I had forgotten all about ConnectiCon when I saw a billboard for it as I was driving down I-95. We’ve never gone—in all honesty, we were never sure it would be worth it But we were looking for something cool to do this weekend so my husband and I decided to check it out.
I’m not a huge comic book fan, but I have spent my fair share of time in comic and gaming shops (not always by choice) and read a few years of X-Men. In fact, in a previous life, after I had become pretty well versed in the Marvel Universe Team, I actually got the opportunity to project manage, research, and write parts of X-Men Collector’s Value Guide. Mostly I am interested in girly gothic graphic novels like Gloom Cookie (see previous article to see my Lex tattoo) and indie comics like Fart Party (see upcoming interview with Julia Wertz). So basically, I go for the atmosphere more than actual fandom (more on this below).
I have never been to the San Diego Comic-Con, which is also going on this weekend. But some day, I swear, I will go. However, every year we go to the New York Comic-Con. And in 2009, we went to the New York Anime Festival, which has since been combined with the Comic-Con. So as I mentioned above, we thought, why not.
Have no idea what I'm talking about (which I doubt)? Either way, take a look at this great video from NBCConnecticut.com.
I have to admit I was shocked at the size of the crowd when we arrived. I really feared that we would just find a bunch of collectors sitting around a small room with boxes of comics they were trying to sell. And just like any comic-con, the majority of the attendees were in costume. I wish I had dressed up and cursed myself many times during the day for not doing so. The thought and effort people put into their costumes is amazing, and I could have sat there all day just watching the different characters go by. Of course, other than Superheros, various video game figures, and Pokemon personalities (These New York Times Best Sellers are part of my resume as well.), I had to rely on my husband to tell me who was what. But that certainly didn’t take away from the experience.
Once we got our badges and made it through the doors, I was a little disappointed at the first room. It just had tables with people sitting around and talking. My husband then pointed out that we were in the gaming room and then it didn’t seem so bad. It was about 11am and while the room was pretty empty at that time, it completely filled up by the time we left. My guess is that many of the gamers had taken advantage of the “All Night Gaming” sessions available at the convention and were not early risers.
We then walked into the next room, which had curtains separating the spaces, I thought it looked to be filled with vendors. It really wasn’t though. The entire middle of the space was blocked off for video gaming. However, the console games, which you could pay to participate in tournaments with, only took up the rim of the area, albeit the entire rim of the area, and only a few upright video games stood in the center. Those upright games did look very cool, but also like they required more hand-eye coordination than my husband and I have put together.
Don’t get me wrong, there were some cool vendors. If you wanted manga, Japanese candy, corsets, goggles, Lolita costumes, or a furry tail, you were all set. There were also some artists with prints and wares you could buy and as always, the artwork was phenomenal. But for more serious comic or figure or graphic novel collectors, there wasn’t much to offer. Unless of course, I missed these things somehow, and if so, please let me know.
Aside from booths, there was a plethora of events, screenings, panels, and workshops, so if you were looking for that, you would not have been disappointed. Events included: Cosplay Chess, Super Art Fight (an art on demand competition), Anime Unscripted, and Death Match (“See your favorite pop culture icons get thrown into the arena against each other like gladiators and fight to the death.”). Panels and workshops included: 50 Years of Anime Openings: Style and Symbolism, A Steampunk’s Guide to Sex, Character Design, Copyright and Creation, Creating Indie Games, Making Plushies Workshiop (I am listing this one for a particular friend—you know who you are), Mass Effect 101, Politics in Video Games, Post-Con Depression: Coping Skills and Techniques, Surviving the My Little Pony Apocalypse, The Art of Storytelling, and The Business of Art & Comics. I am obviously only listing some of the offerings I'm finding going down the alphabetical list in the program, but if you can get your hands on a con program, you will see that there are fourteen pages of panels and workshops. Unfortunately, none of the ones I would have liked to attend were offered in the window that we were there, but only because we were only there for a few hours—this is definitely no fault of the con.
My absolute favorite part of the con was the Artist’s Colony (Correction: Online Media Guest Section). As you walk through it, you can feel the creativity oozing from all directions. It always makes me want to come home and start my own web comic, even if my husband did point out that I can’t draw at all. (FYI: There is a whole genre of comics called “Stick Figure Comics,” including the well-known Cyanide and Happiness, who was at ConnectiCon.)
I had the opportunity to talk with some of the artists including those from: And a Hard Place,
Paradigm Shift (“A paranormal graphic novel”), Two Steps Back, Johnny Wander, Paul Reveres, (“The part of our nation’s history where all the battles were fought with electric guitars and awesome hair.”), Dominic Deegan (“Oracle for Hire”), Pitfalls & Penguins (Kind of but not really like Dungeons & Dragons), The System (“Comics will be posted until morale improves.”), The Devil’s Panties (“It’s not Satanic Porn, honest!”), and In His Likeness (“ . . . on the seventh day he ranted.”).
I then came home and spent hours reading their comics and then some.
So there you have it, my review of ConnectiCon. Was it worth the $40 single-day pass to get in? I guess that depends on what you’re looking for. If you’re looking for a San Diego or even a New York-scale con, then probably not. But if you’re looking to hang out with like-minded, creative people in an atmosphere filled with many of your favorite things, where you can go and just be yourself without judgment (even if yourself has anime hair, blue skin, and/or a tail), then yes, absolutely, it is worth the money. And don’t get me wrong. The vendors that were there were very cool and very much a part of the comic world.
Unfortunately there really isn’t time to go this year (unless you get in your car right this minute), but if you were to ask me if I would recommend that you go the next time, I would definitely say yes. We had a fantastic day.