Syracuse Comic-Con Draws Crowd With Cosplay and Activities

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Syracuse Comic Con

On Sunday, November 13th 2016 the Syracuse Comic Con took place at the SRC Arena, drawing in hundreds of gamers, cosplayers, vendors and even a few cars! Critical Blast was there to share the experience with you, our readers.

The organizers at Syracuse Nerd must firmly believe in the mantra 'go big or go home' because targeting a 60,000 square foot arena for it's first event was certainly a bold choice. Often you find young conventions using a more intimate setting, such as what you may find at a hotel. However, they clearly had a vision on what they wanted this convention to be about: Activities.

Most conventions, in their early stages of growth, seek the more cozy confines of a local hotel. One of the organizers I spoke to, Jason Randall, had confidence in filling a larger venue for the fledgling convention, "We wanted to put on a bigger con. We wanted to meet the challenge of filling the thing...we just thought of going for it."

Randall wasn't coy with revealing his strategy for drawing such a large crowd, "I knew we weren't going heavy on major guests, but I knew we could go heavy on vendors, heavy on activities." Many of those activities helped keep con-goers engaged throughout the afternoon.

Boasting a cosplay contest featuring hundreds of dollars in prizes, the floor of the arena was filled with cosplayers of all skill levels and ages. The convention also featured a giant inflatable movie screen that became the battleground for their Super Smash Bros tournament that took place throughout the day. Off to the side , there were multiple gaming stations available featuring popular titles from Playstation, X-Box and Nintendo that patrons could play at their leisure. There were panels throughout the day that offered fans an opportunity to ask questions of their guests and even receive some insight on topics such as podcasting, which has become the primary way for many comic book fans to hear news and insight about their favorite properties.

One such activity, that could easily be overlooked, catered to families with younger children: inflatable obstacle courses. Set up for kids to run through, this was probably the most underestimated feature of the convention. Many parents who would love to attend, might ultimately decide to stay home because conventions often provide little entertainment value for smaller children. Providing parents with a way to let their kids burn off some of that energy is a stroke of genius.

While the few guests that attended the con didn't exactly have lines of people waiting for autographs or photos, it seemed as though they were having a good time nonetheless. I had a brief conversation with Ron Marz; while many of you probably aren't familiar with SCION, I had so much I wanted to talk with him about regarding the series he worked on with Jim Cheung for CrossGen comics.

I promise, the next time I speak with him, I will ask questions about current and upcoming projects in an actual interview. But for Sunday, I needed to have my moment.

I also spoke with Paul D. Smith who was selling novels from his JASON AND THE DRACONAUTS series that he launched through Kickstarter back in 2013. A series that explores "what would happen if dragons came back now, in the 21st century?". The book is an original concept which seeks to introduce Dragons, not just as creatures, but as actual characters in the book. The series can be found on Amazon. You can learn more about it by visiting Smith's Facebook page.

Another benefit to having such a large space is to include vehicles that are pop-culture personified such as the famous Delorean from BACK TO THE FUTURE. Also on display was an SUV, modified for Ghostbusting.

DeLorean Time Machine at the #SyracuseComicCon

— CriticalBlast (@CriticalBlast) November 13, 2016

The city of Syracuse finds itself in the heart of New York, surrounded by conventions all across the state. It was clear that, after some research, the time for a major convention in the Syracuse area was past due: "We had worked with a site called Syracuse Nerd," Randall said, "we cover all the conventions in upstate New York, from the Brooklyn Bridge to the Canadian Border and we saw that the ones in Syracuse weren't as good as the ones in Albany, Buffalo, Rochester. They were killin' it. And they weren't just killin' it with one, they were killin' it with like 3 or 4."

So what are the plans for the next event? "Two days and 3,000 (people)," Randall replied, "I don't think it's that crazy of an idea...we did this in two and a half months, so now I wanna see what we can do in ten months."

I have no doubt, that with ten months of preparation, the Syracuse Comic Con will quickly become a premiere event in Upstate New York.