GAteway comic Con
Gateway Comic con is a brand new convention which was created and run by the Anime St. Louis team. Gateway made its debut in Collinsville, Illinois at the Gateway center...which for several years was the hosting venue of Anime St. Louis. This was until the con's growth made a new venue a necessity. This convention was a rare Saturday and Sunday only con, which is a change from the format normally seen at Anime St. Louis (ASTL). I had high hopes for this convention since it had the backing from ASTL Alumni. For their first year I would say that Gateway Comic Con is off to a good start and my friends and I had a really good time. So if you want to know more, well here is the low down.
Above: Karaoke with voice actress guest, Deedee Magno Hall. Below: Seifer's Stitches at their panel on Cosplay Organization.
Prices for this convention were extremely reasonable with a 2 Day badge priced at $25. Those who pre-registered for their 2 day badge were given the discounted price of $20. Single day passes were $15 regardless of which day you planned to attend. The only downside was the small additional fee when pre-registering for the event through Eventbrite.
Con staff were easily found and accessible for assistance during the convention. Con Chair Jeremy once again could be seen overseeing the operations and doing his best to ensure all con goers were enjoying themselves. Staff and volunteers were friendly and did a good job of checking wrist bands and handling the decent sized crowd.
The Gateway Center in Collinsville was very easy to get to and, as I have mentioned in previous reviews, was an appropriately sized venue for a first year convention. The convention center itself is not very picturesque when it comes to cosplay photography however it is well lit enough for your standard hall shots and there are locations outside the convention can be utilized for a more aesthetically pleasing photo. There is also a decent assortment of areas surrounding the convention center including nearby hotels where you could find some photo worthy spots. The Gateway center is located nearby a bunch options for con goers when it comes to food. The convention center itself was on the more expensive side when it came to food and drinks as I have mentioned before and thankfully with all the nearby options it was easy to avoid paying them.
The Gateway Center is easy to travel to. They have a good sized parking lot and it was easy to find parking throughout the weekend. For those who are traveling to this convention, they were thankfully met with several reasonably priced hotel locations including the DoubleTree and the La Quinta which made for easy walking in cosplay to and from the convention.
Cosplay/Voice Acting/Musical Guests
Above: Steampunk Agent Owl as the Huntress from DC Comics daring the rock wall climbing feature at Gateway Comic con run by the awesome Upper Limits: Rock, Gym, and Pro Shop. Below: RenChan, YomuChan, and Steampunk Agent Owl as the Birds of Prey from DC Comics. Photography by Limitless Aerial Photography.
Gateway had some pretty decent guests with voice actors Dee Dee Magno Hall (Steven Universe/Doc McStuffins) and Kyle Hebert (Dragonball Super/Wreck-It Ralph). However with this convention being a comic related one it would have benefited from having more comic book property related voice acting. There was one guest who could be considered comic related and that was Ian McGinty who is known for working on Nickelodeon's Invader Zim as well as Marvel's Rocket Raccoon. Another noticeably missing ingredient to the convention was the lack of cosplay guests on the roster which was a bit of a disappointment for someone who looks forward to seeing up and coming cosplayers in the community.
There were not very many panels going on for Gateway's line up but there were some good ones to be found. Seifer's Stitches panel on cosplay organization was not only informative but also fun to participate in and Dee Dee Hall's Karaoke panel was definitely a crowd favorite. Other panels of course included the standard "every con" panels like your Cosplay 101s and Voice actor Q&As but Gateway also offered up some other interesting choices such as speed dating, mini escape room experiences with Unchained Escape Rooms, and even the nerdy Night lounge which is a known staple from the Anime St. Louis menu of events. A burlesque show with the Dirty Dancing Dolls also served to entertain Gateway's crowd. Again I only wish there would have been more comic orientated panel and event content since the convention was supposed to be a "comic con".
One of the best things about Gateway was the awesome vendor room/artist alley. The vendor room was a decent size and had lots to see and purchase. Patrons were able to easily find Japanese snacks, figures, and custom items! Gateway's vendor room also offered more entertain as well with a super cool rock climbing wall ran by Upper Limits: Rock, Gym, and Pro Shop as well as the Limitless Aerial Photography photo booth where you could get photographed against a green screen and transported in the the world of your cosplay, favorite comic, show, and more. I have one critique and if you haven't noticed a theme, by now you might.... there was not enough strictly comic related merchandise in the vendor hall or with artists. Unlike some of the others I have seen complain about this on Gateway's event page I will fully admit that there was not a complete lack of comic related items and I will also admit I had an appreciation for not experiencing the "garage sale" like comic book rows that are common with events labeled as "Comic cons" but still Gateway definitely could have had more options for those looking for more comic related items and less pop culture and anime ones.
Above: RenChan as Golden Age Catwoman with YomuChan at the VA Karaoke panel with Dee Dee Hall . Below: RenChan with an adorable Harley Quinn cosplayers in the Gateway Comic Con vendor room.
Unlike most conventions I attend I was not only able to go to Gateway's cosplay contest but was also a walk-on feature with my cosplay buddies YomuChan and Steampunk Agent Owl as the Gotham Birds of Prey from DC's Batman comics. The contest was held twice on both Saturday and Sunday which was a bit unusual but it was nice for those who were unable to attend both days to still get a chance to enjoy. The contest was small and was more focused on small walk-ons and less strict construction judging, well at least for the Sunday contest. The winners, including our amazing friend and cosplayer, Seifer's Stitches, received a 2019 full weekend Anime St. Louis badge as their prize.
Con Program Book
Gateway Comic Con did not have a program book for its attendees but did provide a nicely printed and easy to understand pamphlet for the scheduled events and information that one usually needs to know for a successful convention experience. I did miss a book however as it usually gives more information about featured voice actors, artists, guests, and panels than a 1 page pamphlet can hope to hold but it was definitely workable.
Our Con Highlights
My favorite thing about Gateway was the VA Karaoke panel. It was so fun to interact with the voice actor, Ms. Hall on a level I had never gotten to before and serenading her with my friend's and my rendition of the Birds of Prey jingle from Batman the Brave and the Bold was such a cool experience. I would definitely recommend anyone in a decent driving distance give this convention a chance next year for their 2nd run since this year was pretty fun and had a bunch of neat things to offer. My only recommendation for next year is the inclusion of more comic related guests and comic related vendors in the vendor room for a true "comic con" experience.
REVIEW BY RENCHAN