ComiCONN 2017 In Review

ComiCONN 2017 In Review

Casinos, cosplay, and comics...oh my!

ComiCONN, "A Show for the Fans by the Fans!" took Foxwoods Resort Casino by storm last weekend in Connecticut. Fans descended upon the convention from all over New England for the chance to congregate with fellow nerds and meet their favorite actors, comic book artists, wrestlers, cosplayers, and more. This year’s guests included Gaten Matarazzo ("Stranger Things"), Ray Park ("Star Wars), Theo Rossi ("Luke Cage," "Son of Anarchy"), and many more.

I’ve been going to cons for two years now, and rush of excitement that courses through me when I first walk through the exhibition hall still feels as fresh as the first time. ComiCONN was no exception. This year was my first time attending this con, and it definitely won’t be my last.

The con took place June 10th and 11th, and my best friend/con partner-in-crime Katie attended on the second day. We began the morning walking through the plethora of vendor booths and spending way too much money on nerd merchandise. Come on, I mean how am I expected to walk past walls of Funko Pops and not buy at least three? Among the vendors were graphic designers, comic book artists, jewelry makers, and even a tattoo artist inking people right then and there.

I had a few panels I wanted to get to, but first, we made a pit stop at Gaten Matarazzo’s booth. I’m a huge "Stranger Things" fan, and Dustin is easily my favorite character… so let’s just say there was a lot of fangirling going on.

He’s so tall! I’m 20 years old and 4’11…he’s 14 and towers over me. Gaten was an absolute delight to meet and is just as friendly and funny as you’d expect. I had him sign a Dustin Funko Pop for me that I’ll be donating to the lovely folks at Cancer Gets LOST, a charity that raises money for various cancer organizations through online auctions of entertainment memorabilia.

After that, we made our way to the panel rooms to get ready for Ray Park (Darth Maul in "Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace") and Spencer Wilding’s (Darth Vader, "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story") highly anticipated Star Wars panel. We caught the end of a Karate Kid panel with Martin Kove and Billy Zabka that was being moderated by Ming Chen of AMC’S "Comic Book Men." Katie and I caught up with Ming briefly after the panel as he was #1 on our list to meet that day. We have a mutual friend and have been dying to finally connect with him at a con.

The Star Wars panel was everything a sci-fi geek could ever dream of. Spencer and Ray – who are unbelievably hilarious and down to earth – gave us some insight on how they were able to channel the presence of some of sci-fi’s most infamous villains.

“To play that character…the presence, the spirit took over,” Spencer described about playing Vader. He also recounted the incredibly secretive audition process for the role, explaining that he didn’t even know the name of the character he was reading for until his third callback.

Ray described his great connections with fellow cast members like Ewan McGregor (Obi-Wan Kenobi) as being a driving force in embodying his character and detailed how surreal the whole experience was as a mere 24 year-old.

“I was just in the moment,” he said, never anticipating the legacy Darth Maul would come to have.

Afterward came what was perhaps the most unexpectedly disappointing part of the day: the Diversity In Geekery panel. I was so excited to put on my social justice pants for this discussion about women, race, and the LGBTQ+ community in the entertainment world. My first disappointment came from seeing that on this panel discussing women and diversity, there was one woman and five men. Really, y’all?

The lack of variety in the voices on this panel is really what disappointed me. Though I was glad to see something of a spectrum of ethnicities on the panel that allowed for a solid conversation about racism in the cosplay community, the discussion felt incomplete to me. No one discussed issues within the LGBTQ+ community, which shocked me given the recent concerns over the “bury your gays” trope multiple shows have been accused of employing. The questions about women’s representation most frequently came in the context of women’s oversexualization and objectification; not why it happens or how to end it, just that it occurs and there doesn’t seem to be a way around it. I would’ve liked more of a variety in panelists and more discussion about activism and what can be done about these issues. The conversation felt hesitant and lacking, and there simply weren’t enough unique voices for a panel about diversity.

From there, our day came to a close. Overall, I had an incredible time at this con and I will definitely be attending next year. There were multiple organizational complaints after the first day, but by the time we arrived on Sunday, ComiCONN staff had heard their attendees and did what they could to correct the issues, which I applaud them for. I thought the venue was an excellent choice as it offered free parking and a fantastic variety of dining options, which always seem to be an issue when I travel to cons. Despite my qualms with the Diversity panel, I still enjoyed myself and cannot wait to see what this show has to offer next year.

