Back from ConnectiCon 2012!
And I’m back!
I really do not know where to begin, there is so much to discuss, detail, and dissect from last weekend. I guess I’ll start with how I usually start most of my blogs, by starting with the positive:
This con billed itself as “A Massively Mult-Genre Convention.” Ordinarily I loathe this “big brush painting” approach to the various “geek” fandoms. To pull this off and not appear fake/condescending, the people behind it need to be absolutely devoted to that message. This means that every single guest must feel as welcome and accepted as possible. This is particularly tricky due to the walls these fandoms have built up to distinguish themselves against each other such as bronies vs furries, Pathfinder vs Dungeons & Dragons, Whovians vs Trekkies, Comics vs Manga etc
Fortunately, CCon succeeded in hitting many of the major fandoms and trusting the organization of panels and activities to people very active in those fandoms. The CCon staff managed to make many of the niche’ fandoms feel right at home, especially us furries:
This picture was snapped by me, after I suddenly remembered I was supposed to be at CtCon for business. So I had to break rank from my fellow furs (furlows? ..I kinda like that) and snap this picture before we all broke up. I’ve been going to the Furry Parades since 2009, and this was easily our largest turnout since then. If you also had fun, let the good furs in charge know here http://www.facebook.com/groups/furryprideparade/
I also attended a number of very unique panels, and I can definitely say that CCon truly is “Massively Multi-Genre” in this aspect. I attended panels on My Little Pony, Kabbalah, Pro Wrestling, Storytelling, Anthropromorphic artwork, Steampunk eroticism, Firefly/Serenity and many many more, all of which were filled with knowledgeable, friendly, and excited fans.
GUESTS GUESTS GUESTS!!!
Like last year, I had a chance to talk to CJ Henderson, whose horror genre storytelling never ceases to keep me from biting my nails and teetering perilously at the edge of my seat. He is someone who truly looks like he enjoys interacting with fans, and seems to be the type that would happily spend an afternoon with you discussing Lovecraftian terror. I picked up his newest Carl Kolchak adventure “The Lost World” and look forward to diving into it tonight.
CtCon also featured a solid and long list of fantastic guests including Carlos Ferro, Jon St. John, Team Fourstar, Bentalflos, Amanda Winn Lee, Doug Walker, etc.
Friday morning, Senpai Magazine along with other press got some time with many of these guests. However, after that, we were largely on our own for interviews. This was a bit of a switch from previous years, where Connecticon would work with us to schedule interviews with the guests, and they’d designate a room for us to conduct it in. This time around, it was up to us to “hunt down” a guest, ask if they had a moment in their busy schedule for a brief interview, and then awkwardly find a quiet unoccupied room (good luck).
PLUGS FOR PALS AND PARTNERS
This time around, Senpai Magazine did not have a table. For many of us, Connecticon is our favorite convention to attend, and we wanted to keep it as fun as possible. We did make sure to stop by a number of our friends in the new (but not quite improved, more on that later) artist alley like “Sew and Sew Plushies” http://www.facebook.com/SoandSewPlushies
“Sew and Sew Plushies” specialize in crafting anything from plushies of your favorite anime characters, to molding colorful pony ears. They have also been quite good to us in a few cosplay emergencies, ready with a safety pin or patch of duct-tape when we needed it the most.
I also stopped by Stefanie B’s (aka Jadiekin’s) table for a chinwag and some merch. She is a great young artist whom also has a knack for storytelling. While she no longer designs the artwork for our magazine, many of us are still big fans of her comic Lost Nova http://lostnova.smackjeeves.com/ and her work in general. While at her table, I was fortunate enough to meet Mike Paar, whose rustic yet industrial art aesthetic really appealed to me. I especially loved the pencil work he had in his portfolio. See more here: http://artofpaar.com/home.html
Lastly, but certainly not least, the cosplays this year were absolutely fantastic. Some of my personal favorites were Kaneda AND Yamagata:
Kaneda is cool enough. But the bike AND Yamagata (my favorite character from Akira) just made it that much more awesome.
I also fanboyed over a very good 7th Doctor with Ace, my favorite Dr. Who companion.
Nearly all of the Doctors were present and accounted for actually. There was even a very good 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 6th Doctor, all of whom are pretty uncommon at conventions. The weeping angels were also there.
And remember, a picture of a weeping angel becomes a weeping angel itself.
In one of my earlier posts I may have commented about the hassle I went through some years ago for my Pulse Rifle prop at Connecticon. The hotel and con staff appeared to be absolutely shitting themselves over ANYTHING that remotely resembled a gun that year. Even though it was tagged, I got stopped again and again and again, and harassed at one point over it by some hotel peon. Since then, my prop (solid resin, no moving parts at all) which I worked very hard to make, has stayed home. Just not worth the hassle…
However, this time around, the con staff seemed much more relaxed and understanding about props. I even saw many con goers holding functioning airsoft weapons. All firearm-replica weapons were orange tipped and tagged, and no one got shot (except the occasional zombie here and there).
