Comic book, Power Rangers, Star Wars, and Star Trek fans filled the Philly area last weekend for Great Philadelphia Comic Con. Held on April 7-9, 2017, it was once again housed in the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center in Oaks, PA.
This was the third Great Philadelphia Comic Con, and each year the show has improved. The 2017 installment has grown significantly from previous years with a wide variety of vendors and exhibitors, a good media guest list, and some big names in comic book artists and writers. The show presents a variety of panels for comics, Q&As with guests, and cosplay-focused – including a cosplay area.
Artists and writers included A. Shay Hahn (The Homeless G-Men), Aaron Rosenberg (Hour of the Daemon), Ariell Johnson (Invincible Iron Man), Arthur Suydam (Marvel Zombies), Ben Harvey (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles), Billy Tucci (Shi), Brendon and Brian Fraim (Knights of the Dinner Table), Bob Camp (Ren & Stimpy), Carol Kilbanks (Trash-O-Madness), Chris Campana (First World), ChrisCross (Justice League of America), Chris Williams (Summons), Dave Ryan (Deathlock), David Bancroft (Mary Monster), Dawn Griffin (Zorphbert & Fred), Greg Wright (Wild Bullets), Guy Dorian (Cor), Jay Fosgitt (Sesame Street), Jim Shooter (Secret Wars), J.K. Woodward (Star Trek), John Beatty (Captain America), Ken Lashley (Excalibur), Mark McKenna (Deadpool), Michael Golden (She-Hulk), Mike Zeck (Captain America), Neal Adams (Superman), Renee Witterstaetter (Kerry and the Scary Things), Robert Greenberger (Batman), Tommy Castillo (Teals from the Crypt), and Ty Templeton (Harley Quinn).
Media guests were Alan Harris, Angus MacInnes, David Ankrum, and John Morton (Star Wars), Alan Tudyk and Jewel Staite (Firefly), Austin St. John, Catherine Sutherland, David Fielding, Karan Ashley, Nakia Burrise, Steve Cardenas, and Walter Jones (Power Rangers, The Order), Brianna Hildebrand and Jed Rees (Deadpool), Bruce Boxleitner and Mira Furlan (Babylon 5), Bryce Papenbrook and Mike McFarland (voice actors Attack on Titan), Colin Baker (Doctor Who), Fred “Typhoon” Ottman (wrestler), John Wesley Shipp (The Flash), LeVar Burton and Marina Sirtis (Star Trek: The Next Generation), Margaret Kerry (voice actress Peter Pan), Paul Freeman (Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie), Sean Schemmel (voice actor Dragon Ball Z), Veronica Taylor (Pokémon), and Vincent J. Roth & Surge of Power.
Vendors sold a wide variety of comics and pop culture memorabilia. Modern comics and some vintage titles were available, plus graphic novels, trades, and hardcovers. Many had Funko Pop figures, modern Star Wars, DC, and Marvel action figures. A few stands had vintage figures, playsets, gum cards, and other collectibles. Others sold t-shirts and apparel, jewelry, even soaps, candles, and oils.
Exhibitors ranged from comic shops and artists to charity organizations like Little Darlings Pinups for Pitbulls, radio shows, podcasters, Ink Fusion Tattoo Empire, Sci-Fi Speed Dating, and the Jeep from Jurassic Park.
Some of the publishers on hand were Concord Comics, Culture Clash Studios, Fat Guy Inc, Insane Comics, Mess Bucket Comics, Source Point Press, and Zenescope Entertainment.
There were panels on comics in education, artists drawing events, comic book writing and storytelling with Jim Shooter, Crazy 8 Press, Time Travel Game Show, and Geeks Girls Guns and Ghouls.
Q&As with LeVar Burton, Bob Camp, Cotty Kilbanks, Brianna Hildebrand, Veronica Taylor, Vincent J. Roth & Surge of Power, John Wesley Shipp, Alan Tudyk and Jewel Staite, Margaret Kerry, Colin Baker, Marina Sirtis, Bruce Boxleitner and Mira Furlan, Mike McFarland and Sean Schemmel, Bryce Pappenbrook, and Jed Rees were held.
They had a Star Wars panel with Angus McInnus, David Ankrum, and Alan Harris. There was also a Power Rangers reunion panel with Karan Ashley, Nakia Burisse, Steve Cardenas, David Fielding, Paul Freeman, Walter Jones, Austin St. John, and Catherine Sutherland.
During their panel, the Power Rangers actors talked about how fans impact them with their stories of inspiration, discussed favorite episodes and storylines, Jones and St. John talked about their late cast member Thuy Trang, and shared thoughts on the new movie. They even joked about which of their characters they ship. Burisse pointed out the chemistry between Tanya and Adam, Ashley suggested Aisha and Zack – which prompted Jones to kiss her on the check, much to fan amusement, and Sutherland joked about Cat and Zordon.
John Wesley Shipp kept the audience engaged by walking back and forth across the stage during his Q&A to get closer to those asking questions. He talked about being the Flash in the early ’90s, joining the current show, and being Henry Allen and Jay Garrick. He pointed out that fans tell him they watched his show as kids with their parents and now they watch the new show with their kids. He also talked about how one of the Flash’s powers is hope.
Before the panel with Tudyk and Staite, Tudyk had the audience cracking up with his voice acting range by announcing who was coming up for the panel. During the Q&A portion Tudyk gave those asking questions free autographs, giving out signed things from his bag from a plastic cup to sample coffee packets. They shared stories about Firefly – they agreed that Nathan Fillion was the biggest joker on set, admitted what goodies they took when the show ended, and talked about favorite moments. Staite talked about being a mom and a foodie, and shared some favorite recipes. She also admitted that the space mechanic jargon of Firefly was easier to understand than the medical jargon of Stargate. Tudyk talked about his shows Con Man and Powerless, telling onset stories and behind the scenes details on creating Con Man.
Several cosplay related panels were held in the designated Cosplay Corner, including discussions on bullying & con etiquette, women in cosplay, prop making, costuming for groups, costume making, makeup, fan films, and cosplay contest.
The variety of vendors, scope of talent in artists alley, friendly celebrity guests, and impressive cosplay on display made the 2017 Great Philadelphia Comic Con, well, great!
In next week’s Scoop, look for interviews from the convention with Billy Tucci, Catherine Sutherland, Brianna Hildebrand, and others.