It was a really incredible weekend. We had the the first nice weekend at the beach — the comic gods were smiling on us once again. In fact, it kind of blew my mind and it’s got us really pumped up about our show 6/14 (the New York Comic Fest in Westchester). At times we had ticket lines around the block and had to add people to help keep things moving. The fans were really great and it was cool how they were able to talk to a lot of the creators we had, like J.H. Williams and Steranko. Chris Claremont was holding court and being really terrific with the people there to see him. Were we nervous about going to two days? Of course — there’s a lot more moving parts. But we’re glad we did it because it really worked out all the way around and it really sets us up for June when we have the show with Steranko, Sienkiewiecz, Denny O’Neil, Scott Snyder and Mark Waid.
One thing that caught me off guard, in a good way, was that Claremont originally was just supposed to be there on Saturday. But that night we had a dinner that was secretly in honor of Denis Kitchen, who we wanted to thank for everything he’s done for the creative community and comics in general. We had a whole bunch of people there and I guess Chris had a good time because he decided to stay a second day! So there he was Sunday, with more fans out the door. Also, J.H. Williams III blogged last week that Asbury Park might be his only show of the year.
And that dinner was a hit. Jon B. Cooke presented Denis with the award and he was completely taken by surprise. It was really lively with Steranko, Mark Schultz, Annie Nocenti, Don McGregor, Peter Bagge, my partners Robert Bruce and Dan Greenfield, Ming Chen, Michael Zapcic. All there. I don’t want to leave anyone out but Dean Haspiel, Gregory Benton and Christa Cassano were there from Hang Dai Studio in Brooklyn. Bob Camp, David Spurlock, Robert Sikoryak. John Holmstrom showed up. Jim Salicrup, Ellen Abramowitz, Tim Truman, Todd Klein, John Workman, Carl and Nancy Gropper, too.
￼At the same time, we had Kathleen Hannah’s The Julie Ruin and Screaming Females show over at the Asbury Lanes, so guys like JH Williams and Box Brown were over there at our after-party. We had a lot going on and I think we’re moving towards being a much larger festival with bands and other activities — maybe like a mini SXSW of comics. We leased the park across from the hotel and filled it with food trucks and cars like the Batmobile and Ghost Busters Ecto 1, but next year I see the addition of a ferris wheel and a stage for bands. I want to involve the whole City of Asbury Park.
And the best part was the mood was fantastic over the two days — everyone was stoked. We had packed panels with Claremont and Steranko, Williams was a hit, plus Robert Sikoryak’s Carousel got a lot of people talking. The Comic Book Men panel was standing room only. The dealers said they did really well and the artists and writers were getting a lot of shmoozing and commissions in. The cosplay contest was way bigger than last year. And we were pleasantly surprised when Dan DiDio showed up quietly on Sunday afternoon!
Even though we’re called a comicon, I really see this as Rob and I are throwing a party. We choose to invite the people we want to spend the weekend with. That’s how this started a few years ago and it’s how we’re going to keep it. It’s for people we enjoy being around and those we’d like to get to know. I remember when cons were a lot more fun and a lot less crowded — Asbury Park is a reset to a more sane time in con history. I was really starting to feel bad for kids who never got to experience the cons we got to go to. I’m not trying to change the con business, I’m just offering an alternative. The big cons are like Hollywood blockbusters, we’re more like the quirky little indie film that’ll touch your heart.
Next up for the Crucial folks is the New York Comic Fest June 14th in White Plains, and in 2015, the East Coast Comicon at the Meadowlands(!).
Next year for sure.