Written by Jason Schoolcraft
A Brief History
In 2012, after two years of planning and preparation, Rhode Island was going to get its own comic convention – an East Coast taste of what San Diego enjoys each year. It got off to a rocky start due to safety codes and its venue unable to contain all the people it would attract but, if anything, it showed how underserved we New Englanders were in terms of our fandom. The Rhode Island Comic Con was an instant hit and has grown exponentially ever since.
It now celebrates its three days in three buildings: the Dunkin’ Donuts Center, the Rhode Island Convention Center, and the Omni Hotel. The DD Center was utilized for celebrity signings with corridor space reserved for vendors. The convention center has an additional 50,000 square feet for vendors and I was also pleased to see many non-profit organizations among them. The numerous celebrity panels took place in the Omni Center. Upon my arrival, I noticed that security was a priority which I really appreciated. Once inside, there were numerous maps and information stations to assist attendees.
Vendors, Vendors, and MORE Vendors!
Vendors are my favorite part of any convention and this event plenty of them! There were hundreds if not thousands of them; offering everything from comics, posters, apparel, art, and collectibles. They even had professional tattoo artists on hand for anyone looking to get inked. I had a hard time figuring out where to look next.
There were well over 150 celebrities from all walks of entertainment. Some guests that appeared this year was William Shatner, George Takei, Nichelle Nichols, Dave Bautista, Benedict Wong, Robert Englund, Richard Dreyfuss, Katherine Tate, Lou Ferrigno, and cast members from “Stranger Things.”
If you were looking for a celebrity photo op or prized autograph, this was the place to be. Social media hounds could also take selfies with a replica of the Griswold’s station wagon from National Lampoon’s Vacation (1983).
There were some amazing costumes and the majority were handmade. These fans went all out to pay tribute to their favorite characters. Disney, Marvel, DC, horror, gaming, and STAR WARS were well represented in addition to a great deal more I couldn’t recognize.
I have to say, the Rhode Island Comic Con was incredible. It has evolved so much since that first year and I can’t wait to see how it continues to do so!