3 Rivers Comicon is a comic convention hosted by New Dimension Comics that was originally held in an apartment store inside of the Century III Mall outside of Pittsburgh, PA. With the mall enclosure being unexpectedly closed this past year, 3 Rivers Comicon found a new location in the old Macy’s department store on the Waterfront in Homestead, PA. With a new and much nicer location than before, 2019 looked to be a great year for the convention.
There has been plenty of wannabe comic convention in Pittsburgh since the end of the Pittsburgh Comicon. Most have focused on either high-end celebrities or flea market style comic book sales and were either extremely overpriced or lacking any kind of activities and entertainment. 3 Rivers Comicon’s motto is that they are “putting the comics back in comicon” and that has always been their main focus. Whether it’s the large amount of space dedicated to local artists, writers and nerd culture craftsmen or the guest list of big name comic artists and writers such as Mark Waid, Ron Frenz, Wayne Faucher or even the booths dedicated to big-name publishers such as Valiant and Top Cow, 3 Rivers Comicon is reminiscent of the original Pittsburgh Comicon like no other convention since.
Other than the large area dedicated to wares and goods of all kinds of geek culture, there are also activities such as the Quick Sketch and charity auctions, panels dedicated to the psychology of comic heroes and villains, Kickstarting your own comic, cosplay tips and tricks and a VIP afterparty where a special brew of comicon ale is provided to guests.
Unfortunately I was only able to make it out to the convention on Saturday due to living in Pennsylvania and being sick all the time since it’s perpetually a rainy day in October every day. I did manage to catch some of the Kickstarting Your Own Comic panel early on in the day before walking the floor to in pursuit of first run Mirage Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comics among other things. Inside the main entrance there were plenty of free goodies such as posters, giveaway comics, buttons and bookmarks to take home. As with every year, each attendee is given a free graphic novel of your choosing from a selection of nearly two dozen long boxes. I managed to pick up another “Darkness” trade from Top Cow. There was also a wheel for you to spin to win even more goodies. My spin landed on “2 Free Comics” and I dug out a KISS comic and a Transformers one. That would make for a good crossover!
Making my way throughout the floor, there were some interesting vendors spots such as a booth with custom painted Masters of the Universe toys and playsets as well as a parrot rescue group who also happened to bring along at least four parrots that were just hanging out enjoying the moment. There were rows upon rows of comic vendor peddling everything from Golden and Silver Age comics to 50 cent and $1 comics. There were custom LEGO minis, Funko Pops, comic book coasters, custom creature creations and retro toys and posters galore.
Walking through the Artist’s Alley, there were quite a few familiar faces and lots of new faces with numerous genres represented from horror to manga-style for perusal. There seemed to be a lot more artists than the last few years and it was good to see a lot of local Western PA talent represented.
While I’m not sure of the size comparisons in regards to the old location versus the new location but things were set up really well this year with a great flow from vendor to artists and other various booths. People that I talked to generally favored the layout and relative ease of finding things on the provided maps.
After a few hours of roaming and wondering, my time with the 3 Rivers Comicon was over for this year. I would have liked to check out the charity auction this year among some of the other panels on Sunday but it just wasn’t meant to be. In regards to the show, it was quite enjoyable, the air conditioning was functioning properly at this location, the atmosphere was fun and vibrant and there were tons of quality goods and talent represented. I can see 3 Rivers Comicon finding a permanent home at this location for the future. I can say that they have always stayed true to their motto and avoided the celebrity rush by sticking to their comic roots. There just aren’t any conventions in Wester PA that focus on the best things about the comic books…the talent that makes them happen. Keep up the good work and see you guys next year…same Bat-time…same Bat-channel!