Last year was the first year for local New York comic convention WinterCon, and I was in attendance for its inception focusing on comic creators and their independent work. WinterCon returned on December 5 and 6, bigger this year, and my focus zeroed in on how they managed their growth.
Going from a one-day affair to a two-day affair is the first notable change for the con. Fans are hungry for conventions, and not everyone can get or afford tickets to the likes of San Diego Comic Con or New York Comic Con. Not only did WinterCon expand into a two-day event, but also had more to offer entertainment wise. There were more vendors, more panels, more screenings, more interactive photo opportunities, and more celebrity signings. All markers of the organizers using all the space they could of the Resorts World Casino floor.
The convention heavily leaned on Star Wars. There were Star Wars photo opportunities, life-size R2-D2’s and lots and lots of Star Wars cosplayers and groups. The Saber Guild, recognized by Lucasfilm as a Star Wars Costumed Charity Performance Group, put on an imaginative Star Wars show called Saber Guild Presents: Rivals, which featured wonderful light saber choreography and spirited storytelling.
There was also a panel with the men who played Boba Fett in the movies and a NY Jedi Performance. The con also upped its recognition of cosplayers, not only having a cosplay contest staple to every convention, but also a Q&A with Yaya Han, a cosplay with disabilities panel, a kids cosplay workshop, and a few more.
Perhaps my favorite addition this year was the photo opportunities. You could jump around in a set up of the infamous garbage compactor room from Star Wars, or take a jarring picture on a bloodied couch. There were big sculptures such as the Hulk and a giant Millennium Falcon hanging just above attendees heads.
Nothing completes a con like seeing vendor booths climbing up to the rafters and an artist alley chock full of talent, such as legendary Neal Adams. Last year, I met Amy Reeder at the convention who is now at the helm of Marvel’s Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur. The fact is, walking among artist alley you never know who you will meet, or whose art will inspire you. There were many vendors this year, and many of them were happy to be there. However, a few disclosed that there were some difficulties, having had to move their booths at the last minute in the morning.
While the con has improved, it still has some bugs to work out. Signage wasn’t the greatest, walking in to the casino there was nothing to guide you to the con floor, and the map given out in the pamphlet doesn’t tell you where any of the vendors are relative to the floor. The main stage is smack dab in the middle of the con, making passage to the other side sometimes difficult when the crowd swells.
For first-time WinterCon vendor Dave from Game Master Goods, a local business on Long Island, he was interested to see what the scene in Queens would have in store. Dave has made his rounds on the Long Island convention circuit, vending at LI Who, LI Geek and Quest, Classic Con Show, and FatDoG (Friday after Thankgiving, Day of Gaming). He was interested to see what crossing over the border into city territory would mean, and when we spoke early on the Saturday of the con, he said things were going well so far. Next year he hopes to teach games at the event, remarking that tabletop games are a 700 million dollar industry.
Local cons are also a great way to run in to old friends. I hung out with my friend Brimstone for a bit, who I interviewed for the GCE over the summer. He couldn’t disclose all the information to me, but he has some major projects in the works, and coming off of some big shows like Stan Lee’s Comikaze (he is a representative for the Stan Lee foundation), and Walker Stalker Con I can only imagine he’s got something big in store. I would keep an eye out.
Another vendor I chatted with was Shelby from Show Pony, who makes stunning metallic necklaces, bracelets, and trinkets. She wasn’t local, coming all the way from Maryland, but spoke about the community that allows vendors to crisscross the country and attend these kinds of functions. Shelby shared her table with a vendor from Texas, having met her online prior and in person at a Harry Potter convention.
Of course, what makes a convention a true convention is the fans. And they brought their wallets ready to buy some Christmas gifts, and their best cosplays. I spoke with two cosplayers who stood out to me. The first was Luann Johnson, whose service dog made a wonderful accompaniment to her as Daenerys Targaryen from Game of Thrones. Her service dog, Balto, made for a great dire wolf, and her cosplay had people stopping in their tracks to admire the perfect pairing.
The second cosplayer I chatted with, Jennie Martinico, also rocked another wonderful cosplay. She was the only Peggy Carter at the con (that I saw) and nailed it down to the patriotic socks. We mostly discussed our excitement for season two of Agent Carter, and bonded over our in-depth, and often tortured love of Fitzsimmons from Agents of SHIELD. It reminded me of how easily it is to talk with someone at a con when you share the same interests.
The first day ended after the cosplay contest, where Ruby Rinesko hosted, and the judges panel was made up of Jennifer Rose, Yaya Han, Eric ‘The Smoke’ Moran, and Boba Fett actor Daniel Logan. A man with an amazing Kratos cosplay took the coveted top price of cold hard cash.
WinterCon 2015 was a great step up from its first year, and I am excited to see what it will grow into in the coming years. It was a great way to end a year of amazing pop culture events and, also get some Christmas shopping done. Well done.
Check out some more cosplay photos below:
Here’s a Star Wars parade: