Second annual MiniCon—where ‘nerd’ and ‘geek’ aren’t dirty words

COVERED <br>A couple of geeks, er, attendees check out the selection of comics for sale at the second annual Chico MiniCon.

A couple of geeks, er, attendees check out the selection of comics for sale at the second annual Chico MiniCon.

Photo By Alan Sheckter

While the Chico MiniCon had a fairly small turnout, smiles were pasted on most attendees’ faces.

Buzz words included “manga,” “cosplay” and “animé” Friday at Chico State’s Plumas Hall, where a modest but spirited group of about 100 artistic and charming geeks and nerds gathered for the second annual event.

The MiniCon united the university’s Comic Book Coterie and Japanese Animation Club for movie screenings, artist displays, a swap meet, group trivia competition, costume contest, tabletop and large video-screen gaming and karaoke—all spread out over three floors. Chico State’s martial-arts fraternity also lent a hand and hosted a martial-arts demonstration.

One sweep of the proceedings found folks showing off their art, eating pizza and selling their wares on the first floor, while upstairs a boyfriend and girlfriend got sweaty to Guitar Hero III and two buddies battled it out on a wall-projected version of Super Smash Bros. Brawl. And on the third floor a classroom full of attentive viewers screened Chrono Crusade, an animé adventure about a duo that eradicates demons.

Most of the attendees, however, seemed to gravitate to the first-floor Game Show room, in which Matt Riebold and two other Con staffers presided over a trivia game in which correct answers were rewarded with candy. Most of the questions proved no match for trivia buffs on hand.

The MiniCon gave members of the Comic Book Coterie and Japanese Animation Club—many of whom are applied computer graphics or graphic design majors—a chance to push aside their studies and let their freak flags fly.

The Comic Book Coterie involves “a high percentage of weirdness and a high percentage of good students,” said Kerri Halladay, a colorfully dressed coterian and communication design/philosophy double major who helped staff a cluster of first-floor classroom desks from which a collection of comics called The Anthology: Vol. 1 was offered for sale.

The group is an informal haven for anyone who fancies comic book production. While comics are visually based, Halladay admitted sometimes there’s a tendency to overlook the writers.

One such member, writer Lane Mullin, an English major who overheard Halladay’s comments, confessed, “I can’t even draw a stick figure.” But he explained the coterie brings together all facets of comic book production, and tutorials and discussions help members expand their abilities and improve their craft.

The Con’s Japanese Animation Club contingent included collectors of animé (animated movies and books), manga (comics) and several cosplay enthusiasts (short for “costume play,” the act of dressing like one’s favorite characters).

The Comic Book Coterie’s first comic anthology.

Dressed in a long, blue and white kimono, international relations senior Samantha Tanner displayed the biggest collection of Japanese collectibles, with product spread over a couple of first-floor swap meet tables. An owner of more than 500 manga and rare Pokémon titles, Tanner offered comics, books (including RG Veda graphic novels from a famed group of artists known as Clamp) and even authentic Japanese snack cakes.

Dee Lebangsy, a Butte College computer graphics major who dressed as Mello from the Death Note manga series, drove from Oroville with her friends for the event.

Lebangsy is a big fan of these events, and has attended bigger cons in Sacramento. She already has her eyes set on Memorial Day weekend, when the San Jose Convention Center hosts FanimeCon, which draws some 10,000 people and features a 50,000-foot dealers’ room.