It’s been over a year since I last went to Albany Comic Con. The twice-yearly show – one in late fall around October-November and one in late spring around May-June – brings some of the top local talent and vendors together for one day of celebrating geek culture in New York’s Capital District. And so I got up on a cloudy Sunday that threatened rain, suited up in a costume I had easily available, and headed down to the Radisson on Wolf Road in Albany (formerly a Holiday Inn), where the show has lived since its inception eight years ago.
Now, when I wore my Team Instinct Pokémon Trainer costume to Otakon, it was still during the zeitgeist of the Pokémon GO craze. Today when I put it on, I knew that it was well past its peak. Not even retro – nobody plays it anymore, nobody cares like they still do with retro classics like Mario or Zelda. But with my camera around my neck, maybe it was a shot at a new Pokémon Snap-style photography career.
I wasn’t the only one in costume. Though it’s a small show – tiny, really – it’s still a convention, and many will take any excuse to cosplay. I was surprised to see two Deadpools going at it with each other as Darth Vader looked on before I even stepped foot in the building, but I shouldn’t have been – the spirit of fandom will find any opportunity, big or small, to express itself.
And truly, that’s what small shows like this are all about. The core of Albany Comic Con is a ballroom and a large interior courtyard where vendors and local talent set up. There isn’t any sort of division between the two, either; while Comic Depot and Cooper’s Cave Games & Paintball, both large vendors who sponsor the show, were in the courtyard, everything else was found mixed together. A table full of comics would give way to a table of a local artist selling prints, then to a small store with a stock of memorabilia then to an author selling a few comic book series he’d written. (Oh and there was Quigley’s Cakes selling amazing cupcakes AHHH can’t forget that.) It was a cool expression of inclusivity – no one group of people was above the others. Whatever they had at their table, they were fans, and fans of all stripe spent the day together.
In addition to the exhibitor tables, there are typically a couple of small events at the seven hour long show. There were two panels; I went to “Do It Yourself Comics and Publishing” with Matthew Dow Smith and Jim Whiting. Though I’m not an aspiring comic creator, it was still great advice for anyone trying to break into their own creative pursuits. There’s also a cosplay contest and an art auction to benefit the Ronald McDonald House.
Taking your time, it really only takes an hour to browse the tables at the con – and they are the core of the show. Panels and such seem like add-ons rather than the main event, and you know what, that’s okay. Not every show needs to be huge; for the past three or so years, at least, it’s stayed the same size and format. It’s what works for the organizers of the show and it’s what works for the fans in the Capital District. The show is by them, for them, and in a year where I’m planning on skipping any of the big conventions, it’s great to be reminded that you don’t need to travel far to see expressions of fandom. All it takes is a local, rainy afternoon.
All photos were taken by me unless otherwise noted.