Much like Jello, there’s always room for another large scale comic convention, especially in New Jersey. Thinking back to when I was a kid and events like this were basically non-existent in my neck of the woods, the sheer abundance of pop culture conventions in the Tri-State area is reason to rejoice. The amount of cons is unfathomable to me at times, but it’s the quality that matters of course. Lately, I haven’t been disappointed. You might remember the AC Boardwalk Con, which was pretty awesome and set a pretty high standard for the modern era of NON-NYC Comic Conventions. With no affiliation to NYCC or Wizard World, this weekend’s New Jersey Comic Expo turned out to be an event we Jersey geeks can call our own, hell…look at that logo! It all went down this weekend at The NJ Convention and Exposition Center in Edison, NJ and I will give you the full report.
A sunny and cool Fall day provided the background for my excursion to the NJ Comic Expo. It was the perfect reason to ignore the fact that I desperately needed to clean my condo. On the ride to the convention center I thought to myself “How is this going to be any different than the other 462 conventions that I’ve been to?” For one thing, the complex I was driving to is where I had covered several Exxxotica conventions in the past. So, right there, it was definitely going to be different because there would be a lot less porn.
Even though I was an early bird, the parking lot was already starting to fill up. I got registered and made my way inside. First thing I noticed was the massive scale of this event. It was on the level of NYCC, and it hit me right away that it wasn’t bogged down with too much promotional nonsense. Everywhere I looked I saw collectibles, toys, and most importantly, COMICS! There was copious amounts of nerdery for me to gorge on, but I emphasize comics because that is the crux, the spirit, and the lifeline of all comic conventions, as it should be. When you have a hard time finding actual comics at a comic con, then there’s a problem. You may have read previously here that I stopped collecting physical comics a while back, opting for digital, and although it’s extremely tempting, I try my damndest not to buy hard copies unless it’s something really special. Further into this article you will see how I flip flop on this stance.
I continued on my trek through the entire expo center. The layout was logical and left enough room for me to not feel claustrophobic like I often do at these things. I stopped at Robert Bruce’s table to see his wildly diverse assortment of toys and nostalgic collectibles. You know him from AMC’s Comic Book Men and his accounts on social media (@popculturizm.) I’ve known him for a while now and I always enjoy talking with him because he loves what he does so much. He’s the real deal when it comes to toy collecting. After shooting the shit with Robert, I went over to talk to my friends in the New Jersey Ghostbusters. They had their Ecto 1 parked next to their table as we discussed their upcoming appearance in the Ghostheads documentary that is coming out soon. They are great dudes and they also appeared in The Sexy Armpit Halloween Special this year so I owe them a Chinese Feast with the last of our petty cash! They even had a small billboard for themselves that was a screen shot of them from their cameo in my Halloween Special. Check them out here: GBNJ.NET
Then, I found the autograph tables. I went to say hello to my friend Tommy Walker, star of Netflix’s Daredevil, who was appearing. Actress Amy Acker (Angel, Person of Interest) seemed very friendly as I passed by her table while she was meeting her fans. At that point I remembered that Samantha Newark, voice of Jem was appearing as well, and I had to go and meet her. Voice actors, especially those from cartoons that I grew up watching obsessively, are icons to me. Samantha was so cool to talk to and since I was in there just before the crowds started piling in, I had a while to chat with her. I told her about how I felt the Jem movie was needlessly shat upon (well, I didn’t use that exact terminology) and she agreed. I still stand by the fact that it in 5-10 years it will be looked at as a cult classic. You might think that’s a stretch, but stranger things have happened. Samantha had various Jem promotional photos to sign and other items, but I opted for a JoeCon exclusive GI Joe #212 comic with Zartan and Cold Slither and Jem and The Holograms on the cover. It’s one that I had been watching on eBay for a while. I’m glad I held out because now I can say I bought it and had it signed by the voice of Jem herself. This was one case where I had to get the Hard Copy. In fact, Barry Nolan is going to do a schlocky TV report about this.
