Steel City Con’s new layout made December’s show the best of the year

A new layout, more space, and faster queues made attending the Steel City Con December show at the Monroeville Convention Center enjoyable for most vendors and guests.

The last pop culture and comic book convention of the year at 209 Mall Plaza Blvd. featured over 30 celebrities and 100 salespeople.

Parking lots were packed from December 10 to 12 as tens of thousands of people filled the event space of more than 100,000 square feet.

Organizers made some adjustments to conventions earlier this year, particularly in mid-August when horror icon Robert Englund (Freddy Krueger) was in town.

Many attendees complained about long lines, issues with VIP packages and professional photos. That was not the case this month as attendees took to the convention’s official social media fan forum page to congratulate the promoters on the changes.

“The professional photoshoot area, in my opinion, worked so much better,” said Dusty Fausnight.

Participants John Staus and Karen Sagel accepted.

“I enjoyed having the photoshoot in the new location,” Sagel said. “Virtual tickets have improved things a lot, you just have to find a better system even if it’s a system where you send the first text message and then call the announcements… You will never make everyone happy, but you do a great job. job. trying. I wish I had known all the names of the people, volunteers and staff, who helped make this weekend such a great weekend.

The new pro photo section was located near the loading docks. It was previously used as a seating section for cosplayers to rest and people to eat.

Plum resident Derick Harper has attended several conventions over the years.

“The new aisle spacing and moving the food vendors to the end was a good idea,” he said. “The convention was fun and overall well run.”

He said he was looking forward to seeing actor Jon Bernthal (Fury, Netflix’s “Punisher”) in Steel City in April.

Violet Bish-Hawkins of Ohio-based DHD Designs started out as a Steel City fan and has decided to join this year as a company.

“I love this comic,” she said. “It’s actually pretty awesome. It is one of the first that I know apart from the one in Pittsburgh, which was Wizard World. I didn’t particularly like Wizard World. I loved Steel City so decided to keep coming back and now I’m a seller.

She showcased tumblers, epoxy pens, glittery wine lessons, and other artwork.

Bish-Hawkins said the aisles have been widened compared to the August show, leaving more room for setup and interaction with customers.

One of the famous artists at the convention was designer Joe Wos of Oakmont.

The WQED “Cartoon Academy” Emmy nominated star said he usually travels to other states and countries for conventions, and felt it was a good opportunity to reconnect with local fans afterwards. over a decade.

“Usually I don’t do local conventions,” he said. “This is the first time I’ve been back to Steel City in probably 12 years. I made the tour. Before covid, I mostly did traveling conventions. I thought I needed to reconnect with this local audience.

“It’s weird for me to understand the concept of a famous artist,” Wos said. “All I do is draw funny pictures, but it’s awesome. “

He and other artists participated in Quick Sketch, an activity in which they created artwork on location and raffled off to raise funds. They raised about $ 1,650 for the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh in just a few hours.

Convention officials said they had 100% renewed vendor tables, a first for an immediate conclusion of a convention, but no surprise to welcome Mike Devine.

He said businesses, agents and celebrities are talking about their experiences at the convention and many want to return.

Devine hosts the costume contest as well as celebrity Q&A and Q&A contests in the Events Hall at the back of the convention center.

“I always make sure that every time a celebrity walks in here she gets a standing ovation the minute she takes the stage, and she remembers it,” he said. “I make sure these people are on their feet, which makes them feel like a million bucks. this gives you an excellent question-and-answer session. I have been here for 10 years. I’ve seen it grow begging celebrities to come here. Now, this is one of those things where the agents say, ‘When can we come back? “

Costume contest

One of the classic convention activities is the costume contest on the last day of the three-day weekend. Children, adolescents and adults participate.

The awards range from Best of Crafting, Best Concept, Best of Show, and Host’s Choice.

Amanda Johnson, 21, of Clairon took home the adult division’s best concept award with her recreation of the tornado in “Wizard of Oz”.

She said it was made with a reused laundry basket, lots of poly-yarn, cotton and mesh netting as well as horses, cows and other plastic figures that were blown away by the wind. .

Johnson also wore long striped socks and ruby ​​red slippers.

“I’ve been loving ‘Wizard of Oz’ since I was 2, and I got the idea because I didn’t want to be just Dorothy or anything like that,” she said. “I wanted to do something different. So I created the tornado because I had never seen anything like it before.

Almost 60 teenagers and 71 adults took part in the competition, a few steps from a record of competitors.

Johnson said she enjoys seeing everyone’s creativity on display and being around people who share their passion inspires confidence.

“It makes me feel accepted,” she said.

Michael DiVittorio is a writer for Tribune-Review. You can contact Michael at 412-871-2367, [email protected] or via Twitter .