RodCon brings in all kinds of comic book fans



The annual RodCon event will take place on Saturday, April 7 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. There will be various events including sword fighting.


On Saturday, April 7, Rod Library will host the fifth annual RodCon from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The event is a miniature version of Comic-Con that is entirely free and open to the public. Last year, the convention drew 3,000 attendees.

This year’s keynote speaker is Frenchy Lunning, who is from the graphic arts department at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design (MCAD). Lunning is also a founder of the Mechademia Conference on Asian Popular Cultures, a member of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund Advisory Board and the editor-in-chief for Mechademia, the first scholarly journal about anime and manga.

Lunning will also speak at 3 p.m. on Friday, April 6, in Sabin 003 about Lolita fashion, which is one of her areas of expertise.

“[Lolita fashion] is a popular fashion style in Japan, and it’s been pretty popular for quite a few years now. It’s [. . .] very-over-the top girly, frills, pink, skirts, everything that is super, super cute,” said Melissa Gevaert, a RodCon planning committee member. “There’s a fashion district in Tokyo where they come up with all these super intense creative fashions and styles, and Lolita fashion is one of the styles to come out of it.”

Lunning’s keynote panel is entitled “How to Analyze and Critique Anime and Manga!”

Other panels this year include “So You Want to be a Stormtrooper?”, “Black Panther and Beyond,” “But Why Comics?”, “Beginning 3D Design and Printing for Cosplay” and “Eww, My Comic Book has Cooties’: Exploring the Gendered World of Comics.”

According to Melinda Beland, another member of the RodCon planning committee, RodCon usually tries to address social justice issues.

“One of the things that we found as we started working and continued to work on [RodCon] in future years is that there’s a lot of classes that it can tie into,” Gevaert said. “A lot of professors on campus work with comic books in their classroom.”

One of the new features this year will be a Hogwarts potions class demo put on by the student affiliates of the American Chemical Society. As another new feature, the University of Iowa Quidditch team will be demonstrating the sport. They will allow attendees to participate in a “Kidditch” event.

On the first floor of the library, Chris Moore will be drawing caricature sketches. Moore is an illustrator and cartoonist, as well as a caricature artist.

Some of the returning demonstrations include UNI Swordfighting Club and the Society of Creative Anachronism.

For entertainment, belly dancers from the Prairie Rose Middle Eastern Dance Troupe and members of the Half-Masted Improv troupe will be performing. At the start of RodCon, UNI Pep Band will also be ushering guests inside with “geek-inspired tunes.”

There will be trivia competitions happening throughout the day on the topics of science fiction, super hero movies, “Ready Player One,” the 80s and anime with prizes for the winner of each category.

There will also be a gaming room set up by Video Games Etc! where attendants can participate in various video game tournaments.

Although RodCon normally features an escape room, this year’s will be especially unique.

“This year, Escape Cedar Valley is bringing a Pop-Up tent that is called Carnival of Thieves that they have designed that people can request from them to bring to locations for events,” said Gevaert. “They just finished it not too long ago, so RodCon will be one of its major debuts for it.”

This year, around 50 vendors will participate in RodCon, including Phil Hester. Guests will also have ample opportunities to get free items, including merchandise from D.C. Comics, Viz Media and Valiant Entertainment, as well as door prizes.

Many RodCon goers choose to cosplay. Each year RodCon features separate costume contests for adults and kids.

“There’s no judgment for dressing up at all,” said Jeff Blaser, a junior biochemistry major, and RodCon gofer. “In fact, it’s encouraged.”

This year, the planning committee is expecting Black Panther and Wonder Woman to be among the most popular costumes.

RodCon appeals to all ages, including the 200 children the library plans for each year. This year, the Department of Education will be assisting in the Kids’ Zone. Kids will be guided in creating shrinky dinks, lightsabers, wands, capes and superhero gloves and masks.

“Last year we had over 3,000 attendees, and they range from very, very little kids to people in their 50s, 60s, 70s,” Gevaert said. “It’s a huge range. It’s not just college students.”