A Return to Normal | Conventions
This past weekend I finally got to experience something that I haven’t done in over two years: go to a fandom convention. And best of all, I got to bring my 16-year-old son too. After over two long years, it’s good to be back “home” again and meet fellow fans, panelists, cosplayers, artists, guests, and vendors.
Across the country we’re seeing many pop culture conventions returning like Star Wars Celebration, Fan Expo, Pop Con, and many others coming soon like TCAF, HeroesCon, San Diego Comic Con, D23 Expo and many more.
Over the weekend I took my son to the Colossal Con anime and manga convention held annually in Sandusky, Ohio. Colossal Con has been a fixture in the convention scene for 20 years now for anime and manga fans in NorthEast Ohio. The convention is held at the Kalahari Resort’s convention center and draws fans from all over the world. The event is a five-day festival of panels, live bands, voice actors, artists, media guests, video game rooms, and so much more.
Though my son and I came for just one day, I wanted to get my 16-year-old’s feet wet and experience what goes on at a convention and he was instantly hooked. He loved the entire experience and came away happy, exhausted, and a “few” dollars short after purchasing manga, art prints, Japanese snacks, and vinyl figures.
First off – my hat goes off to the cosplayers. I’ve never seen so many wonderful cosplayers. The last time I was at Colossal Con was in 2009 and over a decade later I noticed one thing off the bat: almost 50% of the attendees were cosplaying! There was an amazing number of cosplayers at the convention. Demon Slayer and My Hero Academia ruled the roost for cosplayers, but we saw so many characters from so many anime and media – from Spy x Family, Chainsaw Man, X-Men, Voltron, Sonic the Hedgehog, Legend of Zelda, Avatar: the Last Airbender, Samurai Jack, Rising of the Shield Hero, Neon Genesis Evangelion, Gurren Lagann, and so much more. Part of the fun was seeing someone cosplay as an obscure character. Many cosplayers even had multiple costumes for the many days of the convention. My son loved getting pictures with cosplayers from anime, Star Wars, and Marvel characters, and we constantly found ourselves talking to the cosplayers on how they made their designs. It’s safe to say that my son is already talking about next year’s dates and what he can cosplay as.
I got to introduce my son to all the vendors there selling action figures, plush, manga, vinyl figures, animation cels, posters, and most importantly all the wonderful Japanese snacks. My daughter – who loves anime and manga as well – loves Japanese snacks but isn’t quite ready for the con experience and she was delighted with the haul of snacks we brought home for her.
We also got to meet many of the artists at the convention. I always bring a sketchbook with me and try to get a few sketches/commissions from artists, but there was an amazing number of artists there selling their prints, postcards, stickers, sketchbooks, magnets, and so much more. I connected with a lot of my favorites on Instagram and even started supporting a few of them on Patreon as well.
There was so much more happening during the convention that we didn’t take part in – but that’s nothing new. There’s always so much going on that you never get to fully experience all the convention – you just take back and savor your own little special memory. You can’t sit in and hear even panel you wanted to see. You can never buy all the figures you want or the sketches you wanted to get. The special memory for me was running into a former teen library patron of mine who recognized me at the convention. She used to come to my programs as a teen. She wanted to thank me for hosting anime clubs and Super Smash Bros. tournaments when she was a teen, and she was pleased I’m still at it. As a librarian it’s not that often we get to hear the “thank you” from customers that you’re doing the right thing and that you had a positive impact on someone’s life. When you do, it’s one of the best feelings in the world and I’m going to savor it for a long time.
Yeah, it’s safe to say my son and I had a great time and we’ll be going back to more pop culture conventions. It’s good to be back!
What conventions do you miss and what are you looking forward to experience in the future? Let us know!
Filed under: Conventions
About Mike Pawuk
Mike Pawuk has been a teen services public librarian for the Cuyahoga County Public Library for over 15 years. A lifelong fan of comic books and graphic novels, he was chair for the 2002 YALSA all-day preconference on graphic novels, served as a judge for the Will Eisner Awards in 2009, as well as helped to create the Great Graphic Novels for Teens selection committee for YALSA. He is the author of Graphic Novels: A Genre Guide to Comic Books, Manga, and More, and co-author of the follow-up book Graphic Book II both published by Libraries Unlimited/ABC-CLIO Publishing.
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