“The year of the fan”
Like any hobby or past time worth following, there always comes a peak in the season. It is a point that you look forward to all year as the culmination of work and preparation. For football it is the Super Bowl. For hockey it is the Stanley Cup. For sports entertainment it is Wrestlemania. These are all time honored traditions that we follow and enjoy. Well for me and what I do, comic conventions are the apex of the lot. I cover multiple comic cons a year but none do I look forward to more than the first week of November in Providence, RI, Rhode Island Comic Con.
This show is touted as “The biggest show in the smallest state” I would argue that, as it makes it sound almost secondary. For me and shows along the east coast, I consider this the top. Now I might have a little bit of journalistic bias here, but it is not fake news. I have a sentimental attachment to this show for sure, as it was three short years ago I had my very first celebrity interview on this very stage. I was fortunate enough to interview a childhood idol, in Lou Ferrigno. Although you might know him better as his jade green alter-ego: The Incredible Hulk. Lou played the Hulk in the popular and now beloved 1970’s television version of the character. This was way back before Marvel had a bountiful movie universe or many video games and cartoons to their portfolio. He was Marvel through and through, before Marvel was cool. Nerve wracked as I was, I was humbled to be able to meet him one on one as my dad passed his love of the TV show down to me, when I was just a little sprout. Being able to do that interview, I was then able to parlay myself a portfolio of who’s who of comic book creators and celebrities as a body of work, all because of one chance on that one November day. This was my long winded way of saying thank you. I will forever be grateful for this event.
Now fast forward to three years later it is now 2018. In the comic world, things have changed but very much stay familiar. This day and age it has become more of a pop culture phenomenon than a simple comic convention. There are vendors, creators, actors and cosplayers galore. It seems like there is something for everyone, if you look for it. However there has in the past few years there is one integral group that seems to get lost or overlooked in the shuffle: the fan. Now by no means is this a knock on the show or anyone who puts it together, but I have had observations in the past. Every year the show gets bigger and it seems we, the fans become smaller in comparison. What I mean by that is there is simply too much and not enough time to enjoy or explore it all. It becomes more likened to a theme park than a geek gathering. Usually you have to pick and choose your ride (or in this case line) and you pretty much commit to doing that for your day.
Every year the guests get bigger and bigger but so does the gap between us and them. In recent years the guests are usually housed in one or two large convention rooms on a concrete floor and the lines are enormous. I don’t know if it was the large open space or the way it was set up, but it never seemed conducive to true quality fan interaction. It became very formulaic the way it was set up, wait in a long line, have a quick second or two with your favorite icon and then poof it was gone. The gap between you and them was almost like an invisible barrier than you could not penetrate. However this year, was different. Almost all of the guests and celebrities were located upstairs in the ballroom and it was a smaller room, but it seemed much more intimate. As I observed in my many trips across the con floors, it seemed brighter. It seemed better. Maybe it was the fact that you were now standing on carpeted floor instead of cool, cold concrete ground. Maybe it was the fact that the atmosphere now mimicked a warm hotel lobby, rather than a wide open airstrip, but I feel like it was genuinely different. I would venture to guess that this change made a difference in the way the guests behaved too. Sure they had big lines like always, but it never seemed out of hand. I noticed a lot more smiles this go around, as Celebrity and fan alike seemed to get more out of their interactions. I noticed that no one seemed to be rushed or hurried through, everyone got their moment in the sun and time to shine. This to me was so very important, because who wants to wait all that time for a meet and greet to simply leave with a bad taste in their mouth? Remember that people spend their hard earned money to attend this, and everyone should get a bang for their buck. From what I saw, they did. To me that is what Comic Con is all about. People being able to meet their idols, share why they mean so much to us and pay tribute. It is also about those we meet paying tribute back. For without us, the fan, none of this is possible.
I believe because of these settings and the way the energy was flowing, everyone was able to get at least a little bit more of what they wanted. Fans were able to get more meaningful interactions, celebrities were able to let their hair down a bit more and journalists were able to get much more quality content as a result. When it hits on all cylinders it feels like a win for everyone. That to me is a very good thing. So I have to say kudos to all those who put on this show and made changes this year, it really felt like a more complete event than ever before. I happen to know a few of the amazing souls who worked tirelessly to bring this to life. I’d be remiss if I did not take the time to thank Sue Soares of Altered Reality Entertainment. Sue works on this show constantly and makes sure it gets bigger every single year, and that is no small order. Also Joseph Bruen of All Axxess Entertainment. Joe is a veteran of these halls and is always the consummate professional when it comes to promotion and being on hand to cover and bring us constant up to date news and content. Then there is Dante Luna of Dante Luna Productions. Dante is the most driven creative force you will ever see walk into one of these venues. Him and his team work non stop to bring you the most innovative and amazing content. He promotes the show via his YouTube channel, as well as his amazing photography and he is able to get you a look at the guests and attendees from angles that no one else can produce.
He even has candid interviews with the now late Great Stan Lee. Truly awesome stuff.
These folks put their all into this show every single year and we benefit as a result of it. They are not the only ones who seemed to level up their game this year though. The cosplayers I must say were magnificent. I know people diligently work on their creations each year but this time around it seems that they were able to produce work that rivaled most movie productions. Again, just amazing stuff. Take a look. The creativity was off the charts!
So though it goes by the moniker of “The Biggest Show in the Smallest State” I believe it is anything but. The amount of content and star power here easily rivals that of many shows in larger states and venues. So if you are tired of the same ole same ole show where you are year after year, I humble suggest you take a trip to Rhode Island and attend this one. If it was anything like what was just presented this year, you will be so glad you did.