Here’s a list of the best things to check out at July’s Summer Edition of Garden State Comic Fest 2022.
Back and better than ever, Garden State Comic Fest has returned home to the Mennen Arena in Morristown, NJ. The Workprint had covered the Winter Edition of GSCF where we’d showcased what attractions the convention had to offer. This time around the GSCF has pulled all the stops with bigger guests, expanded comics selections, and more.
The arena itself is broken up into their respective Heroes and Villains sections, where the Heroes stage featured the main panel stage for special events, and the Villains stage was aligned along the wall with multiple celebrity booths for signings and photo-ops.
Each section, along with the main hall, brought its own galore of goodies. If you’re a fan of convention loot, there are more figurines, trinkets, Funko Pops, 3D art, prints, and posters than ever before.
Though the best thing about the con is the comics as there were a ton of single-issue and trade stores that ranged from titles across history from both Marvel and DC. Given the pool of talented artists who’d come to visit, this makes a ton of sense, as there’s a plethora of industry artists at the Con, along with some popular social media figures.
Sunday (today) will also feature a cosplay competition from 2-4. If you’re hungry, the front area of the arena has got some great good truck selections. The convention itself runs from 10-5 today! But if you’re wondering what to check out, here’s a list of 10 must-sees.
10. The Heroes Section
This is where they feature a lot of industry talent, goods, and souvenirs for sale. Most importantly, this section is the host of the main stage events that take place at the convention, including Sunday’s Cosplay competition. Expect a lot of cosplay today with the kid’s competition at 2 and the Adults at 3. The panels themselves are also a great opportunity to sit at the convention, as they’re featured on the large side bleachers.
On Saturday’s Main Stage events, Tiffany (the songstress from the 80s), along with some of the cast of the HBO series Peacemaker (Freddie Stroma ‘Vigilante’ and Nhut Lethe ‘Judomaster’) were featured during the mid-day big events.
You can learn a lot about your favorite things at these events, such as during yesterday’s panel, when actor Nhut Lethe shared that those flaming hot Cheetos Judomaster was playing with on Peacemaker: were entirely fake (just regular Cheetos with paprika sprinkled on top).
All three will be available for a short time Sunday for meets, signings, and photo ops.
9. Cosplay Katie
Speaking of Cosplay, Instagram and TikTok Cosplay star CosplayKatie is in attendance at the back of the Heroes section of the convention. She’ll be selling some of her signature custom-made Harley Quinn bats, along with some loose merchandise, such as jewelry and trinkets that you can take home.
CosplayKatie is a published cosplayer and content creator who has competed and placeholder in cosplay contests nationwide. She uses her fashion design and professional costume education to bring her favorite characters to life, and hand-crafts every aspect of her costumes as an expert seamstress, leatherworker, foamsmith, and 3D-print prop maker.
Not only can you talk everything Cosplay at the convention with her, but she also will have some of her most popular outfits to check out on display, and will actually be one of the judges for today’s Cosplay competition.
Featured in the corner booth of the Heroes section to the left as you enter, there are signings and later, photo ops, to meet the 80s teen idol.
Known for her 1987 cover of the Tommy James and the Shondells song, “I Think We’re Alone Now’ the pop star’s song was the #1 song in the Billboard 100 chart and most recently, was featured in this gem of a scene in Netflix’s Umbrella Academy:
Outside of music, Tiffany has guest-starred on several reality TV shows including Celebrity Fit Club and Hulk Hogan’s Celebrity Championship Wrestling. She’s acted in movies such as Necrosis, Mega Piranha, and The Jetsons, and had also, posed in playboy. Tiffany is available for signings at her booth.
7. Bruce Wechtenhiser
Possibly the world’s biggest Spider-Man super fan, Bruce Wechtenhiser has been collecting Spider-Man comics, goods, and rarities for 50 years as seen on his Spidey-And-Me homepage. His treasure-trove of Spidey goodies has been featured in the media, and Wechtenhiser plans to take his love of all things Spider-Man on the road to share his emotional connection with the character.
Having been raised in the same hometown as Spider-Man co-creator Steve Ditko (Johnstown, PA), Wechtenhiser will be hosting an event today on the main stage at 12 pm regarding all things Spider-man fandom.
During this ‘Spidey-and-me’ panel, he’ll be talking about Steve Ditko’s Johnstown roots, what upcoming special events the town will be hosting in Ditko’s honor, and more importantly: will be going over some of the rarest Spider-Man and Steve Ditko memorabilia in person.
He’ll also be talking about stories regarding his encounters with both Steve Ditko and Stan Lee.
6. Scott Hanna
One of the best in the business, Scott Hanna’s table is one that you’ll absolutely want to visit and get his signature ASAP. Scott has worked on all of the top characters in Marvel such as The Avengers, Spider-Man, Iron Man, and the X-Men. He had drawn Spider-Man for a whopping fifteen years and had worked on several of DC’s major titles such as Superman, Justice League, Green Lantern, and Suicide Squad. He’d even had a five-year run on Detective Comics featuring Batman.
