JACKSON – Even Superman couldn’t hold back the rain, but the show went on at Six Flags Great Adventure for the second Garden State Comic Festival.
The event drew comic book fans, cosplay enthusiasts and fans of actor Dean Cain, star of the ABC TV series “Lois & Clark The New Adventures of Superman” from 1993 to 1997.
Cain was the special guest at the event held at the amusement park, which is associated with Warner Bros. studios, which owns DC Comics.
The costume groups, DC Cosplayers East and the Legion of Supervillains, added to the atmosphere of the soggy day wearing costumes of DC Comics superheroes and supervillains.
Dave O’Hare, one of the two founders of the event said “last year’s event had close to 4,000 attendees in the park. We have around 60 vendors and we have activities involving some of our artist guests to teach kids how to draw comics.”
Danielle Pierson, Newton, donned the familiar black, red and white costume of the villainous Harley Quinn who originated in the Batman Animated series of the 1990s.
“Most of our members live in northern New Jersey. We make our own costumes from materials we buy and modify and alter,” Pierson said.
Mike Hemmig of Red Lion, Pa. marched outside the Hall of Justice attraction in his Robot Superman costume which he said took two weeks to construct and was made for this event. “Dave asked me to come out so I wanted to make something special.”
Attendees could have their photos taken with any of the cosplayers (literally “costumed players”) along with Superman and Wonder Woman who were provided by the amusement park.
For independent comic book artists like Woodbridge resident Angel Santiago, it was a chance to showcase his art, sell some prints and promote his own forthcoming self-published comic book. “I love the superhero genre. My book though has a focus on the protagonist and the antagonist. You get to see the good and the bad guy and why they do what they do. Everyone thinks what they are doing is the right thing.”
The Fletcher family of Winslow enjoyed their time at the show. Chris Fletcher, 11, sported a Joker T-shirt while his 8-year-old brother Shawn donned a Captain America T-shirt for the event.
“We came out to meet Dean Cain and have our photo taken with him,” Chris said.
Their mother Jamie said she was also looking forward to meeting Cain. “I watched the show when I was growing up.” Her mother Laura Dattilo also watched the show. “I came along to see him too,” Dattilo said.
It wouldn’t be a comic book show without vendors selling comics and East Side Mags of Montclair was doing a brisk business. The interest generated in comic books is far from waning according to store managers Jeff Beck and Mike Valle.
“DC Comics is outselling Marvel at least at our store. They seem to be more solid in their content and stories,” Beck said.
“Marvel is focusing more on their movies,” Valle added.
Cain remarked during his question and answer session, that despite his love and association with Superman, he also enjoyed the Marvel Comics film franchise.
“They are really doing well with their films. I enjoyed seeing Deadpool 2 last week with my son though I didn’t feel it was as good as the first one,” Cain said.
Cain was slated for a spot playing professional football with the Buffalo Bills but a knee injury sidelined him and redirected him to an acting career.
Before his time as Clark Kent/Superman, Cain had roles in TV shows like Beverly Hills 90210.
“I was the guy who broke up Brenda and Dillion on the show. It was a pretty popular series with young people back then.”
Cain said he felt his co-star Teri Hatcher who played Lois Lane was his favorite. “Margot Kidder was great in the first series of Superman films, may she rest in peace, but Teri was the best Lois ever.”
When asked if he felt stepping into the costume and donning the cape of the iconic character celebrating his 80th anniversary this year, might lead to typecasting, Cain said “I was 26-years old at the time. It was the perfect job for me. It was a wonderful role.”
“Superman embodies all that is good and is always trying to help people. That is why I feel the more modern version of him (in the recent films) which is darker is something I can’t relate to. Superman is about what is right and hope. There isn’t much of that in the new version. I think though that at 180 he’ll still be great.”
More recently Cain played the recurring role of Dr. Jerimiah Danvers in the CW series “Supergirl,” playing that character’s adopted Earth father. He said that he hopes that he will be asked back to appear in more episodes next season.
At the conclusion of Cain’s session, several law enforcement officers were brought on stage to be recognized for their vocation. “These are the real heroes,” Cain said.
Among the police officers present were Mike Basso and Cherrick Daniels of the Jackson Police Department. “I watched him in the show as a kid,” Basso said.