At age 30, I-CON has not forgotten what it means to have a good time, even if its curfew is earlier.
“We used to be here until two, but we got chased out at 11 a.m.,” said Erika Warecki, who has been participating for 22 years. Despite the game room hours, the Shirley resident said, “We still come back. It’s just fun. You get to see your friends.”
Reunions were not the only highlight of the weekend. Even if it was not intentional, Charlie Sheen’s token phrase “Winning” was a theme for I-CON 30. It was a celebration of winners, not only in the game rooms, but in the Anime Idol contest, the I-CON’s Got Talent show, the I-CON’s Got Talent Children’s Edition, and the I-CON 30 Awards Dinner. Warecki’s daughter places first in the childrens’ talent show.
Commemorative pins were given to those who have attended the Long Island Convention of science fiction and fantasy since its first year.
“I love the fact that they’re celebrating the anniversary,” said Bob Greenberger, member of the Science Fiction Writers of America, who has attended I-CON since its inception three decades ago.
“The audience has grown in volume and grown to ask for things to add,” Greenberg said.
Panels were hosted to reminisce and learn about the earlier tales of the convention’s humble beginnings.
“They wanted you to talk to them and hear their stories,” said Anime Idol winner, Idina Moore, who enjoyed learning I-CON’s history.
I-CON’s Got Talent winner and Stony Brook University alum, Howard Margolin, has taken part in the convention since his freshman year in 1983 and has only missed one. With his busy schedule as an optometrist and a host of the radio segment, Destinies: The Voice of Science Fiction, Margolin makes sure he returns in the spring.
“It recharges me. I don’t really take vacation. I-CON is my vacation,” Margolin said.
The view of elaborate characters walking across campus in place of the usual students is certainly a change from the everyday. It may be the only time when shouting greetings across the academic mall to your favorite characters and posing in photos with strangers will not earn you a bizarre reputation.
Just as much as there was to see on campus, there was much to do, like attending sessions with featured guests. On and off screen actors made several appearances. Actress Julie Benz, known for her roles in Angel, Dexter and Rambo, shared information about upcoming roles, participated in a discussion panel and an offered an autograph signing. Voice actor Eric Vale, recognized as the voice of Trunks in the popular anime, Dragon Ball Z, gave advice to aspiring voice actors trying to break into the business. Daniel Logan, known for his role as Boba Fett in Star Wars, shared his memories of working with George Lucas and Ewan McGregor.
The Sports Complex transformed into the Dealer’s Room, a location where business owners and retailers sell items normally not found elsewhere. On one side was The Leather Lair, where the owner, Suzanne Mayer, designs and sews each stitch and button with her bare hands. Across the room, Image Anime, owned by the Cho brothers, sells only imported merchandise from Japan, including DVDs, figurines, T-Shirts and bags.
Outside the dealer’s room, screenings of popular animations and films were shown in Harriman Hall, Earth Space and Science and the Javits Center. Panels, debate and trivia created discussions in Stony Brook University classrooms. Yu-Gi-Oh tournaments and Magic drafts took place throughout the weekend as duelers competed for packs of cards and bragging rights.
Every corner of campus was filled with people gawking at costumes and sharing common interests.
Describing his second experience of I-CON, Logan said, “In one word, it’s like a carnival. It is so much fun and you never want to leave.”