplified the fact that they all seemed to think they were hot shit. Something about getting dressed up and downing weak shots of fruity liqueur makes even the biggest disasters feel like they could nail David Beckham. They couldn’t even pronounce Macchioto at that point, but, then again, they could barely walk – even with those giant heels in hand. Don’t think for a second that their male counterparts weren’t up to the same shenanigans in other casinos, they just disguised it better. Clusters of dudes on their bachelor parties were equally as obnoxious, but they weren’t wearing tiaras and sashes, so they didn’t stand out as much. Why am I telling you this? To set the scene of course!

While much of this turned out to be entertaining in itself, like witnessing multiple girls trip over their giant heels in their micro mini skirts right before my eyes, it got in the way of my real mission: getting to the FIRST EVER Atlantic City Boardwalk Con. Last weekend, Dinosaur Dracula and I escaped immediately into a parking garage and sought refuge in the most perfect place imaginable – The Atlantic City Convention Center. This place was bustling with an entirely different breed of revelers: Geeks. The Atlantic City Boardwalk Con was like being in the Merry Land of Oz, if Oz was a comic convention and Kevin Smith was the Wizard.

AC took on a double meaning for me. The Atlantic City Convention Center was supplied with Air Conditioning, which made it a haven in more ways than one; it was an awesome way to get out of the humidity (I’m currently AC-less at home), but it was also an immense emporium for all of my favorite geek things. From comics books to Zatanna cosplay, it was all there spread throughout the cavernous facility. The craziest part about it was that they didn’t even utilize half the floor space and ACBC was still a huge con.

Cosplay was in full force. Personally, I never get sick of seeing cosplayers and the insane amount of time and effort they put into their bringing their characters to life. Some cosplayers have such elaborate homemade costumes and they never break from their roles. They’re usually happy to chat and take pictures and those I spoke to at ACBC were friendly and seemed pretty psyched to be there. Cosplay was a key part of the AC Boardwalk Con (i.e Dark Helmet) and it’s welcome to see it get the spotlight that it deserves here in New Jersey. I saw Callie Cosplay as Sue Storm and she looked fantastic. Much like some of the other cosplayers at ACBC, she changed costumes over the course of the weekend, but in the video you can catch a quick glimpse of her as Sue.
Since ACBC is new, it was a fresh experience. There was an aspect of discovery that I don’t get from other cons. With New York Comic Con, it always feels like an organized mess, overshadowed by the mega conglomerates who sink the most ad money into the event. On the other hand, ACBC provided me with a happy feeling every time I turned a corner and noticed something that I hadn’t before. It was a mix of independent vendors and the random official Marvel Universe kiosk. An excellent balance of both. Plus. the easy to follow floor layout and the imaginative vendor set-ups infused the stagnant con prototype with a new style. Mostly, it was just different than the norm, and less stressful and aggravating to navigate than the other big cons.

Enticing my eyeballs for a few hours were random toys, odd collectibles, and beautiful artwork. Not to be a Debbie Downer, but I actually didn’t come home with any. I resisted. I so desperately wanted the Batman/Harley Quinn painting you’ll see in the video above, but it was about $900 bucks! I got bills, yo! I’ll stick with the shots in the video footage I took. Further guilt was brought on by the fact that I’ve bought so many figures recently that I wanted to stick with a few original items to take home with me, so let me show you what came home with.

The NJ Ghostbusters were on site investigating a free floating full torso apparition of an old famed casino owner who is known to haunt the Atlantic City area. When I ran into the boys in gray, they didn’t have much time to B.S with me about the latest issue of Space Catalog because they just got an urgent call from Janine Melnitz, so I quickly threw them some cash so I could own one of their beautiful NJGB t-shirts! Could this shirt be any more apropos for me? NJ and Ghostbusters, perfect. I also picked up some stickers.

All the way from the far off land of Los Angeles, CA, I stopped at the table of JSalvador’s Super Emo Friends. These cute paintings of sad super heroes, rock stars, and pop culture icons grabbed me as if I saw a sad puppy in a pet shop window. How could I resist Emo Jason Voorhees moping on his mother’s severed head? I also picked up the Emo Arrow for Mike

ACBC didn’t give me much to bitch about at all. I only had one minor gripe. I didn’t wind up meeting any of the guests, but the celebrity signing lines could’ve used more ingenuity. Once you reached the autograph and picture area in the back of the con, it was clogged up with people milling around trying to figure out whose line they wanted to go wait on first. Even getting remotely close to that wing would’ve gotten you caught up in a bit of a traffic jam. It’s possible they weren’t expecting such a huge turnout, but they’ll definitely have to expand this area next year.

ACBC was a success and I will venture to say that it was one of the most enjoyable conventions I’d ever been to. There was a positive vibe throughout and people weren’t acting like jerks. Seeing kids and families there also brought me back to when I was young and geeky things like comics weren’t ruled by 40-something dudes. It’s a family affair and that’s cool. ACBC did a bang up job right out of the gate. Looking forward to next year already!

You didn’t think our adventure ended at The Atlantic City Boardwalk Con, did you? Of course, there’s more to come from our exploits AFTER the con! Things got pretty interesting so come back soon to check it out. Thanks for reading!

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New York Comic Con 2013 Recap by Jay

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We’re taking a brief break from the Halloween Countdown, and boy do I mean brief. I’m only 2 sentences in and I already want to get back to celebrating Halloween. New York Comic Con needs to happen in November. October is exclusively for packing in the most Halloween fun as humanly possible, not getting caught up in geekery and action figure exclusives…well there’s always a little room for that. New York Comic Con 2013 is now history, and I must say, if it weren’t for an insane headache and stomach ache, I had a good time. Of course, as usual, I have reservations about it though. Join me and I’ll tell you all about my experience this year at the Javitz Center.

