Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Connecticut ComiConn 2015

Journey along with me as I reflect on my three day adventure through the wonders of 2015 Connecticut ComiConn at the Mohegan Sun Convention Center. There I encountered artists, celebrities, super heroes, super villains, and regular folk looking to spend a summer day (or more) immersed in the magic of comics. The convention changed venues this year and was held at the beautiful Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, CT August 14,15, & 16th. I was impressed with the overall appearance of the Convention. The new venue offered more space, occupying two floors. The Uncas Ballroom, on the 1st floor, housed most of the vendors, artists, and celebrities along with the 1966 Batmobile and Batcycle, the 10th Doctor's TARDIS and other cool props out in the lobby area. The upper level, accessible by escalator or elevator, was home to panels, the entertainment stage, a magic gaming room, Indiana Jones experience, costume contests, and a quiet/reading room.

Handy directions to the Con
were placed strategically
along the casino floors

The coolest Comic Con Program
Upstairs: Indiana Jone Experience
Daleks roamed the lobby
Inside the Con
The Penguin and
the 1966 TV Batmobile

There were a myriad of photo opportunities for kids of all ages. You could "fly casually" in the cockpit of the Millennium Falcon, see if the TARDIS really is bigger on the inside, or sit in the original Batmobile. Guests could dust off their light saber dueling skills with the CT Jedi or reenact some famous scenes from Raiders of the Lost Ark. As one might expect, I did every one of these things. I even had some cohorts in the form of my children, Melissa and Mitch, and the Qwillery's editor in chief, Sally. Most of these photo ops were free but there was a $20.00 fee to sit in the Batmobile (you could take pics of it at no charge) and a $5.00 fee for the Indiana Jones experience. Once the fee was paid the customer was allowed to spend as much time and get as many photos as they wanted so I felt it was well worth it. In the Batmobile, I used the Batphone and pretended I was hitting the eject button. My daughter watched in mock horror as Catwoman picked a fight with Batman for our entertainment. Up in the Indiana Jones experience my family each took turns reenacting the iconic scene where Indy trades the bag of sand for the golden idol and then just as Indy thinks he outsmarted the booby trap the bag of sand drops. There was no rolling boulder but the bag of sand actually sinks! My son enjoyed posing with the Ark of the Covenant. The set was pretty realistic and we all had a blast.

Lightsaber duel at CT Jedi
The Cat and the Bat are at the Batmobile
Checking out the TARDIS
The Ark of the Covenant
Casually flying in the
Millennium Falcon
Golden Idol - Indiana Jone Experience

One of my favorite things about all Comic cons is the fans. Most are really excited to be a part of the convention and I am a huge admirer of those that go the extra mile and cosplay. In my opinion, cosplay is for everyone. I admire the teenagers who create their first cosplay as much as those seasoned cosplayers who look professional. It is always exciting to see what people have dreamed up and what characters are the most popular. This year's con showed me that there are tons of creative moms and dads out there because some of the youngsters had really unique costumes. One mom spent hours the morning of the show constructing her costumes out of balloons. And the second group proves the adage "The family that cosplays together- stays together".

Incredible Hulk, Groot and Baby Groot

Five Nights at Freddy's the Purple Guy and the Puppet
with Star Wars parents: Jedi and Vader

Another wickedly good group were the Sanderson Sisters of Hocus Pocus fame complete with Book and vacuum cleaner. Do my eyes deceive me or is that Billy Butcherson in the upper left corner?

Hocus Pocus cosply

No con is safe without a bevy of superheroes to protect it from evil doers and ConnectiConn had its share. Green Arrow was popular this year and I digitally captured three different versions.

Green Arrow 1, 2 and 3

Also protecting the masses:
Zena, Warrior Princess
Captain America and Superman
Constantine and the 11th Doctor
My all-time favorite superhero is Wonder Woman. This show allowed me to get my Wonder Woman fix, big time. Artist Phil Jimenez, who was scheduled for Saturday was a last minute cancelation, but never fear, José Luis García-López was there all three days of the convention. I was really excited to find and purchase this pencil and ink drawing by him of WW battling the Cheetah. Quite a few con-goers channeled their inner Wonder Woman as well.

