One of the many great things about the explosion of comic conventions over the past few years is that there is a show for everyone. No matter what part of the country you're in, there is most likely a show that's not too far from your home at least once a year.
For folks in the New Jersey area, they're getting a brand new convention this weekend (November 21st & 22nd) for those who might have missed NYCC or even ACBC. The New Jersey Comic Expo (www.newjerseycomicexpo.com) is being run by Martha Donato, who has been running the Long Beach Comic Con for almost a decade. With guests like Jim Lee, John Cassaday, Greg Land, Mark Bagley and more, the show is poised to make a splash it's first year in. We spoke to Martha about the show, her guests and what about con's make them so much fun for fans.
You've been in the world of conventions now for a few years, why Jersey and why now?
Yes, I’ve been working on comic cons since 1997 and attending since 1994, so it’s been a long time. The sense of community and deep friendships that I’ve formed is the primary reason I love what I do. The origin of the New Jersey show is that its home for me. I’ve been producing the Long Beach, CA shows for many years and love doing that, but it was time to do something local that family and friends could share.
How has setting this show up different from setting up Long Beach?
It’s been wonderful being so close to the convention center in Edison. I can take a quick trip down there to talk to their team, or meet with the Chamber of Commerce, vendors, etc. The logistics are easier for our team (most of us are East Coast based) overall. We have a great relationship with the folks in Edison, they’ve been excellent partners on this event.
You've got some great guests and events lined up, can you take us through the process a bit about how you pull those together?
Thanks, we’re very proud of the guest list. It’s a group effort and takes a lot of heavy lifting by everyone. We start off with our “wish list” of guests about a year before an event, and then extend invitations, so it’s a long process. But it’s extremely rewarding when you get to this point and look at the line up as a whole.
What do you think will really surprise fans about NJCE?
I hope that we’ll surprise fans with lots of different elements depending on their interests – but it’s that sense of community and fun that always impresses me.
A few highlights: an incredible Kids Love Comics area that families will love; Cosplay Corner is a vibrant area of the exhibit floor that’s welcoming to everyone, in costume or not; Artist Alley is filled with talented creators from the tristate area; the programming schedule is packed with entertaining sessions all weekend long; there are celebrity guests such as Amy Acker, Drea deMatteo, Tommy Walker and more; and many “celebrity cars” to enjoy. There’s really something for everyone to enjoy.
What are you personally looking forward to at the show?
I always look forward to the opening moments and seeing the excitement on peoples’ faces as they enter the con. It’s such a joyful thing to be able to produce an event that brings fans together to celebrate their hobby. And I’ll get to see a lot of friends – a perfect scenario!
ComicBook.com readers in the NY/NJ area, is this a show you guys are excited for? Would you go if you could (get your tickets here)? Let us know in the comments below!