Saturday, March 31, 2012

Con Review: iCon 31

I just got back from iCon 31 and the results are IN....

By AllyCat Alisha

I have been to this show twice before and the last time was four years ago.  Since then a lot has changed which would make me think it got much bigger.  I am not sure that is the case.  It's pretty hard to judge.

The last time I went to this show the entire show minus panels and gaming was in the indoor sports complex.  Registration, the "dealer" room (not convention floor, weird), and art show were all together.  This year they were spread across Stony Brook University's campus.  If you do not go to school there this is very confusing.  Driving in I was extremely grateful for the signs directing me to the main parking lot but after those signs I did not see anything.  So I followed a few people who were in fact headed to registration.  Registration was in the Student Activities Center this year.  After standing outside in the cold and rain for 30 minutes I got registered and walked over to the information booth baffled.

"Hi, Where is the show?"
"You're at the show.  What are you looking for?"
"The show, the floor, is it up the steps?"
"Well the show is in a few buildings around campus, what are you looking for?"
"The floor where they sell things?"
"Oh the dealer room. Go outside and there is a brick building past this bricking building right in front of us.  It's in there in the sports complex."
"Oh, okay."

To be fair the man at the information table was very sweet and helpful.  I returned after my romp through the dealer floor and went back to the information booth.  He was still there and helped direct me to the Javitz Lecture Hall, because why would the art show not be in a completely different building?  That would be easy.  He also explained to me that boardgaming was going on in SAC and only about three panels.  Everything else was in different buildings.  More on the art show later.

Once I found the Sports Complex which sounded more confusing then it was I almost thought I was in the wrong place.  Upon entering the building they check your bags for props and of course illegal things, but beyond security the entrance way seemed empty.  The entrance way was where the previous shows I have been to held registration.  It seemed so vacant without it there.

The Dealer Room is in the gym.  Initially when I walked in I got hit with a dose of a funky smell.  Immediately I thought here we go there's the familiar geek stench.  The stench I have only smelled at iCon.  I am sure it happens at NYCC but because so many more pleasant (or clean) scented people are there I don't notice.  In fact, truth be told it's the smell that has kept me from going back to this show.  However, once I got past the stairwell it disappeared.  I got hit with again on the way out on the stairs.  While in the actual dealer room I had a completely different smelling experience then I had at previous shows where the air was clean!  So I am thinking its was the gym today.

The dealer room is not huge.  It's the reason I always think this show is very small.  I spend most of my time on the convention floor and not gaming, panels, RPG, etc... so the floor is where it is at for me.  For the most part I hang around the artist tables because I love art.  I am one of those that can not read a good story if the art doesn't work for me, but I can enjoy a poor story if the art is great.  I am definitely geared towards art.  Art is why I enjoy comics.  It's all about the art for me.  This show doesn't have an artist alley type area and the dealer room was dominantly made up of steam punk vendors.  So friggin cool.  Gush!

I forgot the genres this show covers and it truely is a huge blend of geek.  It's steam-punk, Renaissance reenactment, comics, gamers, RPG, Anime, Sci-fy, and pretty much everything which is really cool for smaller show, I even saw some Bronys.  Oh yeah!

Grrrrr...
The cosplay has grown and it's gotten better.  Right now it looks very easy to make your mark as a cosplayer at this show.  One of the reasons I was fretting about cosplaying at this show is because I was not sure which direction cosplay was going.  I did not want to show up as Supergirl and it's really a heavy Star Wars show these days.  Eek!  In the end, I actually got dressed this morning as X-23 and 5 minutes before I was leaving to get to the show Nightcrawler canceled on me.  For security reasons I cannot cosplay alone so I changed out of X-23.  Considering I had to stand outside in the cold for 30 minutes and I found the show to be fairly cold X might not have been a great idea anyway, but we still would have killed it.  Oh well.