The biggest reason you’ll want a meet-and-greet with Hanna right now is that Marvel is celebrating Spider-man’s 60th anniversary. It’s easily one of their biggest attractions for the company, where Scott Hanna, is actually working as the main Inker on Amazing Spider-Man during this current run.
Any collector or fan can tell you this is the time: Meet Scott in person so get an Amazing Spider-man signed. While you still can.
5. 30 Seconds To Live
For fellow board games or zombie-fanatics, there’s actually a really cool game you might want to try out and buy at the convention, right along the main hall between the Heroes and Villains segments.
It’s called 30 Seconds To Live, and it’s the first-ever person-vs-person time-limited zombie board game ever in existence. Whereas games like Zombies!!! or Dead of Winter often involves co-op and long-waited turn-taking, this is a different approach as there’s a 30-second timer to use 4 energy actions, all for a player-versus-player battle.
In 30 Seconds, one player controls the heroes with their special abilities and weapons, the other, controls the zombie horde and can either amass the playing field with monstrosities or go for the jugular quite quickly. Either way: there’ll only be 30 seconds to decide who lives or who dies.
You can see the full game demo below.
4. The Outdoor Food Trucks
Hungry for lunch? Well, thankfully the Garden State Comic Fest has a few worthwhile selections for the convention so you won’t need to linger off. Easily the best in terms of the crowd and food selection is The Barnyard Food truck, which serves empanadas, cheese fries, and their best item at the convention: BBQ Pulled Pork sandwiches, which are not only one of the cheapest items at 11 dollars but are also: probably the tastiest.
For the bold comic convention attendees, drinks are served in the vending machines inside and at all of the food trucks, but there is one gem that might be worth trying if you attend a lot of conventions (such as media like myself).
That would be Wild Bill’s. A veterans-run franchise of surprisingly sweet and tasty soda kegs served in a food truck. And while the cups may be expensive (the cheapest mug is 25 dollars), what’s worth it is that it’s completely refillable the entire day. Atop of this, at a mere 7-dollar charge, so long as you have that mug: you can actually use that very cup at virtually any big convention across the nation.
So if you like New York or San Diego comic-con, enjoy any of the Pax’s or even the upcoming E3… you can bring this mug with you and for a 7-dollar charge, drink unlimited drink fountain sodas at any convention. Considering a single non-refillable drink can cost you up to 5 dollars these days at a con, this is a steal-of-a-deal… at least, if you like birch beer, sarsaparilla, or root beer.
3. The 501st
Sort of a staple for any Star Wars fans, the 501st Legion of NJ is a group of Star Wars-themed cosplayers who model themselves off on their love of accurately Cosplaying characters and looks from the books, TV shows, and films. They’re a supportive organization dedicated to showcasing the best of what “Bad Guys Doing Good” can offer.
Like all of the 501st members, the group is named after the Vader’s Fist stormtroopers featured in Star Wars lore. A 501st regiment who’d been prominently featured in the Star Wars: Battlefront videogames and had seen combat in basically every single major battle in the original and prequel trilogies.
The best thing: is that all efforts of the 501st go to charity and in support of their local communities, including events at local public libraries, and your local community centers. Popular along the tristate area convention scene, this regiment is a branch of the grander 501st Star Wars Cosplay regiment seen across the world at almost every convention.
2. Komic Knights
Located in the Villains arena, if you’re looking for a one-stop-shop then look no further. This selection of trades paperbacks, Funko pops, and loot comes with its own snack table. So if you’re looking to run through the con but are limited on time and need something to take away: Komic Knights is probably the shop to visit as it has a bit of everything.
But probably the funniest and best reason to check out this table is the: ‘Do you Pooh?’ mystery box of goodies and numerous Winnie The Pooh parody-related paraphernalia. This is the place where you can find numerous Pooh parodies and given the release of Winnie The Pooh back into the public domain, the properties are gaining a lot of attention
More than anything else, this might just be the funniest gift you can find at the convention.
1. Bob Camp
The co-creator of the Ren and Stimpy Show, Bob Camp has been in the business for a long time. He’s been a storyboard artist and character designer on a plethora of titles credited and uncredited such as SpongeBob Squarepants and Gendy Taratovsky’s Primal, and of course, was the one who drew all those brilliantly, yet slightly crazy, designs for the Ren and Stimy show – earning him two Emmy nominations, a Cable Ace Award, and an Annie.
He’s currently, when not on the convention circuit, a teacher at the School of Visual Arts. You can buy a print and get him to sign a print or ask for a commission at his booth, and maybe, ask some questions regarding what it’s like doing characters and storyboards for television and film.
He does a lot of that these days too.
Garden State Comic Fest runs at the Mennen Arena at Morristown NJ, 10am-5pm on Sunday, July 10th, 2022.