Frankenstein’s Monster shuffles up behind you. There are backdrops perfect for a photo-op with a vampire. Looming above the crowd is a two-story Grim Reaper, chanting and pointing at the humans below.
If this sounds like the set for a horror movie set, you’re not far off. It’s the Horror Fan Edition of Steel City Con.
Hosted every few months in the Monroeville Convention Center, Steel City Con is Pittsburgh’s equivalent to ComicCon- vendors, artists, and celebrities all gather for three days of events and shopping. This edition of the con, however, was done in conjunction with the Living Dead Weekend’s Dawn of the Dead reunion, held at the nearby Monroeville Mall (where the film was shot). It was sponsored by Hundred Acres Manor and featured small-scale sets and costumed employees throughout the show floor.
As is usual for such events, celebrity guests from both current and nostalgic properties were present to take photos with fans and sign autographs. Of course, as this was the Horror Fan Edition, the stars of iconic horror films were in attendance. These guests included Linda Blair (Regan in The Exorcist), Tony Moran (Michael Myers from the first Halloween film), and Tom Savini (Blades and makeup artist for Dawn of the Dead).
When not meeting the Horror-wood Elite, fans could browse the vendor’s hall and artist’s alley. Vendors including Mutant Cartel, Plushie In The USA, and Gnome Prince Studios sold everything fan-related, from art to figures to clothes and more. Candles were a hot item, with several booths devoted to them, including Bubble and Geek and Dy & The Guy. For those with the munchies, the snack bar sold hot and cold snacks, while vendors offered treats such as dry ice ice cream, artisanal chocolates, and even moonshine.
However, the event was less crowded than previous installments. Attendance didn’t seem to be as high, lines were short, and fewer tables were set up. The general consensus among attendees and vendors alike was that this event was sprung on them- one regular vendor claimed they only found out two months in advance. Some explained that a similar convention was being held in Altoona the same weekend, and with Pride going on downtown, it could explain the smaller crowds.
That wasn’t to say that it was uneventful or lacking in content. Aside from the celebrities and shopping, there was a costume contest and panels about screen writing and horror makeup were on offer. It simply didn’t have the same level of enthusiasm that usually characterizes Steel City Con. Surprisingly, little had to do with Dawn of the Dead- although events relating to the film were held at the Monroeville Mall, including Q&As and screenings.
Whether or not this Horror Fan Edition of Pittsburgh’s Comic-Con was a success remains to be seen. It’s entirely possible that future cons will have similar themes- maybe one devoted to sci-fi or fantasy. Either way, it was a geek’s paradise for a weekend, and a reminder that spooky isn’t confined to October.
Steel City Comic Con also held their usual tri-annual show from August 11th to August 13th. Much of the con was the same, but without the horror theme and a larger turnout, both from vendors and in attendance. The result was a much more infectious and enthusiastic crowd. Many of the vendors listed previously returned, but there were also booths for 42 Nerdtastic Place, Chroma Coma, and Sub Rosa Tea. Guests included Tara Reid (American Pie, Sharknado) and Ralph Macchio (The Karate Kid). The next event will be from December 8th to the 10th. More information is available here.