Comic book fans meet artists

AUGUSTA. Winter Fest organizer is planning the first Garden State Anime Fest in April at the Sussex County Fairgrounds.

| 31 Jan 2024 | 06:17

Hundreds of people shopped for comic books and related items and met some of the industry’s artists at Garden State Comic Fest’s Winter Fest ’24 last weekend in Augusta.

Some came in costume, portraying their favorite characters from the comics or anime, to the second annual event at the Sussex County Fairgrounds.

Dave O’Hare of Hamburg started Comic Fest 10 years ago. This was the fifth Winter Fest event, and he said it was similar to the 2023 event, which attracted 2,800 during a weekend.

Garden State Comic Fest also holds a far larger event - about six times the size - in the summer at Mennen Arena in Morris Township.

New this spring will be the Garden State Anime Fest, planned April 20-21 at the Sussex County Fairgrounds.

O’Hare said he doesn’t know much about anime, but it has a huge following among younger people. “There really is nothing in this area for them. So we saw an opening.”

He pointed out that the fairgrounds is eager to hold more events like Winter Fest to the county.

Garden State Anime Fest will be larger than Winter Fest and will include more programming, such as concerts, panels of speakers, karaoke and contests, as well as a car show.

O’Hare said more than 100 vendors, including artists, had booths at Winter Fest. Admission was $10.

”This is for the fans to come out and enjoy themselves,” he said.

Among the artists was Keith Williams, who is best known for illustrating “The Phantom” for more than a decade with George Olesen and “Superman” with John Byrne.

Williams said he enjoys meeting the fans. “I never realized how many people have read the books” that he worked on.

He came to Winter Fest because “I love the guys that are running it.” “I always have a good time at the show.”