Halloween. A night full of trick or treating, dressing up in extravagant costumes, carving jack-o’-lanterns, sitting around bonfires, telling scary stories, playing pranks, visiting haunted houses, watching horror movies and so much more. Over five years ago, Diamond Distributors decided to add another tradition to the spooktacular holiday – Halloween ComicFest.
In a similar vein as Free Comic Book Day, this annual event sees participating comic shops celebrate the Halloween season by giving away free Halloween-themed comics and books to fans. It typically falls the Saturday on or before Halloween each year and features free comics from top publishers such as DC Comics, Marvel Comics, Dark Horse Comics, and IDW Publishing.
Joining in on the excitement, Geppi’s Entertainment Museum warmly welcomed zombies, vampires, monsters, aliens, and more for a spine-chilling party in the 16,000-square-foot museum. During the annual event, the various pop culture rooms of the museum were transformed into a supernatural sanctuary for Halloween fans of all-ages.
Along with the ghoulish decorations, each event regularly featured costume contests, face painting, grab bags, arts and crafts, movie screenings, candy, a special Halloween-themed museum tour, and of course, plenty of free comics. Several events also included partnerships with Art Way Alliance, the non-profit organization committed to providing students with the opportunities necessary to pursue media arts and related careers.
One such occasion included a creative reading and book signing session with writer, illustrator, and graphic designer Jason Sazaklis. As well as a 3 Panel Comic Strip Class on how to create characters and convey plot led by Jerry and Penelope Gaylord of Identity Comics Studio. A subsequent event saw artists Jake Heagy, Jimmy Horner, Jordan Clark, Kofi Simmons, Red Stylo Media, Keir Lyles, Darren Soto, Angela McKendrick, Tyrone Barnes, Dennis Johnson, Ray, Tim, and Rob, Comic Cupcakes and Call That Art showing off their spooky spirit.
In what would be the museum’s final Halloween ComicFest, GEM journeyed into the Upside Down for a Stranger Things-themed celebration. As in previous years, this event featured crafts and activities for younger children, as well as the spine-tingling museum tour and annual costume contest. Lurking in the shadows of one of the museums many rooms was a life size Demogorgon, hand-crafted by GEM staffer Anthony Pollutra.
Should the terrifying atmosphere prove to be too much for younger ones, GEM transformed one room into the Castle Byers safe room. Here, nervous young ones were able to participate in fun crafts and games. As an extra precaution, the Charm City Ghostbusters were on-hand to tackle any supernatural problems that arose. Popular cosplayer Ani-Mia was also in attendance of Halloween ComicFest and shared an inside look at the special event and GEM with her fans on Facebook.
The excitement wasn’t limited to only inside the museum. Parked just outside GEM was the Ghostbusters Ectomobile and the classic black impala from Supernatural. Plus, a 20-foot tall blowup Stay Puft Marshmallow Man as well! Throughout the event, GEM gave away Funko Pops, Stranger Things T-shirts, along with blind boxes from The Simpsons: Treehouse of Horror and Ghostbusters.
“We had so much fun putting together this event celebrating Netflix’s Stranger Things season two. Tons of people came in costume, and the classic cars and the giant inflatable Marshmallow Man out front were fantastic attention getters for the museum. All in all, it turned out to be a really fun, successful day!” said GEM’s Collections and Exhibits Manager Mike Solof.
Editor’s Note: Over the next few months, we’ll have retrospectives of some of the great exhibits and events held at Geppi’s Entertainment Museum, which closed to the public on June 3, 2018 in advance of Steve Geppi’s donation of comic books, original comic book and comic strip art, and other vintage pop culture treasures to the Library of Congress. Items from his gift to the nation will be on display at the Library of Congress beginning in Fall 2018.
Other Installments in our Retrospective Series
Geppi’s Entertainment Museum in Photos - Part I
Atlas At Last
Artistry of Amanda Conner
Alice in Wonderland