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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To The Girl Who Mocked My Sorority

Sorority girls seem to be getting more and more backlash, but why?

To The Girl Who Mocked My Sorority,

I buy my friends? Wow. First time I’ve ever gotten that, good one.

Do you feel better now? Was it all you hoped for?

I doubt it.

I’m not the “typical” sorority girl but I’ve also come to the realization that there isn’t a “typical” sorority girl. We are all different and believe it or not we are all just like you. The letters I wear on my chest don’t make me stupid. They don’t make me a bitch. They don’t make me spoiled. They don’t make me an alcoholic. They don’t make me fake. They don’t make me a slut. And they sure as heck don’t make me any better than you.

What my letters made me is better than I was before.

Some sorority stereotypes are inevitable. Yes, I love my Big. Yes, my Littles are my life. I’m guilty of being a master with a glue gun, and I’ll admit that new letter shirts make me giddy as a 5-year-old on Christmas morning.

But here’s what you don’t know — before I joined my sorority I couldn’t speak to a group of five people without turning red. Now I help run meetings in front of 45 women. Before, I would never have had the courage to go up to a group of girls and sit with them for lunch. Now I’m actually invited (crazy, I know). Before, I struggled with my grades. Now I have sisters in my major offering help. Before, my resume was empty. Now, it's full of leadership positions and community service hours. Before, I didn’t quite feel accepted. Now, I’m welcomed lovingly into an extremely diverse group. What’s so bad about all of that?

I get it. Sororities aren’t for everyone. I’ll even go as far to say that some of us sorority girls can be a little much. But what’s the point of dissing something that you don’t understand? Next time you’re about to make a cruel stereotypical joke, think about how you would feel if someone did that to you. Instead of making fun of sorority girls, sit down with one and find out why it’s so important to her.


A Proud Sorority Girl

Cover Image Credit: Megan Jones

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If A Girl Is Too Drunk To Consent, That Is Rape, Not An Excuse For Men To Validate Their Actions

Sexual violence shouldn't be taken any less seriously just because alcohol was consumed.


Sexual violence on college campuses is a prevalent issue. Most instances of sexual violence are done while either one or both of the individuals involved are intoxicated.

Let's be honest, all of us college students who drink, probably have had a day(s) or night(s) when we drink too much. Binge drinking is a college norm– even though it is dangerous, unhealthy, and an abuse of a substance– it is still a normalized activity within college culture.

However, just because drinking is a normalized deviant activity for a majority of college students, that doesn't mean the deviant behaviors done while intoxicated should be normalized too. Accepting responsibility for one's actions always needs to be done– whether it is sober or intoxicated.

When drinking, alcohol saturates your brain, impairing neurotransmitters and changing chemical reactions. This can influence us to act in ways we may or may not act when sober– however, there still have to be consequences for all of our actions.

For some reason though, when instances of sexual violence are reported– alcohol being involved is emphasized as an important variable that has a tendency to lessen the consequence of the interaction(s) against the perpetrator.

Whether it is questioning the validity of the reported interaction– or the reliability of the victim's statement– the fact that alcohol is involved plays a major role, when it really shouldn't.

Alcohol shouldn't be used as an excuse. Regardless of the individuals involved were intoxicated or not, unwanted advances– that requires a decision of: "Is this right or is this wrong?"– was made. The perpetrator chose to make that advance. Alcohol should never be an excuse for emotionally and/or physically harming someone else.

With that being said, it is never is okay to say that it is the victim's fault because they were "too this" or "too that". If a person of any identity is assaulted, harassed, stalked, or attacked, because they were drinking– it is the perpetrator's fault, not the victims.

I am so tired of listening to the news and hearing about the debate relating intoxication and the validity of actions committed while intoxicated.

If a person chooses to drive while intoxicated and is caught, they are given a DUI or OWI, and they have to deal with those consequences. Same should be the case if someone chooses to forcibly VIOLATE another human-being while drinking. Alcohol is still a variable in both situations, so what is the difference?

The fact is, when unwanted advances, harassment, assaults, or attacks are committed, there is harm done. This harm can create detrimental effects for the victim(s). These effects may follow he or she for the rest of their lives. It is unfair for the victim to have to live with the consequences, while the perpetrator may not have to, just because they were "too drunk" to know better.

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