NJ Comic Expo: A Garden State Comic Extravaganza

EDISON, NJ — The NJ Comic Expo (NJCE) delivered creator panels, an artist alley, a cosplay corner, and several local comic book vendors.

The panels featured at the NJCE provided both information and entertainment depending on the interests of the expo audience.

Photo by Jessica Ryan

Creators like Paul Jenkins, Bill Willingham, Jeff King, Colleen Doran, Erica Schultz, and many more were present. They gave advice on panels in the Creator’s Lab section of the Expo and did signings in the artist alley.

Photo by Jessica Ryan

The #MakeComics: Writing Like A Pro panel in the Creator’s Lab featured Erica Schultz, Paul Jenkins, Justin V. Gray, and Bill Willingham. They started off the panel with fun facts that ranged from stopping a drunkard from beating up Neil Gaiman to having their unexposed butt in a television show. The panel went on like that for a bit with people exchanging amusing anecdotes about themselves all while providing both advice and encouragement of the comic book writing.

Photo by Jessica Ryan

The Thunderdome hosted panels for Dynamite Entertainment, Ominous Press, and Stranger Things. Dynamite Entertainment’s panel discussed the upcoming comics written by Bill Willingham (Vertigo’s Fables), Amy Chu (DC’s Poison Ivy,), and James Robinson (Marvel’s Scarlet Witch) released through the publisher.

Bill Willingham is writing the The Greatest Adventure featuring Edgar Rice Borroughs’ (ERB) characters like Tarzan, Jane, John Carter, and others in a sci-fi world of Willingham’s choosing. The project is labor of love for Willingham and he’s using his favorite ERB characters to tell a story he surely considers The Greatest Adventure.

Amy Chu is tackling Kiss, a new comic about the titular band, and she’s imposing her own spin on the property with Kiss concept album The Elder. The comic is set in the future in world vacant of heroes and even the sun, it combines dystopian elements with the rich history of Kiss to create a new kind of Kiss comic not previously seen. She also has a spin off series Kiss: The Demon to expand on the universe.

James Robinson has the pleasure of writing a James Bond 007: Felix Leiter following Warren Ellis run on the character. Robinson is excited to tackle the mood and atmosphere of the original Ian Fleming novels while modernizing them for current readers. The comic will feature elements of the James Bond universe and still have the space for good crime fiction stories.

Photo by Jessica Ryan

The floor had a massive turnout of Cosplayers with people in their Doctor Strange, Batman, Batgirl, Voltron, and other characters. The NJCE proved to be a great platform for creators and retailers to have a more direct relationship with their audiences.

Photo by Jessica Ryan

The Comics to Hollywood (And Everything In-Between) had Paul Jenkins (BAFTA nominated for his Story and Characterization work on The Darkness), Jeff King (NBC’s Blindspot), and Mario Rivas (Fernanda: Animated and print). They discussed their current work and gave advice on storytelling while talking about the different platforms that can be utilized. They said that regardless of the entertainment medium, the storytelling must be the core of each project. They discussed how to choose their moments in each panel and how it differs from film or television.

Photo by Jessica Ryan

In the back, the ‘67 Chevy Impala of Supernatural fame was showcased along with Scooby Doo’s Mystery Van, Back To The Future’s Delorean, The Batmobile, and many others.

Others people featured at the NJCE were Stranger Things cast members Randy Havens and Catherine Dyer along with The Walking Dead’s Lew Temple.

The floor of the NJCE hosted a number of comic book vendors selling merchandise such as art, action figures, and comic books.

Photo by Jessica Ryan

The artist alley had David Finch, Neal Adams, Jan Duursema, and many more selling art, signing merch, and sketching.

The only criticism to be noted is the lack of signs posted for the panels being conducted in the conference rooms. They were designated on the map provided and one had to ask where the panels were located to find them. This could have stunted the number of attendees of each panel especially considering the incredible talent they had on them.

Spirits were high and the love for the medium shined in the faces of people attending whether they were at a panel or speaking with creators on the floor. The show was a success and it’d be a treat to see this type of event grow in New Jersey.

I'm a journalism major at Rutgers University who loves reading comic books and writing fiction for fun.

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