Hotline to the Underground
by Joe Viglione
An Interview with Gary Sohmers NorthEast Collectibles Extravaganza
We’re talking to Gary Sohmers about the July 2–4 NorthEast ComiCon:
Hi Gary, how many years has the NorthEast ComiCon existed?
GS: Aloha … I began the NorthEast Collectibles Extravaganza in 1985 at the old NorthEast Trade Center in Woburn, moved to to Bayside Expo Center for many years, then to Shirners Auditorium in Wilmington, and now I’m happily producing at the Boxboro Regency Hotel and Conference Center in Boxborough MA. It evolved to be the NorthEast ComicCon & Collectibles Extravaganza in 2014 … like Ringling and Barnum but I was both.
JV: Most people feel the July 4th Weekend is beach party time; but there are still millions
of people who don’t flee to the oceanside…Boxborough for 4th of July, will there be pools
and fireworks, or is all the partying inside?
GS: Many people do not enjoy the beach or hot sun, but enjoy the air conditioned comfort surrounded by cool stuff and interesting people. The hotel has an indoor pool for hotel guests, we have rock and roll fireworks from the Fools, NRBQ, Barrence Whitfield, Tsunami of Sound and Walter Sickert.
JV: There seems to be more music this year NRBQ and The Fools sounds like fun…but there
is more than just concerts, tell us about this year’s event!
GS: We’ve always had concerts … Micky Dolenz, Andrew WK, Danny Klein’s Full House, many more … because we want to give people their money’s worth, and expose them to music they may not have heard such as NRBQ (the unofficial house band on the Simpsons seasons 10-12).
Besides music we have careers in the Creative Arts programming with artists, authors, creators, talent, producers and others with insight to share. We have celebrity guests signing autographs and doing photo ops (for a fee), artists doing original art commissions and signing, Marvel and DC legend Jim Shooter will be signing books free all day Sunday, plus our unique Create-A-Character Cosplay contest with cash prizes.
JV: Southern New Hampshire COMIC BASH of June 12th, three weeks before the
NorthEast ComiCon, what is the affiliation? Free admission?
GS: Just a friend … like a club meeting not competition.
JV: Back in the 1960s and early 70s there were the Boskone and NorEascon science fiction
events with legendary actor Whit Bissell and Castle of Frankenstein editor Calvin T. Beck.
Did you ever attend those older shows?
GS: I didn’t move to this area until 1983 and began working on Lansdowne Street in 1984. I started these shows in order to merge many categories of collectibles into one event. I added celebrities in 1985 when I hired Adam West to attend a Collectibles Extravaganza … and his very last show before he passed was also a Collectibles Extravaganza.
JV: Readercon 31 was started by members of the Boston Rock and Roll scene three decades ago.
It’s an amazing world of books. https://www.readercon.org/ August 13–15, 2021 This year is
online only. Wonder how that will work out compared to your live event. Have you attended?
JV: I think there’s a different group of readers for comic books vs science fiction books, though there
is a thread. Are the audiences different enough that some day your show and Readercon could
combine at a World Trade Center or larger venue? It could be a wild party!
GS: I am not interested in the “stadium” sized shows anymore … we have a family friendly educational experience where everyone can have fun and gain something individually … and people can afford to buy stuff because all their money didn’t go to overpriced facilities, parking and celebrities.
JV: What’s different this year than the shows we’ve had the pleasure of visiting in the past.?
GS: A new “after the plague” vibe I’m sure … escapism into fantasy, superheros and fun. Celebrity guests include voice actor Billy West, from Futurama and Ren & Stimpy who began his career at WBCN, plus Nicholas brendon (Buffy), Erica Schroeder (Pokemon), Vincent Martella (Phineas & Ferb), John Capodice (Ace Ventura), The Amazing Keskin and more.
JV: What do you have in store for the future?
GS: Our next Northeast Comic Con & Collectibles Extravaganza will be Thanksgiving Weekend Nov. 26-28 at the Boxboro Regency. I am also finishing my show Beasties: A Sci-Fi Rock Opera, featuring the singing talents of Barrence Whitfield, Dave Bickler (Survivor “Eye Of The Tiger”) and UK legend Chris Farlowe (“Out of Time”) hoping to have a record released this year and build towards a stage show for Broadway.
JV: Anything you would like to say to Medford News Weekly / Somerville News Weekly readers?
GS: Aloha … come to the ComicCon … Guaranteed Not Boring and Free Parking
JV: Thank you for your time, Gary
Thank you very much
Gary Sohmers | LinkedIn
Beasties: A Sci-Fi Rock Opera
NorthEast Comic Con & Collectibles Extravaganza, Pop Culture Expo
Gary Sohmers / Appraisers / Antiques Roadshow / PBS
Madcity Music History
Gary Sohmers Wikipedia
Gary Sohmers IMDB