“Connecticut ComiCONN: A show for the fans, by the fans!”
That’s the slogan for the Connecticut ComiCONN show, and let me tell you this: it’s 100% true. This isn’t a huge show in the sense of New York or San Diego Comic Con, which sets it apart. And that’s just fine because for a ‘smaller’ convention, it was still packed with everything fans could and would want. It absolutely had that feeling of “for the fans, by the fans.”
The Connecitcut ComiCONN show just had its 5th annual showing at the Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport, CT during the weekend of August 15th-17th. The first time this show began was at a Holiday Inn in New Haven, CT in 2010. The convention, having over 900 attendees that year, was the biggest in the state of Connecticut in about 15 years. From there, it held its show at the Stamford Plaza Hotel in Stamford, CT in 2011 and the Marriot in Trumbull, CT in 2012 and 2013. All of these shows were just 1-day events. This year was the first time it expanded to 3 days and that only made the show better for everyone.
On the first day, Friday, it was an overcast day. It seemed like it would rain any minute before the show even opened to the public. Alas, that didn’t stop the fans from lining up from the entrance doors, forming a snake line all the way to the next-door ballpark’s ticket booth, hundreds of yards around the corner. Fans stood in line, eagerly awaiting to enter, a lot of them in costumes and Transformers masks. Kids stood with their parents as even they were excited to have a great time.
As the doors finally opened, having the crowds poor into the arena, it didn’t take long for the place to be packed wall-to-wall with attendees, as they went to see guests and exhibitors alike. The halls around the arena were decorated and filled with merchants with their merchandise and artists doing sketches. Walking into the belly of the arena, where the sellers and more guests were held, just about everything you could ever want was here, from classic 80′s toys and movies (I watched a few minutes of Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends on DVD), to modern collectibles. There was literally something for all ages and generations alike. I mean it! There were even toys in bins from Dragon Ball Z, the popular Japanese anime, wrestling action figures (from wrestlers from the olden days to ones of the current era), even paintings and neon colored works of Chris Evans as Captain America. Somewhere, I even saw a ‘rare’ signed photo of Matt Smith (11th Doctor on Doctor Who) matted on a wooden frame.
What made this convention more special, not just to me, but I’m sure to all who attended, was meeting the sellers and convention guests, artists from Marvel, DC Comics, and others, who had such enthusiasm and great charm as they talked to the fans and customers. Sure, there will be those who think they act like that to push and sell their products, but for one thing: so what? That means they’re doing it right and a lot of them really are like that. I had the utmost pleasure of meeting and chatting with guests like Ming from Comic Book Men and Maximiliano Hernandez (Agent Sitwell on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Captain America: The Winter Soldier). They were down to earth guys and truly wonderful to talk to and take a photo with. These guys don’t have to do this. They don’t. They do it because they know what satisfaction it gives to the fans and the smiles they get from meeting their heroes and favorite people. And in turn, they also feel the exuberance of giving back.
What made this convention even more exciting, something that I actually have never seen in any other convention, which is surprising with the popularity of zombies in The Walking Dead and other zombie movies and shows, is a station where you could get zombified! Seriously, how cool is that?! I didn’t get zombified myself, but there were plenty of other people who did and they loved it. How did no one else think of an idea like this? It’s brilliant.
Pretty much all other cons have an “Artist Alley” and this one was no different. It may not have been its own huge room like in other places, but a nice corner of the arena was enough, as it held big names like Phil Jimenez, David Finch, George Perez, Chris Giarrusso, and others. No matter what time of the day, this part of the con was always packed like sardines in a can, with fans rushing to get sketches and signings from their favorite artist. This is also where one of my life dreams were made real; where I got to meet George Perez, get a book signed, and take a photo with him, as he hugged me when it was taken. All the artists here made fans’ wishes come true. It was definitely a sight to behold.
For a convention that’s a lot smaller than the aforementioned “big cons,” it still packed lots of events for people to enjoy. There were panels of all kinds for people to sit and learn/be entertained from and there was a gaming area to boot! I’ll say again: if there’s been that something you’ve been searching for, chances are, this con had it. And they’ll keep having it in future shows to come.
The ambiance of the ComiCONN show in the arena was that of utter enjoyment; smiles and laughter coming from everyone, people loving the time walking around — it was a (and excuse my pun here) “nerdvana.” This was my first time attending this show and while not having any expectations, I was still blown away. I can’t wait to attend future shows and hope they keep the 3-day event going. It worked out magnificently and proves that you don’t need a giant convention building to have people flock and enjoy what you’ve brought them.
For photos of the show, click here!