At first glance, Ithacon 44, the latest instalment of the annual convention held by the Comic Book Club of Ithaca, might have seemed similar to the many comic book conventions seen across the country. There were authors, artists, guest panels, people of all ages in costume, and of course, lots of comics.
But if you looked a little deeper, you’d see that this year’s Ithacon, held on Saturday, March 23 and Sunday, March 24 in Emerson Suites, had many elements unique to Ithaca College.
One of those was the inaugural theme. Because “The Twilight Zone” is celebrating its 60th anniversary this year, this year’s Ithacon had a heavy focus on the groundbreaking show, created by Rod Serling, who taught at Ithaca College for many years. Students from the Roy H. Park School of Communications created their own short films based on characters from various episodes. In addition, attendees had the opportunity to write their own monologues to an episode opening.
Additionally, Ithaca students were given the enormous task of running the actual convention. This year, Katharine Kittredge, professor in the Department of English, and Edward Catto, lecturer in the Department of Management, co-taught a semester-long class dedicated to the set-up, planning, and execution of the event. Kittredge believes the class is ideal for students interested in a career in a variety of fields, including education, event planning, or working with children. Throughout the weekend, many could be observed overseeing other events and raffles.
Over the years, Ithacon, which owns a record for being the longest-running convention to be run by the same group of people since its inception, has grown from a one-day event with fewer than 100 attendees to a massive two-day convention that draws more than 1,000 people. But one of the ways it’s remain unchanged is that it’s free to attend.
This aspect of Ithacon is one that Kittredge has stressed ever since she took over coordination of the event. “There’s an increasing gap where things like comic books and art are for the elite, and if you want your child to be artist you have to pay for art lessons,” she said. “Art programs and enrichment programs in schools are being cut, and I really believe that it shouldn’t be about how much money you have, but your passion and creativity.”