It isn’t Halloween this Friday the 13th, but you can count on it that people will be dressed up at ConnectiCon in Hartford.
Much like other comic conventions like the well-known Comic Con in New York, the Connecticut convention enters the worlds of Anime, video games, science fiction, steampunk and other elements of self-proclaimed nerd subculture, according to Paul Comeau, director of publicity and public relations for ConnectiCon.
“ConnectiCon is a convention that has everything because people aren’t so one-dimensional,” Comeau said. “They don’t just like one thing…. If you like nerd culture and everything involved in nerd culture, it’s everything under one roof.”
, a graduate, founded the event only 10 years ago and it has since moved from the West Hartford college to the Connecticut Convention Center to accommodate its growth from about 250 attendees the first year to thousands.
ConnectiCon, which kicks off with a formal dinner on Thursday night from 6 to 9 p.m. and runs through Sunday, will likely draw at least 10,000 people, Comeau said. In past years, people have attended from all over the state, as well as Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Vermont. Some Canadians who happened to be vacationing in the country even came last year, he said.
Why do people come from so far away for an event in a small state? There’s no one reason, but there are probably many reasons that make it appeal to a variety of people, thus its tagline – “a massively multi-genre convention.”
“Because we like so many things, we try to make sure everything’s represented,” Comeau said. “We don’t want just a little bit of it. We want a lot of all of it.”
ConnectiCon has packed the weekend with dances, a masquerade ball, film screenings, games, tournaments, many events and panels led by featured guests like voice actor Jim Cummings, who you might recognize as the voice of Darkwing Duck, Taz the Tazmanian Devil, Winnie the Pooh and Tigger too. Author Michelle Lang will do a reading of her series, “Lady Lazarus.”
You’re going to see a lot of characters at ConnectiCon, literally. Most people will be dressed up as their favorites from video games, cartoons, Anime, superhero comics, commercials, history, you name it. That is known as “cosplay,” Comeau said, which stands for costume play.
“Almost always, there is one guy with a real beard dressed as Jesus or one person dressed as Waldo from ‘Where’s Waldo?’” Comeau said. His favorite “cosplay” was three girls dressed as Animaniacs characters singing the music from the cartoons.
ConnectiCon staff members Kristen Benedict, of Avon, and Ryan Pagella, of Middletown, did an interview with Patch in “cosplay” – shown in videos attached to this story – as Mallory and Sterling Archer, of FX’s cartoon spy series, “Archer.” They will host “Let’s Make a Deal, with Archer” as their characters, based on longtime CBS game show “Let’s Make a Deal,” most recently hosted by Wayne Brady.
Dedicated convention goers often make their own costumes, Comeau said. Benedict, donning a silver wig to transform her into the mother of lead character Archer, sewed her blue, satin dress and jacket. Pagella, who will be involved in many of the shows at the event and the chess match, wore a suit as Archer, one of his many costumes planned for the weekend. He will also dress as Magnito from “X-Men,” Superboy, Hot Guy from “The Avengers” and a Pokemon trainer.
“It’s just a lot of fun to be around people with the similar interests that you have, dressing up in costume,” Benedict said. “Halloween happens once a year, but conventions happen all year long.”
A professional photo booth will be available, but you are also welcome to ask people dressed up if you can photograph them in “cosplay.” Benedict said it’s best to do so when there’s a crowd getting photos with them because they will want a chance to peruse the convention too.
People don’t necessarily act like their characters throughout the day, but you might get a Superman who will flex his muscles for a photo and others who will get into character, Comeau said.
Safety at ConnectiCon
Safety is important at ConnectiCon, so any mock-weapon props are checked at the door to make sure that there’s no security threat. Pagella also stressed hydrating and eating throughout the day and said not to be afraid to change into normal clothes if your costume gets too hot.
“Even super heroes take off their costumes from time to time,” Benedict said. “You can too.”
Magic: The Gathering and Video Games
Every summer, Magic: The Gathering releases a new core set of its trading card game that fuses the “strategy of chess and the luck and bluffing skills of poker,” Comeau said. The core set for Magic 2013 will be available to test out. ConnectiCon has added five Magic tournament events with opportunities to qualify for a 2012 StarCity.com Invitational. The top performers can also receive cash prizes and other "perks," Comeau said.
There will also be video game tournaments, typically Super Smash Bros or Dance Dance Revolution, and shopping, as well as an Artist’s Alley where people can meet the artists who make everything from comics to jewelry and see their work.
The event runs from 8 a.m. to midnight on Friday and Saturday and until 6 p.m. on Sunday. If you’re not pre-registered, the cost of entry, which must be paid in cash, is $60 for the whole weekend, $30 for Friday only, $40 for Saturday only and $25 for Sunday only.
"You’re going to walk in and you’re going to see a ton of people with big smiles on their faces, all excited to be a part of something awesome,” Comeau said. “They’re there to have a great time with other people that share their interests and passions."
For more information on the event, including schedules, visit http://connecticon.org. The Connecticut Convention Center is located at 100 Columbus Blvd. in Hartford.