3 Rivers Comicon: Putting Comics Back in Conventions

Apr 18, 2018 by

During the third weekend of May, a couple of Pittsburgh nerds are hoping to make comic con all about comics again. 3 Rivers Comicon — which runs May 19 – 20 in West Mifflin, Pennsylvania — is the latest addition to the many conventions in the Pittsburgh area.

New Dimension Comics owner Todd McDevitt and general manager Jon Engel launched 3 Rivers Comicon in 2016 after hearing complaints from customers about the increasing cost of conventions and how the shift to an array of pop culture had left comics in the shadows. “I felt like we were almost being challenged. No one said it, but we made it our mission to do it,” McDevitt said. “This is going to be a comic convention. If you want something else, go somewhere else.”

McDevitt and Engel both have years of experience under their utility belts, attending and also working at comic conventions. From that involvement, as well as feedback from customers, they have the knowledge for what will work at their own event.

One major goal is to make 3 Rivers Comicon affordable. Admission is $10 per day or $16 for a weekend pass. Tickets are available through the convention’s website or at any of the six New Dimension Comics locations. They will also be available at the door. Guests include SPIDER-MAN and THOR artist Ron Frenz; fantasy, pin-up, and comic artist Joe Jusko; NIGHTWING and DAREDEVIL artist Scott McDaniel; SPIDER-GIRL and SENSATIONAL SHE-HULK artist Patrick Ollife; writer and artist Tim Truman, known for his work on GRIMJACK, CONAN, HAWKWORLD, JONAH HEX, and other titles; and many others. Weekend events include panels, gaming, photo opportunities and costume contests for kids and adults. Sunday is Family Day at 3 Rivers Comicon, with kid-focused programming all day. There is also the very popular beer party on Saturday evening.

Tickets to the convention’s beer party are $70 and include early admission to both days of the convention, a free graphic novel, entry to the beer release party, catered food and three free bottles of beer, one from each year! “The beer party was the aspect we sold the most of last year,” McDevitt said. “We had people who didn’t care for comics and came for the beer, and people who didn’t care about beer, but came for the comics.”

3 Rivers Comicon has commissioned a custom beer by Helltown Brewing featuring original bottle label art by Joe Jusko. Witchblade Barrel Aged Russian Imperial Stout will be brewed with coffee added this year. This beer will only be made exclusively for 3 Rivers Comicon and New Dimension Comics.

Let’s hope that Todd and Jon save a few bottles of this year’s special brewed craft beer to help us celebrate PulpFest 2018 from July 26 through July 29 at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Pittsburgh – Cranberry, just north of Pennsylvania’s “Steel City.” Although PulpFest will not have its own beer, the convention will still have a lot of great programming. Add to that a dealers’ room featuring tens of thousands of pulp magazines, vintage paperbacks, digests, men’s adventure and true crime magazines, original art, first edition hardcovers, genre fiction, series books, reference books, dime novels and story papers, Big Little Books, B-Movies, serials and related paper collectibles, old-time radio shows, and Golden and Silver Age comic books, as well as newspaper adventure strips. We’ll also have a con suite featuring some great beer and snacks. So what are you waiting for? Start making your plans to join us at the “pop culture center of the universe” for PulpFest 2018.

(Our illustration is the banner for the 3 Rivers Comicon home page. The convention is organized by Todd McDevitt and Jon Engel of New Dimension Comics, with six stores in the Pittsburgh region.)