Cedar Rapids Comic Con was a comic convention held in my hometown of Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Last year I attended the warm up convention for this one titled “NewBo Con” at the local city market. The organizer, Preston Moore, was testing the waters for a Comic Con in Cedar Rapids and had a lot of support and success in a smaller venue so for the second year he took the plunge and moved to a larger downtown convention center with more room, more vendors, more panels, more gaming, you get the idea.
I thought it would be fun to support the convention and promote the blog a little bit so I talked to Preston about the Gamer Breakfast crew bringing down some consoles and arcade cabinets for all day open gaming. It was a rousing success by all accounts so here’s a little story about the day.
We arrived 3 hours before the start of the convention with cars full of tv’s, consoles, and a Donkey Kong Junior. It was about 7 AM and several vendors were loading in their wares and setting up already. After finding a parking spot my lovely wife helped me unload all my stuff and lug it inside which went pretty smoothly all things considered. The Donkey Kong Junior was a bit of a challenge because we were dealing with a dock and not a ramp but Callie deadlifts for breakfast so moving awkward 30 year old video games, not a problem. Getting inside we ran into Preston and he set us up with a premium spot in the front of the gaming room with some 8 foot tables, electricity, and chairs. Callie hadn’t had a good enough workout yet so she bailed at this point and went to the gym and I proceeded to plug various cables into various ports until we had a pretty sweet little set up with Smash Brothers for Wii U, Killer Instinct for Xbox One and DK JR in all its glory.
At 10 AM the masses descended into the convention and it truly was a huge wave for the first couple hours. Several thousand people meandered through the area, checking out all the various open gaming. Smash was a constant from the first minute to the last with a constant line of dozens of people looking to “get next”. The demand was greater than the supply but everyone was enjoying themselves watching a crowd pleasing game like Smash. KI wasn’t as popular but it was also always under use. Callie returned and did her best to promote the blog along with me. I had a goal of gaining 100 twitter followers for the day but ended up with about 20 I think. We had a score contest going on DK JR and the plebs were getting destroyed by the game. It’s not an easy game to just jump on, you have to learn the patterns and the tricks of the trade. A few old-timers got past the first couple stages but the high score for the day was a measly 33,000. I’d say Junior won in the end with over 200 games played on the day.
My sister showed up in full General Leia Organa of Resistance cosplay. I was in awe of her hairdo dedication and my mom’s sewing. There was an old Han Solo talking with her for a minute, I wish I would have gotten a picture. My nephew went as an NES Controller, pretty creative as I didn’t see anyone else cosplaying a controller. I’m told he received a lot of “Awesome dude!” comments. The cosplay in general was pretty fun, my over under on Reys for the day was 5 but I only personally saw 3. Deadpool and Harley were the two most popular cosplays which is kinda funny considering they are basically the same character. My personal favorite was a Spider Freddy who asked me if I “Wanted to be part of his nightmare?” A lot of kids were obviously Anime Iowa veterans, which warmed my heart a bit being that was the first con I ever attended back around 98′ and 99′.
The vendor room was packed with a good variety of artists, crafters, comic books and all things comic conventiony. Callie braved the masses early and secured me the official print for the con from artist Carter Allen, featuring a Cedar River kaiju and several other original heroes. She also got me a badass mini print of one of the original heroes L.I.O.N. The ION Lion. Cedar Rapids has lots of concrete lions so maybe this was a nod to those? If not I’d like to think it was and he looks awesome anyways. I missed out on some pearlers that I had my eye on but in general it seemed like business was going well for a lot of vendors. My sister was awesome and got me a present from artist Jonathan Sims, a small print of a pizza shaped like the state of Iowa, not really sure if there is some deeper meaning behind it, I just thought it looked cool.
I wasn’t fortunate enough to hit up any of the panels because I was keeping an eye on the Gamer Breakfast set up and making sure kids weren’t setting Smash to 5 stocks, come on kids, Melee is 5 stocks, Smash 4 is 2. The panels I heard were pretty fun although one tiny complaint I heard from a couple people was they were lacking a stage which was a little bigger deal for the cosplay contest. In general when I go to these cons the panels are always the most interesting and enjoyable parts so next year Ill have to sneak away and catch some and hopefully the Con can grow this direction as well.
Cedar Rapids Comic Con knew what it was and had a huge successful “first” outing. The final attendance clocked in at over 10,000 people, which for a one day downtown Cedar Rapids event is pretty much unheard of. They did some smart things, making the convention very affordable, relying on early community support and having a solid balance of gaming, vendor space and panels. As for Gamer Breakfast, I’ve already committed our presence for next year. At our peak we had about 40 people hanging out Smashing it up and having a great time. My idea for next year is to embrace the Smash and maybe get a Smashathon going, Project M, N64, NX maybe?!?. The only complaint I heard was not enough controllers for people, so thats a good problem to have if it’s just filling out demand. Gamer Breakfast at its heart is about gaming and it was fun to get out in the community and promote what we love. Much love goes out to our supporters who stopped by and said “Hi”. Please come on our next year, we’ll be there again in full force getting our geek on.