Newark Comic Con – One of the First Movements in Newark’s Gentrification
5 years ago if you had told anyone that Newark would become a victim of the ever-expanding Comic Con phenomenon, they would have scoffed at the notion. Time makes fools of us all, and the economic and cultural landscape has drastically changed over the past few years. The Newark Comic Con is proof positive of this phenomenon.
A convention is a culture based in a large group of people with access to moderate to large portions of disposable income. Comic books aren’t the most expensive things in the world, and at between 1-4 dollars an issue, they’re a lot cheaper than most other forms of media. That said, it has become clear that the Newark Comic Con is not only about comic books. Cons seem to be more geared towards a general “geek experience” and as such provide a wide array of merchandize. It wouldn’t be incorrect to say that conventions are places where the people that populate websites like Etsy.com hock their wares in the physical world.
Indeed, Newark Comic Con had no shortage of vendors of all kinds, from comic books, prints, hard cover books, Pop figurines, pins, badges, statues, T-shirts, posters, sketches, and albums by various artists.
It’s also important to note the amount of people who showed up in costume. By my rough estimate, over half the people in attendance were in some form of costume. Some costumes were hand-made, some appeared store bought, still others were painstakingly assembled from scrap iron and cloth. The detail and work that went into these costumes was astonishing, and more than a few looked as though they were peeled off the set of a Hollywood movie.
The simple convention has become a reflection of the changing climate of Newark as a whole. In times not long past, this convention couldn’t have happened. However, the demographics have shifted to the point where a community can sustain such an event, sourced almost entirely from Newark natives. It reminds me of an experience I had not long after I came to NJIT as a freshman. On a whim I decided to wander around Newark at night, a course of action most people would regard as moronic. Had I been mugged, people would’ve certainly blamed my own stupidity.
As I wandered I met an elderly man who drew me into a conversation where he insisted that Newark had a strong community, and they only needed jobs. Jobs he thought places like the Prudential Center would bring in. I see things like this convention as a fulfillment of that prediction. From here, Newark can only improve.