None of the characters I cosplay were present.  No X-23, Supergirl, Elektra, or Calie... I did see characters from across the board.  Storm Troopers, Darth Vader, Harley Quinn, the Joker, Pokemon, a bunch of other characters who I am not sure of names.  I did not see any character duplications.  Oh I saw drunk Iron Man in the SAC building... the guy put a suit on and a mask and was wobbling around with an empty wine bottle.  Umm... creative, I guess?  I didn't like it, but I bet someone else thought it was funny.  I also saw two My Little Pony's!  Fluttershy and Rarity.  However both were missing ears, and horn/wings.  I still got it, but had I not seen Fluttershy first I might not have.

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Back to the dealer room.  I walked in and the first thing I spotted was my comic shop Fourth World!  I spent sometime chatting with Glen and then I wandered off.  I took a winding trip around the floor before swinging back over to the reason I made sure I went to the show.  Joe Coresentino!  Yay!!!!!!  I spent quite a bit of time chatting with him as well and he is just as friendly as I remember as is his wife Danni (pretty sure that is how she spells it).  I met Joe at iCon in 2008 and I saw him the following year at NYCC, but I haven't seen him since.  Turns out he hasn't been back to iCon since 2008, but he has been at Dragon*con and SDCC.  Go figure.  I took a long look through all of his work.  He has a huge portfolio and sells prints in three different sizes, but the 4" x 6" he only sells at shows.  The sin eater print I picked up I have been in love with since I first saw it.  The second I saw it I remember asking if if would be available as a print for online purchase, which it has been and I kept almost buying it.  But I know if I buy one I am going to want more and he doesn't have everything online so I prefer buying in person because I can get the images I absolutely love and in person.  Altogether I picked up 7 prints and it was tough to choose.  he has some in all sizes and some just in one size.  The sin eater print was the last copy and it was pulled from the portfolio.  I also picked up one 8x10 and that also was the last he had.  There is a special gleeful feeling I get when this happens, particularly so with something I have been lusting for as was with the sin eater print.  There were a few more prints I saw that I liked but Joe will be at NYCC this year so I will pick them up then!  Yay!  He had asked me which coloring I favored and I pointed out a few prints I already had which are pretty bright and then pointed to the sin eater as well and said I tend to like bright and colorful but also darkness and depth (which is probably me in a nutshell with everything).  Joe called me eclectic.  Love it.

Faeries!  Love, love, love!
I also picked up a beautiful mask made by Threads of Time.  I had walked by the booth a few times and noticed these pretty lace masks and I thought oh wow... aerials, yes, aerials... mask for aerials.  I spoke with the lady working and she explained to me that they are made with acrylic coating instead of starch so they will not stick to the skin and make up will come right off with a washcloth and water.  She was sent to do some measurements and the designer came over and continued helping me.  He said performance wear wise they work well with make up because the lace allows make up to be seen through it.  Yay!  The other highlight was all the steam-punk vendors, clothing, hats, jewelry, accessories... wow.  Loved it.

Sarah's display
After I made it off the dealer floor I went to the art show in the Javitz Lecture Hall.  The art show was much smaller then I remember it being.  Not only was it small, but it was sort of hidden and a few areas were empty.  My friend, Sarah, had her work displayed.  All from a self published comic she has coming out soon.  She was not there, however.  Sadness.  There was this photographer there that was taking pictures of plants and I realized they were those gorgeously lethal bug killer plants.  Not Venus Fly Traps, but the ones that look like large trumpets.  I have seen photos of them, but I have never ever seen them in person and my are they beautiful.  Turns out the man with the camera owns them and I then realized the art display was not of his plants but photos of them, as they went down the wall.  Gorgeous shots.  There was also a MLP artist displaying work, but no artist in sight.  Ho-hum.

In conclusion, I did enjoy the show.  I like it much more then I have in previous years and I am looking forward to going next year... at HOFSTRA!  They can definitely improve the show.  First and foremost SIGNS SIGNS SIGNS.  At SBU there were no signs.  Nothing directing me to anything, so I kept following the crowd.  I also had no idea where the art show was because it was not mentioned anywhere (that I saw) in the programs.  They had two SBU maps in the program.  One map was of the whole campus and the other a piece just showing the area with the involved buildings.  I think it might have been a good idea to label the buildings with different icons and then have a directory of what is happening in those buildings because for someone that does not go to this show every year its confusing. 

and me in the mask... I am sure its going to be much more fun with wild make up and hair.  :o)

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