Still high on comics after last weekend’s Free Comic Book Day?
Just one week after the national event, the inaugural Rock Comic Expo occurs on Saturday, May 10, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. at Rockingham Park. The event will be thick with artists, cosplayers, tournaments and activities, organized by some of the same people who construct other area comic cons.
“This is the first one,” said event co-founder J Moulton in a phone interview. “It’s going to be more on the intimate side, a small one-day show. … We didn’t want to compete with the Granite State Comic Con or anything like that, but we’re just trying to bring in something different. … This one will have more locally flavored art. I think it’s a great way for New England to start off the comic con season.”
Moulton and Bob Shaw came up with the concept for the event in early January. Moulton regularly plays a large role in putting together the Vermont Comic Con in Burlington, and Shaw co-owns the Hartford Comic Con. They thought Salem would be the perfect place, as it’s right near Exit 1 on the New Hampshire and Massachusetts state line.
Comic conventions are becoming more prevalent all over, Shaw said, and the pair felt this event would add to the mix.
“There are so many conventions now. You can sometimes see five comic shows happening the same day,” Shaw said in a phone interview. “I’m hoping there will be plenty of energy left from Free Comic Book Day.”
Five months is not a lot of time to organize a comic expo, so the pair have been working hard, scrambling to secure the venue, the tables and chairs, the artists, cosplayers and pinball machines. (The Pinball Wizard is also donating 12 free play arcade machines for attendees to use.)
At the center of the event are two big tournaments: a large Magic the Gathering Tournament (which includes a $20 entry fee with a 100-player cap) along with a smaller, single-elimination event and a draft single elimination. There’s also a sealed Heroclix tourney ($25 entry fee, 26 players max) and a constructed Heroclix tourney ($10 entry fee, 10 players minimum).
Emily Drouin will run the Kid’s Con, which includes coloring and activities tables (open all day); visits from Anna and Elsa of Frozen (at 10:30 a.m. and 12:45 p.m.) that include a meet-and-greet and photo ops; a cartooning lesson from Drouin, creator of Eplis Comics, at 11:15 a.m.; a create-your-own-comic-strip activity at 1:30 p.m.; a mask-making and storytime activity at 2:30 p.m.; and a coloring and kids’ costume contest at 3:45 p.m.
Woven between the tournaments and games will be an adult cosplay contest, judged by Emily Freidrich and about 20 local and visiting comic book artists, some of whom include Blairr Shedd, Matt Bessette, Chris Uminga, Rich Woodall and Chrissie Zullo. The full list can be seen at therockcomicexpo.com. The New England Horror writers will likely be making an appearance, too.
“We’d like to do it again next year, and perhaps even expand it into a two-day event, depending on the interest of the show,” Moulton said. “Growing up, it was tough to be a geek, but now it’s come to the forefront of pop culture.”