For the seasoned comic book fans, perhaps it’s the chance to unearth those hidden treasures – the fabled, rare issues that they have longed dreamed about – or to brush elbows with their heroes – that is, the creators and artists behind their favorite characters.For the newcomers, maybe they are seeking something out of the ordinary – a movie, a book, or a videogame has struck their curiosity – and they are ready to enter the wide, wonderful world of comics.
Whatever the mission at hand, hardcore and novice comic-book fans alike will unite at Rutgers University–Camden for the third annual Camden Comic Con, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, April 9.
“Camden Comic Con is really reminiscent of how comic conventions started out,” says Miranda Powell, program assistant for arts education and community arts for the Rutgers–Camden Center for the Arts. “It is as much a celebration of comics as it is an educational event, featuring guest creators and artists, panel discussions, vendors, and many family-friendly activities.”
The event, which is free of charge and open to the public, will be held in the Campus Center and the Athletic and Fitness Center, both located on Third Street, between Cooper Street and the Benjamin Franklin Bridge on the Rutgers–Camden campus.
This year’s convention once again promises an authentic, fun-filled experience, featuring an ever-growing list of guest creators, illustrators, and writers, who will be on hand to meet and greet fans, showcase their work, and/or commission their services.
Headlining this year’s event is trendsetting storyteller Chris Claremont, best known for his work on Marvel Comic’s “X-Men” series, who created the characters “Rogue,” “Gambit,” “Sabretooth,” and “Kitty Pryde,” among others. Claremont has also written seminal characters such as “Batman” and “Superman,” originated several creator-owned series, and authored nine novels.
Returning for the second consecutive year will be Bob McLeod, co-creator and illustrator of “The New Mutants” for Marvel Comics. The all-star lineup also includes Larry Hama, a writer, artist, editor, and actor best known as the writer for Marvel’s “G.I. Joe” and “Wolverine” comics in the ’80s and ’90s; Joe Del Beato, a native Philadelphia artist and inker who is well known for inks and cover illustrations for Hasbro’s “G.I. Joe” toy line, and Marvel’s “Sectaurs,” “Avengers,” “Inhumanoids,” “G.I. Joe: Order of Battle,” “Justice,” and “Cloak and Dagger;” Diana Leto, an artist who has worked with numerous companies and brands, including Jim Henson Legacy, Sesame Street, IDW, My Little Pony, Dark Horse, and Nickelodeon; and Mark Poulton, a freelance comic book writer and children’s book author who most recently worked on “Savage Hawkman” for DC Comics and “Avengelyne” for Image Comics.
Among the local artists attending are South Jersey natives Ryan Brady, a Collingswood resident and 2011 graduate of Rutgers–Camden who writes, illustrates, and publishes “The Bolt” and “Anomaly” comics; and Mount Laurel native Philip McNulty, an animator and illustrator who has worked on William Shatner’s graphic novel “Man O War,” Kevin Smith’s “SModCo Cartoon Show,” and Marvel’s “X-Men.”In addition to meeting fans and showcasing their work, the dynamic duo will be unveiling two 11 x 17 posters – one featuring the character and script, and the other featuring a one-page origin comic – created by students from Henry L. Bonsall Family School in Camden, as part of an art residency project through the Rutgers–Camden Center for the Arts. Check out the backstory on the project at go.rutgers.edu/qu48bm0d.
More than 100 vendors will be stationed on the lower level of the Athletic and Fitness Center, selling comics from the Silver Age through the present day, as well as a variety of comics-related memorabilia, art, and merchandise.
The event will also feature a series of engaging comics-related panel discussions, workshops, and activities for all ages in the Campus Center:
The Paul Robeson Library at Rutgers–Camden will host a panel, titled “Women Working in Fandom.” Ariell Johnson, owner of Amalgam Comics and Coffeehouse in Philadelphia, and the first African-American female in the country to own a comics shop, will be among the panelists.
McLeod will present an all-ages, hands-on workshop called “The ABCs of Drawing Superheroes.”
Leto will teach kids how to draw “My Little Pony.”
A total of 18 programs will also include a performance-art workshop, a stage-combat demonstration, a collaborative writing workshop, a panel on creator-owned comics, a make-your-own monster workshop for kids, and so much more.
All Things Fun!, a South Jersey game/comic/toy retailer, will host a slate of tabletop games.
“Camden Comic Con is a lot of fun for all ages!” exclaims Powell. “We try to keep it as diverse as possible, so there’s something for everyone.”
Guests are once again encouraged to dress up as their favorite comic book characters. A cosplay contest will be judged by a special guest.
For more information, including a full lineup of guests, visit camdencomiccon.tumblr.com or contact Powell at 856-225-6202.
For directions to Rutgers–Camden, visit camden.rutgers.edu/visit/driving-directions.