I’m off to a great start to 2015 regarding my comics convention attendance!
This past weekend, the very first Shock Pop Comiccon was held in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and it really hit the ground running! I came away from being there on Saturday feeling that this convention had great guests and vendors, convenient parking and something for just about everyone! To find out more, here’s their website!
The con was held in the Fort Lauderdale Convention Center, so it was easy to find. Also, parking was available in the parking garage attached to the same building. It ran from Friday, February 13, through Sunday, February 15, and was very well attended.
As with Magic City Comic Con last month, a friend and I made a day trip from the Orlando area on Saturday. Of course, it involved a fair amount of driving time, but the time spent at the con was productive and enjoyable, so we’re very likely to make this a yearly event.
WHAT IS SHOCK POP COMICCON?
Here’s the convention’s general description from their program: “Welcome to the inaugural Shock Pop Comiccon, we’re happy to see you. The team has spent a lifetime of loving comic books, television movies and gaming, and attending comic book conventions around the country. Shock Pop Comiccon is our own ‘dream event’ that’s been many years in the making
“As you work your way through the show floor, we hope you experience the level of excitement we felt as we put this together. Celebrity row is overflowing with the top names in entertainment and is not to be missed; the dealer floor will introduce you to companies offering all types of pop culture merchandise and experiences (including tattoos); artist alley is a dynamic and interesting place to meet both top creators and those on their way to the top; the main stage will play host to a combination of entertainers and top talent; the gaming areas are a fun place to meet friends for a game or to try something new.
“Programming is an important part of the show, and we’ve put together some compelling sessions for you to enjoy, including the Geek Film Festival and spotlight sessions with our creators.
“Please enjoy all that Shock Pop Comicon has to offer. Sincerely, Marc & Steve Heller, Shock Pop Comiccon Organizers”
This con began on Friday the 13th, so it’s no surprise that they held several horror events on that day, including the Nightmare on Elm Street 2 Ultimate Fan Experience (complete with several Freddy Kruegers walking around in costume), a Friday the 13th Ultimate Fan Experience and a Demons Ultimate Fan Experience on that day.
As with other conventions, the biggest draw was likely the media guests. Special guests included Robert Englund (the Nightmare on Elm Street films), Sylvester McCoy (Doctor Who and the Hobbit movie trilogy), Danny Trejo (Machete from Dusk ‘Til Dawn and also Predators), Elvira, John Waters, Ralph Maccio (the Karate Kid series of films), Naomi Grossman from American Horror Story, Bam & Novak (Jackass, Viva La Bam, CKY), Ghouligans and Corey Feldman (Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter, Gremlins, The Lost Boys and Goonies). There was a long list of other media guests, including everyone from Michael Talbott (Miami Vice, First Blood, Manhunter) to Mark L. Walberg (Antiques Roadshow, Temptation Island).
As always, I was primarily there for their comics guests, which included Jeff Balke, Simon Bisley, Tommy Castillo, Amanda Conner, Gerry Conway, Darwyn Cooke, Geof Darrow, Jeff Dekal, Jose Delbo, Mike Deodato, Jr. Cully Hamner, Meghan Hetrick, Greg Kirkpatrick, Stocc Kolins, Greg Land, Scott Lobdell, Laura Martin, Todd Nauck, Jimmy Palmiotti, Whilce Portacio, William Simpson, Ben Templesmith, Andy Lanning and Sara Richard. If I’m fortunate, you just may find interviews with some of these folks in upcoming episodes of my weekly Wayne’s Comics Podcast.
I also got to meet folks I’ve interviewed previously, including Alex Lobato from Darkside Global and Sterling Gates. It was also fun to catch up with Think Alike Productions’ Ruben Romero and his excellent group of creators. You can find my chat with Ruben and Alex in the 165th episode of my Wayne’s Comics Podcast at this link.
Lots of people were in costume, and some were truly great. I’m including a photo I took of a terrific Groot (with Rocket Raccoon on his shoulder), but there were also folks dressed up as Matt Smith’s Doctor, Batman, Robin, Spider-Man, as well as a variety of animated characters and people from other literature and anime.
Congratulations to Sterling Gates, who’s film The Posthuman Project won the Best Feature award during the weekend’s Geek Film Festival. I didn’t get to see it since it was shown early Saturday evening after I left, but I’m anxious to view it first chance I get!
