It seems a yearly tradition for me to apologize for a relative lack of updates in the month leading up to ConnectiCon; while I have restarted the four-day workweek for the summer, the primary drain on my time has been playing and replaying Mass Effect and its sequel. Fortunately, I’ve finished both and have a fairly decent endgame set up, so I should hopefully avoid spending all my time playing games. While it was not nearly the success that ConnectiCon 2009 was, the convention was still a lot of fun and rather enjoyable.
The first thing I noticed was that my prediction from 2009 was correct and Connecticut’s new policy of taxing small-time artists did reduce the number of people at Artist’s Colony. Those cartoonists who had purchased a license last year were fortunate; in an effort to make more money off of people trying to make enough money to pay for their hotel room and convention fees, the state doubled the fee for a new five-year license. I don’t know if the state of the economy (and high unemployment) was behind the reduced number of webcartoonists at the Colony, but I’d be willing to state that the number of actual webcartoonists at the convention had shrunk by a third; well, at least those who had booths.
I also noticed that things were a bit less organized this year. Panels were rescheduled at the last minute (with the Comiku Girls learning of a schedule change two hours before their Asian Brush Painting panel was due to start). While several of the larger webcomics had “Meet and Greet” panels, a large block of time originally scheduled for webcomic discussion ended up given to a pair of podcasters with a grief against poorly-written Harry Potter fanfics. (Alex Heberling of Garanos and myself did try to drag the panel on-topic for a little bit, but at the end the podcasters’ hatred of Mary Sue fanfiction got the better of them.) This is especially annoying for me as I’d been wanting to run a panel or two on webcomics; if I’d known of their need for a panel, I’d have volunteered my time. Sure, I’d have sucked. But it would have been better than talking about “My Immortal” and the like.
For the second year in a row, the Comiku Girls’ Japanese Tea Ceremony was run opposite of the Webcomic Charity Auction; unfortunately, I only know that Bardsworth’s Peter Tarkulich ended up not getting a tremendously high bid despite having a bundle of goodies that should have garnered a better bid; I’ve had Peter’s cookies before, and they’re definitely worth a decent donation toward charity. Ah well, maybe next year the Auctioneers will put him near the end of the bidding to increase bidding interest. (Oddly enough, both the Tea Ceremony and the Auction had fewer people than normal; I don’t know if this is because of the economy, or if there was a popular panel opposite both the Auction and the Ceremony that dragged people away.) Sadly, Chris Malone (of Blue and Blonde) and Brian Wilson (of Geist Panik) were not at the convention this year (though considering neither has had much luck updating their comics in a timely fashion, I don’t blame them for hiding from fans) so we didn’t get a continuation of the prank war from last year.
As with 2009, there were a number of “Hug Me” signs carried by various underaged men and women looking for some safe affection. As the girl with the anti-hug sign from 2007 wasn’t available, I took it upon myself to taunt the Huggers by telling them “No hugs for you!” At one point I made some emo catboy get all teary-eyed, so my mission of malice was quite complete. The only thing that would have made it better would be if I’d been able to steal some candy. (I tried to steal some Twizzlers from Pete’s booth, but he snatched them away before I could; something about how whenever someone took a Twizzler from his booth, they never bought anything. Considering I bought stuff from Pete and didn’t get any Twizzlers, there might be merit to that theory.)
While there weren’t nearly as many new webcartoonists around in 2010 compared to last year, I did have more money available to splurge on purchases; I spent $100 alone on Chris Hazelton’s collection of Misfile trade paperbacks; other series I purchased include Weregeeks, Looking for Group, and Flipside. I’ve noticed that I have a problem sometimes actually sitting down and reading new comics, even when I intend to. The print compilations will hopefully help with that, and should make for interesting reviews as well. (I’ll definitely be talking about Looking for Group in a few days; the hardcover versions of their second and third print compilations are absolutely superb, and of far better quality than most of the trash put out by the Big Three comic book companies.)
Despite the reduced number of new webcartoonists and the dearth of webcomic panels (which was made up for by a superb panel that talked about H.P. Lovecraft and the Cthulhu mythos in critical literary terms), ConnectiCon 2010 was quite enjoyable. While it might not have the sheer amount of traffic and huge number of booths found with larger venues such as the San Diego ComicCon, ConnectiCon has a fun homey feel to it. The heart of ConnectiCon ultimately isn’t the panels, or even the webcartoonists and other guests. It’s the con-goers, the fanboys and fangirls who dress in fun costumes and do various silly things who are the true heart of ConnectiCon. All the rest is just window-dressing.
Before I go, I also want to thank both Pete Tarkulich and Li and Akiko of the Comiku Girls for putting up with me. While I spent time chatting with most of the webcartoonists (both in the Dealer’s Room and in Artists Colony), I ended up stealing chairs and spending the majority of my time chatting with Pete and his lovely wife (who was playing the part of Booth Faerie for the Bardsworth booth) between popping over to the Comiku Girls’ booth when I noticed Pete eyeing blunt objects to use on me and bothering them in turn (at least until I noticed them eyeing steampunk gun-props; while I doubt they actually do fire lightning, it’s better safe than sorry).