ConnectiCon: A Much Needed Break From Reality

Image By Lilianna Angel Maxwell

What a bunch of weirdos.

I can’t say I was in a good frame of mind when I went to ConnectiCon last weekend, but I certainly came home in one.

My family and I travel to Connecticut each year to this multi-genre convention of fandom and fun.  I was dragged there by a friend and enjoyed myself so much that I started dragging my own people with me. In the past ten years, I’ve only missed one. This year I took my two teenagers, plus one of my daughter’s friends. We stayed at the family of a friend’s house, camping in their backyard. (I utilized all the tips I suggested in a previous post to go to a con on the cheap.) At this point, the kids and I meet up with over a dozen people each year we attend—and always meet new friends, too.

So why the negative start? I had just spent a stressful week in the “real” world, and had a lot of work to catch up on. Going away for the weekend seemed like just one more item on my to-do list, and I wasn’t in the mood to cosplay, interview celebrities, or participate in discussions. When I walked into the con, I looked around and had a very negative attitude.

Then I realized that I go to these things all the time. I’m a weirdo!

For a split second I was dismayed. Did other people judge me that way? And then the atmosphere of ConnectiCon started seeping in: the relief of expressing something you love, the joy at seeing friends, the happiness at being yourself in an accepting little universe even if only for the weekend, and the fun of sharing it all with my kids. Who the hell cares if people judge me for being a geek! And I certainly will not start doing it to others. After that, the weekend was a blast. So what did my family and I do at ConnectCon? Lots!

Image By Rebecca Angel

The best part is seeing our fellow geeky friends. I had thought one of my best friends in the world (the same person who brought me that first year) couldn’t make it, but then he did! We watched the FMV Contest (Fan Made Videos) together. I try to pick the ones that really match the music with what’s going on. There was a superb one that used a Bjork song…and I didn’t write it down… and I can’t find a list on the website…

Image By Rebecca Angel

My son played Magic for most of the weekend. Although he had a great time, he felt like he had been at a party and only talked with one person. Next year, he said, he’d try to branch out in his activities more.

Image By Rebecca Angel
Image By Rebecca Angel

My daughter and her friend cosplayed on Saturday: Effie Trinket from The Hunger Games, and Chihiro Ogino from Spirited Away.  

We danced, danced on Friday, but I let my daughter and her friend dance on their own Saturday (my feet hurt by the evening—old lady is me.) They said it was lots of fun. They wanted to go to Tea Time, but were unable to get in. It’s a popular panel! Yay for tea!

Several of us went to see the 18+ Art Fight. This is where two teams of cartoonists are given random words/phrases from a spinning wheel and have to draw on a huge board. The artists (and words) change every five minutes, while a host chats with the audience, and makes comments and jokes about the art being made. Although the format is well-done, the 18+ excuse only led to frat-house humor. One of my group said he had seen their regular show, and with more random words/phrases, there was more creativity and less penis jokes. After fifteen minutes of the extreme sex humor, we got bored and left…

Image By Rebecca Angel

…to find a spot to see the fireworks! ConnectiCon coincided with the River Festival in Hartford, and Saturday night had a great show (complete with a beautiful full moon.) We decided to go outside the con to see them, but quickly returned after the fireworks were over. We missed the happy vibe of geeks, even for just an hour.

Image By Rebecca Angel

I enjoyed walking around the Artist’s Alley, bought some new comics, and chatted with artists, including this young girl and her proud mom:

Image By Rebecca Angel
Image By Rebecca Angel
Image By Rebecca Angel

I met other geeky families attending:

Image By Rebecca Angel

My daughter bought me an adorable Loki t-shirt. Yay! And I played LOTS of games (I’ll make a separate post about my favorites.) We saw the panel with Janet Varney, the voice actress for Legend of Korra. She was very entertaining, and even got some calls from other actors from the series to answer fan questions.

Oh, and the cosplay, the cosplay, the cosplay. I had been debating about this, but the She-Ra costume stayed home—maybe next time. Instead of my lame photos, check out this video by Beat Down Boogie of some of the fantastic work people do on their costumes.

This weirdo can’t wait till ConnectiCon 2015!

From One GeekMom To Another: Don’t Beg

Image By Rebecca Angel

Dear Caprice:

I too was a young mother, getting my degree, and not having any money to spend on “me time.” I was also a geek. Although I took my children with me to the comic book store, there were times I wanted to remember that I had a life and interests that did not involve being a mother. So I understand where you are coming from.

But when I saw your crowdfunding site to attend Otakon, I was dismayed. Should you have a weekend away from your kids? Yes! Is attending a geeky convention a great way to do it? Totally! But begging shouldn’t be your path. Begging is reserved for when your children are starving and you have no other options.

Crowdfunding is a fantastic tool for projects that require start-up capital, and the backers receive part of that project upon completion (lots of examples by artists). There are also incidents when a mother dies, leaving two young children, and the community starts a fund for the kids’ college (just happened in my town).