What was cool about meeting Samantha Newark was that I didn’t even go to this expo with that objective in mind. I totally forgot that she was appearing, so it was this cool little unexpected moment for me. I actually smiled in the selfie we took which is rare for me. She even brought up her last name and how it has nothing to do with Newark, NJ, so all of those burning questions have been answered. It’s not a secret nod to her hometown or anything. It was just a cool moment because I’m that type of person who can hear Jem’s voice in my head, or any cartoon character from my youth, like He-Man or She-Ra etc. Not like “voices in my head,” but those are the voices I hear if I think of the character. I’d imagine not everyone feels as strongly about voice actors as me, but I’ve always been so fascinated with them, especially those who voiced characters that I loved as a kid.
Next up, I walked over to the Cosplay Corner. I’ve always been heavily interested in Cosplay and dabble in it myself. I can’t make any claim to be a cosplayer per se, but I do put together my own intricate costumes. What is so insanely impressive about cosplayers is their dedication. The cosplayers I know put so much time, money, and love into whatever character they are portraying. Their attention to detail is incredible and the fact that they travel hundreds and sometimes thousands of miles to be at these cons is a testament not only to their love of cosplay, but to meeting fans and being a part of the scene. I had a chance to speak to Princess Morgan and Ashley Uncanny, and both were very cool. Princess Morgan had such an elaborate costume that left in me in awe (it won best in show at a Wizard World con) and traveled several hundred miles by car to be there. I told her I’m going to wallpaper my walls with her Harley Quinn photo shoots…she didn’t laugh. You can see the one that I took home below. Ashley Uncanny (pictured above) is a bubbly Jersey girl who was sweet and super friendly as she greeted everyone who went to her table.
By that point, all I purchased was a comic book. I always go into these things trying not to blow too much cash, but this wound up being like a small leak that grew out of control. Actually, I’m exaggerating. Truthfully, I wound up picking up a few things I had on my mental wish list for a while. Let me tell you about my haul!
I came home with some action figures, naturally. I’ve been re-watching the first season of The Flash TV series now that it’s on Netflix and that made me realize that, out of all the Reaction figures I own, I didn’t have The Flash! He’s now speeding around my condo cleaning for me (yeah right!) wouldn’t that be so awesome? I continued through the little mini storefronts that were set up with T-Shirts, Pop Vinyl figures, old Star Wars memorabilia, and my eyes zeroed in on one figure out of about 50 hanging on pegs. It was the Jae Lee Wonder Woman DC figure that I had been looking out for. It would’ve been easy to just get it on Amazon, but since it was right in front of my face, I figured why the hell not. It’s such an awesome figure! Glad to have it as part of my collection now and it coincided with the release of the Gal Gadot/Wonder Woman movie promo picture that hit the Internet. And the one figure that I hadn’t seen up until that moment was this Game of Thrones Daenerys figure from Dark Horse. It’s really more of a figure-statue since it’s not articulated, but I’m fine with that considering how detailed it is. Surprisingly, this is my first Game of Thrones collectible even though I’ve watched and loved the show since it premiered.
Toys are great, but Artist’s Alley is always my favorite place to browse at a comic convention. Jim Lee was appearing, but I was more interested in the creators in artist’s alley. Whether I’m discovering a new artist or meeting one of my favorites, it’s an excellent opportunity to pick up some original work from artists from the comic book world and elsewhere. After checking out almost all the artists, I arrived at two shared tables by a husband and wife from Chicago. The pieces they had on display were enticing me. Note to those with a table at a con: easiest way to lure me in: just put Lily Munster somewhere in your display and I will be at your table in mere seconds. After trying to decide what I wanted, I came to the conclusion that the Julie Newmar Catwoman print pictured above was perfect. This oil painting style of her had that special quality and it was like nothing I’ve seen before so I had to have it. I also picked up a couple of other pieces for friends here.
It was about time for me to wrap up since I couldn’t afford to stay any longer! I dug the Jersey Comic Expo and I hope they come back next year to the same venue. Next year, I’d like to see a larger roster of celebs as well as an expanded cosplayer area with photo backdrops and faux sets. Otherwise, there really wasn’t anything to nitpick, and if you’re into comics and buying geek paraphernalia, this is one of the best events I’ve been to in the area and I recommend it to you for next year! Thanks for reading.