Rutgers–Camden to Host Fifth Annual Camden Comic Con

By Tom McLaughlin

Five years into Camden Comic Con’s remarkable run, Miranda Powell says that it’s fun to look back on all that the convention has become – and overcome.

“That first year, I really didn’t know how long this amazing interest in comics would last,” says Powell, program assistant for arts education and community arts for the Rutgers–Camden Center for the Arts, who has helped coordinate the Rutgers University–Camden event since its inception.

And then there was the name.

Powell remembers being told by potential advertisers and vendors outside the area – those unfamiliar with the Camden that she knows and loves – to consider changing it.

“They suggested that people wouldn’t be as interested in attending if Camden was in the name,” says Powell. “We said, ‘No way. Camden is part of our mission. This is who we are.’”

Five years later, the critics have been silenced as the name – Camden Comic Con – has become synonymous with an authentic, fun-filled experience for novice and hardcore fans alike of all ages – one that somehow manages to outdo itself year after year.

Camden Comic Con once again promises an authentic, fun-filled experience for novice and hardcore fans alike of all ages

Like a much-anticipated new episode, this year’s event – which, as always, is free of charge and open to the public – will be held from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, April 14 in the Campus Center, Fine Arts Building, and Athletic and Fitness Center on the Rutgers–Camden campus, located at Third Street, between Cooper Street and the Benjamin Franklin Bridge.

At the heart of its mission, the Camden Comic Con continues to showcase a great appreciation for diversity – in terms of an ever-growing list of guest creators, illustrators, and writers; engaging panel discussions; a variety of kids’ activities; and vendors.

This year, notes Powell, the featured-guest list boasts the largest number of female artists and writers in the convention’s history. Headlining the event is Gail Simone, one of the most prolific female comics writers in the industry today – best known for penning the much-beloved Birds of Prey for DC.

Other artist and writers slated to appear include:

Adam McGovern, writer of Image Comics’ Nightworld

Anthony Spay, artist for television programs such as History Channel’s Vikings, as well as gaming, illustrating base cards for numerous Marvel/Upper Deck gaming titles

Bryan J.L. Glass, multiple Harvey Award-winning co-creator/writer of The Mice Templar at Image Comics

Christine Larsen, Harvey Award-nominated cartoonist and illustrator for Dark Horse, IDW, BOOM Studios, and DC Online, among others

Daniel Horne, artist with three decades in the industry, creating covers for more than 500 titles, such as Hardy Boys and Dungeons and Dragons

Dorian Vallejo, artist who primarily creates paintings and drawings for sale through galleries

Erica Schultz, American comic book writer, best known for her writing on Charmed and tie-ins for the Swords of Sorrow crossover series

Philadelphia-based Jamar Nicholas, award-winning artist and educator who frequently teaches and lectures on the topic of comics creation

Jeff Shultz, illustrator of Archie and Betty during his past 18 years at Archie Comics

Kristen Gudsnuk, comic book artist and writer who created the series Henchgirl, published by Dark Horse Comics

Mark McKenna, longtime comic book industry pro, who has worked on Batman, Wolverine, Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, and most recently Star Wars

Mark Poulton, writer and artist for DC Comics, Image Comics, and Arcana Studio, best known for his children book series, A Cat Named Haiku

Mike Cappriotti, artist whose credits include Deadpool, Robyn Hood, and Grimm Fairy Tales

Mike Manley, 30-year-plus veteran of the comics industry who currently draws the syndicated comic strips, The Phantom and Judge Parker

Neil D. Vokes, comic graphic-novel artist whose major credits include Untold Stories of Spiderman for Marvel and Superman Adventures for DC

More than 150 vendors will also be stationed on the main level of the Athletic and Fitness Center

This year’s convention once again promises a series of engaging comics-related panel discussions and hands-on workshops – more than 20 in all – held in the Campus Center and Fine Arts Building.

“We do our best to cover the entire spectrum; there is something for everybody,” says Powell, who notes that, unlike some other gatherings, she and her fellow organizers focus on inviting featured guests who are willing to stick around and engage in panel discussions for the benefit of attendees.

Among the sessions on tap, Simone and moderator Yissel Ayala will lead a discussion covering the gamut from starting out to succeeding in the comics industry.

Families are also encouraged to stop by the kids zone, featuring nonstop interactive workshops for children and families from open to close, including “Paper Cut Characters,” “Cartooning for Kids,” and “Comics Mad Libs.”

More than 150 vendors will also be stationed on the main level of the Athletic and Fitness Center, selling comics from the Silver Age through the present day, as well as a variety of comics-related memorabilia, art, and merchandise.

Guests are once again encouraged to dress up as their favorite characters and enter the cosplay contest to win prizes, as well as attend the “DIY Cosplay Prop Workshop.” Meanwhile, kids can walk in the costume parade and all will receive a prize.

To cap off the experience, there will be food trucks – “Pop Shop A Go Go,” “Loco Gringo Street Taco Express,” “Dan’s Waffles,” and “My Four Suns” – on site and Elegance String Quartet – equipped with “light saber” bows – will perform “geeky anthems” from television, movies, and video games.

The Campus Center is located at 326 Penn Street, the Fine Arts Building is at 314 Linden Street, and the Athletic and Fitness Center is at 301 Linden Street, on the Rutgers–Camden campus.

For more information, including a full lineup of guests and programs, visit camdencomiccon.com.

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