While not quite the insane San Diego ComicCon, the Philly burbs have hosted a more genre-specific Fan Con called Monster-Mania Con for nearly 30 years, at a convention center in the South Jersey Upper-Middle-Class Philly burb known as Cherry Hill, NJ.
When Uncle P was a kid, the Cherry Hill Mall* was the largest and first of its kind. A trip there with Auntie and Grandmom meant coin-operated and ticketed kiddie rides; endless exploration of the late-60's and early-70's version of Pier One Imports; a new pair of something and maybe a toy (if we were exceptionally well-behaved). After the NJ State Fairgrounds in Trenton closed down, the NJ State Fair was moved to the Cherry Hill Race Track, though these days it is held in North Jersey at The Meadowlands and the old Fairgrounds are now the rather amazing Grounds for Sculpture, which I highly recommend visiting once every few years. But, I digress.
It has been nearly 30 years since Uncle P attended a fan convention. It was 1985 and my sister and I went up to Manhattan (can't remember f I drove or we took the train) to attend Fangoria Magazine's first ever Weekend of Horrors. It was... well, you can imagine. This was early on in Fan Cons and most of the space was taken up by vendors. We made sure we attended George Romero's Day of the Dead panel, where we caught a sneak preview that wasn't immediately shared on an internet which didn't quite exist, yet. And it was amazing. We met and spoke with Horror Icons Tom Savini and Michael Berryman (both of whom were lovely and appreciative of their fans); I bought books and a t-shirt. We got lots of free buttons (including a Back to the Future button I probably should have hung onto) and generally had a good time. Though we found ourselves to be... well... the least nerdy duo in attendance, that day. And while there were maybe a dozen or so cosplayers there, the term had yet to be coined and they stuck out like sore thumbs.
On Saturday, August 16th, I will be attending Monster-Mania Con with two co-workers: My sweetly and identically insane Mia (creator of Teddy-Z) and the newest addition to our department, Chris B. Chris is a sports guy (go Phillies!); a far less-obsessive movie fan than Uncle P (honestly - his lack of the Essentials is appalling - but I'm going to take care of that) and a fellow performer. I think the three of us will have ourselves a grand time and cannot wait to attend my first modern Fan Con! I'll make sure my phone is charged and will take lots of pics!
If you haven't figured it out by now, yes, I am a HUGE Horror geek and can't wait until we go! I'll also be asking my compatriots to restrain myself when it comes to shopping...
*Uncle P started my 20 years of purgatorial retail life at Bamberger's, in my local Oxford Valley Mall.