“Comics are a huge hobby. It's something that even if it's digital, they still want to come in and get the paper. It's about art and writing, and creators and fans.”

“We want people to be able to meet the writer, meet the artist, get their book signed and ask them a couple questions and spend five minutes with them and not get pushed out of the way by everyone else in line,” said Jon Engel, 3 Rivers Comicon Co-Promoter and New Dimension Comics General Manager.

The creation of New Dimension Comics owner Todd McDevitt, 3 Rivers Comicon returns for its second show May 20 & 21 at Century III Mall.

Admission is $13 each day, or a weekend pass is available for $18, and VIP Weekend for $30 and each admission also comes with a free graphic novel and an exclusive “Betty & Veronica” #1.

“Comics in media in the last decade have been huge. Their influence has been amazing. Some conventions have morphed into more of the TV/movie ends, and the actual comic part—which is the lifeblood of where everything came from—was almost an afterthought. Now you have all these cons showing up that call themselves comicons, that don't really have comics; they have celebrities. We are trying to give the opposite. We want lifeblood. We want the old school comic show on a big scale.”

3 Rivers Comicon keeps comics at the forefront with a guest list made almost exclusively of the writers and artists behind the books.

The show features around 90 creators with a focus on regional talent, along with dozens of dealers and the fan groups Garison Carida 501st and Steel City Ghostbusters. Engel is excited for the range of talented creators the con has secured.

“Mark Waid was really kind of huge. He and Todd have known each other for a long time, and I think it's been at least ten years since Mark was in Pittsburgh. Bringing Peter Krause in to have a creative team was kind of a thing for us this year, we really wanted to have a team.

“Having Scott McDaniel is huge. He could not make it last year, and since this is his hometown show, it was something we strived for last year. We told him, 'We understand you can't make it this year, but you're definitely welcome next year.' He jumped on board since he started his new publishing company.

“We're really excited to have everybody. We just love everybody who comes out.”

Other creators include Ron Frenz (“Spider-Girl”), Pat Olliffe (“Rough Riders”), Wayne Faucher (“Aquaman”), Don Simpson (“Megaton Man”), Rafer Roberts (“Harbinger: Renegade”), Dave Wachter (“Breath of Bones”), DJ Coffman (“The God Child”), Shawn Gabborin (Action Lab EiC) and Pat & Shelly Block (Disney Comics).

One of the most distinct events at the show is the Exclusive Beer Release Party Saturday night (available for $50, and includes VIP weekend admission). Brewed specially for 3 Rivers Comicon, Beeredeemable: An Irredeemable Russian Imperial Stout by Mt. Pleasant's Helltown Brewing features label art by Peter Krause.

“We knew Mark Waid was coming, and we were in an email chain with him, and I said to Todd, 'What if we got Peter Krause involved, and we could call it Beeredeemable? That would be fun, because they did “Irredeemable.'” He was like, 'That's kind of cool.' 'They also did “Insufferable,” we could figure that out. They did “Daredevil” work together. Mark's done everything; I'm sure we could make a pun.'”

“Todd had the idea for the label. He pitched to Peter, and he said, 'What if we did a Kingdom Come-style label, but with the Irredeemable cast, and you and Mark in it?' Then they threw Todd in there too. Instead of the old man in the front of Kingdom Come, it's Mark with his shirt open, and it says 'Mark Waid is Evil,' which is the running joke through the books because he made the superhero a bad guy.”

The con's exclusive “Betty and Veronica”, comic features the Archie, cast visiting Kennywood Park depicted by “Chilling Adventures Of Sabrina” artist Robert Hack, which ties into the upcoming Kennywood Comicon on Father's Day, also presented by NDC.

“It was serendipitous that we decided to do the Kennywood Comicon at the same time we were planning a variant for the con. We decided to kill two birds with one stone and make the cover what it is. We were already talking with Archie, and to bring Kennywood onto that cover as well, just makes it a very Pittsburgh-themed cover, so it made sense to put on all the logos of everyone involved and do it all at one time. It's been great working with Kennywood, we love working with those guys, and we're excited to do the other con.”

Saturday features a cosplay contest open to various levels of cosplayers with $1000 total in prizes, with Cosplay Kitchen and Bubba from Star 100.7 judging.

Sunday is Family Day, with dedicated all-ages programming filling the afternoon. Children 8 and under get in free with a parent or guardian, and there is a cosplay contest for kids ages 14 and under.

Other events at the con include an art auction of pieces donated by attending artists running throughout the weekend. Proceeds benefit the convention and Extra Life.

There will be a number of gaming events held in the NDC game room during the weekend including Magic: The Gathering, Dungeons & Dragons, Heroclix and a variety of board games.


Jon Engel