When I was a little kid, my family spotted a flyer on the bulletin board at a Fay’s Drug Store for ITHACON – a comic con that was going to be held in nearby Ithaca, NY. I could barely contain myself as it sounded like a glorious event. My family had been to Ithaca many times, as my dad was a Cornell University alumnus, and we’d often go back for homecoming.
I probably should have won some award that year for “kid who nagged their parents the most”, but somehow it worked. And it was a glorious day! So many comics! So many collectibles! So many professional comic creators! And a building full of fans – just like me – who loved this stuff.
Fast forward to today – this amazing comic convention is still going on. And it is the 2nd longest running convention in the nation, right after The San Diego Comic-Con, also known as Comic-Con International.
And by a strange twist of fate, I teach at Ithaca College’s School of Business – and one of the classes I teach focuses on tradeshows and conventions. In fact, the students have a hands-on opportunity to plan and manage an actual convention – ITHACON.
These students work with the “senior management team” of ITHACON – longtime enthusiasts and volunteers – through a unique partnership with Ithaca College.
Bill Turner is the visionary guy who started it all, and he’s still working hard on ITHACON- – forty-six years later! “For my part, I find it hugely gratifying that what we began just as a celebration of something we personally loved has been embraced by new generations and the broader society – not only the convention itself, but the comics,” said Bill. “In the 1970s we were a source of amusement; press coverage leaned toward “Can you believe that a grown man reads comics?” Now our geeky fan activities have become mainstream. I’m especially pleased to see that the creators who we wanted to meet and honor are finally receiving the recognition they deserve, even if they were not allowed to retain the rights to, and reap the financial rewards from, their work. And an educational institution like Ithaca College adopting ITHACON into its programs is something wonderful that I had never foreseen.”
“Ithacon is a family tradition,” said Becca, who is also part of the management team. “We enjoy sharing our love of costumes, science fiction, art, and games every year.”
And we’ve brought in some amazing professionals to get the students up to speed. Just last week, in fact, Word Balloon Podcast’s John Siuntres held a workshop to help hone the students’ moderation and interviewing skills.
The students are energized and ready go!
“I’ve been to a few different virtual events during Covid but I’m excited for Ithacon because I got to be a part of how this virtual event came to be,” said Maddie Jacobs, a senior at Ithaca College.
Tess Kneebone, also a senior at Ithaca College, shared some thoughts too. “Ithacon 45 is allowing me to put my Live Event minor into action while adapting to real world circumstances like the pandemic,” said Tess. “This experience has changed my close-minded perspective on virtual events and has allowed me to see the endless possibilities virtual events can offer. As graduation is just around the corner, I can confidently say that I am ready for anything the world throws at me.”
Like so many other conventions, ITHACON will be virtual this year. It’s coming up fast – Saturday April 24th and there’s so many cool events planned on platforms like ZOOM and Discord. Admission is free. (So is parking!) You can see the full schedule here , but let me also call out:
The Lost Stan Lee Tapes: It turns out that in 1975, Stan Lee came to speak at Ithaca college. We have the “long-lost” recording of his talk, and we’ll be analyzing this with noted Stan Lee author Danny Fingeroth.
ITHACON hosts Ross Richie: The charismatic CEO & Co-Founder of BOOM! Studios, Ross Richie, was a guest lecturer in class recently. The students really enjoyed to speaking with In fact, they couldn’t get enough of him, so they’ve invited back for a panel Saturday at noon (9 am PST).
Gaming: While these panels and experiences are expected to be the highlight of the online convention, there will be a number of gaming rooms via Discord with different games ranging from social deduction games like Among Us to party games like The Jackbox Party Pack.
WandaVision captured the attention of everyone, and ITHACON is celebrating with two panels- one is a deep dive into the WandaVision series and the other is a creator spotlight with comics writer Roger Stern – the creator of Monica (Captain Marvel) Rambeau, the breakout character from this Disney+ series.
And there’s so much more, including Cosplay, an LGTBQ panel, Crafting for Kids and an illustration workshop featuring one of my favorite artists, Steve Ellis.
Fans are encouraged to visit the ITHACON website, Ithacon.org , for additional details and information about the event. And don’t be shy about following their socials: Instagram (@ithaconny), Twitter (@ithaconNY), and Facebook Group (Ithacon).
I hope you can join in the fun and I’ll “see you” there.