Let your Halloween costume pull a double this year – RI Comic Con is earlier in the season than usual. Held November 2 through 4, the weekend event is expected to bring in 80,000 to 90,000 sci-fi, fantasy, action, comic, wrestling, gaming, music and – let’s just say “pop culture” fans to downtown Providence. With a convention footprint that spans the Dunkin Donuts Center, Convention Center and the Omni, trying to classify the pirates, Star Wars cosplayers and borgs who will descend upon downtown into any one genre is, in fact, futile.
If you’re a RICC newbie, publicist Susan Soares has two tips.
“Get your tickets before the doors open,” Soares says. “Every year we see hundreds of fans waiting in line to buy tickets and then we sell out. That’s heartbreaking for us.”
Her second piece of advice speaks to the show’s tagline: the biggest show in the smallest state. “Don’t overwhelm yourself. Try to target something to see. Don’t expect to see everything. It’s impossible. We bring in so many guests and have activities, but in no way do we expect people to see everything and everyone. Be mindful of that and don’t set yourself up to be disappointed. Be reasonable, pick out what you want to see and have a great time.”
This year, RICC has made changes to help fans see more of the show, including a significant change sure to please seasoned convention goers.
“We finally, finally have the opportunity to have multiple entrances to the show,” Soares says. “This is a long-awaited change. We’re going to have a lot of entrances now. We’ll have two primary entrances, one in the Dunkin Donuts Center and then a second entrance into the Convention Center. We’ve been given access, finally, to the bottom floor of the convention center so we can filter fans through that way. We’re also offering ADA entrances.”
For past attendees who may have spent hours waiting in line in single digit temperatures last year, or anyone who has experienced the bottleneck between the Dunkin Donuts Center and the Convention Center, the new traffic pattern is sure to be a welcome relief.
Between vendors, costume contests, Geek Speed Dating, panels, the GeekFest Film Fest, gaming tournaments and unparalleled people watching, there’s plenty to do at RI Comic Con. Hell, you could even get tattooed. But undoubtedly the reason for the show’s popularity and growth — and its primary draw — is the show’s celebrity guests.
Headliners this year include Tim Curry, Hayden Christiansen, Kiefer Sutherland and Brienne of Tarth herself, Gwendoline Christie. Harry Potter fans also get coups in the forms of Tom Felton (Draco Malfoy) and Natalia Tena (Tonks). On the comics side of the house, Rob Liefeld, who co-created the character Deadpool, is offering VIP and private fan experiences that include bonuses like a signed The New Mutants #1 variant and what’s being promoted as the “best selfie ever.” (Although, can it really top the Lost Boys photo-op that Kiefer Sutherland is offering with Jason Patric?)
Helping fans meet their favorite guest, make their photo ops (back indoors, by the way, after last year’s brief foray in an external tent) and maximize their time is top of mind for RICC’s organizers.
“One of the things we have planned is that the volunteers and staffing outside will actually navigate fans, based on who they plan to see first. For example, we know Tim Curry is going to be in the Dunkin Donuts Center,” says Soares. “If he’s your first stop, we’re going to suggest people enter through there. Or if someone wants to see the kids from IT, we’re going to direct you to the Convention Center.”
The idea of a weekend where the original Pennywise and the kids from 2017’s Derry, Maine, get to hang out in the same complex is the sort of surreal fan moment that RICC is all about.
“I know everyone was excited last year about Sebastian Stan and Paul Bettany (Avengers), but this year, I feel we got to the heart of the fans,” says Soares. “We got to the people who they really, truly, want to see.”
Visit ricomiccon.com for up-to-date information on appearances, schedules, and tickets.