In the fifteen years that I’ve been attending anime and gaming conventions; a lot has changed in terms of demographic, atmosphere, quality, and structure. I think about the time I went to Otakon in 2008, and how much the convention scene has changed since then. Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy that there are more conventions now than ever that fans can go to; thanks to anime being among the mainstream ranks (even to the point where we now have Luffy alongside Goku, in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade). However a part of me misses those ‘grass roots’ fundamentals that conventions used to have; where there was a greater emphasis on the art, passion, fandom, and creativity found in the medium itself. Basically, a part of me misses the days when conventions used to be about the ‘Art’, and less about the ‘Celebrity’!
One thing I’ve noticed since the pandemic ended (sort of), is the rise of more traditional anime and comic conventions. Back in 2022 I had the opportunity to attend Stellar Con in Bel-Air, MD. It reminded me so much of comic conventions back in the early 2000’s; with a more chill out and laxed vibe compared to modern conventions. I returned again in 2023 alongside my D&A partner, Aaron Goldman, and with a little bit of networking, I suddenly found myself on the road to another convention located in Ocean City, Maryland. This…was Ocean City Comic Con.
Ocean City Comic Con 2023
The last time I was here in Ocean City, “Who Let The Dogs Out?!” was the hit of the Summer! I had a small feeling that if there was a small population of nerds in the Eastern Shore, they would probably be in Ocean City. (And somehow I was right!) We were able to make our first appearance as Press for this convention thanks to being invited by the convention chair/owner, and I gotta say, we had an amazing time! It really felt like Baltimore Comic-Con with a bit of a modern-retro twist; meaning that there was a mixture of old school and new school fans across all fandoms.
Of course when it comes to conventions being held at convention centers, one of the biggest gripes fans have is ‘Line-Con’. this ‘convention’ comes with the territory so there’s no way of absolutely avoiding it (unless you’re Press or VIP), but with OCCC (Ocean City Comic Con) they really had the line structure well put together. I wish there was a better was to explain that, but let’s just say they did a great job keeping the line moving, while making sure everyone got in safely.
There were vendors, guests, and artists galore! There really wasn’t a dull moment found inside this con at all. In fact I’d say that I got the same feeling from this convention, as I did when I attended Stellar Con – only magnified! Fans from all ages and fandoms were in attendance (with anime rep only coming in second to Marvel and DC), as the staff was really cool and laid back.
So, What Else About Ocean City Comic-Con?
After touring through the Dealer’s Room/Artist Alley, we found ourselves in a couple of panels. The programming of the panels was actually pretty good and had variety, so whether you were a Star Wars geek or an anime nerd, there was always something going on for you to check out. If there was one gripe I have about Ocean City Comic Con, I wish it was longer than just one day, but it looks like my prayers have been answered, because 2024’s convention will now be 2 days long!
I never really thought about Maryland’s Eastern Shore being a nerd culture destination, but with Ocean City having both an anime convention (as well as its very own comic-con), it allows ‘The Bay’ to wave its own flag and embrace its nerdy side. I’m a bit excited to see where this convention goes now that its growing into a two-day venture, and somewhere in the mix we hope to be a part of that journey.
All in all, this is a convention that you’re going to love!
Until next post, stay nerdy!