Tracey and José Luis García-López with great Wonder Woman art

Wonder Woman Cosplay Part 1
Wonder Woman Cosplay Part 2
Wonder Woman and her peace loving pal, SpongeBob
Who knew that Pickachu and Wonder Woman were friends?
It's always a pleasure running into Christie Marston, granddaughter of Wonder Woman creator William Moulton Marston, who attended the show on Saturday. Christie and her dad, Pete, are the curators of the Wonder Woman Family Museum which you can visit on the web at If you get a chance to check out their visitor's gallery you might see a familiar face or two. Christie confessed that she is partial to the Wonder Woman slot machines here at the casino. Who would have guessed? Last but not least, I got my hands on this classic Wonder Woman #111, published in January 1960 by DC Comics. It was among hundreds of great comics at one of the many comic vendors at the convention.

Sally "Qwill" Janin, Christie Marston and Tracey "Trintitytwo" Maknis

Wonder Woman #111

If celebrity sighting is your thing, this con had you covered. My favorite celebrity photo has to be this one. I'm sure this family made John Wesley Shipp's day and it looks like the feeling was mutual! Shipp, who starred in the title role of the 1990-1991 TV show, The Flash, now stars in the 2014 hit show as Barry Allen's dad. When I asked him about working on "The Flash" he said the new show has a lot of heart. He also talked about how much fun it was to work with Mark Hamill again, who reprised his role as the Trickster this past season. Shipp was very enthusiastic and good natured. I really enjoyed the time I spent talking to him and getting some autographed photos.

The Flash Family with John Wesley Shipp

Another cool encounter was talking to Ke Huy Quan who played Data in The Goonies and Short Round in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. My family and I were very interested in his experiences working on both of these iconic films. I asked him which experience he enjoyed most. His answer? He said that they were two very different movies and he couldn't choose one over the other. He explained that during the filming of Temple of Doom, he was the only child on the set on a daily basis so he was treated extra special. He told us he was 12 years old at the time of filming and really didn't feel any pressure working on the set because every day was fun. He also mentioned that Steven Spielberg took great care of him. He said he also loved The Goonies because they had so much fun on set. He told me that all the kids in the cast were friends and that nothing is better than working with friends.

Ke Huy Quan with some happy fans!

Tyler Green, Connecticut's own runner up in the 6th season of the TV show "Face Off" was there Friday night to do a makeup demonstration on model, Ebony.
Ebony and Tyler Green

Other great makeup artists and guest cosplayers in attendance:
Echo Endless as She-Hulk
Jennifer Rose as Sally Jupiter/Silk Spectre

Ct Joker

This year I spent quite a bit of time talking to artists from all walks of life. I love creative people and hearing their origin stories and thought process behind their creations was really interesting. While interviewing sculptor. Lawrence Elig, he revealed that he worked in the toy industry for many years and actually made the molds for the original Star Wars action figures back in the 70s. It doesn't get much cooler than that. I bet you didn't know that Bob Camp, artist, cartoonist, and illustrator haunted museums as a boy to develop his drawing skills. He felt that sketching masterpieces would enable him to make muscle memory and become a better artist. It obviously worked! Click here for artist interviews in full.