Cons are my home away from home, and it would take a lot to disappoint me. No matter the guests or events, the greatest experience of any con is always being surrounded by people like me who find comfort, escape, and purpose in nerd culture.

Experience Ratings for Sunday, June 11th at ComiCONN 2017:

Foot traffic and organization: 4/5

Venue: 5/5

Guest interactions: 5/5

Panels and events: 3/5

Would I recommend?: Yes

Overall rating: 4.5/5

Cover Image Credit: ComiCONN

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10 Things Someone Who Grew Up In A Private School Knows

The 10 things that every private school-goer knows all too well.


1. Uniforms

Plaid. The one thing that every private school-goer knows all too well. It was made into jumpers, skirts, shorts, scouts, hair ties, basically anything you could imagine, the school plaid was made into. You had many different options on what to wear on a normal day, but you always dreaded dress uniform day because of skirts and ballet flats. But it made waking up late for school a whole lot easier.

2. New people were a big deal

New people weren't a big thing. Maybe one or two a year to a grade, but after freshman year no one new really showed up, making the new kid a big deal.

3. You've been to school with most of your class since Kindergarten

Most of your graduating class has been together since Kindergarten, maybe even preschool, if your school has it. They've become part of your family, and you can honestly say you've grown up with your best friends.

4. You've had the same teachers over and over

Having the same teacher two or three years in a row isn't a real surprise. They know what you are capable of and push you to do your best.

5. Everyone knows everybody. Especially everyone's business.

Your graduating class doesn't exceed 150. You know everyone in your grade and most likely everyone in the high school. Because of this, gossip spreads like wildfire. So everyone knows what's going on 10 minutes after it happens.

6. Your hair color was a big deal

If it's not a natural hair color, then forget about it. No dyeing your hair hot pink or blue or you could expect a phone call to your parents saying you have to get rid of it ASAP.

7. Your school isn't like "Gossip Girl"

There is no eating off campus for lunch or casually using your cell phone in class. Teachers are more strict and you can't skip class or just walk right off of campus.

8. Sports are a big deal

Your school is the best of the best at most sports. The teams normally go to the state championships. The rest of the school that doesn't play sports attends the games to cheer on the teams.

9. Boys had to be clean-shaven, and hair had to be cut

If you came to school and your hair was not cut or your beard was not shaved, you were written up and made to go in the bathroom and shave or have the head of discipline cut your hair. Basically, if you know you're getting written up for hair, it's best just to check out and go get a hair cut.

10. Free dress days were like a fashion show

Wearing a school uniform every day can really drive you mad. That free dress day once a month is what you lived for. It was basically a fashion show for everyone, except for those upperclassmen who were over everything and just wore sweat pants.

Cover Image Credit: Authors Photos

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It’s Time To Throw Hands With Punxsutawney Phil And Our 'Early Spring'

New polls may be saying that this groundhog actually can't predict the upcoming weather.


Punxsutawney Phil, the magical and immortal groundhog has been around since 1886 to tell the world each year whether to expect six more weeks of winter or an early spring. Everyone knows the drill, on the mornings of February 2nd the groundhog is awakened by a crowd of fans and festival goers. Phil then speaks in Groundhogese to the president of the Groundhog Club who translates the message with the help of his ancient acacia wood cane and directs the vice president to read the according weather scroll.

Over the years masses of "phaithful phollowers" have watched live broadcasts worldwide to see if their iconic mammal has seen its shadow or not. The Inner Circle of the Groundhog Club claims 100% accuracy rate so of course why shouldn't we believe them? After all, they have kept Phil since the beginning of time. Although suspicions of a predetermined ruse have never been confirmed, some still refuse to believe the wonder behind this fun holiday.

As of this year, 2019, Punxsutawney Phil has made 133 predictions, only 19 of those however, have been of an early spring. Personally, I'm not a fan of winter and the cold so if I hear it might get warmer faster, I cling to the hope that it's true. Sadly though, outside impartial estimates place Phil's accuracy between 35-40%, so we may be coming to terms with the fact that maybe this groundhog isn't as special as the club says he is.

This past year was one of the few that Punxsutawney Phil did not see his shadow and therefore announced the early arrival of spring-like weather. Now, I don't know about anywhere else but I can certainly say that for Morgantown, West Virginia, it has been anything but what was predicted. We had three days that could have been considered "spring-like" but then we entered a polar vortex and since then it's been cold, rainy, windy, and everyone's favorite, snowy.

So sadly it seems that once again, Phil has mistaken his spring scroll for winter and all our hopes for warmer weather can be lay back to rest.

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