I was able to attend the first annual Shock Pop ComicCon this past weekend, and am happy to say that it was a well put together, competent event. It’s always a gamble with a new event and I was somewhat skeptical given the divisive nature of the guest list and events going on during the show. Most conventions fall into the category of either horror or sci-fi/comics. The guests for this event were split down the middle, for the most part. There were a lot of people from major horror movies and TV series, but also comic book guests and actors from popular TV series such as Arrow and Agents of SHIELD.
The layout of the event was solid and the space was utilized well. For such a big convention it was surprisingly easy to get around. Saturday is typically the biggest day for something like this and during peak hours it can become incredibly claustrophobic. But while there were a fair amount of people there, it never felt overcrowded. At no point was it difficult to get around, which is something it has over many, many other cons I have attended.
For horror fans, the guest list that this event put together could not have been better. I would imagine this balance will continue into the future, and can’t wait to see the talent they secure next. Because for a first-time event it had some major, major genre stars. Three of the major highlights of this event were writer/director John Waters, Cassandra Peterson—who is best known for her role as Elvira: Mistress of the Dark, and child star turned musician Corey Feldman. Peterson even appeared as her Elvira persona on Saturday.There was no shortage of representation from the major franchises, either. Both the Friday the 13th and A Nightmare on Elm Street franchises saw reunions, from the first and second films, respectively. Sean Cunningham, Adrienne King, Harry Manfredini, Robbi Morgan, Ron Millkie, and Ari Lehmen were there representing the first Friday the 13th while Jason actor Ken Kirzinger, of Freddy vs. Jason, also appeared.
One of the major draws of the event was the 30th anniversary reunion for A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge, which marked the first ever reunion for that particular film. Freddy Krueger himself, Robert Englund, appeared at the show along with director Jack Sholder and actors Marshall Bell, Robert Rusler, Mark Patton and Kim Myers.
The events at the convention were appreciatively diverse. One definite complaint about the schedule is that it went up the last minute, and that the panels and screenings were not as balanced as they should have been. All of the horror-related events happened on Friday, leaving nothing for the hardcore horror fans on Saturday or Sunday. The logic here makes a sort of sense, given that it was Friday the 13th, but it made for a day of nothing but horror and two days of everything else. Given that part of the appeal of this convention was to showcase the best of both worlds, things could have been stronger on the scheduling side.
There were also many great vendors, with some companies appearing in an official capacity including Shout! Factory and Seraphim, Clive Barker’s production company. The exciting thing about the Seraphim booth, in addition to featuring co-head and writer Mark Miller as well as director of Barker’s upcoming adaptation Jaqueline Ess, is that it offered some original paintings by Barker himself. To see these creations in person was a fantastic and inspiring experience.
A convention can be defined by its atmosphere. If fans, staff, or guests are bitter it can make everything uncomfortable and generally unpleasant. Cons tend to operate on a “one bad apple spoils the bunch” method, no matter how big they are. Luckily, the atmosphere at Shock Pop was overwhelmingly positive. Every single industry talent that I was fortunate enough to meet and talk to could not have been nicer. They genuinely loved being there and loved interacting with the fans. Given the size of the event I did not get to speak to everyone and spent most of my time speaking with the Friday the 13th cast members. Most of them do a lot of conventions and it was great to see that they are still in awe that this film and the franchise it spawned continue to be such a large part of pop culture.
I was very impressed with the mood from a first time con as things can get very hectic very quickly. I’m glad that the overall experience here was positive. It would be great to see this continue and I, for one, cannot wait to watch it develop into one of the major East Coast conventions.