Going to a new comic book convention is a leap of faith, whether you are a guest, vendor or an attendee. So many things can dampen the experience. Poor organization, lousy attendance and inhospitable management have ruined many comic conventions and guaranteed that there will not be a second.
The first clue that a con is going to suck is usually the location. Having a con that is in a town off the beaten path or in a cheesy venue is a major indication that the organizers have no idea what they are doing.
What could be the chance that a comic con held in Camden, New Jersy could be any good? Camden is, after all, too often recognized as the poorest and most dangerous city in America with a crime rate that is five times the national average!
Sounds like the type of town where you would expect to find a lot of superheroes battling bad guys, not lining up for a cosplay competition.
Despite all odds, however, Camden Comic Con was a wonderful convention that I would heartily recommend to anyone, largely due to the attentiveness and management skills of organizers, Miranda Powell, Bill Haas, their staff and the support of Rutgers University whose campus hosted a safe, accessible and comfortable venue.
For a small, first-time convention organized in just two short months, so many things were done right that it is just amazing, beginning with and highlighted by the hospitality of the staff and Rutgers University. They found a way to make everyone feel appreciated which is, in and of itself, a rarity anywhere in today’s society. They even provided a delicious, complimentary lunch to all vendors, dealers and guests! Who can not be happy when you are being fed?
Camden Comic con was a remarkably festive, one-day event that was unusually inviting, not just to the hardcore comic fan but to the entire community, opening its doors to anyone that was curious about comic books, free of charge!
Once you walked past the colorful balloon arch, picked up a few free comics left over from last years Free Comic Book Day and adorned yourself with a Camden Comic Con pin you discovered the live band, Knuckle Puck Time playing in the exhibition area, face painting and crafts for the young children, and insightful panels that covered creative and social issues relating to comics.
There was an array of creators, publishers, and vendors occupying a space that was mercifully, not oversold especially considering that table fees were only $10 – 20 each!
Costumed fans of all ages wandered the floor, waiting for their chance to compete in the cosplay competition at the end of the day while they added immensely to the atmosphere that was enjoyed by the respectable number of 600 fans in attendance.
Hopefully this will be the first in a long tradition of comic conventions held in Camden. It was certainly a boost in the arm for the city, Rutgers, and the comic fans in the community!
CO2 Comics was proud to have been a part of this premiere event and we are admittedly biased about our experience because we had the opportunity to hang out with our long time friend and former ROBOTECH artist Reggie Byers, who we had not seen in years! Reggie’s comic CRESCENT has been popular feature here at CO2 Comics while he has been working on his pet project KIDZ OF THE KING.
We also had the wonderful opportunity to spend the afternoon next to Bob McLeod, long-time penciler and inker extraordinaire! Bob was a gracious as he is talented and we had a great time talking shop when not interacting with visitors to our tables.
My personal highlight was having the chance to finally meet a young fan that would regularly phone and send samples to me when I was Art Director at Comico thirty years ago. “Gus” was then a thirteen year-old with aspirations to create comics and I always considered it my responsibility to encourage him. It was very heartwarming to meet him as an adult that has maintained his interest in the medium knowing that I personally had some influence on his continued enthusiasm.
So, If you can measure the success of a comic convention by its ability to bring people together, the Camden Comic Con was a rousing success and and extraordinarily pleasant surprise. I can’t wait for the next one! Hope to see you there!
Making Comics Because We Want to,