Food was available in the building (it was pretty good though it cost a lot, of course), and all the other usual amenities were easy to access. There was plenty of space for all the guests and fans alike. Also, one could buy a lot of comics and related merchandise (I spoke with a Batman guy who had a huge collection he was selling off, but I had most of what he was selling sadly.) I did find a vendor selling an action figure of Batman wearing the Yellow Ring he’d had briefly, and a cool Hawkman to add to my collection, too. Good stuff!
MY PRESS PASS/RECORDING
I’ve often groused that conventions in Florida only grant press passes to folks from what they consider “name” cons. I won’t mention which one, but there was a convention I applied to for a press pass, then never heard back from them. I inquired about it when I got there after having bought a ticket, only to be told that MajorSpoilers.com wasn’t one they “recognized.” I told them that this site has a large following around the world, but they were unimpressed.
This con was vastly better. We didn’t decide to attend until Friday, so I didn’t have time to apply. A friend who was a vendor was going to share one of his passes with me, but when we got there a little early, I got to ask about a press pass.
The representative I spoke with was very helpful. I showed her my identification and business card as well as some of the podcasts and columns I’ve had posted here recently. She immediately gave me a press pass, which was much appreciated since I didn’t want to impose on my vendor friend.
She also told me there was a room on the upper level that was set up for podcasters like me so we could conduct interviews in a quieter location and thus get better sound. I haven’t run into that nearly enough, so I hope other con organizers who may be listening take note of this! Now, I don’t often record interviews at cons (I don’t care for the background noise), but if there was one I wanted and HAD to do it there, it would have turned out better than I’ve experienced in the past. Loved that!
THINGS TO IMPROVE ON
I’ve mentioned many of the positives to this first Shock Pop Comiccon, so let me talk about some things I feel could go more smoothly next year.
The con’s website, for some reason, stopped selling tickets an hour before the convention began on Friday afternoon. That left a lot of us scrambling online to find out if we could indeed get to attend if we drove all the way down to the con. Several of us on Facebook were desperate for information on how and if we could gain entrance on Saturday. I sent an instant message to a person who said we should be able to buy tickets on that day, and he gave us about a 60/40 chance of getting in.
I called the company that was selling tickets, and they referred me to an email address for the con. When I wrote to that email, I received an automated response saying that one would need to go to the con to have questions answered since they were so busy running the event. I checked all the usual folks who have tickets to sell for events like this, and nobody had a single ticket for it.
That left us wondering if we’d be wasting our time driving down to Fort Lauderdale, but we decided to risk it. We would get going at 5 a.m. so we could get in whatever line there would be to buy tickets.
Just as we were going out the door in the morning, I checked my Facebook messages and found that the person I’d been speaking with on Friday had said that the website was back to selling tickets. I immediately went there, and we were able to purchase what we needed. Phew! We did lose an hour and a half of sleep, but that was okay since we’d both prefer to be early rather than late anyway.
I worry about how much income the convention lost during the hours when one was unable to buy tickets. If it was me, next year I wouldn’t take the site down until that day’s event was completed. After all, a local person might want to get an hour or two when the con was opened in the early evening, if nothing else.
In other words, I strongly recommend that they don’t do that again!
I mention that first because I heard from several vendors that Friday had been pretty sparsely attended. For the early part of the day on Saturday, it was also eerily quiet.
The good news is that things started picking up after noon or so, something I hope helped the con’s organizers. Saturday is often the biggest day of a comic con, so they needed more folks to go to help them recoup their costs. I hope they got it.
And this kind of thing always bothers me, so maybe someone can tell me – just why is this convention called Shock Pop anyway? I’d really like to know!
Still, it was a great experience. As I like to say, I used to go to the cons to spend hundreds of dollars, but now I go to make connections for interviews to appear on my podcast. Given the ability to access the stars and artists, I think that if you attended, you had a good time no matter what fandoms you belonged to!
I haven’t found any scheduled date for 2016 yet, but I’m very hopeful it will be back, so keep an eye on their website like I will! It’s a new comic convention off to a great start, well worth the money to attend and enjoy!
I’ll be back in 2016, Shock Pop Comiccon, so keep up the great work!
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