GARDEN STATE COMIC FEST
AMBER LOVE 10-JULY-2016 I can’t believe how exhausting cons are for me now. I loved my time at Garden State Comic Fest, but spent most of it sitting down at the cosplay tables watching their booths. I hosted a live recording of Vodka O’Clock with Joy Taney to talk about living creative lives with disabilities and that went really well; the show will be posted probably in August because I have some episodes in the queue already.
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The main reason I was there was to host the panel but I decided to squish myself into my Madame Web costume so I didn’t feel as left out as I have been in civvies. It was definitely a different experience dressed as a Marvel character than last year when I dressed as an Image character and was completely ignored and never asked to be in any of the shoots. Apparently, there were two different people trying to coordinate photoshoots so that also messed things up a little bit and I missed the official Marvel group. I took some pics of the DC group, but from any place where I could stand, I had a terrible vantage point. One thing I wish all cons would do is designate “official” photoshoots in their programs so that people can plan accordingly. With no wifi connection working, I couldn’t look at Facebook to see if anyone had made any posts about it.
Sunday is probably the bigger day for cosplay because of the contest, but Saturday was not short on featuring a lot of people with top notch outfits.Â One of the reasons GSCF is so fan-friendly is because they offer locker rooms for cosplayers to change.
GENDERS WEREN’T A CONCERN IN PRACTICE
On the program the locker room in rink one, “Heroes” rink, was designated as “ladies;” and the second rink, “Villains”, had a locker room marked on the program as “men;” But honestly, no one seemed to abide by that and the great news is, no one freaking cared. The groups like the 501st, The Finest, and the Legion of Supervillains are like a big family and change in front of each other all the time. They do a ton of events together so there’s a comfort factor among them. I was there with them, even though I wasn’t dressed for any of those groups, and all of us used the “villains” side changing room.
Unfortunately, I missed the “Coscapades” which was that they allowed cosplayers one hour of ice time and cheap ice skate rentals (only $3.50). I wanted to try it but we had things to do with photoshoots and watching the booths. I thought it by far the most unique cosplay opportunity of any convention!
There were quite a number of uniformed officers from the police and park service (which runs the arena). I never heard any complaints about safety or harassment. The only possible issue was when a friend of mine lost her 9-year-old when he went the bathroom. She was waiting outside in the hall with me and never saw him come out. We sent someone in to look for him and he wasn’t there. I went on back to rink two and didn’t hear more so I assume he turned up from being distracted by colorful fun things. I also saw a reasonable amount of volunteers in their official GSCF shirts.
The GSCF program has the harassment policy clearly printed on a page dedicated to itself as soon as you open the booklet. The instructions were to immediately report any incidents to law enforcement, staff, security or a volunteer and as I said, all of those were easy to find.
I didn’t check out the food at the arena because I already had plans to go to a local restaurant for an early dinner. It seemed like my other friends packed their lunches too, so I have no word on the prices or selections of the snack bar.
The wifi was open to the public, but we couldn’t connect. I tried a few times, got “failure to connect” errors and gave up. I had to switch off my wifi for the whole day and try not to use much data for posting to Instagram and Twitter.
There were several attendees using mobility devices like motorized wheelchairs and canes. I didn’t see anyone have a problem. Since a few were in my panel with Joy and the room wasn’t packed, there were no problems for those folks to get into the room and take spots at the ends of the rows. The aisles were spacious and I only bumped through people while walking once. The one thing I’m not sure about is the bathroom accessibility; I used the one stall inside a locker room and it was kind of small and didn’t seem like there was any way to fit something like a wheelchair or walker in there but the main public restrooms were probably up to code and not as out of date as the locker rooms seemed.
The dates are already set for 2017’s Garden State Comic Fest. I highly recommend getting to this show for a good old fashioned, comics based convention. Saturday July 8th and Sunday July 9th, once again at the Mennen sports arena in Morristown, NJ.
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