The 2017 Rhode Island Comic Con has come and gone and as in past years, Terror From Beyond The Daves was there. I have been coming to this event regularly and seen it grow and develop into a convention to be reckoned with. It truly is the biggest show in the smallest state.
Growing up I read comic books regularly but as I grew older, my interests went elsewhere (mostly horror and science fiction). It wasn’t until Marvel released Iron Man in 2008 that my interest in comic books returned. Though I never got back into buying issues monthly, I did start buying some of the collections, more so to relive my younger days. I had forgotten how fun the Marvel universe truly is.
There is no shortness of fun at Rhode Island Comic Con either. Whether you are there to buy things in their huge dealer rooms, meet your favorite celebrities, attend panels on your favorite shows or partake in the cosplay, this event has it all.
This year’s dealer room was jam packed with everything from autographs, action figures and toys to Japanese anime, comic books and movie posters. All of the dealers I interacted with were friendly and helpful and if they didn’t have something you wanted, they genuinely seemed like they would work hard to get it for you.
I found the celebrity areas manageable, especially the secondary ones. It was amazing to see the ovation that the kids from Stranger Things (Gaten Matarazzo, Caleb McLaughlin and newcomer Sadie Sink) got when they came out from behind the curtain. These kids deserve their fame and you can tell they are having a great time. The one celebrity I met, Chris Sarandon, was genuinely nice and at the time had no line (I was admittedly early) so he was very willing to chat both Fright Night and A Nightmare Before Christmas, two of my favorite films. I always felt that he is one actor that should’ve become larger than he did.
I also want to commend the staff of Rhode Island Comic Con as they had a lot on their plate. I am not sure if the people working around the autograph areas were paid staff or volunteers but either way they were very helpful. I had some questions about a particular celebrity and when they didn’t know the answer off the top of their head they opened the app on their phone and found it for me. I also found that security, who were probably dealing constantly with the ignorant people complaining about the lines, was also friendly. I talked to one security guard and he had a big smile on his face and was a very funny person to interact with.
One thing I did notice this year was that the amount of cosplay was down. Once again the weather was brutally cold which may have contributed to this. I will say though that with the ones I saw, they were very impressive and I have a full appreciation of anyone that goes out of their way to go in character, especially with the people who make their costumes from scratch. You are under layers of clothes with oftentimes limited visibility, hearing and breathing which can create a very uncomfortable experience and yet they do it year after years. For others, they are wearing next to nothing so not only are they dealing with modesty issues but the brutal cold as well.
One of the things I like to do while at these shows is find things wrong and see how they are addressed. I will say that Altered Realities does a fantastic job with learning from any issues that may arise. Every year that I have gone and witnessed issues they are guaranteed to be taken care of by the following year.
The biggest complaint as always are the lines. Nothing aggravates me more than people complaining about this. What do people expect with events of this size? Even things like concerts and haunted houses at Halloween have lines and if you show up at Comic Con hoping to get in at 10, you must be prepared that you are not the only one there trying to get in at 10. The advertising clearly states that the doors open at 10. When you get in is based on how fast the line moves and from what I saw, the line did move pretty well once the doors opened. What slowed it down was the sheer volume of people.
Another big complaint that I saw was the last minute cancellation of The Walking Dead actors. People, in their ignorance, actually blamed Comic Con for this saying that they knew well in advance that they wouldn’t be there and that it was a ploy to sell tickets. Norman Reedus, on Twitter, made the announcement on November 10, the first day of Comic Con. This tells me that this cancellation was very last minute (and as far as I know, anything pre-paid for these guys was refunded). If you need someone to blame, blame AMC. First and foremost these guys are under contract to AMC with appearances at places like Comic Con a secondary priority. Filming schedules change constantly so cancellations are normal for these events, as aggravating as it can be for guests (and there is a disclaimer on the Rhode Island Comic Con site stating this).
One thing I noticed, and liked, this year was the use of social media. Facebook was constantly being monitored by Altered Reality and questions were answered very quickly. In fact people asking questions, or complaining, seemed very happy at not only the quick response but also with the answers they were getting. Another nice thing they did was utilize Facebook Live to show live updates of what was going on. This was great for helping to plan accordingly.
All-in-all this was a great day and despite the crowds, I never felt crowded. I was able to get where I wanted to go in a decent amount of time and even the dealer room, as packed as it was, was easy to maneuver. Maybe it is just me as I have attended many conventions over the years and know what to expect with crowds so I it bothers me yet. People need to realize it accomplishes nothing to complain about something such as crowd size and lines. I cannot emphasize this enough: without the crowds there would be no Rhode Island Comic Con. My word of advice to anyone going next year is patience. If you don’t stress at the little things then you will have a much better time and Rhode Island Comic Con should be a fun event for all involved.