With the exception of Kevin Smith references, most don’t really associate New Jersey with comic books. Now the team behind the long-running successful Long Beach Comic Con are bringing their magic to the East Coast with the New Jersey Comic Expo. Slated for this November 21-22, this inaugural year will be at the NJ Convention and Expo Center. You can find information on ordering tickets and a discount code further down, but first let’s learn more.
We got in touch with Mad Event Management’s Group Show Director, Mike Scigliano (who I’ve known for twenty years – yes, we’re old), to discuss the upcoming celebration of sequential art.
GD: Okay, I have to ask, why New Jersey?
MS: Well, it’s pretty simple, really. While most of our team is based here in the tri-state area, including MAD owner, Martha Donato, we’ve been running Long Beach Comic Con & Long Beach Comic Expo out on the west coast for 7 years. An opportunity came our way that was hard to pass up – putting together a comic con in New Jersey – and New Jersey Comic Expo was born.
We looked at it as a great way to bring what we do out on the west coast close to home.
GD: Speaking as someone who’s never made it to LBCC but heard amazing things, I appreciate it. Overall, how’s the reaction been?
MS: We’ve been overwhelmed with positive reactions from fans to pros to exhibitors. Our social media has been buzzing. People are getting excited and that gets us excited. Producing a successful comic con is a big endeavor and that excitement really energizes the team.
GD: Any big names you’re particularly excited about or that our readers should be?
MS: Absolutely! We’ve got a great core comic guest list featuring Mark Bagley, Ryan Bodenheim, Jim Calafiore, Dennis Calero, Chris Claremont, Toby Cypress, Shane Davis, Michelle Delecki, Todd Dezago, Steve Ellis, Garth Ennis, David Gallaher, Bryan J. Glass, Justin Gray, Scott Hanna, Joe Harris, Jamal Igle,, Fabian Nicieza, Cary Nord, Tom Raney, Craig Rousseau, Bob Schreck, Ethan Van Sciver, Frank Tieri, Neil Vokes; Charles Paul Wilson III not to mention our media stars Rob Bruce, Drea de Matteo, Samantha Newark, Alan Robert and Tommy Walker. And don’t forget our Cosplay guests Brit Bliss, Kit Candela, It’s Raining Neon, Destiny Nickelsen, Supergirl Smiles, Vegas Power Girl and YuffieBunny.
New guests are getting added each week so this list just keeps growing so keep an eye on our website – we’re certainly not done just yet.
GD: That’s quite a list! Mike has also given GeekDad the exclusive that Jeff King, writer of DC’s Convergence, Telos, and producer of the hit TV show “White Collar” will be a guest at NJCE as well. I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. King at NYCC, and he was a great person to talk with. He showed my daughter exclusive photos from the show and told her what it was like working in TV/Comics.
GD: How family friendly is the con? Will there be events focused at young fans?
MS: I think our policy of admitting kids under 10 free with an adult pass (up to two per pass) pretty much sums out our stance on families. We do our best to create a family friendly atmosphere that appeals to parents and kids alike. Just a few of the things we do, specifically with kids in mind, include special kids geared panels, a kids area on the floor and a kid’s only category in our big Cosplay Contest.
Most of our team have kids so we certainly understand the importance of creating an event that can support attendees who have kids and want to be able to include them in the fun. It doesn’t take anything away from those attendees who do not have kids but it certainly adds to the enjoyment for everyone involved.
GD: This is particularly of interest to me because I have a teenage daughter who is getting into cosplay. Some cons have had issues with cosplayer harassment. Do you have a stated policy?
MS: The short answer is yes; featured on our site and displayed at the show. We have embraced the cosplay community. It is a vibrant and growing part of the comic con culture. Our cosplay liaison, Gabe Fieramosco, spearheaded the creation of Cosplay Corner to be able to feature some of the most exciting cosplayers from across the country. Think Artist Alley for cosplay.
Just to swing back to the harassment policy for a second – it should go without saying but I will lay it out right here – harassment of ANY kind is not tolerated. We want our attendees, guests and exhibitors to feel safe and comfortable. Everyone has the right to be able to celebrate what they love and be embraced for it.
GD: Great answer. You mentioned Artist’s Alley – that’s my favorite part of any convention. How large a collection of artists can we expect at NJCE?
MS: You and me both! It is evident in our show floor layout. At most events you find Artist Alley in the back or in a corner but at New Jersey Comic Expo it is smack dab in the center of the show floor. At our shows we celebrate the individuals who make the comics we all love. Expect to see a wide range or creators from the widest recognized names to brand new up and comers – including students from the fantastic Kubert School. The best part about walking through Artist Alley, for me, is the opportunity to discover such amazing talent with every step you take.
GD: Finally, a personally question: This is the second of two major cons that you’re running this year -when do you even sleep?
MS: Actually three but who’s counting, right? Let’s just say between these shows, freelance work and my family my Fitbit tells me I average about 4 hours of sleep a night. I wouldn’t have it any other way. Well, a few extra hours a day wouldn’t be bad.
That’s it for Mike, but here’s some news – from now until Friday, NJCE will be offering a discount on tickets. Save $5 on any ticket if you purchase before Midnight on Friday, 10/17. Just go to the ticket page and add the discount code “mondaygrind”. That means you could get an entire weekend pass for $40 (and that’s not even taking into account those free kid’s tickets).
GeekDad will be there. Let us know in the comments if you plan on attending, and stay tuned for other NJCE announcements.