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Comic Con 2015

Captain Jack Sparrow

The Saturday session of Boston Comic Con 2015 was not only the first of the three days to sell out, but featured some of the weekend’s most eclectic media guests and panel events.

The running theme of these conventions, despite what media representation may approach them as, comes down to one single factor: “[We are] figuring out the methodology for creation,” Cartoonist Rich Clabaugh spoke not just for himself, but for multimedia artists as a whole. In a generation of .gifs, blog templates and digital film stuffed with CGI illusions, artists that started on paper like Clabaugh did not seem frustrated, but excited for these new opportunities to experiment with something other than pen and paper.

The convention may have begun recognizing the life of the comic book, but has since gone far beyond its simple origins. The annual gathering now celebrates film, book, illustration, and original written word both inspired by and affiliated with major comic book publishers. The event additionally featured hundreds of character, performance artists, or cosplayers. Patrons were dressed up not only as comic book characters but recognizable faces in pop culture all across the board.

This central day of Boston Comic Con opened in the first day of August 2015 at the Seaport World Trade Center. The event’s location caused an amusing mishmash of excited fans and cosplayers crossing paths with harbor tourism and eloquent seafood restaurant life. Doors opened for the event at 10am, where dozens of patient employee members separated crowds by VIP (now known as speed passes) or regular entry passes to receive their wristband.

VIP passes included a special meet and greet experience with comic book royalty Stan Lee, limited edition merchandise, and two speed passes for celebrity autographs. The VIP members of the event were easy to spot with their yellow and orange lanyards and friendly enthusiasm as they weaved their way around the convention’s grounds.

The convention was spread across three floors of the Seaport hotel, all clearly marked and labelled in their intentions with standing maps at each lobby. The first floor was open grounds for merchandise and more than two hundred artist vendors, exposing an overwhelming buzz of tight elbowed crowds. The second floor offered theater spaces for panels and Q&A’s, along with plenty of lounge areas for guests to wind down. Food and drink were made available at the top floor. This third floor also featured a ballroom for autograph signings and a long stretch of outdoor foyer, perfect for group photo ops and socializing with fellow fans.

A series of productions, film screenings, and improv comedy bits were available throughout the day in a selection of amphitheaters and ballroom spaces. Discussions on web comics, comic to film adaptations, cosplaying, and multimedia illustration were all hosted, to name a few.

Boston Comic Con decidedly showed homage to several traditional members of pop culture. Alongside the newer buzz words in the comic book world and proceeding media facets, fans of all generations had a place to feel nostalgic. Star Wars collectible traders, Harry Potter memorabilia, classic video game shirts, and painted collages of all of Dr. Who’s past twelve stars were all present, with many more.

People unaffected by these moments of pop culture history were just as susceptible to leaving the convention with something tucked under their arm. The energy and humbleness of local artists, whose original creations were often just as stunning as the familiar veterans, often drew in large crowds to learn about art in interactive settings. 3D printers spit out figurines of passersbys’ choosing, drawing, and stations with colored pencils and microns gave strangers a chance to work off each other’s artistic eye. Caricature stations expelled lines of people waiting to turn their family members into crime fighting superheroes on paper.

The hierarchy of lesser known to wildly popular artists did not always affect what direction the crowds went in. Tabling artists offered free flyers for their digital portfolios and websites, which were often pieces of artwork in themselves. When asked about the difficulties of completing a piece of art in a world where there’s always something similar, illustrationist Don Mathias had a simple response: “Adjust. Don’t validate for someone else. Don’t stop for anyone else. There’s a formula. You just have to move around with it.”

While plenty of young people were running about, the event was by no means crafted for just a teenage audience, as some newcomers may assume. Entire families in and out of costume, young toddlers happily overwhelmed by all the costumes, and plenty of room for ages in between were seen enjoying the day. The media guest lines reflected this dynamic as well. The 1980s horror queen Elvira, Dr. Who’s popular favorite Billie Piper, as well as AGENTS of Shield’s Hayley Atwell and Brett Dalton, were available for autographs among others.

Boston Comic Con 2015 may not have the A-list celebrity availability of San Diego, and may have interrupted fluctuating crowds with scattered rainstorms, but the experience of attending is an overwhelming and nostalgic one.

The convention could have been a group of comic book enthusiasts to start, but has since grown and expanded to celebrate the life of multimedia artists and their direct interaction with loving audiences. Creators of all mediums gathered in a room of aspiring artists who themselves are given the annual chance to touch base with each other. In explaining why he’s decided to take on an illustrator’s life of deadline based, muse operated work, Joe Medeiros gives a pleasantly selfish response that all artists can identify with: “I’m only doing it so I can hold my ideas in my hand.”