Held each year since 2000, Buffalo Comicon gets bigger each year. It’s gotten so big in fact, the event’s organizers decided to move the festival downtown to the Convention Center this year and expand it two full days, Saturday October 17 and Sunday October 18, 2015.
One of the knock-on effects of the internet has been the rise of so-called “nerd culture” into the American zeitgeist. From The Walking Dead to Iron Man to Star Trek, the type of fantasy and science fiction that used to have just a cult following is now the stuff of blockbuster movies and must-watch television.
And like many other pockets of Buffalo’s culture, comics have deep roots here that stretch back over multiple generations. Buffalo Comicon is part of that tradition and in recent years, the event had gotten so packed, “you couldn’t even move around if you had a baby basket,” event founder Emil Novak recently told me.
Novak, who also owns the Queen City Bookstore comic book shop, said the event is drawing about a couple thousand people these days, all of whom were packed into a space only a few thousand square feet. Now, with the move to the convention center, the organizers have over 60,000 square feet of space to work with.
In trying to fill that space, Novak said he wanted to focus on local artists and craftspeople, telling me he had to turn down corporations that wanted to set up tables at this year’s event. Novak said he also wanted to keep the majority of the emphasis on comic books, unlike other Comicon festivals, which often serve as promotional vehicles for the entertainment industry.
“Nah, I don’t want none of the corporate thing man,” he told me. “Its people making their crafts, people who are really dedicated to the art form, those are the people we like.”
Attendees will be able to see comics memorabilia, buy crafts and talk with graphic artists, including the Western New York-based Visions Comic Art Group. The group will be all showing off their personal art and comic projects, as well as selling their first anthology. The group is currently working on a H.P. Lovecraft anthology that is almost ready for print.
A big part of all Comicon festivals is cosplay, or the emerging phenomenon of people dressing up as their favorite movie, comic book, TV or video game character. Anyone who buys a ticket to Buffalo Comicon is eligible to win the festival’s cosplay contests. Categories for Buffalo Comicon include: Best Adult (13 and up), Best Youth (12 and under), Best Original and Best Group. On the official website, organizers do note that cosplayers need to keep their attire appropriate and free of political statements. They also warn against attendees disrespecting cosplayers.
With the Buffalo Comicon being so close to Halloween, Novak said embracing cosplay injects some fun into the proceedings and allows festival goers to feel like they are a part of the event. However, he said the event is designed to be more than just an excuse for people to walk around in costume.
“This event harkens back to the days when I was a young boy and we used to go down to New York,” he said. “The shows were like this is going to be. There was a lot of entertainment all day. It just wasn’t about cosplay, and you could really enjoy the heck out of yourself.”
Of course, Comicon is also about celebrity appearances from the worlds of fantasy and sci-fi and Buffalo Comicon is no different. The big guest this year is Jim Steranko, the comics icon who developed Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. Jon Totleben, who created John Constantine and worked on Swamp Thing, will also be appearing along with a host of other graphics and special effects artists.
Kovak noted that this year’s two-day event is actually a transition to next year’s three-day extravaganza. He said plans for next year’s Comicon include expanding the scope to include both horror and independent films.
More guests and surprises are expected to be announced as we get closer to the event, so be sure to keep an eye on the official website: buffalocomicon.com
Buffalo Niagara Convention Center
152 Franklin Street, Buffalo, NY
Saturday October 17 – Sunday October 18, 2015
$15 (one-day pass)/ $25 (two-day pass)
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