Comic-Cons these days are truly a hit-or-miss enterprise. They all loom in the shadow of the mega-multimedia behemoth known as the San Diego Comic-Con. And while some of the larger shows can have the same feel and attract the same types of popular comic artists, cosplayers, and pop culture celebrities as the Granddaddy of them all out in California, most of the smaller cons can end up being a twelve guys with fold-up tables selling dusty toys and yellowed back-issues in a dingy hotel lobby. Thankfully, the Rhode Island Comic-Con held this past weekend in Providence felt more like the former than the latter.
The Rhode Island Comic-Con is truly a diamond in the rough; a small-sized con with huge event appeal. The show boasted an incredibly impressive galaxy of star guests, ranging from classic geek culture icons like Billy Dee Williams, Adam West, Burt Ward, Ernie Hudson, Sam Jones (Flaaaaaash, Ah-AHHHH!!!), to professional wrestlers like Kevin Nash and Rikishi, to ’80s cinema staples like William Zabka, John Amos, Ernie Hudson, C Thomas Howell, Andrew McCarthy, and oodles more. Fans seeking autographs and photo ops from a wide range of pop culture celebrities did not go home disappointed.
Rhode Island also delivered in the spectacle department, boasting a fleet of beloved film and TV vehicles like the Ecto-1 from Ghostbusters, the DeLorean from Back To The Future, a couple of Batmobiles, the Bat-Pod from The Dark Knight, and the General Lee from Dukes of Hazzard, to name but a few. The Fighting 501st Star Wars charity group was also represented in full force (pun intended), awing crowds with a life-size Rancor Beast, Jabba The Hutt on his throne, radio-controlled R2-D2s, and plenty of members in movie-quality costumes. And speaking of costumes, the RICC had a tremendous turnout of awesome, heroic, funny, sexy, and strange cosplayers in a wide array of colorful armors, superhero tights, and sci-fi regalia; including big name celebrity cosplayers like Nicole Marie Jean, Destiny Nickleson and Jessica Nigri. (You can see all of the cosplayers in the embedded video above.)
The event was held in the spacious and modern Rhode Island Convention Center, and while the show was lacking in the events and panels usually offered at the major conventions around the country, it more than made up for it with a fantastic dealer’s area, gaming section, artists alley, and of course, all of the guests and cosplayers previously mentioned. The con was well-organized, the convention center was easy to find, parking was a breeze, and the show never felt too crowded or chaotic – all positive things to look for in a mid-size pop culture event. I would encourage any geeks in the New England area to give this show a serious look; you won’t be sorry!