NSCon connects community wth art, cosplay, fandoms

As a perfect amalgam of comics, manga, anime, sci-fi, fantasy, video games, cosplay and beyond, No Such Convention 2017 seeks to offer something for every community member. / Photo by Andrea Yang

For fans of comic, manga, anime, sci-fi, fantasy and video games, No Such Convention is a perfect amalgam of all aspects of geekdom. Run by the No Such Organization (NSO), No Such Con 2017 is taking place Feb. 17-19, with the theme of “Knaves, ne’er-do-wells, and rapscallions: an experiment in villainy.” Vendors will centralize in the Villard Room and CCMPR to attract passersby. Miscellaneous panels will be set up in the College Center while comedy and musical performances will take place in the Mug during the evenings. Big panels and the annual cosplay contest will be held in the Aula.

Head of Guests Candace Osterhout ’19 introduced what’s in store for this year, “We try to cast a wide net to bring people of many ‘geeky’ backgrounds to appeal to the Con crowd. Most popular panels and guests are usually writers, artists and professional cosplayers, but this year, we have several podcasters and webcomic groups attending.”

Osterhout continued, “Carlos Ferro is flying in from LA. [Ferro] is a video game voice actor known for his roles in Assassins Creed, the Godfather 2 video game and Gears of War. We are also bringing Sneak Attack! a Dungeons and Dragons podcast with over one million downloads and a steadily climbing and expansive fanbase. We also tried to expand the fandoms represented at the Con this year and are bringing members of Eagle Ordinary to Vassar to represent Warhammer 40K, a popular miniature tabletop game.”

Co-president of NSO Ezekiel Maben ’17 added, “We have a lot of guests we’re excited for, but my personal favorites going into this year are the Trio of Adam Tilford, Natalie Van Sistine and Amber Lee Connors– who are going to talk about voice acting, podcasting and an online animated show they made together– and Matt Farley, an incredibly prolific musician who will be performing on Saturday and Sunday.”

Amid the flurry of activity, Con-goers in cosplay will gather in the Aula on Saturday afternoon to have their costumes judged.

Osterhout explained, “A huge staple of the con is seeing everyone in Cosplay hanging out in the retreat and chilling on Vassar’s Campus. Most people cosplay from anime, but there are many from newer American media as well, including Gravity Falls and Adventure Time.”

Co-president of NSO Bridget Claflin ’18 noted, “Many people put many hours of work into making cosplay they get to wear to conventions. We encourage people to come in cosplay and even bring a cosplay group to the convention to run a cosplay contest. It really displays people’s hard work and gives people who would have never met otherwise a chance to connect.”

NSCon’s compact schedule takes hard work to plan and prepare ahead of time. Osterhout recounted, “We start prepping for the con well in advance, beginning around October with polling the NSOrg community for guest ideas and recommendations.”

Claflin shared, “Throughout the fall we send close to one hundred interest emails because we want to get as diverse a guest list as possible. For those we get responses from we then negotiate payment, travel and accommodations based on NSO’s budget.”

The convention is also a collaboration of a lot of people. Maben disclosed, “This year, we went for a much more decentralized system for planning the con, and involved a lot more people than just the exec board in our creation of the con theme and arrangement of vendors and guests.”

During the weekend of the convention, Claflin and her partner would be busy driving guests from the train station and taking care of every detail of the event. She stated, “There are many small things that go into making the convention run smoothly and everyone on the exec board works extremely hard as well as our volunteers. Those of us working the convention rarely get a break to enjoy any panels or the convention itself as we are so dedicated to making it a good experience for everyone else.”

Osterhout said her responsibility as Head of Guests is to reaching out to guests, maintaining the Facebook page and directing inquiries to the Con planning committee. She noted that the hardest part is trying to appease everyone. “Many people on campus are naturally perturbed when the College Center fills up with hundred of guests, but I also believe it is a rewarding experience opening up Vassar to members of the community, especially members that elsewhere may feel rejected because of their hobbies and interests.”

It’s also a challenge for NSO to improve the Con each year because of the limited number of people at hand. Maben shared, “We plan to run more video game events and try and push the Con theme more. We’re also either at or near gender parity this year in terms of guests, which is something we’ve been working towards over the past few years, and is a really exciting development.”

The NSCon has been a cherished tradition and well-loved by members of the Poughkeepsie/Duchess County Community. Osterhout expressed that the NSCon is relied upon by local vendors who share their art, passions, and work, saying, “NSCon is a huge supporter of local artist and musicians, and so while we consistently bring people from all over the US to the con as guests, many of our consistent and most important vendors and panelists live right here in the Hudson Valley. We rely on them each year to keep coming back with amazing and inventive ideas to improve the Con and keep it growing.”

She acknowledged, “The Con is by no means perfect, but for an entire weekend of activities, comedy performances and musical guests and concerts, it’s a huge feat and a huge success, and has been for a long time.”

The Co-presidents of NSO find it’s most rewarding to put the con together for all the guests and fans. Maben said, “I really enjoy meeting our guests, all of whom come from interesting backgrounds and do interesting work, and I always get a nice warm feeling when I see people coming here from al around the school and the surrounding area and just enjoying themselves in the environment we create.”

Claflin seconded, “Many people feel that conventions are the only place they can be themselves as a community that attends conventions is very welcoming and accepting, more so than any other place. Providing a place where people can have fun and be themselves, as well as bringing together so many people that would normally never cross paths is what makes organizing NSCon worthwhile for me.”

She concluded, “This year will be my seventh NSCon. No Such Convention is an event unlike any other on campus. It brings people from the Poughkeepsie community and all over as well as many alums to campus.”

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