ROAD TRIP: Beverly Comic Con: A Fan Intervention Becomes A Community Staple

By Chris Ricci

There were many facets of life that were directly affected and altered by the Boston Marathon Bombing in 2013 and the resulting manhunt and lockdown.  Many businesses were forced to close, events were cancelled, and daily schedules were thrown into a tailspin as the city locked down, and many felt that this was a proper course of action. Some people, however, felt that the absence of happiness in light of such terror and heartbreak wasn’t the proper thing to do, and many communities joined together to give people a sense of normality and happiness despite a rather devastating landscape. One of the many things canceled by the lockdown was the annual Boston Comic Con; a wildly popular event for fans of not only comics, but of cartoons, artwork, and other related forms of media. Because of the short notice of such a cancellation, many artists and panel guests found themselves stranded in Boston with nothing to do, and the lack of any sort-of rescheduling left many concerned for the future of events like this. Enter the members of North Shore-based Tryptic Press.  Members Andrew Houle, John Cardinal, and Michael Crockett joined forces with long-time friend Adam Miller to work on a solution: The First Annual Beverly Comic-Con.

With a mere 24 hours notice and a social media blitz of epic proportions, all four men worked tirelessly to turn the Studios at Porter Mill into a convention hall to retain a sense of normality and fun in light of such a tragic event. Schools provided furniture, markets donated food, friends brought instruments to perform, and before anyone knew it, the Beverly Comic-Con was a success. People came in droves to the make-shift event, and the sheer amount of happiness and community pride made the event an overwhelming success in the eyes of not only the creators, but to all of those who attended. Now, the members of Tryptic Press and Adam Miller are making the convention happen again on a more grand scale. "The four of us have been friends for ages, all graduating form Montserrat College of Art and all wanting to give back to a local art community that helped get us rolling on our respective and collective paths” said Adam. “If superheros, zombies and barbarians help aid us in our efforts than so be it. Truth be known, I could not think of a better group of allies.”

"This comic con feels like such a long time coming. It's funny we worked on putting together the first one for about 5 hours after the 2013 Boston Comic Con was cancelled,” said Andrew. “And now we finally have what we feel is a con focused on the artists and the books they create.” According to Andrew, the first event, which started as an impromptu chance and event, “quickly turned into an opportunity to build something new and different with the local comic community demand. Everyone in attendance was so positive.” Andrew added that he “knew while we were packing up the first one we would bring it back again.”

This event isn’t arriving without a share of major supporters both local and national. Wicked Art Bar owner Renee Gannon not only provided vendors access to the Art bar space, but also will be providing beer and wine sales for the event. Former Porter Mill gallery manager Val Toukaly and current interim gallery manager Will Portiff worked tirelessly with owner Ted Richard to not only help orchestrate the event, but to also provide them with the excellent space they had at the last event.  And DJ Noel Snow will be in the house providing the crowd plenty of tunes and helping raise the already enjoyable atmosphere. “What once was only celebrated in dimly lit comic shops and quietly among friends is now EVERYWHERE!” exclaimed John. “I am proud we are bringing another comics based event here to Beverly.”

Vendors will be set up throughout Wicked Art Bar (who will be serving beer & wine from 2-6pm throughout the event), the gallery space, common areas, and several studios including my own throughout the first floor. So most of the first floor will be the comic con while patrons will also be encouraged to visit artist studios which will be open upstairs in a similar vibe to 'Open Studios'.

Below is the full roster of artists and vendors:

Andrew MacLean (guest of honor) - Headlopper and soon to be published Apocalyptigirl by Dark Horse Comics

Robert Gill (guest of honor) - Transformers, Batgirl, Eternal Warrior, & Harbinger

Paul Hornschemeier (guest of honor) - Forlorn Funnies, Marvel Comics

Shelli Paroline & Braden Lamb - Adventure Time 

Amanda Beard, Andy Driscoll, Ben Donahue, Chris Letarte, Christian Miller, Daniel Kern, David LeBlanc Eric Boeker, EyeFormation, Heather Scoggins, Omega Level, Jacob Carignan, Jason Casey, Dennis Burke, Joe DellaGatta, Jon Paddol, Joe Haley(The UnderBurbs), Josh Morrissette, Adam Miller(ZombieBomb!, States of Terror), Robert Van Wagner, Keith Gleason, Matt Mcguirk, Michael Doherty, Patt Kelley, Randy House, Tom Torrey, Harrison's Comics, Monstserrat College of Art(Illustration Dept.), Andrew Houle, Jesse Danger, PressBound, Michael Crockett & John Cardinal.