RodCon: Annual event attracts growing number of comic fans in Iowa

Every year since 2014, the University of Northern Iowa’s Rod Library is transformed into a place of cosplay and comic-loving people. The fifth annual RodCon on Saturday, April 7, had a record-breaking crowd, with more than 3,000 in attendance.

Senior Charles Potter has seen this small event blossom into a genuine minicon event over the years. “At first I liked it because it is really just the community getting together, and it was really small and had local artists, but now it is expanding and growing into its own minicon. Instead of it being an event where people get together and the Core just setting it up, it is a big thing with lots of people from all around the state,” Potter said.

RodCon brought 43 vendors from all across the state of Iowa and activities for anyone with an interest in the sci-fi genre of comics or movies. The University of Iowa Quidditch team played several games, and the UNI sword fighting club demonstrated medieval/fantasy-style combat with foam-padded weaponry.

Almost everyone at RodCon takes part in the cosplay costume contest. Potter, who every year usually dresses up in a complex Batman suit, decided to be an observer this year.

“The cosplay is my favorite part, and although I did not do it this year, I love seeing everyone dressed up,” Potter said.

The cosplay costume contest is taken very seriously by participants. Sophomore Sam Thompson-Yezek took first place with his cosplay of a Dalek, a race of cyborg alien mutants from television’s Doctor Who. Thompson-Yezek was unrecognizable inside his costume, which took over eight months to build. As a Dalek, Thompson-Yezek rolled around the Rod Library all day at RodCon and interacted with crowds of amazed spectators.

“My first reaction was disbelief. I was so unbelievably excited to have won, but I had to keep my cool for the judges and my end performance. I’ve never won something like that before, so it was really special to see that I won,” Thompson-Yezek said.

Thompson-Yezek has also seen the popularity of RodCon expand each year.

“I’m really happy that RodCon has grown as much as it has. It’s great to see more people attending the con,” he said.  “My favorite thing about RodCon is connecting to other people who love comics and cosplay. It’s nice to meet a complete stranger but connect instantly because we both like Doctor Who, for example.”

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