UNI’s “mini comic con” coming in April


Northern Iowan Archives

a costume contest will be held at Ron Con, but participants are not required to dress up. The event is free and open to the public.


For those looking for a pop of pop culture in their lives, Rod Library will be hosting their 3rd annual Rod Con next Saturday from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. Rod Con is a mini Comic Con which, according to Rod Library staff member and one of the coordinators of the event, Linda McLaury, tends to draw in people interested in comics, art and pop culture.

The event has been a popular destination for students and community members over the last few years with free admission, and McLaury hopes they will surpass last year’s attendance of 2,000 people.

Some of the activities planned for this event include: video game and board game rooms, a photo booth, “Artist Alley” (which features art from local artists), guest speakers and presentations that feature people like famous Iowan comic artist Phil Hester, a trivia contest, a card game tournament, “kid zone” craft area and an Artemis bridge simulation where students can pretend they are the bridge officer of a sci-fi ship.

Other events include a demonstration of Belegarth from the UNI Swordfighting Club, two “escape rooms” will be set up where students have to solve puzzles and beat the clock to escape and a Half-Masted Improv Group performance. Even the Batmobile will cruise around by the Campanile.

Attendees may also participate in a costume contest.

“Nobody is required to dress up, but if you do, you won’t be alone!” McLaury said.

One of the things that McLaury is especially excited about is the amount of people helping put on the event who are either a part of the UNI community or people originally from Iowa. 

McLaury shared that Deborah Whaley, author and professor at the University of Iowa, is coming to talk about her book, “Black Women in Sequence:  Re-inking Comics, Graphic Novels and Anime.”

Professor Harry Brod’s honors seminar class, “Graphic Novels: Narrative Art and Sequential Storytelling” will be presenting their research. Wendy Miller’s class “Issues and Theories in Art Education” will have a table to discuss their projects.

“Even our poster for Rod Con was created by Molly Watson, a student in the UNI Art Department,” Miller said. “It’s just such a great event to highlight all the great things UNI and the Cedar Valley have to offer.”

The reason the event can provide such a large amount of activities for free was made possible with a grant from the UNI Diversity Committee and from a Reaching for Higher Ground grant.

The popularity and abundance of activities has not gone unnoticed either. Last year, Rod Con won an award from the Association of College & Research Libraries (ACRL) for innovation in College Librarianship award for the event.

Along with the Rod Library staff, students have been working hard as well in hopes for another successful Rod Con.

One of these students is junior graphic design major, Bailey Davison, who is on the planning committee for Rod Con.

According to Davison, there is a lot of preparation that goes into this event. Planning starts in the fall, several months before the big event.

After picking activities and potential guests, they begin figuring the costs and applying for grants in hopes they will be able to execute these plans.

“Rod Con is a free convention that’s open to the public, so we always need to find money before we can put our plans into motion,” Davison said.

And although a lot of work goes into the production, according to history graduate, Anna Hollingsworth, the final product is well worth it.

Hollingsworth was initially the person who pitched the idea to start Rod Con three years ago. She’s been a supporter of the event since its launch and thinks all the hard work that the Rod Library staff and students put in shows.

“Rod Con is just a lot of fun, right here at home,” Hollingsworth said. “I usually travel for conventions, and some of them aren’t half as fun as Rod Con.”