ConnectiCon 2012: Silverwolf’s Adventures, Explorations, and Opinions

This past weekend, I had the pleasure of going to a huge, amazing convention held annually in the United States. No, I didn’t go to San Diego Comic Con, but I did have the opportunity to attend the amazing ConnectiCon in Hartford, CT. Last year was my first time at ConnectiCon and I had an amazing time, but how would this year fare in comparison? With a heart full of high hopes and an Ash Ketchum costume gracing my figure, I headed to the center of the Nutmeg State to find out exactly what this convention was all about.

I was lucky enough to have a press pass this year for ConnectiCon which allowed me the privilege of attending the Con’s Press Junket on Friday morning. The Junket consisted of several segments, each lasting about half an hour, where a panelist, or groups of panelists, would field questions from the audience. I was actually quite pleased with this arrangement because, given the amount of time and the number of press members attending, just about everyone who wanted to ask a question had the opportunity and a fair number of great questions were asked.

From left to right: Jennie Breeden, Rob DenBleyker, O, and Dern at the Webcomic portion of the Press Junket

After a brief introduction by Paul J. Comeau, one of the Con organizers, the Webcomics portion of the Junket began. Panelists included Phil Kahn and T Campbell, the writers of Guilded Age; Rob DenBleyker of Cyanide and Happiness; Mookie of Dominic Deegan fame; Jennie Breeden, the mind behind The Devil’s Panties; and finally Dern and Obsidian, the writer and artist (respectively) of Hello With Cheese. The panelists said a number of great things, but one of the most interesting I heard, said by Dern, is that he prefers ConnectiCon over San Diego Comic Con; interestingly enough, this wouldn’t be the first time I heard that from a special guest at the Junket. During this portion, someone in the audience asked what advice the panelists would give to someone who wished to start a webcomic; I felt that Mookie gave a very concise, but meaningful answer, “Just go for it.” The other panelists seemed to echo this message, stating that persistence is key, whether or not what you make it always exceptional or always comes out the way you expect. I was lucky enough to ask what other webcomics the panelists would suggest and several, that I admit I’d never heard of, were listed including Whomp!, Oglaf, Plume, Next Town Over, and Out At Home. Clearly, I’ve got a nice backlog of series to check out in the near future.

The voice actor portion of the Junket. From left to right: Danielle McRae, Carlos Ferro, Rachel Robinson, and Amanda Winn-Lee.

The voice actor panel happened next in the Junket. Panelists included Danielle McRae, voice of Karma in League of Legends and Painwheel from Skullgirls; Carlos Ferro, best known for voicing Dominic Santiago in Gears of War and Leonardo da Vinci in Assassins Creed 2; Rachel Robinson, voice of Fang from Final Fantasy XIII and XIII-2; and Amanda Winn-Lee, best known as the voice of Rei Ayanami from Neon Genesis Evangelion and has recently done voice work for the upcoming English release of the Persona 4 anime. Carlos, like Dern, noted that ConnectiCon is his “favorite show,” specifically because it takes very good care of its guests. This was probably the funniest portion of the junket overall, with the voice actors making some great jokes and poking fun at some of the strange convention and work experiences they’d encountered over the years.

Jim Cummings: ’nuff said.

Next up the agenda was a portion devoted entirely to the famed voice actor Jim Cummings. Even if you’ve never heard his name (which would be a little surprising), I guarantee you’ve heard something he’s performed in. Cummings has provided voices for everyone from Winnie the Pooh to Darkwing Duck to the singing voice of Rasputin in the animated Anastasia film. I asked him that, given his wide range of roles, did he prefer voicing heroes or villains; he replied that “the world needs boy scouts,” but that evil guys are “more fun, you can ad lib more with them for some reason.” Jim also talked about his early years, telling the audience that he always knew he’d go into some sort of acting. He discussed how he took a great deal of inspiration from Mel Blanc, famous for contributing voices to numerous Looney Tunes characters as well as performing live. He also offered some advice for people interested in voice acting: “stretch your chops,” he noted, stating that it’s often necessary to move outside your comfort zone when entering the field of voice acting. He also noted that bad impressions of people can often lead to new characters, so one shouldn’t worry if they can’t perfectly mimic a famous star for a part. A wild round of applause greeted the end of the panel, something that seemed to surprise Cummings just a bit.

The second table of the Online Media Junket. From left to right: Takahata101, Lanipator, Doug Walker, and Antfish.

