From the first steps through the doors of Visioncon 2019, we knew this was a con unlike the others we’ve recently attended, and that’s saying a mouthful, and we’ll cover it all before we’re done, just don’t rush me.
Firstly the Springfield Expo Center is a really nice venue, with plenty of space and amenities, right next to the historic Shrine Mosque in Downtown Springfield, Mo. This affords cosplayers the options of many iconic local buildings as backdrops for those epic pics for social media. If that’s not enough being centrally located makes for ease of finding hotels, restaurants and any other accommodations the city has to offer. It was nice for Visioncon 2019 to be coming home after a temporary hiatus to Branson, Mo. which has plenty of nice options, but there’s no place like home really.
We as nerds all too often use the term con to blanket all types of conventions, or we limit the term to mean comic cons. Visioncon is a pop culture con, so going and limiting your expectations will leave you a bit lost really. I’m primarily a comic book nerd and the comic book vibe was strong, but not overwhelming. That’s actually very helpful for those of us who enjoy digging through $1 bins, and long boxes, but it also helps entertain the family and friends who don’t share in that passion, they can indulge in many of the other activities.
Cosplayer were plentiful and in varying degrees of expertise from last minute thrift store Fat Thor, to full blown Anime/Manga, Star Wars, Ghostbusters, Walking Dead cosplay pros. That previous list doesn’t even include the guests line up of cosplay legends like Lars Van Crafter, Bruce Holt, Alyssa King, Meevers Desu, East Bounds and Down, just to name a few. With such an array of cosplayers no one should feel to intimidated to join in, but for those looking to up their game with pro tips, I find yet again cosplayers are all too willing to share the secrets to their successes, and steer others away from their failures.
The Gaming area was constantly busy with friendly and competitive games. The LARP area is one I missed out on, and am truly regretting it, but by all accounts it was a great part of the Visioncon experience. Vendors and artists of all types lined another two of the four main rooms, along with breakout sessions on everything from producing your own indie comic to voice actor sessions for anime fans and even podcasting! So I expect to be hearing a lot of new local podcasts starting up over the next few months, and that’s outstanding.
The pop culture guest list was varied and entertaining from start to finish. Jewel Staite of Firefly/Serenity fame did multiple Q & A sessions, Dana Powell of Wedding Crashers, the Office, and Modern Family (also a hometown girl), and Robotech artist Timothy Chiasson. I was thrilled when extended the opportunity to interview a guest such as Robbie Rist, voice of Michelangelo in the early 90s TMNT movie trilogy, Cousin Oliver on the Brady Bunch, or Bus driver Robbie in Sharknado (just to scratch the surface of it entertainment credentials). We talked for 20+ minutes, and while my intent was to chat about at least all of the most nerdy topics, we missed one (you’ll have to listen to the audio on the Comic Book Theater Podcast to find out which one), and we had such a good time, it just never came up, but that’s the way ti goes. I’m very hopeful there will be a next time. George Lowe was the other guest I was extremely pumped to meet, having been the voice of Space Ghost during the Coast to Coast era, along with work on Robot Chicken of course, a lot of my warped sense of humor was developed listening in my teenage years, as well as my children’s from YouTube clips, proving how timeless good comedy really is. Mr. Lowe and I chatted about everything from his early years, and struggles to underwear with holes in it… go figure, Henry, I swear it wasn’t nearly as bad as it sounds! For full audio of both the interviews please see the Comic Book Theater Podcast.
The one underlying purpose that can easily be overlooked because of all the festivities is that Visioncon is a nonprofit organization, and they have a local charity that is supported from funds raised during the con. This year’s charity is the Kitchen. The Kitchen provides a range of social services for individuals, children, youth, families and veterans in need; including but not limited to Rare Breed Youth Services, Home at Last, Emergency Shelter, and many more. As of the writing of this review it was reported that $2600 and counting for this worthwhile group of charities. Nerds should be extremely proud that Visioncon has been operating that way for more than 25 year, I know it hits this nerd right in the feels.
My final thoughts and conclusions of Visioncon 2019 – give me more of all of it! I went into this experience expecting a much more limited version of a con and was pleasantly surprised with what I found. The guests were extremely accommodating, friendly and wildly entertaining. Yes Visoncon 2020 is already in my calendar.