Garden State Comic Fest: Winter Edition returned in a special way that was both safe and exciting for all. Complying with state COVID-19 restrictions, GSCF required everyone to fill out a symptom screening questionnaire, receive a temperature check, and of course wear a mask. Plus, Aerus ActivePure products were installed to help reduce coronavirus-causing pathogens in the air. It felt safer than shopping at some retail shops!
Held inside the old Modell’s Sporting Goods at the Rockaway Townsquare mall from January 29-31, Garden State Comic Fest made use of both floors in order to space out booths and allow everyone to socially distance while enjoying the con. And with a maximum capacity of 150 people, I never experienced crowding throughout the weekend.
Unlike their main event in the summertime which includes celebrity appearances, the Winter Edition is normally miniaturized (with this year’s obviously being even more concise), keeping the focus on art and collecting. And right off the bat, you can see that the con was intentionally laid out to highlight just about two dozen artists upstairs and two dozen vendors downstairs.
So here are some highlights from the weekend in case you missed out… And be sure to check out more photos in the gallery as well as the video walkthrough at the end of this article!
Some of the featured artists at this year’s Winter Edition included legendary artists like Larry Stroman, Keith Williams, and Scott Hanna, plus indie artists like Chris Campana, Ben Harvey, Len Danovich, and Christian Espiritusanto. Chances are you’ll see one of your favorite GSCF artist regulars here!
Many artists recommended contacting them in advance for commission requests to allow for easy pickup at the con, otherwise there were lots of options for last minute purchases while you perused their portfolios and print inventory! I personally scored some indie titles from Enrique Lopez, Nick Justus, and an amazing (no pun intended) Spider-Man sketch from Chris Campana!
After months of missing cons like this, it was so refreshing to see artists safely engaging with fans and having fun doing what they do best. And it looked like the fans were having a blast too, meeting cosplay groups “The Finest” (G.I. Joe) and Mandalorian Mercs who were set up outside the entrance for photo ops, donations, and freebies for kids (or kids at heart)… or costumer Father Evil who had a booth downstairs in the vendor hall.
And don’t worry, there were fans dressed up too! I saw cosplayers of an Iron Man (wielding not one, but two Infinity Gauntlets), a Game of Thrones White Walker, and this super fashionable Princess Zelda & Princess Peach duo:
Meanwhile down in the bat-… I mean in the vendor hall, you could find all kinds of things for sale like comic books, Funko Pops, enamel pins, action figures, statues, trading cards, and video games. I had a great time browsing the latest offerings from Collectors Crate, NJ Toys & Collectibles, and 3D Printing By Muckychris who had a 10″ version of the viral mittened Bernie Sanders:
Traffic was one-way, there were arrows on the ground, and there was one entrance to get in & one exit to get out. It couldn’t have been more straightforward! And it also made for a very clear flow so that you don’t miss some of the amazing talent at the con like Bun Leung‘s chibi art, Codakhrome‘s repurposing comic collage shop, and Jackie’s Copper Creations, who I bought a Mandalorian Mythosaur square from:
And speaking of The Mandalorian, did I mention that Ink Master Season 10 tattoo artist Christian Masot was onsite creating this Mando trinity piece live? This is the Way!
So if you couldn’t make it to this special version of Garden State Comic Fest, stay tuned for an announcement regarding their main event this summer! And in the meantime, here’s a video from GSCF Winter Edition 2021.