I have to admit that when I first heard about Lock City Anime and Comic Con, I wasn’t immediately sold on the convention, mostly because of the size and the location, a Best Western Plus. However, it was relatively close to me, passes were only $10, and the guest list was intriguing–so I decided to give it a go, and I’m so glad I did.

Although the main entrance to the Best Western Plus didn’t really have any indications of what was being held within, the back entrance did have some outdoor booths set up and some pop culture cars parked right by the entrance, such as a car with the Umbrella Corporation logo on it with it a zombie dummy on guard. Although the other cars weren’t from franchises that are particular areas of interest for me, I love seeing that kind of thing at conventions because it’s cool to see the passion and work that went into customizing the car.

Inside, the admission lines went pretty quickly, though I got there relatively early in the morning, and by the time I left, it seemed like the volume inside had increased greatly, especially in anticipation of the cosplay contest.

The dealer’s room was on the smaller side, but it was well set up, the aisles were wide, and there was great variety in the room. Of course, there were the special guests, which were set up in a nice, logical order, all pretty much occupying on specific row, there were local artists, and a couple representatives from other cons like Terrificon and Rhode Island Comic Con and local comics shops.

This combination worked well, because there wasn’t too much of an emphasis on any one thing, which makes the convention more interesting overall. There were classic American comics, art prints, anime and videogame pins, collectible and customized LEGO figures, amigurumi, a handful of Japanese goods (mostly Pokémon-related), and even Star Wars coasters, among much more. Although I enjoy going to cons and buying licensed products, it’s something special to pick up the less common and the homemade items, and I will say that every vendor I talked to was very personable. This is big with me, as this is not always the norm with convention vendors. Good vibes count for a lot, especially when my wallet is potentially a part of the equation.

The guest list was amazing too. It was a short list, but it surprised me because it was pretty star-studded, including guests such as Peter Laird, co-creator of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and two of the series’ original artists, Philo Barnhart, a former animator at Don Bluth and Disney Studios, comic book publisher Charles Mosiant, Cassandra Lee Morris, a well-seasoned voice actress, among others.

Philo Barnhart hosted a panel about drawing characters from The Little Mermaid, a film he helped animate.

The special guests were personable, even when I approached just because I was curious about the art or the careers and not necessarily because I was interested in the product or series itself, a natural conversation took place that was more than just a sales pitch. I noticed that Mosiant, in particular, kept on calling attendees over just to ask them about things like their cosplay or just to say hi.

The panels I was able to attend were great as well. There was a lot of energy in the room and invited audience participation. The panel room was smaller, so it didn’t feel like the presenters were fathoms away. I was struck by how friendly presenters were, and amazed by some of the things they did: Philo Barnhart, for example, signed and then gave away the drawings he made during his panel and even did original sketches off the cuff at the end of it that he gave away as well. I’ve never seen something so cool or had something that cool happen to me at any convention I’ve attended.

The additional events also seemed to be big hits. I entered my first video game competition (I got my butt handed to me in about thirty seconds in my second round), spurred on by the fact that the group didn’t seem as scarily competitive as groups you may see at bigger cons.

There was also a maid café which was more of Pokémon fun room rather than a traditional maid café, which was something of a relief. I didn’t get the pass to enter the maid café, but it looked and sounded like attendees in the room where it was housed were having a good time. I did not have a chance to attend the cosplay contests, but there were also a lot of great cosplays around, appearing more frequently as the day went on.

Overall, I had a great time–fellow n3rdabl3 writer Alex did as well, describing it as [our default anime convention], with only the parts we enjoy included. Definitely accurate! I think this is a good convention for all ages. I saw many parents with young or early teenaged kids, and I think this would definitely be a good con to cut your kid’s teeth on if you live in the area and you don’t know much about comics or what the scene is like, or you’re not sure how comfortable you are with taking them or them going alone to the bigger local cons in Hartford or at the Connecticut casinos. Don’t be fooled, though, this con is great for all ages and long-time comic book fans too! It makes for a nice day’s activity.

The date for next year’s Lock City Anime and Comic Con has not been announced yet. This year the convention took place in North Haven, Connecticut, but Lock City appears to actually be the nickname for Stamford, Connecticut, so we may just have to wait and see what the official location announcement is too. For more up-to-date information on this, check out their website.

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