One weekend out of every year, the College Center is flooded by Vassar students, community members and visitors from far and wide who all share similar interests like anime, gaming and comics. Multitudes of vendors selling items from anime figurines to vintage comics line the Villard Room, crowds of cosplayers—i.e., people who engage in costume play—swarm the area and the Rose Parlor transforms into a gaming central. This is No Such Convention.
No Such Convention (NSC), which is run by Vassar’s No Such Org (NSO), is an annual event that draws many of NSO’s aspects into one event. This year, it ran from Feb. 23 through 25. No Such Organization can’t really be defined, as co–Vice President and Head of Convention Noah Webster ’18 stated, “NSO could best be described as a sort of confederation of special interest groups, or as Andrew Schrynemakers ’19, the other VP, calls it, ‘several small orgs in a trench coat.’” The special interest groups include Board Game club, Video Game club, Warhammer club and multiple tabletop role-playing groups.
According to an email from Webster, the convention has been a tradition for quite a while now, with plenty of loyal supporters: “No Such Convention goes back 15+ years at Vassar, and we have contacts who have been with us pretty much since the beginning. HKT Mugen (imports and toys) and Panther Dragon (dice, leather goods, etc.) are two vending partners of ours who were here this year too.” In addition, new vendors were added for the 2018 convention; as Webster added, “We also welcomed a number of new artists and vendors this year, some of whom we believe will continue to be valued contacts and supporters!”
One of the new vendors who is planning on returning next year is Julianna Bencze ’21, along with her partner, Gabby Ho ’21. They ran a table together under the name “Ho & Co.” Though it was Bencze’s first time vending at a convention, she remarked, “It was a positive experience overall. I was impressed by the number of large and professional vendors that attended. I was selling handmade buttons along with my friend who was selling hats.” Ho & Co.’s best selling products were Bi Pride buttons and “The Gay Agenda Hat,” a hat knitted out of rainbow yarn.
Though Bencze is not yet an experienced vendor, she is an avid cosplayer: “During No Such Con, I cosplayed human Vriska Serket from Homestuck and Heather McNamara from the musical ‘Heathers.’” To some con-goers, seeing cosplays was one of the most exciting parts of the entire event. Ny Jackson ’21 conveyed, “I thought everyone’s cosplay was really awesome. I saw Bakugo, I saw Pikachu, I saw Banner from The Breakfast Club, I saw Jahee Kang…I went up to her and said ‘Yes!’ and she said ‘Thank you.’” While Bencze’s cosplays touched on webcomics and musicals, the characters that Jackson mentioned come from anime and games. About the con in general, Jackson remarked, “I really liked all of the merch and the fact that people from outside of Vassar came here.” The merch was a true selling point for many at the con. Attendee Tommy Tomikawa ’21 also spoke on his experience at NSC: “I bought prints and comics. I got a really cute comic about Asian American life from a local author. I like the representation.”
Though the goods sold were numerous, the organization’s broader goals were far from simply monetary, as the con’s visitors were valued immensely. NSC is a relatively large event for a Vassar org. As Webster stated, “Attendance has usually been pretty impressive at our events. It was a little lower this year than in some past years, and we haven’t counted the exact numbers yet, but based on my preliminary estimates we saw 200–300 people over the weekend.” He also explained that the con is trying to improve its presence: “This year we made some big efforts to increase our promotion and outreach and improve our organization from last year.”
It is also notable that the convention incorporated external guests and programming. This year’s event included authors, filmmakers and artists such as author Thomm Quackenbush and writer and artist J. M. DeSantis. Each of these guests provided programming for the event including talks and panels. In addition, as evidenced by the program on the convention’s website, specialized programming was in no short supply. There were five different events going on relating to card and board games on Friday alone.
So, what is the goal of No Such Convention? Webster elucidated, “No Such Convention mostly wants to bring as many special interests together to share in the collective awesomeness of people’s hobbies.” This goal shined brightly through the execution of the event, as fans of all forms of media mingled in the College Center last weekend.