It was the day after Valentine’s and the young woman reached out and handed a long stemmed carnation to the monstrous Skeksis. A gnarled, mottled claw reached out and accepted the flower. If you looked closely, you might think he was smiling. The little Primarina next to him certainly was.
It’s been a while since I made it out to Zip Con. It used to be a regular stop on my cn circuit, and my main anime show, but in recent years, with Maddie getting more into the anime scene, we’ve been expanding that range and haven’t made it back to Zip Con in a couple of years.
What the @#$% happened to Zip Con anyhow?
We managed to snagged a good parking spot in the structure right across from the building and got there early. The line was out the door, but hadn’t snaked down the steps into the street yet. They got us into the building and out of the cold in a reasonable amount of time. One young man walked up and down the lines with a clipboard having us sign our liability waivers in advance of hitting the table, but when we finally made it to the ticket table, the workers were confused as to where to go. Then, all of a sudden, the line stopped. It was discovered that the faculty to guest ratio was off. Someone had slept in and hadn’t arrived yet. Shortly they found the missing staff and ticket sales began again. In a bit over half an hour we were through the line.
Maddie and I explored the floors, looking to see what was happening where. Panels were inconsistent, and there were a LOT of D&D panels (as opposed to anime ones). Some panels weren’t running (The con would make a somewhat defensive facebook post addressing it but not quite apologizing “Hello! Just a friendly reminder that the panelists not showing up to panels should NOT reflect your view on zipcon!”). We found the Confused Greenies doing an improv workshop and hung out there before venturing over to the dealer’s room.
The dealers room seemed bigger than I remember, bigger or not – the vendors were excellent, offering a variety of fun and interesting wares. Maddie scored a pineapple cat plushie from The Nerdy Taco. We grabbed a couple of adorable food plushies from Live Dream Create, and even scored a catnip toy for Sparky from Mookies Cat Toys!
It was time for lunch so we made a mad dash for the car, and then got lost in the wrong parking garage. After much wandering around we finally located my vehicle, did a swag dump and seized our bag lunch to take back to the college. We found a nice quiet spot upstairs and began the somewhat complex process of eating in my costume.
While Maddie was debuting her Primarina, I was still feeling out my Skeksis costume. I wasn’t entirely confident in it yet – this particular creature seemed like it might demand more detail than my impressionist style contributes. I was worried it might not be recognizable or if it were, that it might not feel accurate enough. I was awed by the reaction. As I would enter rooms I’d hear gasps. There would be whispering and mumbles all around me, and I’d hear world like “Dark Crystal” and “Chamberlin”. Every ten steps we’d be stopped for a photo. One person knelt in front of me declaring “I bow before your masterpiece!”. My Skeksis was a huge hit and I was immensely humbled.
Maddie’s Primarina was doing good as well. The wig suited her and the belt helped with the ultimate look. One person recognized her right off, while several others could see she was a Pokemon but weren’t sure which one. As soon as she’d start to explain, you could see a light bulb go off over their head and recognition hit their eyes.
After another pass at the dealer’s room, we hit the dance room. This was really just a dark room that had been set aside if you wanted to bring your music (Not my idea of a dance room. My definition would include some flashing lights and perhaps a DJ or at least a sound system playing music on shuffle). When we had passed it in the morning the space had been empty, but now one girl had brought in some music and every one was doing a choreographed dance. My Skeksis rushed in and joined in. It was going fine until my head fell off (I’m going to have to fix that flaw).
We unsuccessfully searched for a game room or an anime screening. I’m told there was a video game room but we couldn’t locate it. I don’t know if there was a board game room this year, and I missed all of that stuff. We ended our day by sitting in on the Sonic the Hedgehog panel. This one focused on the IDW series – interesting because I hadn’t even realized Sonic had jumped from Archie to IDW. Still Maddie was fading fast and we were ready to head home. The college had mandated all minors leave at six and as that watershed hour arrived the place became a ghost town.
We had an okay day. We had fun meeting up with old friends and cosplaying – having a good time at cons is what we do. But I’m not sure we got our money’s worth. In just a few years I watched Zip Con go from Free, to Free, but if you pay five dollars you also get this cool lanyard! to Okay, five dollars for everyone, to ten dollars for everyone. I understand they have to control the crowds and are trying to get some voice actors in, but I honestly don’t see them drawing more attendees than what Zip Con already had. The show still feels like an nice amateur affair run by a college anime club, and if that’s what you want to be, then cool but you can’t charge that kind of admission for that kind of show. Higher admission includes higher expectations – Planned panels and activities instead of just accepting volunteer ideas and hoping the mods show up. Well run lines, constant programming and performances. I expect THEM to provide music in the dance room, and host the gaming tournaments. I expect at least one if not two rooms dedicated to screening Anime.
The magic is kind of fading. I do think we’ll be back once Zip Con figures out what it wants to be, but that might not be for a while.
I’ll let you in on a little secret. I wasn’t planning on going back to Woo-Con. It’s not that it’s a bad show -quite the opposite. It’s well-run by fans with lots of heart. But it is a little smaller than I’m comfortable at. However, Maddie had a great time here last year and asked by name to go back this year. She was also eager to show off her new Serena (from Pokemon) costume in an anime environment, and I was interested in exposing her to some new shows, so early on Saturday morning we packed the car and drove down to Wooster, dodging cows all the way.
We checked in and headed straight downstairs to figure out which anime room Card Captor Sakura was running in. The screenings actually feel better organized this year, with two rooms (study rooms in the lower level of the student union with clear walls you can peer into and see what’s playing) dedicated to them instead of the one classroom in the upper level that they split between anime and video games. The gaming room was across the hall, with surfaces for tabletop and card games set up. After the screening of Fairy Tale, we swung by to gawk at the Warhammer miniatures.
Upstairs, panels were back in the same room, along with the improv antics of the Confused Greenies. Watching the improv troupe is one of the highlights of the show for Maddie, who laughed until she had tears in her eyes. I’m familiar with them from ConCoction, but it’s always good to see them, especially here in their second year. The Greenies presented a new skit involving a magical girl trying to fight a supervillian, except his catgirl kept getting in the way. It may be my new favorite of thier stuff.
I’m not sure why they blocked out three hours for the costume contest. Attendance hadn’t grown significantly and even with the extra attention the judges gave each contestant, we were through in an hour or so. While we were prepping, Maddie got recognized from her Youtube channel, something that just made her con. I always say this is my favorite part of cosplay, hanging out with people before a contest. I think Maddie is seeing that too. She talked Pokemon with several other people (mostly college kids, but at a con – age dosen’t necessarily matter) and got to know everyone. She remarked about how friendly everyone is, and I really dig that.
Despite the size, the dealers pack an amazing amount of stuff on those tables. Artists, comics, anime, manga and adorable handmade oddities. I noticed that the line up had changed a bit this year, and ended up grabbing a bunch of pieces at one of the art booths. Maddie came away with a Sakura charm for a keychain that she’s going to make into a necklace.
I actually really like Woo-Con and it was cool to see it was even better run than last year. I’d love to see it grow a little more, but I don’t know if that’s really something they are interested in. Woo-Con remains a quaint little college Anime show and that’s fine just the way it is.
Maddie and I are going to Zip Con at the University of Akron Student Union this weekend! It’s kind of become my replacement for Shinbokucon – one of the only Anime shows I attend. This year I’ll be speaking in both the “Cosplay on a Budget” panel at 10 am and the “Cosplay for Charity” panel at 1pm. Hope to see you there!