By: Casey Domski
PITTSBURGH, Pa. – Pittsburgh’s favorite pop culture, comic and movie convention Steel City Con took place April 11-13 at the Monroeville Convention Center. The convention, which takes place several times throughout the year, attracts hundreds of people from all around the area.
This year’s convention featured big name stars such as Lee Majors, Brent Spiner and Johnathan Franks. Many other celebrities made appearances throughout the weekend, signing autographs and taking part in question and answer panels.
West Deer resident Stuart Lee said that the question and answer panels are one of the main reasons he comes to Steel City Con.
“It’s really cool to learn about the celebrities,” said Lee. “Often they share personal stories and give insight into what it was like to work on the movies and shows they were on, which I find interesting.”
Lee mentioned how many of the celebrities will also give sneak peaks about what projects they will be working on next.
“Often celebrities that are still working will give sneak peeks and information about future projects they are working,” said Lee. “I usually like to go home research more about the project based on what they said.”
Lee said he also enjoys getting to talk personally too many of the celebrities.
“Each celebrity has a table where you can walk up to them and get an autograph and have a conversation with them, not many places offer that kind of one on one interaction,” he said.
Hampton resident Alan Robbins said that the celebrity guests are also a big reason he comes to Steel City Con.
“Steel City Con gives me the opportunity to build my autograph collection,” said Robbins. “I’ve been coming for years and always look forward to new guests with each convention.”
Robbins also said that the affordable admission draws him to the convention.
“For the amount of entertainment you get you can’t beat the price,” he said. “For just $15 you get a full day’s worth of entertainment and fun.”
Part of that entertainment is the convention’s costume contest. While convention goers are encouraged to dress up for all three days of the convention. On the final day of each convention a costume contest is held with cash prizes in three different age groups. Contestants parade across a catwalk while being judged by a panel of select judges. This month’s convention costumes included minions from the recent “Despicable Me” movies, the ever popular Batman, and the adult category winner Poison Ivy. Costumes are judged based on originality and craftsmanship.
Canonsburg resident Zachary Mullaney said that the costume contest is his favorite part of the convention.
“I love seeing all the different costumes,” said Mullaney. “Some people get really into it, so it’s cool to see all their hard work.”
Mullaney said he also enjoys the various collectables that vendors have to offer.
“You can find some really unique pop culture and comic collectables at Steel City Con that you can’t find anywhere else,” he said.
Mullaney did warn that buyers should do their research because the prices can often be a little unfair at the convention.
“You really have to be mindful of the prices though,” he said. “Some vendors will raise their prices on items just because it’s Steel City Con, so you need to do your homework before buying an item, often they can be found online for much cheaper.”
Mullaney also said that Steel City Con is an opportunity to discover new comics that may not be available at your local comic book store.
“There are hundreds of comic book vendors at the show,” said Mullaney. “I always find new comics that I have never seen before, which is one of my favorite parts about going to the show.”
Whether you’re buying or just browsing, Steel City Con offers over 700 different vendor and artists tables. The convention is a big draw for artists looking to build a steady fan base.
Ohio comic artist Jesse Marks said that he comes to the convention to sell his art out of convenience.
“It’s a close convention for me,” said Marks. “It also draws a big crowd, so you get a lot of exposure over the three day show.”
Marks said that he first started selling his art at conventions because of his daughter.
“Once I was at convention with my daughter and she said that my art was just as good as all the other artists,” he said. “Of course, she kept pushing me to start my own table, and me being a Dad I felt I needed to set a good example to show her that she can do anything she wants when she grows up.”
Marks said the rest is history: “After the first show I ever did I made a pretty decent profit, and I have been doing it ever since.”
Local Pittsburgh comic artist Mikey Wood said that the people are what keep him coming back to Steel City Con.
“I just really love the crowd here,” said Wood. “Steel City Con has given me the opportunity to build a loyal fan base that keeps coming back with each show.
Wood said that his love of comic art started at a young age and has continued into his adulthood.
“I started drawing comics around age nine,” he said. “I have been doing it ever since.”
Steel City Con offers a variety of different artist tables from comic and pop culture artists, to glass artists and even T-shirt designers. There is a table for just about every interest at the convention.
The next Steel City Con convention will take place August 8-10, 2014, at the Monroeville Convention Center. This summer’s convention will feature celebrity guests, Verne Troyer, also known as Mini-Me from the popular “Austin Powers” movies, Butch Patrick, also known as Eddie from the popular television show “The Munsters”, and original Power Ranger Steve Carden, as well as many others.
For more information about Steel City Con and a complete list of celebrity guests please visit their website at www.steelcitycon.com.