U-Con@UConn convention draws fans from across New England

All throughout Saturday and Sunday, the Student Union was a beacon for all things geek, nerd, fandom and pop culture, at the comic convention U-Con@UConn 2016.

The pop culture event has been occurring for several years, and in the past has boasted panels of celebrities, including internet reviewer and critic Doug Walker. This year, special guests included fandom researcher and educator Seto Ketchum, and cosplay experts Khepera von Stitches and Chelsea von Chastity.

Special vendors/panelists Judge Early, an independent filmmaker, and Thomas Sciacca, a former DC artist, comic illustrator and writer, were also in attendance, holding panels on independent comic book publishing and discussing the evolution of the modern superhero throughout the past several decades.

Other panels covered all things fandom, from “Cosplay 101” and “Undertale and Monsters” to “The Strange Part of YouTube” and “Creative Writing for Fanfiction.” Several vendors were also present, selling everything from fandom pins and buttons, to sewn plushies, fanart and caricature commissions.

Outside on Fairfield Way, James D’Amico, the owner of the famous “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D” truck showcased his ride, collecting donations for Autism Speaks in exchange for photos of the vehicle.

The convention, although small by Comic Con standards, was a success, drawing in over 400 guests on Saturday alone. Organizing the event, however, was not without its hurdles, as the Board of Directors was understaffed this year with only three members.

“There’s not a lot of help.” said Vice President and Secretary Chelsea Henderson. “It’s very hectic.”

The Tier II organization doesn’t charge attendants for U-Con@UConn, instead drawing funds from SUBOG allocations and from the fees it charges for the vendors.

“We do this for free,” said Henderson. “ We do this for the joy of it, and the fans.”

The convention runs through unpaid volunteers, who take shifts of their offered time moderating panels, operating the registration table and running events.

“It’s kind of stressful.” commented one staff member. “[But] there’s a nice atmosphere, and it’s very interesting to talk to people and see the cosplay.”

Cosplay, indeed, was one of the main draws for the event, with attendees clad as characters from various shows, games and comics such as “Homestuck,” “Bioshock Infinite,” “Fullmetal Alchemist” and even 'Fairly Oddparents.'

"It's one of the most enjoyable cons in Connecticut." Said one attendee, who came all the way from Boston to dress as Thor and attend the event. "There's nice variety for the size... it's very relaxed."

Saturday night featured Night Court, with costumed guests gathering to dance to a variety of anime and pop culture songs, and, according to Henderson, “22 replays of ‘What’s New Pussycat.”

The other cosplay oriented event ‘Death Match’ was added this year, with competitor’s cosplay craftsmanship, interpretation and presentation judged by the audience, with the losers being 'killed off' by the winners. UConn junior Shane Baker took the prize with his handmade Dark Link costume.

Overall, the convention was deemed a success by all involved.

"We're coming back here next year, definitely," Camp Anime organizer and Japanese candy vendor Cynthia DeRoma said. "It's amazing how many people show up."


Marlese Lessing is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at marlese.lessing@uconn.edu.