During the weekend of July 11-14, I went up to Hartford for ConnectiCon, the largest multimedia and pop culture convention in the state of Connecticut. My visit last year was great, but little did I realize just how awesome this year’s convention would be.
One of the great things about ConnectiCon last year was the press junket, a special event held on the first day of the convention where members of the press were given an intimate setting to ask special guests whatever questions came to mind. This year, the junket was even better. Rather than a single day involving multiple guests on stage at once, each day had its own junket and each guest was given his or her own 15 minute block, with exceptions when one or more guests came together (such as Battlestar Galactica actors Michael Trucco and Tahmoh Penikett). Ultimately, this meant questions were more focused and that each guest was given an ample forum to present him or herself to the press.
It’d take quite a bit of space to include everything said at the press junket, but a few key questions, answers, and phrases stood out to me. Artists Michael Golden and Dennis Calero, for instance, had wildly different views when asked who was their favorite character to draw. Golden has no favorite, stating that he makes a “concious effort to work within the framework of what readers and edutors expect.” Calero, in contrast, says that he loves to draw Batman and Wolverine, especially since it’s easy to make them “look cool.” Calero also noted that he’s particularly proud of JSA Classified #25 and a large drawing of the Headless Horseman that was auctioned off for charity.
Jim Cummings had a number of great insights given his long and storied voice acting career. One of the best things he says it that he treats every job like “the superbowl,” meaning that he gives it his all regardless of the role. His goal is to “keep it fresh and keep it enthusiastic” during his recording sessions.
ConnectiCon also provided a Press Room this year, which was great for a number of reasons. Not only did it give tired press members such as myself a place to relax away from the crowded con floor (with food, no less), but also it gave us a chance to meet and mingle with one another. I met some really great folks there, and had some great conversations about our various media outlets and interests.
The panels this year were even more varied and even more enjoyable than in 2012. I went to over a dozen panels over the course of the three main days of the convention. The most notable of these were Women of the Avengers, The Electronic Myth: The Origin of Creepypasta, the Cosplay Court Case (I attended both the adult-oriented Night Court and the All-Ages Court the next day), and Dark Knight, Big Screens. One thing I love about ConnectiCon is that the majority of panels are run by fans. Regrettably, many larger conventions have done away with fan panels in favor of industry-oriented events, but fan panels are a great way for people to show off their passion for a subject and engage in discussion with fellow fans. One of the best things about the panels I mentioned is that audience participation was not just allowed, it was encouraged. The panelists all had interesting things to say, but members of the audience often offered great insights as well.
ConnectiCon also had some great special events this year. I learned, almost last minute, that the amazing Adam WarRock had a concert scheduled for Friday afternoon. I must say that this was arguably the high point of the Con for me: Adam’s energy was amazing and he did a great job cracking jokes to his fans between songs. He managed a varied set list, rapping about everything from Gravity Falls to Game of Thrones. I was especially happy that he included my favorite song of his, “Magneto Was Right.” I even met him after the concert, where I received a compliment on my Hawkeye t-shirt before we got into a brief discussion about his work. He’s a seriously great guy in person.
Another great thing about ConnectiCon is the wide variety of guests. This convention hosts a lot of online media guests, such as Adam WarRock (who I mentioned earlier), webcomic creator Mookie, and comedy music duo Paul & Storm. A few notable actors came this year as well, including Marina Sirtis and Neil Grayston. Of course, ConnectiCon always has great voice actor guests, with Jim Cummings making another appearance this year, along with Lauren Landa and John St. John. One of the best things about this year was more comic creators attended: Brian Clevinger and Scott Wegener of Atomic Robo fame returned, while Dennis Calero and Michael Golden attended as well. I’m hoping more comic creators attend in future years, as it will only strengthen this already amazing con.
Obviously, like all conventions, ConnectiCon 2013 was not without its downsides. Firstly, while picking up badges on Thursday night is a great idea to expedite registration and reduce lines on subsequent days, this year badge pick up was delayed by almost a full hour and a half. There was clearly some sort of computer problem, but no announcement was made by convention staff, leading to impatience and confusion among convention patrons. Secondly, the line management for the evening 18+ panels was rather poor: often, there was no indication which line led to which panel, and lines were often moved randomly, leading to people who had been waiting a long time for panels being either denied entry or receiving poor seats. Other than these two complaints, however, ConnectiCon 2013 was amazing.
Ultimately, ConnectiCon 2013 was the best convention experience I’ve ever had. The convention is large without being packed and full of awesome people. This year also saw removal of the bag check, which led to long lines and delays on the convention floor last year; this change definitely made the convention run more smoothly. I loved the guests this year, and it seems to me that ConnectiCon has a bright future. I’d like to offer a special thanks to the staff, who were amazing and did great work running the convention and making the other members of the press and myself feel great. Though I’m leaving the East Coast soon, I hope to return to this convention in future years.
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