Comic book characters come to life
Annual comic and anime convention ‘UCon’ draws hundreds, features panels, comedy, costume contest
Published: Sunday, February 23, 2014
Updated: Sunday, February 23, 2014 23:02
The UCon @ UConn anime and comic convention took over the Student Union this weekend with a storm of colorful characters and screaming fans.
Attendees spent the weekend discussing their favorite shows and movies, playing tabletop and video games and comparing the costumes that many wore.
The convention drew more than 800 attendees, a new record for the event, said Jarrett Bassett, the convention’s head planner.
According to Bassett, the event ran smoothly. The only a slight mishap was with the internet connection needed for the “League of Legends” video game tournament, which was quickly fixed.
Guests swarmed the Union from 9 a.m. on Saturday until late into the night, attending panels on their favorite comics and TV shows or events such as the Fandomania Trivia Challenge.
Special guest Karl Custer, known to fans as Uncle Yo, entertained audiences by hosting the costume contest with his own brand of geek humor in an almost stand-up comedy show.
Contestants were judged on categories of originality, craftsmanship, accuracy and group costumes, all showing a lot of surprising talent, according to Custer.
Winning costumes included Jack Frost from the Dreamworks film “Rise of the Guardians,” Mr. PoPo from the “Dragon Ball Z” franchise, Mary Poppins and the costumed musical group Steam-Powered Giraffes.
This is Custer’s first UCon, but he has been a veteran of the convention circuit for the past six years.
“College cons are great because they are small, intimate crowds,” Custer said. “It’s like spending the weekend in a friend’s treehouse.”
Other attendees agreed with Custer’s sentiments. Guests chatted, laughed, hugged, and admired each other’s costumes as if they had known each other for years.
Athena Cot, 16, of Southington, said that this supportive atmosphere and community is the reason she loves cons like this.
Athena dressed as Winry Rockbell, a character from the anime “Fullmetal Alchemist,” in honor of the voice actor behind “Fullmetal” character Edward Elric, Vic Mignogna’s, attendance at UCon.
“It was cool knowing that you can actually meet the characters from your favorite show in person,” Athena said.
Mignogna hosted a question and answer session and held multiple signing opportunities throughout the weekend.
While no stranger to conventions like UCon, saying he has attended over 200, Mignogna says that UCon is one of the smaller events he has attended.
“Each opportunity to interact is unique,” Athena said. “There was a girl here dressed as my character from Pokémon. To see a human form of that character is fun.”
Guests could also purchase anything from manga comic books, imported Japanese food, gaming supplies and artwork based on their favorite shows and games from vendors and artists at the convention.
Sam Kent, the artist behind Itty Bitty Sheip, sold hand drawn commission art, most made on site, for guests at UCon. UCon is one of seven shows Kent is attending this year.
“I’m really big into pop culture and drawing as a whole, so I just put the two together,” Kent said.
The second day of the event was much slower than the first. While Saturday was a constant rush of color and activity, Sunday had a much more laid-back atmosphere.
Guests trickled in throughout the morning, in contrast with the crowds during the first hours of Saturday’s events, and much fewer of them were in costume.
While no panels were scheduled for Sunday, guests still had the opportunity to pick up any last minute items from the Dealers’ Room and get their last chance to meet Vic Mignogna.
Guests and organizers are looking forward to an even bigger and better UCon @ UConn next year.