This is only my 3rd official Comic Con which means in comic geek circles I’m an amateur. Not really though, because you only need to go to one of these boundless events to grasp how they work. I was always under the impression that Monster Mania and Chiller cons were chaotic, but they’re super tame in comparison. Comic Con literally brings in people from all over the world and packs them into the Javitz Center to the point where you can walk without getting jabbed by people’s costumes. You can’t walk through anywhere without asking people to let you get by because everyone is staring in awe at everything they pass. The amazing part is, only a fraction of these people read comics.

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I wouldn’t go a full post about comic con without posting the most bubbly and friendly Supergirl I’ve ever met. And what kind of cosplay does a New Jersey Pop Culture Blog post? 
Jay and Silent Bob cosplay of course! Snootchie Bootchies!

One of the main reservations I have about this event is that comic books and their artists haven’t been the main attraction in many years, and they obviously should be. The only reason I go to these is to meet the artists whose work I admire, and to possibly pick up some of their prints. Comic Con has become more about big time companies promoting their wares and cosplayers promoting themselves as a brand (nothing wrong with that, but some cosplayers are truly into the comics and the scene, while others just go as a chance to get pictures taken of themselves). Plus, don’t go thinking you’re going to get great deals on ANYTHING…cause you aren’t.

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Padme by artist Dennis Budd and Red Sonja by NJ artist Dave Bullock

Smaller scale comic book conventions are great for fetching you a ton of dirt cheap comics. Comic Con has tables with comic book sellers, but those prices aren’t that much more reasonable than what you’ll see on eBay. So, going for comics isn’t the best idea. Besides, I get my comics through Comixology anyway, so that solves that.

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The big comic book companies were there in full force, well, at least some of them were. Marvel was mobbed and they were doing gangbusters business. As expected, their booth was one of the most visited on the floor. Conspicuous by its absence was a DC booth. I looked all over for it, but little did I know that there was no DC booth on the con floor! I didn’t consult with the 380 page program that they handed me when I walked in, nor did I download the app in fears that I’d use up more battery power on my phone. If I did look at any of those things I’d probably know that the DC booth was tucked in a hallway far, far away. Once I finally found the limp DC booth about an hour after I arrived, I was so disappointed at what little they had to offer.

The DC booth had all the Superman movie costumes through the years displayed in glass cases. There was a DC video game station and a few other minor details, but nothing that enticed me to stay there longer than a minute or two. I didn’t see much in the way of free crap either.

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I haven’t watched our little friend Sam yet this Halloween season. Trick r Treat is on my watch list for this week and Afterlife with Archie is on my reading list.

Free crap is another big reason why people go to Comic Con. People love free crap. I learned my lesson from past Cons though. I used to take one of whatever was handed to me or available to grab. In the past I wound up with a giant bag of random comic con freebies that I didn’t know what to do with. I wound up trashing most of it and whatever was good enough to keep I gave away to whoever wanted it. I didn’t take one thing this time. OK, blatant lie. I DID take a Real Ghostbusters poster that FearNet was giving away. But that was it, I swear.

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Some NJ ink in the style of the NY Yankees logo and 
a poster for the new Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back MiniMates!

One obstacle with Comic Con is that you literally have to search for a way to keep your shit all together. Unless you come prepared with a giant bag or Uhaul, you might find yourself with a handful of stuff and you may find yourself in another part of the Javitz Center and you may ask yourself “where does that hallway go to?” IT GOES NOWHERE. IT GOES TO THE BATHROOMS. IT GOES NOWHERE YOU WANT IT TO GO. I REPEAT IT DOES NOT GO TO ARTIST ALLEY IF THAT IS WHAT YOU ARE LOOKING FOR. And I ended up stealing a new garbage bag off the janitor’s garbage bin in order to hold all my stuff. Couldn’t find a damn bag anywhere. If they want me to come back they need to offer me a huge bag as soon as I walk in.

Anyway, good luck finding Artist Alley. You’ll have a better chance finding it if you wore ruby slippers, clicking your heels together, and letting a twister bring you there. For me, that’s the stuff I want and they bury it all the way on the other side of the building. Even on an extremely high speed people mover it would take you 39 minutes to get there from the main entrance. Screw that!

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Went to say hello to Dan Parent who I’ve met a few times and he was very cool as always. I bought a couple of pieces of art from him since I’m a fan of his and of Archie Comics in general. Here’s an original piece of Cherry Blossom and a print of Betty The Vampire Slayer vs. Vampironica. An excellent choice for Halloween!

A few of the toy booths I visited had some cool items that I was enticed by, but it turned out that the sellers weren’t at the table at the moment and they put random dudes in charge of their table. Said dudes knew nothing about pricing on anything and they weren’t authorized to make any sales themselves, so basically they were there to make sure people didn’t steal shit. That’s great for the person who was running the table because if they were in the mood for a sausage sandwich they could go grab one, but sucked for me since I stopped by the tables 6 times. I SAID I STOPPED BY THE TABLE 6 TIMES. 6 TIMES! Man I hope you get that reference. These guys were missing out on a possibly lucrative sale. Wait, what am I saying? What am I going to do with a repainted Skeletor figure that is supposedly rebranded as “art,” for $145 dollars. That’s just utterly f*cking ridiculous.

Go to take in the sights! Stay and absorb all the cosplayers hard work! But, most importantly, support the artists! The big major companies who are strategically situated on the con floor can afford it if you bypass their kiosk that’s merely serving as a sign up center for their silly e-mail list, so next time you go to Comic Con, head straight for Artist Alley and spend a good chunk of your time there. That’s where the magic happens. Literally. The con wouldn’t exist if artists and writers didn’t create the comics in the first place. Otherwise it would just be called New York Con and that’s just a dumb f*cking name.