Gem City Comic Con is relatively still a young convention having begun in 2006. Last year the convention switched it’s original location at Wright State University in Dayton, OH, to a new location actually directly down the street at the Nutter Center. Right now it isn’t quite on par with some of the bigger conventions in the region, but it sure is getting a lot of things done right.
Entering the Nutter Center was easier than we possibly thought. Usually at the opening of a con, we are met with a deadlock in traffic outside, making us able to see the goal, but unable to reach it. Here we breezed in without a problem, which made us very happy, but also gave us an idea of the size of the convention. It has been expanding in space with the new location along with a greater amount of attendees, but it is still a smaller scale.
Ticket prices are set at $10, a reasonable price for the content inside. There was no line to get in so we were immediately greeted by the vendors inside. There was a decent amount to choose from with selection; a good amount and mix of comics, toys, cards, and clothing. As a comic fan, it was great as well, many of the vendors had some fantastic deals with $1 boxes of recent back issues and old. Vinyl toys were slightly underrepresented as only a few vendors carried much if any. In general there were not a ton of vendors, though. While it made it sparse inside towards the front end, it did make for some giant aisles which hardly ever overflowed.
Per usual setup, the creators were in the back of the arena. They had some great creators this year, the two biggest names by far were Kevin Eastman and Mark Waid. Kevin Eastman by far had the longest line and appropriately enough had a huge line barrier setup to accommodate for it. A small nod to him, he was fantastic, one of the nicest creator’s we’ve met, even doing free sketches for people in line while asked. Waid, for being a headliner surprisingly had a very small line, if one at all depending on the time.
One problem in general with the artist alley is that it did not have the vast free space for aisle ways that the vendors had. It could get fairly congested back there at points. Considering how spread out the vendors were, the artists should have been given the same consideration.
As for activities, there was plenty to do. They had some good panels from their creator guests over both days. On Saturday they did have a costume contest for adults while Sunday there was one specially for the kids. There was even a special section with seats and tables for some gaming action.
Gem City has a great smaller feel to it. As it continues to grow, it will be interesting to see if they attempt to bring in more entertainment guests as many other cons do to raise ticket sales. When that happens, usually they start to lose focus on the comic portion of the comic con which is disappointing. For now though, Gem City Comic Con is a good show that just needs to keep growing at a small pace to attract a bigger audience along with more guests. While it may not be worth driving hours for, if you are a comic fan in reasonable driving proximity, make sure you stop by next year.