When you have a guest roster that boasts comic book icons like Jim Lee, Sergio Aragones, and Mike Mignola, one would assume a good turnout. The Boston Comic Con anticipated more attendees by moving to a bigger venue. But no one could have predicted the crush of people who lined up for hours outside the Westin Waterfront on Saturday April 10th. With a record attendance 60% larger than any of the previous shows, the Boston Comic Con was clearly the place to be.
There was an excitement in the air that was felt by fans, artists, and vendors alike. Many observations were made to this show quickly becoming the northeast equivalent of homegrown, comic book central conventions in the vein of Emerald City Comicon, Baltimore Comic Con, and the venerable HeroesCon. “This is the show that put us on the map,” said co-founder Nick Kanieff.
Newly anointed DC Comics co-publisher Jim Lee was on hand to sign for hundreds of fans, many of whom walked away with a rare and coveted head sketch. He also spoke on a spotlight panel, as did Hellboy creator Mike Mignola, and Eric Powell, creator of The Goon. Eisner Award-nominees JH Williams III, Skottie Young, and Cameron Stewart were all besieged by comic art enthusiasts looking to add sketches and commissions to their collection. And legends like Bill Sienkiewicz, Jim Starlin, and Sergio Aragones met with both fans that have been following their work for decades and those first discovering their work.
Artist alley was a showcase of the phenomenal talent that New England has to offer. ZombieBomB! co-creator Adam Miller said “The response we received at the Boston Comic Con was amazing! We sold out of our book on the first day of the convention; it was more than we could have hoped for.” Mark Chiarello, Art Director of DC Comics, conducted many portfolio reviews giving advice and encouragement to dozens of artists. He also may have found DC’s next superstar in Jeff Wamester, a local who piqued Chiarello’s interest.
Overall the reaction has been overwhelmingly positive. In response to the detractors, many of whom got stuck outside on Saturday when the Boston Police Department was concerned about the capacity of the venue, Boston Comic Con assures them that next year’s show will utilize a larger space and feature more programming. As a young show there are always growing pains, particularly when it is a fan-run operation without corporate financial backing. However, most attendees recognize and appreciate the intimacy of the show and the access it gives them to creators.
This past weekend was a turning point for the Boston Comic Con. After four years of quietly building a convention that New England fans can be proud of, they have established themselves as a destination event. With this kind of momentum built up the next show on April 2-3, 2011 is sure to be one that comic fans absolutely cannot miss. Tell your friends!