The final portion of the Press Junket was the Online Media panel. Panelists included Zack Finfrock of Wayside Creations, Ross Nover and Marty Day of Super Art Fight, Bryan Waterman of Waterman Studios, Doug Walker of That Guy with the Glasses, and finally Takahata101, Lanipator, and Antfish from Team Four Star. I asked the first question, specifically to Lanipator: I noted that I love Yu Yu Hakusho Abridged, and wondered if he planned to continue the series to which he responded that he has the entire Dark Tournament Arc scripted, but given how busy he is with other projects it’s difficult for him to work on that at this time. I was happy for his answer, and look forward to when he releases the next episodes. The majority of questions focused on what the panelists thought of the internet and its advantages, to which all of them pretty much replied that the internet helps branch out to fans. Ross and Marty also told a hilarious story about their experience at a failed convention, where “the people on stage outnumbered the audience.”

With that, the Press Junket concluded. Overall, I think it was great for ConnectiCon to provide such an event, as it allowed some intimate discussion with the special event guests and even allowed members of the press to meet one another more easily. I thought the questions asked were insightful and intelligent, and I definitely learned about a lot of projects I was unfamiliar with before coming to the Con.

The Red Skull and Captain America scan ConnectiCon for the Cosmic Cube

I went to several panels over the course of ConnectiCon, but my favorites were definitely Pokemon as a Heroic Narrative and The Fine Art of Bromance. The former focused on the attributes of Pokemon and how other Mon franchises tried (and failed) to catch on in the same way. The latter presented a humorous classification of a bromance, and detailed some famous pop-culture bromances such as Professor Xavier/Magneto and Frodo/Sam, before finishing off with a Bro-Off competition to see which pair of bros possessed the strongest bromance. Overall, I felt the panels at this Con were really well put together and, unlike New York Comic Con, were easy to get into.

Artemis takes aim in the halls of ConnectiCon

Another great aspect of ConnectiCon is the gaming room. While most Cons possess card tournament, ConnectiCon took things up to 11 by providing tables for miniature games like Warhammer. There were also free tables to play games like Munchkin, Apples to Apples, and Settlers of Catan, all of which were provided by the Con organizers. I had the opportunity to try a forthcoming game called Zpocalypse, a fun zombie-survival game that pits the players against a ravenous horde of undead. It’d be too difficult for me to detail the entire game here, but I was impressed with its creative mechanics which really made myself and the others I was with feel desperation as we fought against a seemingly endless horde of shambling undead monsters.

Over the course of the Con, I had the chance to meet a few other famous guests. I tracked down Katie Tiedrich, the mind behind Awkward Zombie, and got her to draw me an original sketch of Lowen from Fire Emblem 7 before taking a picture (check it out, much further below!). I also had a chance to meet Brentalfloss, the creator of the “What if This Game Had Lyrics?” series.

Zora Armor Link prepares for the flood of photographers at ConnectiCon

ConnectiCon 2012 was the best Con I’ve ever attended for a number of reasons. First and foremost, the size of the Con was perfect: some conventions, such as New York Comic Con, are often horribly crowded and thus it is difficult to get into panels or even move around the show floor. Others are too small, and feel almost empty. ConnectiCon felt the perfect size to me: enough people walking around to stay social and exciting, but not so many that one was prevented from entering the events he or she wanted. The Press Junket was another great piece of ConnectiCon: I loved having the opportunity to ask questions directly to special guests, while also hearing questions and perspectives from other press members. Something people may take for granted is that the junket also allowed members of the press to meet one another; I had some nice talks with folks from both Senpai Magazine and Bookshelf Bombshells. Another great thing about ConnectiCon is the gaming room, which allowed for people to play a wide diversity of games of multiple types and genres.

Katie Tiedrich of Awkward Zombie fame poses with yours truly

Of course, no Con is perfect. One complaint I had about the Con was the bag check. I can understand the need for such security, but this way a new feature this year and threw me (and many other Con-goers) for a loop. A few more signs in the entryway discussing this change would’ve been nice, but ultimately having to check my bag to check out the dealers’ tables didn’t really take away from my experience, so it’s a minor complaint at best.

ConnectiCon really is a great convention, and I can understand why so many famous guests show up, many of them choosing this event over the more well-known and larger San Diego Comic Con. I definitely plan to attend next year as well and hope that some of you, my readers, will make the journey up to Hartford as well!


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