By Augustus Fei and McKenzi Thi Murphy
Close to 2,000 attendees and over 90 vendors and artists attended the bi-annual Long Island Comic Book Expo at the Old Bethpage Village Restoration museum on Sunday, April 15.
While even most small local comic book conventions can range between 20 to 50 dollars, admission for Sunday’s event was just five dollars with children under ten free.
“I want to do a show where somebody can come in and actually spend their money on books, leave with some good toys and not just waste their money at the front door,”Greg Aiossa, sporting a comic-print blazer, said. “For me, it’s not just you can bring your kid. You can bring your kid and all their friends.” Aiossa expected around 2,000 people to attend Sunday’s event.
The Long Island Comic Book Expo was created out of need. Disappointed with the poor availability of such an event on Long Island, Aiossa took matters into his own hands and in 2017 began the event. Artists displayed their unique styles, comic book collectors showcased their limited edition copies, and groups of friends competed over RPG-style board games.
“Five dollars to get in here, it’s practically unheard of at any given convention,” Greg Trotter, a local event-goer dressed as Red Arrow, said. “This one is definitely a lot better than some of the other [smaller] local conventions I’ve been to.”
In comparison, the San Diego Comic-Con can cost between 45 and 63 dollars, plus fees, per day and the New York convention costs up to 50 dollars.
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While the bulk of the event took place in a large barn, the cosplay, panel and gaming area was stationed in the main building. Following a successful first debut last November, the cosplay section has since expanded.
“I wasn’t sure how [cosplay] would affect [the event],” Liz Vazquez, the cosplay director, said. “But we had a tremendous amount of support so we just knew we had to continue it for the spring event. November 2018 was my first event. It was my first time running an event of this caliber.”
Vazquez’s section featured a photography station where cosplayers could pose for professional photos and around eight merchandise booths, some of which sold homemade jewelry, prints and posters. One booth specialized in miniature Pokémon dioramas.
“[The dioramas] probably [take] about two hours, maybe longer if I burn myself with the hot glue gun.” Sinead Atkinson, a professional cosplayer and mermaid who came dressed as Princess Ariel, said. This is Atkinson’s second event with the organization and first in the cosplay section’s new location. “I’m really excited to come back, especially to a new venue.”
Many of the Expo’s attendees came dressed in up cosplay costumes for the much-anticipated contest. Others dressed up solely for fun.
Clad in an elaborate Sailor Pluto (a magical crimefighter) outfit, Kristen Corradeno, a judge for the contest, spent much of her time posing for photos and speaking to enthusiastic young fans. “It was really exciting to see kids last year. They were all very comfortable with themselves…and if we can raise kids that are that comfortable, we’re going to have some confident people growing up. It’s a nice thing to instill in people at a young age.”
While Long Island Expo’s admission fee cuts down on some costs, creating an elaborate cosplay costume can be expensive as well. Not everyone has the resources to do so and may be discouraged from participating. The first recorded instance of a cosplay happened in 1939 at one of the first science-fiction conventions, Worldcon I. Since then, source material and costume quality have only grown.
“I think it might have cost around 400 dollars,” Corradeno said. “I probably spent about three full weeks working on it,” Her Sailor Pluto costume featured a hip-length green wig, matching accessories and a hand-painted silver staff.
To ensure cosplaying is accessible to everyone, Kristen Klein and Erica Meisenhelter of K-Sisters Cosplay hosted a panel on tackling your first cosplay project.
“One major advice is to not have your dream cosplay be your first cosplay,” Meisenhelter said, explaining their first costume in the panel. A simple outfit, such as the Bob’s Burger-inspired ones they wore that day, can be just twenty, thirty dollars. “We’ve seen people make cosplays that cost hundreds, thousands of dollars.”
The K-Sisters, as well as multiple vendors and attendees, expressed an interest to return the following November to see the expo’s future growth.
“There’s always more you can add to it,” Aiossa said. “One of the great things about this show is everybody comes back.”