The Great Philadelphia Comic Con 2017

It’s really difficult to give a top five or any kind of review, for a convention that you actually put work into. At the Great Philadelphia Comic Con, I was not just Press, I was also part of the staff, as this Con was officially hosted by the Points of Interest Podcast Network, in which I am a proud member of. As a result, I helped set up, I helped moderate panels, and I helped guests find their way around the Convention and answered all of their questions. That means, I can’t help but love this Con, like I would my own child, if I had one. Which I don’t.

Let me preface this top 5 by saying that I loved my experience at GPCC. It was the best experience I’ve had at a convention, because of how involved I was. Anyone following me on social media would have seen pictures of my panel with LeVar Burton and Colin Baker. Maybe you also saw my selfies with John Wesley Shipp, Brianna Hildebrand, Alan Tudyk, Jewel Staite, & Veronica Taylor. Yes. I realize I’m dropping names like they’re dollar bills, and I was tasked to make it rain in the club. It also shows that I’m ill equipped to talk about this convention without gushing over this show, but I’ll do my best.

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The Great Philadelphia Comic Con is in it’s third year, after having been transformed from it’s original form of the Great Allentown Comic Con. This show is but a mere fledgling, and I hope to help it grow up to be a majestic bird. So here is my attempt at giving the top five things that I loved (and didn’t love) about GPCC.

5. The Layout

Apparently the Great Philadelphia Comic Con grows a little bigger every year, and this year was no exception. The show had a decent sized Artist Alley, with a couple dozen artists in attendance, and a Cosplay Corner with a good number of known cosplayers, and a dedicated celebrity area, that didn’t crowd the stars. Unfortunately they crammed all this, and more, into one big expo hall.

This meant that if you were in a panel, you got to hear everything. From the over loud announcements, which I admit to being a party to, to the sounds of cosplayers cheering for one thing or another, the personable nature of the panel room was gone. It’s a big deal, especially if you paid a lot of money to hear your favorite star talk about your fandom.

The GPCC is a small convention, and I understand that the staff had to work with what they got. I also know that each year the organizers will just get better and better at what they do, and I can’t wait. Here’s to a bigger and brighter future.

4. The Comic Book Artists & Writers

The best thing about a small convention is the intimacy. You get to meet your favorite artists and writers without much hassle and actually have some time to spend with them. You can wax poetic about their work, get some original sketches, and buy the books, without the nagging fear that someone behind you was breathing down your neck. And because you get all manner of artist and comic book creator, from the independent to the big two, you were certain to find someone who’s work you loved.

At least, that’s what I heard from the attendees. Being a part of a convention can be really fun, but it doesn’t leave much time or wiggle room for…fun.

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3. Cosplay Corner

I still haven’t decided on what I would want to cosplay as. I see people of all shapes and sizes dressed up as their favorite character, and I feel of tinge of envy. There’s no body shaming, no fear, and a lot of encouragement from the cosplay community, and it showed at this convention. Lead by a man named “Smoke”, cosplayers were in force for a Con of this size. GPCC even had enough cosplayers for a good ole fashioned Conga Line and an annual Cosplay contest. It was great to see that no matter how big a convention was, the cosplayers made sure to meet up, show off their skill and talent to the attendees, and share their experiences with themselves and others. Maybe I’ll go as The Turtle.

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2. The Celebrities

From what I’ve read in the reviews of this convention, the celebrities were the highlight of the show. They were kind, accommodating, and let the fans stay awhile to share their stories. The celebrities I met were kind, more than willing to take a picture with you, and a joy to work with. You forget how genuine a lot of these people are. Not a cynical one in the bunch. And they all looked to be having a good time.

I did not hear a single negative comment or remark from any of the actors who attended. Everyone was welcoming. Alan Tudyk even had a bunch of collectibles and swag to give away to the audience, for anyone who asked questions in his panels.

Word on the street, during the Great Philadelphia Comic Con. Was that the person you needed to meet was Margaret Kerry, who was known for being the model for Tinkerbell in the Disney Cartoon, Peter Pan. She was very sweet, kind, and had so many stories to tell. I had the good fortune of speaking with her briefly, and she was a delight.

Just a couple of celebrity highlights. LeVar Burton busted my chops when I interviewed him for his panel. It was all in good fun, and he spoke to me, by name, so often, that I couldn’t help but feel like we were old friends. Alan Tudyk did impressions behind the curtain before making his way on stage for his panels. Colin Baker apologized to the great Odin, when one of the announcements drowned out some of his story. And Veronica Taylor, voice of Ash Ketchum, was kind enough to do all of her impressions for the fans.

If there was ever a reason to go to GPCC, it would be for the quality and caliber of the celebrities that attend.

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1. The People

I don’t write as much as I used to on the Geekly Planet, or anywhere for that matter. Half of me blames laziness. The other half blames the stuff I was diagnosed with, that the other half of my brain likes to nickname, excuses. Sorry, not used to talking about my mental health. But in this case, it’s relevant, because I was forced to step out of my comfort zone during the entirety of the Great Philadelphia Comic Con. I had to interact with people, meet new people, and in general, be entertaining and funny, which was hard enough without the anxiety.

That’s where the people come in. My social media was a “twitter” with how I was feeling over the weekend, as I overshared what was going on in my head. I was very fortunate have friends who were encouraging and thoughtful and funny. It’s strange how a few words in black and white text, could actually help a person feel better. I won’t name names, but you know who you are, and I just wanted to say thank you.

BECAUSE of these people, I was able to muster the courage to make new friends, have conversations with celebrities, talk to the attendees, and break a little bit more out of my shell. To the friends I finally met in person from the Points of Interest Podcast Network, to the new friends I made from Nemesis Studios, to those friends encouraging me online, they all were the biggest reason why I enjoyed the Great Philadelphia Comic Con. I was part of an extended family, that continued to grow. This was my first year attending, and I promise you, this will not be my last.

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LINK: The Great Philadelphia Comic Con

Francis Fernandez
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