When most people talk about Jekyll Island, there are a lot of things that come to mind. Beautiful, mostly empty beaches, protected wilderness covering the vast majority of the island, gorgeous historical landmarks, the famous Jekyll Island Club Hotel, the Georgia Sea Turtle Center, and of course, a great place for a quiet, romantic getaway. However, what few people- and even fewer outside the realm of fandom – may think of is that every Decemeber, this breathtaking, remote island with a popultion of just under 1,000 plays host to a big, weekend-long multi-fandom convention. I am of course talking about Jekyll Comic Con, who just wrapped up its 2016 offering, and was kind enough to invite Nerd Nation down as guests!
Located at the Jekyll Island Convention Center, in the small part of the island that’s actually inhabited/developed (most of the island is a combination of undeveloped, proteceted nature preserve and a few scattered historical landmarks) Jekyll Comic Con 2016 featured tons of vendors, gaming, panels, Q&As, and celebrity guests – including Mike Zapcic and Ming Chen (of AMC’s ‘Comic Book Men’), Veronica Taylor (the voice of Ash Ketchum in pretty much every ‘Pokemon’ thing ever), William Tokarsky (of Adult Swim’s ‘Too Many Cooks’ and ‘Your Pretty Face is Going to Hell’), voice actor Quinton Flynn (of Metal Gear Solid, Kingdom Hearts, Naruto, Romper Room, and several others), Michael Koske, Greg Crews, and Michelle Helmeczy (of AMC’s ‘The Walking Dead’), and more comic book artists and writers than I would even attempt to name out, just to name a few, as well as cosplayers, fan groups, the 1950s Batmobile, and all the usual sights of any good con worth its salt.
During the daytime hours, it was con business as usual, with plenty of shopping, autograph hunting, gaming, and fun activities fit for the whole family to enjoy. After dark, however, things got pretty cranked up in the party aspect – as one should expect from a big convention on an island in the ocean, after all – and it delivered in spades! A short walk (as in, maybe a couple dozen feet away) from the convention center at McGarvey’s Wee Pub – a shockingly authentic Irish pub with some excellent food and taps – congoers and guests packed in for the after-hours partying, which featured Nerdcore DJ Drew Love and a mindblowing (not to mention jaw-dropping) performance by the beatuiful ladies of the Browncoat Bellydance troupe who treated audiences to a uniquely nerdy take on traditional bellydancing.
But perhaps the coolest thing about this convention was the fact that just about anywhere you went, from the convention center to the party spots to the nearby hotels, you were in direct view of the Atlantic Ocean, and never more than a short walk away from it, or anything at this con, for that matter! The crowd was also surprisingly large, especially given the tiny population of the island (as mentioned above the entire population Jekyll Island is just under 1,000 – yes, you read that correctly, ONE thousand) and although I do not have the official attendance numbers at my disposal, I can easily say from the looks of it, this con at least tripled that, which is no small feat for any con.
The Bottom Line:
Overall, Jekyll Comic Con is one of the better conventions I traveled to all year in 2016, hands down. Convention organizer Doug Brantley and his entire staff were very much on their game, and produced an immensely enjoyable weekend of nerdy, geeky, fun from top to bottom. I’ll freely admit that it’s not easy to impress me after doing conventions for as long as I have, but this one definitely managed to do just that. With the rumored addition of a film festival, bigger guest lists, and even more activities, I can definitely see this con continuing to grow into a prime destination for years to come. I know Nerd Nation will definitely be back next year, and I’d highly suggest all of you do the same. It’s well worth the trip, and its incredible island location certainly doesn’t hurt, either!