Not all comicbook conventions are created equal, and truthfully, that’s a good thing. No, really, we totally mean it. Sure, sure we love attending the massive New York Mega Comic Con, and we did certainly enjoy flying out to the west coast (lo those many years ago) to attend the International San Diego Comic Con, but, honestly, we also recall our earliest exposure to comic book shows. Often these shows were held in the basement of a church, or in the gym of a school. These days, however, it seems that more and more shows are going for the ginormous, transmedia, mega event that houses everything Geek under the sun, and yeah, we totally do so enjoy those shows, but every once in a while we also want to attend a smaller, more intimate show. Which is why we do so adore The Asbury Park Comicon (2014 Berkeley Oceanfront Hotel) because it is more of a comic book fan convention that takes place in Asbury Park, New Jersey.
The convention was founded back in 2012 by comic book artist Cliff Galbraith and pop culture collector and TV personality Robert Bruce. That first show (May 2, 2012) started out small with just 32 tables and was set up in a bowling alley that was converted to a rock club — the Asbury Lanes live music and bowling venue — which Galbraith and Bruce then converted to a comic convention. Their second show, on September 29, 2012, also held at the Asbury Lanes, upped the ante to 48 tables, and the third Asbury Park Comicon took place on March 30, 2013 and occurred at the Convention Hall. This show had 170 exhibitors and eight panel discussion sessions, and was attended by approximately 3,800 comicbook fans.
This coming weekend April 13–14, 2014 will see the show expand to two days and feature over 200 exhibitors. While it is the intention of Galbraith and Bruce to grow the size of their con, they don’t book movie and TV celebs or pro wrestlers into the show, as they really do want to keep it all about comicbooks. “We intend to keep Asbury Park Comicon about comics,” Galbraith told us. So this year, in addition to the show being two full days, featuring over 200 exhibitors, it also boasts more artists, more writers, and more dealers, as well as a full schedule of panels with the people who make the comics. Plus toys, collectables, autographs, costume and a costume contest on Sunday.
According to Galbraith, “We make comics, collect comics, and deal in rare underground comix, so we thought we’d like to make a con that embodied our sensibilities. As the major conventions grow exponentially, but focus less on comics, we felt a good old-fashioned con with a strong emphasis on comics was needed.” Which is precisely what they have done with the Asbury Park show.
The Asbury Park Comic Con is being held at the Asbury Park Convention Hall in Asbury Park, New Jersey on April 13–14, 2014 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. each day Check the show’s website for Ticket and travel information. This year’s guests include Jim Steranko, Chris Claremont, Don McGregor, Tim Truman, Danny Fingeroth, Jim Salicrup, Rudy Nebres, Peter Bagge, Bob Camp, and many more.
Robert J. Sodaro has been reviewing comicbooks for some 30 years. During that time, his reviews and articles have appeared in numerous print publications, as well as on the web. Subscribe to receive regular comicbook articles and reviews.