Connecticon 2012 Report With Zero Gravity

Posted on Jul 18 2012

Before there was DJ Zero there was me, Cortland Rettburg, and while I haven’t legally changed my name to “Zero Gravity” there was a time where anime events where purely for my self-satisfaction and amusement, in complete ignorance to other people’s experiences. ConnectiCon, an anime convention held yearly in the ever expanding sector of Hartford, Connecticut, was my first and was always the “go to convention” for myself. ConnectiCon started in 2003 at a college campus far from its current home at the Hartford Convention Center, earning the bragging right of raking in 800 attendees in its first year, myself being among those 800.

Ever since then, ConnectiCon was always my event of the year, the one thing I could not be stopped from attending. I would wait for ConnectiCon to open their pre-registration and slap down the $40 required for the early bird 3-day weekend pass. I would go, walk around with friends, play video games, participate in card game events, buy things, and attend screenings. All my problems seemed to vanish in those 3 days of just “me” time. So when I was presented with press passes for ConnectiCon 2012, I was overjoyed, being able to cover a convention I had attended since I was in middle school.

The difference between this experience and previous experiences was the responsibility I was given. No longer could I lounge about and do as I pleased, I had a job to do. My first convention as press was Anime Boston 2012 with fellow staff members DJ Christmas and DJ Eternal. While AM² was when the real training began, playing with the big boys, Kanashimi and Kibs. With those experiences I tackled ConnectiCon 2012 on my own. So what did I discover?

ConnectiCon 2012, as I said before was a convention that began in 2003, this year celebrating its 10th anniversary, priding itself on being a multi-cultural convention that celebrates not just anime but comic books, video games, card games, board games, and all forms of science fiction. It was first held at the University of Hartford, before moving to its permanent home at the Hartford Convention Center in 2005. The convention in recent years has expanded so far as having events held in the Hartford Marriott Hotel next door, home to raves and anime screenings.

Guests ranged from the new like Danielle McRae to the legends like Jim Cummings, to the pop culture icons like TeamFourStar and Doug Walker the Nostalgia Critic. Day 1 started with Opening Ceremonies, where the audience was greeted with the likes of Jon St. John, Danielle McRae, Rachael Robinson, Jim Cummings, Carlos Ferro, and others. This was quite honestly, the first time I’ve attended opening ceremonies at ConnectiCon, and needless to say I felt different as though something just wasn’t right… but it wasn’t a bad thing. While waiting in, what seemed like forever, the line for Jim Cummings’ autograph, one of the things I noticed was how serious the convention staff was. Volunteers aside, I noticed how quickly to act and quick to respond staff had been. Much of the 1st and 2nd day didn’t entail too much, and my pictures where limited with my… sad to say… weak digital camera. Of course, something to behold was the combination of Brentalfloss and the Nostalgia Critic holding a semi-concert together.

One of changes from previous years involves the game and dealer’s room and artist’s alley. In previous years the dealer’s room took up one entire half of the downstairs while the game room claimed the other half, with ¼ of the Ball Room on the top floor claimed by the artist’s alley. This time, the dealer’s room was minimized, the artist’s alley shared the dealer’s room, and the game room expanded, allowing for more card games, more miniatures, and more café room. Speaking of café, their food is something to brag about, having for the first time in their history an Asian cuisine bar. But if you prefer food from good old Uncle Sam’s kitchen, the convention center sold Caeser salads, burgers, French fires, nachos and VERY high-quality thick-crust pizza by the slice. The two sides were also, for the first time, tractable, allowing you to save yourself the hassle of walking all the way down the room and out and walking around to go into the opposite room. This year they offered a quick path, allowing people to enter the artist alley/dealer’s room and leaving with much more ease.

Once Day 3 began, I was utterly shocked when ConnectiCon announced that due to the previous day’s circumstances regarding the Doug Walker panel, ConnectiCon had managed to obtain a 2nd Q&A from Doug, and unlike before where, no joke, an entire side of a building needed to be evacuated due to overcrowding for Doug’s panel. Make no mistake, the Hartford Convention Center is by no means small and incapable of holding the amount of attendees ConnectiCon flaunts, however when half of its mass tries to force itself down one hallway on the top floor on one side of a building, of course it would cause a fire hazard.

Continuing, the second panel was held in the second biggest room of the convention center, the Ball Room. Excited, I managed to snag a place in the second row and just enjoyed the laughing and interesting facts that ensued. But before the panel itself started, before someone announced that Doug was even in the room, for a whole thirty minutes, I saw, for the first time since I attended ConnectiCon in 2003, the TRUE face of ConnectiCon. Simply put, when waiting for a large event to begin, it’s not uncommon people will talk to each other and music will play, much like waiting for the trailers in a movie theater to start. There was energy here, a warm, happy feeling. People would get out of their seat, and hop to the front, and they would dance to the music, songs like “Billie Jean”, “Time Warp”, “Sandstorm” and even the Caramelldansen, everyone in the audience clapped, and cheered for the people who got up and showed off the energy. Costumed or not, there where people up there having the time of their life, not just 3 or 5 people where dancing, between 10 and 20, complete strangers, all ranging from a little girl who barely looked like she was 8 to her mother who appeared to be in her early 30s. It gave me a light feeling to be a part of a community that has fun with each other, without the care of who each other was, it was, with all cheesiness, the highlight of my weekend.

Following the panel, which was cutting it close, were the closing ceremonies, where members of TeamFourStar, including Takahata101, Lanipator and Antfish, announced that ConnectiCon 2012 ended with an astounding number, of over 10,000 attendees. An incredible feat since their first year so many years go. After closing ceremonies, I thanked just about any staff member I could for an incredible job well done.

So ConnectiCon, is it worth the trip, time, money and effort? Absolutely! As I said when I started, ConnectiCon for me was only about my amusement, my enjoyment. Everyone can recall and define their experiences, but this was the first time I was able to experience other people’s opinions. The atmosphere is incredible, the space is great, and the staff of the convention truly cares about everyone’s experience, everyone gets the same treatment, no higher, no less. ConnectiCon is growing, and with the size the positivity can only grow as well. ConnectiCon is organized, professionally staffed, contains an incredible volume of panels, events and screenings, and most importantly, fun.

I want to thank the people behind ConnectiCon for allowing me to attend as press, and for giving me a chance to view the convention in a way I never saw before. I look forward to ConnectiCon 2013, and I’ll be seeing all you fanatics there.

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  • nerdwerld July 18, 2012 at 12:51 PM

    That was a great expose of two different perspectives at going to a convention. Nice work, Zero.

  • Siege July 18, 2012 at 12:54 PM

    Good report, and well written. It seems a lot like my experience with Kamicon. It was always my go-to con and going in with a new perspective last year was amazing.

  • Zero Gravity July 18, 2012 at 1:24 PM

    Yeah I suppose it wasn’t too shabby for a first report 😛
    Getting a new perspective for something that you’ve been familiar with for years it a thrilling experience

  • Kayarath July 18, 2012 at 9:56 PM

    But you didn’t play Ninja! No convention experience is complete without a game of Ninja!

  • Mollybibbles July 22, 2012 at 12:54 PM

    You certainly gain a fresh perspective through the eyes of a reporter. This report gave a very clear idea of the day’s events and gave us a taste of what we missed. Nice job, sir!

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