It was now or never for the Albany Comic Con, which returns on Sunday for the first time since the pandemic began.
“After two years now, I think we either have to get back to doing something as safely as we can or just give up trying to do it ever again,” said organizer John Belskis, who owns Excellent Adventures Comics in Ballston Spa.
He’s run the Albany Comic Con for 17 years or so, gathering comic book artists, authors, cosplayers and others in the Capital Region for bi-annual conventions at the Red Lion Hotel.
That all came to a halt at the start of the pandemic.
Belskis tried to reschedule the convention a few times in 2020 and then the Red Lion Hotel went out of business.
“Then we had to try to pick up the pieces and figure out what was next,” Belskis said. “Trying to find a new venue was probably the most difficult thing because nobody could really tell me anything.”
Finally, this year, they were able to schedule a show at the Polish Community Center on Washington Avenue Extension, which came with a few perks.
“. . . we used to use multiple rooms in the hotel. People would have to migrate back and forth. This is one large room so everything will be under one roof and one room. I’m thankful for that. It’s easier to navigate for us,” Belskis said.
The Center also serves lunch, which wasn’t available at the previous site.
The venue won’t be the only new aspect this year. Attendees will be required to wear masks and the con will focus solely on comic book artists, writers, shops, etc.
“In past events, we’ve done cosplay contests and we’ve done charity art auctions and things like that. I’ve limited that with this one. We’re not doing any of those events because I really want to migrate people through the venue, let them shop for a couple of hours so we don’t have a lot of people standing around waiting for events,” Belskis said.
Some of those guest artists and writers include Tom Raney, who has illustrated titles like “Annihilation Conquest” and “Ultimate X-Men,” and Ron Marz who has written for “Silver Surfer” and “Green Lantern.”
“We’ve got about 15-16 guests that all are working professionals in the industry,” Belskis said. “My show is comic-centric. We try to keep it about comic books and comic book art. I don’t get into the celebrity thing too much . . . My focus is promoting comics and trying to get a next generation of comic book fans and readers.”
Another goal for this convention? Getting back to some semblance of normalcy.
“It’s been so long and things are so different now I think a little bit of normalcy in your life, doing things that you love . . . is important,” Belskis said.
The Albany Comic Con will run from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday at the Polonaise (Polish Community Center) 225 Washington Ave. Ext. Tickets are $10 and will be sold at the door and at Excellent Adventures Comics in Ballston Spa.
For more information visit albanycomicbookshow.com.