Bob Camp drawing a commissioned piece

David Thorn Wenzel - Illustrator of The Hobbit graphic novel and more

Kyle Pasciutti of Decimated Desgins

Frankie B. Washington, Illustrator

Sculpture, Custom Painting and illustration artist Amy Kukta

Fine Sculpture artist Lawrence Elig

Anime, video games, and webcomic cosplayers are always out in full force.
Nathan Drake of Uncharted and
Lara Croft of Tomb Raider
Skull Kid Majora's Mask from my favorite
video game franchise, The Legend of Zelda

Booker DeWitt and Little Sister
from video game Bioshockn
Sub-Zero and Scorpion of video game
Mortal Kombat fame

Maka and her Demon Scythe from
anime Soul Eatern
Trolls Kankri and Nepeta from
webcomic Homestuckn
Fangtastic Grell from anime Black Butler
Scouts from Attack on Titan's
Survey Corps

Ready for action Yang, from American anime influenced, RWBY

I just have to include a few of my personal favorites:
Evel Knievel

Jack Skellington
Zombified Robin

Three very unique Ghost Riders, all top notch in my book.

Ghost Rider, chilling on the escalator makes
me absurdly happy

More of our photos from Connecticut ComiConn

Click here for The Qwillery's Connecticut ComiConn videos.

As one might expect, there were snafus, but I only experienced a couple. Holding the convention at Mohegan Sun was a great idea, with the exception of the people on Saturday who couldn't make it or arrived hours behind schedule because of a horrific accident on Interstate 95 that shut down the highway. Obviously, any inconveniences experienced do not compare with the loss of life and my thoughts and prayers go out to all involved. No one can predict road accidents but I believe Saturday's crowd was much lighter than anticipated due to this tragedy. I arrived approximately fifteen minutes after the doors opened on Saturday and was traveling with two con-goers who purchased VIP tickets in order to avoid the line at the door. They were told by staff, that they needed to wait in line with normal ticket holders because the other people had been waiting much longer. The VIP ticket holders politely asked for a manager stating they paid an extra fee for the sole purpose of not waiting in long lines. After some waiting, a manager did arrive on the scene and allowed them to go right in.

The crowds

Something extraordinary happened to me personally. When leaving the convention on Sunday, I put down my bags to take some last shots of the convention. Apparently, when I gathered my things, I neglected to pick up my purse. I try and travel light so it had roughly $100.00emergency money, my driver's license, my car keys, and three credit cards. While walking through the casino I heard my name called over the PA system. I immediately realized I didn't have my purse and made my way to the security station. I gave them my name and sure enough, someone from the convention had noticed a purse unattended and gave it to security. Do you believe not one thing was touched?? I am more grateful than words can express to the staff of Connecticut ComiConn and the Mohegan Sun for their honesty and efficiency. I am really looking forward to next year's Convention, with its new name, TerrifiCon, which will be held at Mohegan Sun on August 19-21, 2016.

Some additional thoughts from Qwill:

Connecticut ComiConn 2015 at Mohegan Sun was an exponential improvement over the event which was held in 2014 in Bridgeport. There was a much more room to view the vendors at Mohegan Sun and I think it's wonderful that the Con will be returning there next year renamed as TerrifiCon. Hats off to everyone who worked on/at the Con. The staff was friendly and helpful. I had a wonderful time and got to meet Adrian Pasdar and Greg Grunberg (who I hope remembers to watch The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra).

So my pet peeves - 1) I'm gong to suggest that TerrifiCon have a separate entrance for VIP ticket holders as does NYCC for example. VIP ticket holders enter through the same door as Press at NYCC and do not have to wait in the main line. I spoke to a number of VIP ticket holders who were frustrated by this on Saturday. They had paid extra to avoid the line. It's an easy fix. 2) There needs to be a bit more coordination with Mohegan Sun so that everyone knows where attendees should go. By the 2nd day of the Con that was not a problem and I suspect that it won't be an issue next year.  3) I hope that the TerrifiCon Artist Alley will be a bit larger.

Bottom line for me is that this has become a much better Con and I believe that it will get better each year and I'm thrilled that this is a Connecticut-based Con. Tickets for TerrifiCon will go on sale in February 2016. In the meantime, check out their Website, Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram @Terrificon_2016 to keep up with all the news.

Qwill's favorite cosplay:

Star Lord

Doctor Who and Missy!

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