ETSU-Con, ETSU’s annual multi-genre convention, met for its fourth year in the D.P. Culp University Center last weekend.
The convention’s webpage describes the event as “two full days of excitement where fans of Anime, Sci-fi, comics, and more will join forces for a weekend filled with fun.”
Event Organizer Nick Papworth said that by the first day of this year’s convention, they had already matched the attendance of last year’s ETSU-Con at 1,500 attendees. He said that since the first year the convention was held, they have had a great public response to the event.
SGA is the main sponsor of the event — allotting a generous amount toward the production of ETSU-Con — as well as Buctainment.
Papworth says that as of now, community sponsors have not had a major impact on the funding of ETSU-Con, but they would like to open up to more community involvement in the future.
Various panels and talks were held on topics such as “The Problem with the Strong Female Character,” “No Budget Film Making” and “K-Pop 101.”
Speakers included voice actors, YouTube stars, Cosplay groups, comic artists, authors and even a vocaloid producer.
Over 80 vendors filled the ballroom. Booths ranged from merchandise vendors to authors.
H.K. Wether, a speaker on “The Problem with the Strong Female Character” panel and also a host at her vendor booth, is a Johnson City author whose book, “Devils’ Mountain”, is set in East Tennessee. She said she has attended many conventions like ETSU-Con, but ETSU-Con has a different feel.
“This is my first [convention] at a college campus,” Wether said, “and there’s a really great energy and a lot of really cool people.”
Wether said there is a local circuit of conventions that she travels to frequently.
“Blades of Hope” co-author Maryam Awan also hosted a booth and said that as a counselor for children and young adults, she wanted to create characters that were realistic role models for her kids to learn from.
Awan’s friend Angela Davis was also at the “Blades of Hope” booth dressed as one of the characters from Awan’s comics. Davis said she and Awan began taking a women’s self-defense class together, which led to their shared interest in martial arts.
“I see students all the time who say they want to be Superman or Wonder Woman, and they have a hard time looking towards a realistic goal,” Awan said. “I wanted to create a fantasy property that has realistic characters that can actually do martial arts.”
Various attendees said events like this are important to the community. First time attendees Haley, Emily, Corrie and Naomi said, “The goal of any convention, especially one on a college campus, is to get out and meet people that enjoy the same things you do.”
Emily said even though there are probably a lot of misconceptions about the convention, everyone with an interest should come.
“You can just people watch!” she said. “It’s free to students, so you may as well.”
Taylor Moorefield and Josh Edmonds have been coming with the same group of friends for years. They said ETSU-Con is “the nerd paradise.”
“It’s a geek’s best vacation because there is so much stuff here,” Edmonds said. “Plus, you get to be someone else for a whole day. You can be whatever you want.”
Seeing people in extravagant costumes is a regular sight at any convention like this, and ETSU-Con is no exception. Amanda and K.T., ETSU students, came dressed as Zelda and Link.
They said they come for every aspect of the convention.
“It’s fun to see how other people dress up, and the vendors are really great,” Amanda said. “There are a lot of great artists in there. We saw Jennifer Hale this afternoon, and she was awesome. There’s a little bit of everything.”
Although the conference was described as the “nerd paradise,” the general consensus among the attendees was that ETSU-Con and similar conventions are really for anyone into books, comics, movies, anime, video-games and more.
Papworth said one goal of ETSU-Con is to showcase a lot of the unique programs ETSU has that many other schools do not, such as a top-notch digital media program, a Japanese program, a great computer science program and many others, such as theater and storytelling.
“You don’t have to be a ‘geek,’ ‘nerd,’ ‘video-gamer’—whatever term you like to use—you don’t have to be any of these things to enjoy some of the really good-quality programming we have,” Papworth said.