And now we get into some of the negative… I really want to stress though that Connecticon remains my favorite convention. It is very special for me as it was my first ever convention, and I had a great time, as expected, overall. Also, some of these negatives aren’t exactly under Connecticon’s control such as…
No, you Cant Haz Cheezeburger
The food options provided by the Con center and hotel were very lackluster. I feel really bad for any vegans/vegetarians, since they strictly enforce the “no outside food” policy, even forbidding food that was purchased in the hotel to be brought into the con center.Yes, you read that right. Food, that is purchased in the hotel, cannot be brought into the Convention Center, even though they are the same building. I understand that the two are not technically one in the same, but just because one CAN be a jerk, does NOT mean they should.
Here’s hoping for a Con Shuttle that can take patrons to nearby restaurants & hotels.
So yeah… I really did not eat well at all last weekend. One meal a day.. not good, especially when I needed as much energy as possible. I doubt I’m alone here.
The Fire Marshal Sees All… Well, Almost?
Also, I found it somewhat funny how often Con staff had to explain themselves with “The Fire Marshal wants this” or “The Fire Marshal doesn’t allow that.”
“Because of the Fire Marshal” Cosplayers and patrons needed to wait in line Outside in 80-90 degree weather.
“Because of the Fire Marshal” Once every seat was taken in a panel room, that’s it. No more, no standing allowed. Go find something else to do.
“Because of Fire Marshal” That line you were standing in for 45 minutes so you CAN get a seat to a panel is now being disbursed.
This Fire Marshal excuse kept surfacing again, and again, and again…and that’s fine. I completely understand, and appreciate, that they have our safety in mind and need to comply to certain regulations. So let me be clear, I know that if they don’t adhere to these rules, they put us all at risk and will face a world of shit.
However, did this Fire Marshal even see the Dealer Room? This year, Connecticon not only cut down on the amount of dealers, but also on space allotted to dealers. Readers of my blog already know how I felt constantly being elbow-to-elbow with people in New York Comic Con, and I did not appreciate the same experience at this smaller convention. I know I praise Connecticon for it’s “close-knit” family atmosphere, but I don’t mean this!
Browsing the Dealer Room at CCon is actually one of my favorite things to do, however nearly all the fun was sapped out of it when I realized that I could not stop and browse without disrupting the flow of traffic. It was very tight, and a bit scary to think of the situation that would develop if the fire alarm were to go off.
I should also mention here that the layout of the Dealers Room with the Media booths and artists was a bit inconvenient. I would try to explain it, but the logic behind it loses me. At the risk of confusing those who weren’t there, here it goes:
The Dealers Room exited into the Artist Alley, so the only way to get to the artists is to wade through the Dealers first. If you are in the artist alley and to go back to the dealer’s room, you needed to walk completely out of the artist alley and re-enter the Dealer Room all the way on the other side of the large room, instead of simply backtracking through the “exit” (some dude with sign).
Also the video games and tabletop areas had more than enough room (you could practically dance in the room they had) but dealers were virtually stacked ontop of each other, wares, shelves, electrical equipment and all.
Completely Useless Program Book & Unwieldy Schedule
This is a simple complaint, the program book was useless and the schedule was stupidly formatted.
Imagine being in full cosplay, with a prop, and wanting to know what panels are coming up.
1. So you check your program book, and see the panels organized in alphabetical order, but the times are missing. You pick a panel that looks interesting, put book in your bag.
2. You take out the schedule guide which, instead of being a booklet, is folded like a map. You completely unfold the rather large piece of paper, and locate the panel’s timeslot, but see you missed it.
3. But you see another panel that’s starting soon. The name sounds interesting, but you don’t quite have a solid idea what it’s about.
4. You (hastily and improperly) fold up the map, put in your bag, perhaps accidentally ripping it in the process. You take out the program book, and read the description. It sounds like it could be good. You head off to it… hoping the panel room isn’t already full and that the people running the panel have showed up.
So, I don’t understand why there wasn’t a few pages devoted to scheduling in the program book. It would make it a lot easier, especially for people in cosplay who may be holding props and wearing gear.
Speaking of schedule, the anime showings did not stick to it, nor was there much of an attempt (that I’ve seen) to alert con goers to any of these changes.
Perhaps it is time to look for another venue?
At the feedback panel the convention staff kept lamenting the fact that they were working with limited space while trying to accommodate a growing number of attendees. Meanwhile, con goers lamented how rude & condescending some members of the convention center staff had been, which is not a new complaint at all. I understand that there aren’t many other options, and they are short-staffed, but a cramped convention is cramped, and an unpleasant convention center is unpleasant. It is what it is, and if these issues are not addressed, it will not be good.
I cannot comment on the Masquerade scheduling fiasco, but I heard it went over by an hour and a half (!!!) and really screwed up the schedule. I wasn’t there for it, but I can imagine the frustration and WTFery that must have developed from this. I’m sure it’s not as simple as someone merely losing track of time (seriously, how does no one check their watch in that ninety minutes?), but c’mon.
The good news…
The good news is that the Connecticon staff seemed receptive at the feedback panel, and they have a history of listening to their patrons and improving things. In my experience, I have noticed a number of positive changes they have made before such as embracing Furries as another fandom, and they have been enforcing their weapons policy much more rationally and calmly than years prior.
So yeah, I’ll see everyone next year
– Furry Senpai