But asking money from internet strangers to go on vacation is akin to standing outside a movie theater begging people to buy you a ticket. You’re a mother! Be proud, resourceful, and get your priorities straight!

You are asking for $1,000. This tells me you have done no planning or creative thinking whatsoever. I went to cons when my kids were little and I had barely any money. How? Well, let me tell you from one GeekMom to another:

The Ticket: I worked at the convention and got in for free. In the last few years, I’ve been able to get a press pass through this here writing gig. Yes, if you work, you can’t go C-R-A-Z-Y because you have to, well, work. But there is always time for play. Being an adult is about balance—even on vacation.

The Food: Bring a water bottle and fill it at fountains at the convention. Go to the grocery store ahead of time and assemble sandwiches, and leave them in a cooler in your car in the garage to eat at breaks. Instant soup is also light in a bag, and all the cafes will fill up hot water for you. Make your own granola to bring along. Pretend you are your own mother—you know those fries are too expensive and won’t make you feel good anyway.

The Sleeping and Travel: Stay at someone’s house or at least share a hotel room. Travel with someone to share gas and parking. If you don’t know anyone, why are you going to a big expensive con? Go to a small, local one to meet people on the cheap instead.

The Stuff: A tiny art commission? One box of Pocky? An ice-cream treat? A fan-art keychain? Decide on one cheap thing you can spend extra money on and that’s it! To survive as a mom, you’re going to need self-control. Figure it out.

Caprice, I really hope you go to Otakon to remember that you are more than just a mom. But you need to set your sights down, realize what is financially possible, and plan ahead. And if you whine about not being able to buy that overpriced anime t-shirt, then you need to grow up. Now.

By making this post, I realize I am giving you more attention for this, but that’s OK. Personally, I’d rather give you tools than cash, so I’m not going to donate. But everyone makes their own decision visiting your crowdfunding site.

You’re going to school. Eventually, you will get a job that allows you to save enough for the geeky convention of your dreams. Just not yet. Set a good example for your kids.

Be true to your geeky self, but don’t beg.

Gearing Up For ConnectiCon

Meeting up with friends at CTCon! Image by Rebecca Angel.

I have attended ConnectiCon for almost 10 years. First, I went as a musical performer, then on my own, then with my teenage nephew, then with my daughter, then with both of my kids, and finally with my kids and their friends along for the ride. I just keep inviting people because it’s really fun!

Each year, we meet up with many of the same people who I only see once a year at ConnectiCon. We all have our favorite things to do, but always meet up for some group activities as well. I had waited until my kids were teenagers to take them, so I wouldn’t just be babysitting at my favorite con.

Is ConnectiCon right for you—or you and your family? First, see if you would like a big con or a little one.

Then, here’s a rundown about this particular con.

Want to be part of the action? My daughter was in their Artists’ Alley for a couple of years. I wrote about her experience there, plus all of the other interesting things we got into: The first year selling tea art and the second selling photographs and taking commissions.

We have a very busy summer. However, we are looking forward to a weekend away from reality, where we see old friends, dance, dress up, laugh, play games, find something new to obsess about, and have a good time with the whole family.

WonderCon: Kids Cosplay

Anna and Elsa
images by Jenn F.

This weekend was the third annual WonderCon, since its move from the Bay area to Anaheim. Each year this con gets bigger and bolder both in size and popularity. The caliber of cosplay at WonderCon has been improving along with it and looks like it may reach DragonCon levels of participation. Family and kids cosplay is huge here and the attention to detail is exquisite. Kids have set poses that they must get into before their picture is taken, proving that even the littlest of this generation already understand the power of their image going viral on social media.

Here’s a roundup of kids cosplay from this weekend’s WonderCon!

Above, sisters Chihiro and Chieko make an adorable Anna and Elsa. By the way Elsa’s posing, you can tell these girls have seen the movies more than a few times.

ahsoka and amidala
Amidala and Ahsoka
image by Jenn F.

More fabulous cosplay sisters! Bella and Eva do their best tribute to the women of Star Wars in Amidala and Ahsoka cosplay. You may remember Bella as Leia from last year’s Star Wars Reads Day!

doctor who
Dalek and Doctor Eleven
image by Jenn F.

Ah, family. You love them, you hate them, but in the end you need each other—much like a Dalek and a Doctor! Giana’s Dalek dress is beautiful in person and the plunger is a hilarious accessory. Michael’s casual Doctor is perfect for a con, comfortable and easily recognizable.

lego movie
Emmet and Wyldstyle
image by Jenn F.

This was one of my favorite cosplays of the day! Again, comfort is king when you’re strolling the con halls and these easy to put together costumes were a great match for adorable siblings Michael and Lena!

baby gandalf
Baby Gandalf

I stopped in my tracks when I saw this Baby Gandalf. Little Eli was quite a trooper during the con, even though he wasn’t really into his beard he still patiently posed for pictures. I imagine his cry would be YOU SHALL NOT NAP.

apple bloom
Apple Bloom
image by Jenn F.

