So many people helped Comic Fusion hold another successful fundraiser for SAFE in Hunterdon during October’s Domestic Violence Awareness Month initiative. We had travelers from Washington D.C., Philadelphia, and New York. We might never top our biggest year but we’ve always done great work raising money for our community. My financial figures are all rounded but after seven years, our total raised is somewhere around $45,000. Each year, we’re grateful for whatever we can bring in.
It wouldn’t be an event without the people who donate their time and products to us.
The 501st Northeast Remnant
Jill Pantozzi & The Mary Sue
Dark Horse Comics
Diamond Select Toys
Sound engineer Chris Hughes
Jenna from Ink Junction Tattoo
Gabby’s Pizza & Pasta
The Mixing Bowl
Main St. Bagel Co.
Cocco’s CafeCandy Bar
4 Paws Grooming Salon LLC
The Candy Bar
The Gem Vault
Jason S. Colflesh Photography
JF Custom Photography
Superhero Weekend had dozens of individual cosplayers, artists, social media friends and podcasters that helped promote the event. Writers and publishers donated their works to our raffles. There are so many artists who donated original sketches or prints which made the fundraiser possible in the first place.
Some of those artists make a big effort to donate to us every single year despite their deadlines and personal crises. I don’t think you’ll meet an artist that gives more to charity than our dear friend J.K. Woodward who had just finished raising money for his friend that ultimately died of cancer; he still sent us two pieces. His Spider-Woman painting was the hit of the auction and found itself in a bidding war. J.K. documented the creation process of that piece on his site.
And all these kind people did this for charity which is something the comic book industry is not known for outside of our own little world regardless of small projects like ours or big outreaches like DC Comics’ We Can Be Heroes.
Our little town has recognized us annually by declaring Superhero Weekend in an official Proclamation. This was the first time I was able to attend the town council meeting which is open to the public but I always had modeling obligations. When I attended this meeting, I was dressed as The Awesomes’ Hotwire and accompanied by one of my dearest pals James Hannon who is the public liaison for the Star Wars costuming group, the 501st Legion – Northeast Remnant. My other assistant for this year, Jesse Parrino, was on his way and ran into unfortunate car trouble en route. The three of us had been making this convergence from completely different areas of New Jersey to be in Flemington. This is one of those things about charity events — it is a huge effort sometimes. We’ve never been able to give people gas money or put them up in hotels to attend both days of the event. Except for the small amount used to cover lunch, every bit that can be collected goes to the charity which is why we have always run the financial aspects through them as the non-profit organization instead of the comic shop.
I was interviewed this year again by a local reporter before the fundraiser. I wish the press would actually come out to cover the event too but we have to take what we can get. In comics, I think our blogger outlets are more beneficial because they’ll reach the targeted geek market who are more likely to bid on the art and come out to support a local shop. It was really great to see two articles in different papers; one even had a fantastic photo of me and James in our costumes at the Flemington council meeting.
We do what we can to make the two days of Superhero Weekend like a mini comic convention. We have 3-4 guest creators each day and as many cosplayers as we can wrangle. Luckily in the new location at Turntable Junction, this has become monumentally easier. Even Batman said he’s no longer afraid of walking through the store and knocking things over. I, for one, think our location is prime. The new shop is in a piazza called Turntable Junction where the retailers are housed in adorable gingerbread cottages and yards lined with brick paths intersected by the railroad tracks. White wooden fences stretch through the grassy courtyards. We miss Main Street but as Stacy said, every year people were still asking, “When did you open?” not at all realizing Comic Fusion was there for years. Having a spacious room to fit regularly scheduled gamers and our occasional Artists’ Alley works well. There was one little glitch to help Jill get her scooter up the small lip into the store where the bricks aren’t quite level with the floor; otherwise, she seemed to enjoy the accessibility that wasn’t possible on Main Street. No more scooter parking outside!
We tried hard to break the $50k mark but there was a lot different behind the scenes about this year. In 2007, we started out as the east coast branch of the non-officially sanctioned “Wonder Woman Day” which was founded in Portland, Oregon. We know our town pretty well and a Sunday-only event wasn’t going to bring in enough so Stacy expanded us to two days immediately. We began using the lengthy title, “Superhero Weekend featuring Wonder Woman Day.” In our hearts and those of our artist donors, it was always Wonder Woman Day. For Comic Fusion, it wasn’t about distancing association with DC Comics, the character of Wonder Woman, or copyright worries (in our early days, DC was really kind to us but didn’t sponsor us officially); we expanded because we needed to offer more to our bidders/shoppers than one character. If I recall correctly, it was a Batman piece that went for the highest amount when we had only allowed a couple of pieces to be something other than Wonder Woman. That told us we needed variety. Plus, we’re more than willing to celebrate all the fandoms and appreciate the role models they have provided to readers throughout the generations. For the past few years we’ve encouraged all kinds of characters from Harry Potter to Star Trek.
From my own personal involvement, I always like to have special costumes. Traditionally I’ve always been Wonder Woman on Sunday. This year I got to wear one of the costumes I made this year, the Bombshell Wonder Woman based on the new line of statues. Those poor boots are horribly messed up by now and so much of the original white is showing through. But on Saturday, I had a blast pulling items from my own closet, donning a wig and holster and being Starling from the BIRDS OF PREY. I had a very special reason. One of Starling’s original creators joined us as a guest, Duane Swierczynski. You might thing the painted on tattoo was the hardest part but really it was styling the wig which required the assistance of model extraordinaire Han Pan.