Why comic-oriented conventions matter

By Robert Johnson Jr.
Arts & Features Editor

This past weekend, I was fortunate enough to attend East Coast Throwdown (ECT) in Stamford, Connecticut – a fighting game tournament that took place over two days, but with a motherlode of content to be enjoyed. 

I managed to do pretty well for my first major tournament outing – which is a surprise, even to me – but this column is called “Robbie’s Comic Corner,” not “Robbie’s eSports Bragging Corner,” so I won’t continue detailing that.

Needless to say, ECT ignited a spark in me to attend more of these events, and while it, in itself, is the furthest thing from what a person would consider a “convention,” it’s still a communal experience to converse and do things with like-minded individuals.

Another thing that happened this past weekend – and it’s something I had to sacrifice attending for the fifth year in a row – was the Massachusetts Independent Comics Expo (MICE), which is an event that’s more in line with this column’s subject matter.

For the uninitiated, MICE is similar to ECT in the sense that it, too, runs for two days – Saturday and Sunday – featuring comic artists from across the United States, as well as artists based in Massachusetts, such as my longtime friend, Scott Clancy!

Yes, I am still a little bummed out that I could not meet Hazel Newlevant, the creator of “Sugartown” – the second “Robbie’s Comic Corner” entry – in person. I wanted to browse their wares and talk to them about their career.

As always, you might be asking me why I am providing you all of this fluff-driven exposition. 

Well, dear reader, I am here presenting a case as to why you should attend conventions, especially if you’ve had an upbringing like mine, where I had to dream about attending my first Anime Boston in 2013.

Conventions are a good way to get out of your comfort zone – they put you into an environment where one can interact with the media they consume, whether it’s by taking pictures of those in cosplay or perusing fan art in the dealers’ room/artists’ alley. 

On top of that, they encourage fans to be creative with how they showcase their fandom to the outside world. Cosplay was my lead-in to telling everyone in my high school that my best friend was the one who painted her skin grey to cosplay Gamzee Makara from “Homestuck.”

Yeah, that’s a long story, but I did gain a wealth of lifelong friends in the process who I still keep in contact with today.

If you’re interested in doing something similar, I highly recommend attending Rhode Island Comic Con (RICC) as a good starting point.

Now, I know conventions are expensive – I’ve been to over 15 of ‘em – but the Comic Book Club on campus, in collaboration with the Anime and Gaming clubs, are hosting a trip on Saturday, Nov. 2 for $15 a ticket.

Fifteen dollars is an absolute steal for something as massive as RICC – it even comes with transportation!

If you’re interested in dipping your toes into the waters of convention life, definitely go on Ramlink and order a ticket via ABC Ticketing.

While you’re doing that, I’m going to keep planning my trips to Seattle and Portland for Emerald City Comic Con and Rose City Comic Con, respectively.

[Editor’s Note: Robert Johnson Jr. is the president of the Comic Book Club.]