Recapping Rhode Island Comic Con 2017
This past Veterans Day weekend, I attended my first Rhode Island Comic Con. It’s dubbed the biggest con in the smallest state. After attending and seeing for myself, it’s hard to argue how big it really is. Let’s take a closer look at what went down at RICC.
The first thing that caught my attention is the amount of celebrities that were booked. The range was impressive from Avengers like Sebastian Stan and Paul Bettany, several members of The Walking Dead and Stranger Things to rock legend Gene Simmons. That’s just who showed up. There were some expectations that Norman Reedus of The Walking Dead would appear as well as Mark Ruffalo. However last-minute scheduling led to cancellations and many angry fans. I’ve been attending cons since I was 17 years old and the worst thing that could ever happen to convention runners is cancellations, especially last-minute ones. The reality is, it’s beyond their control. What they can control is the timely manner in which they communicate with the attendees. From what I could see, I thought Altered Reality (the show runners) did just that. Conventions can’t be successful if they are unreliable. RICC is about a decade old, so they must be doing something right and one thing I noticed and appreciated after talking to several employees of AR is the concern they have for the fans and their desire to put on the best show possible.
Now, what about the convention itself? Anytime you’re new to an event, there is a learning curve. RICC takes place at the Dunkin Donuts Convention Center, a combination of a sports arena and convention hall. It’s a unique setting once you can use to it. An area that needs improvement is the lining up to enter the center. Because of the cons location, the lining up along the streets of Providence leaves a little to be desired both esthetically because it’s a bit rough around edges with the graffiti and garbage that line the streets before the center. And then there’s the factor of weather. The weekend was bitterly cold here in the northeast. All these things are of no fault of Altered Reality and to be fair, it took about an hour to get in but that’s not bad considering the way the line looped around a couple of blocks. My biggest issue honestly was the lack of volunteers outside to help guide attendees. There are plenty of volunteers inside the convention but not enough, if at all, outside to answer questions or guide convention goers.
Once you’re in, it doesn’t take long to see the main celebrity autograph area. I would say a good 40+ celebrity tables were setup in this area alone. Members of The Walking Dead had their own dedicated zone upstairs and some of the biggest names were positioned inside a larger area called The Dunk, where basketball and hockey games are played. As I said, a unique setting. There is so much for so many. Current TV series like Luke Cage, Gotham and Stranger Things were mixed with older favorites like Star Trek: The Next Generation and Buck Rogers. There were also plenty of wrestling personalities to go around.
No comic con would be complete without artist alley. I like that it was situated in the middle of the show floor. I like it because attendees have to walk pass the area to see the other vendors. The artists (and comic writers) are the reasons why conventions exist in the first place. They deserve the attention. Bravo to RICC for making sure they were placed at the center.
As far as vendors go, there were plenty to choose from. Some I even recognize from other conventions like New York Comic Con and Creation Entertainment. There were lots of food choices and alcohol beverages to please everyone. Prices were typical for the event perhaps even cheaper than other venues. I thought the volunteers for the most part were kind and helpful. I still can’t stress enough the importance of communication.
Overall, I enjoyed myself. I would most certainly return in 2018 now that I know what to expect. If financially possible, staying at the many local hotels would be a wise decision. This is something I will be considering. The next big event by Altered Reality is Empire State Comic Con in April in Albany, New York. I look forward to attending.
May the Dork be with you,
The Dork Knight