This is a brilliant cosplay idea for any My Little Pony Fan. As Apple Bloom, one of the Cutie Mark Crusaders, Sophie Hanson was working double duty. Not only was she cosplaying and posing for pictures, she was also handing out flyers at her dad’s booth, Eisner nominee Travis Hanson of The Bean!

Captain America
image by Jenn F.

How’s this for an adorable Cap? I bet you didn’t know Captain America wore pigtails and a skirt! Well when Ella cosplays as cap, she wears it fabulously! I think the Chuck Taylor’s set off the whole outfit.

flash cap
Flash and Cap
image by Jenn F.
HANna Solo
Han Solo
image by Jenn F.

Cons can be exhausting and everyone needs a break now and then. While Flash and Cap took a load off, this little Han Solo named Anna took a snack break.

captain marvel squirrel girl
Captain Marvel and Squirrel Girl
image by Jenn F.

More siblings! Stella and her sister Anya were showstoppers as everyone wanted to take their picture in their detailed and gorgeous Captain Marvel and Squirrel Girl costumes!

Nightwing family
image by Jenn F.

A family that cosplays together…well, is the best! This family took their love of Robin to the next level in a family tribute to Robin and Nightwing. Great costumes with awesome poses to match!

super family
Superman Family
image by Jenn F.

I absolutely loved this Super Family because everyone got into the act. I don’t think they ever moved around the con because they were swarmed by adoring attendee paparazzi!

magneto scarlet witch and quicksilver
Magento, Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver

No spoilers here, but this family definitely has the cosplay of the moment. Perfectly timed with Marvel movies, I love the idea of taking a comic book family and translating it into real life family cosplay! Well done!

Win a Free Costume Up To $75 From Costume Super Center!


Con season is upon us, so it’s time to decide what you’re going to wear, cosplayers! Although some of you may spend countless hours crafting just the right costume, for those of us not so creative, the folks at have got you covered.

They’ve even created some fantastic guides, like this Guide to Star Trek Uniforms, and they have something for every Trekkie (or Trekker, your call) no matter which show or movie is your favorite. You can be a redshirt from The Next Generation, or maybe you’d rather be in command with this Star Trek movie gold shirt.


The choice is yours, and now you have the chance to win the costume of your choice up to $75 value from CostumeSuperCenter! Simply head on over to my TotalFanGirl to enter. Good luck!

Small Cons vs Big Cons

Rebecca in a blue wig playing Kung-Fu with Ceili Conway (home-made Jack Frost cosplay!) Image By Karen Conway
Rebecca playing Kung-Fu with Ceili Conway (home-made Jack Frost cosplay!). Image By Karen Conway.

I was introduced to geek conventions with a small con in my home city called Albacon. It hosted maybe one hundred people? I played some games, listened to fantasy authors, and watched anime with a friend for a day. As a parent with two early elementary aged children, it was a wonderful escape.

“That was fun!” I enthused. My friend shook his head.

“No. No. You have to come to ConnectiCon.”

So I accompanied my friend that summer to ConnectiCon. Ah. I understood why my friend had not been impressed with the other one. ConnectiCon, a fan-run convention, had a few thousand people (now they have close to 10,000), many dressed in elaborate cosplay, tons of panels on such a variety of topics, famous guests, soooo much anime, and way more than I could take in. As someone new to being a geek, and an older woman with kids, I felt somewhat out of place. But I was intrigued by this culture, started getting into it, and went back year after year. Eventually I brought my kids when they were teenagers. Love it.

I’ve also been to NY ComicCon, Arisia, and PAX East. Some big conventions around here.

And I’ve enjoyed myself at Pi-Con, “The Friendliest Little Convention in the New England,” as well as subsequent years at AlbaCon.

A couple of weeks ago, my kids and I tried out GeneriCon, another small geek convention close by. We played games with friends we knew (Kung-Fu!), watched some anime (Angel Beats), attended panels (Bad Anime by ConArtists was brilliant), admired artwork, participated in Iron Cosplay (10 minutes to put together a costume on a random theme with random materials), and generally had a good time.

I love the energy of big cons: famous names, rows and rows of cool art, crazy panels with loud crowds, big stage cosplay events, jammed-packed late-night dancing, test playing new games, and the incredible realization that THERE ARE SO MANY GEEKS OUT THERE! I remember describing NY ComiCon to someone, “If you took the entire population of Albany, turned them into geeks, and threw them together in one building—that’s what it’s like.”

At smaller cons: Cheap tickets. No lines for the bathrooms. No lines to get into anything! Plus, keeping track of my kids was darn easy in a small space. There’s also something else: getting to know the geeks in your community. At GeneriCon, I kept bumping into people I knew from other walks of life. They didn’t seem surprised to see me there (I do write for GeekMom) but I didn’t know THEY WERE GEEKS TOO!

I’m a fan of cons, and I’ve had good and bad experiences at large and small ones. What are your experiences? Do you like larger or smaller exclusively?