Being my first time going to StocktonCon, I figured I would go in throwing out all the things people said about it, positive and negative. What I found was a small pond with way too many fish.
The city of Stockton has a bad reputation. I know this knowledge not only from the news, but from the family ties I have there. The convention was held at a sports arena that is, unfortunately, located close to a marina that emits, let’s just say, an unpleasant smell, but that can be overlooked, since the you’ll be inside most of the time. Parking was a bit difficult, and gave some indication as to how many people showed up to the event, in a single word, plenty.
Walking up to the event, there was a crowd of people surrounding a wrestling ring, as a live wrestling match was happening, up front and personal. Not being a huge wrestling fan, I still felt like that was a nice touch to separate StocktonCon from the rest, and accentuate their main guests, which happened to be Kevin Nash, Scott Hall, and X-Pac, aka NWO. The fans seemed to enjoy a great deal, but I didn’t stick around to watch the whole thing. A show floor called me, and I had to oblige.
After getting my media badge with ease, I dashed straight for the main show floor to see what type of action they had. The show floor was packed, and had all the Con usuals: artists showing off their work to vendors selling comics, pop vinyls, and all other sorts of nerd and geek paraphernalia. My only gripe with it all was that everything was too narrow and compact. People were packed tightly, trying to get from one area to another. At one point, I was stuck in one spot, unable to move, for at least five minutes. Not a great spot for claustrophobic people.
After making my way through the chaos of the first floor, I traveled to the outer rim of the arena. There, I was surprised that the arena’s food shops were open, which tends to happen at other cons held in arenas, although I haven’t ran into one yet. I thought it was a nice touch for the attendees. I made my way up to the second floor to find all the cosplay tables and more vendors, and found the area was more open and easier to navigate. The best part of it was seeing the aforementioned NWO crew out in the open, close to the fans. The line was long, but it didn’t feel like it was impossible to reach them, like some other Cons with their guests. All the cosplayers were just as accessible, as well. Easy to approach, snap a few pictures, buy a print, and be on your way.
All in all it seemed like the second floor was handled better -space wise- than the first floor. The interest is there in Stockton for the Con scene, but I think Stockton needs to find a bigger venue to accommodate for the mass amounts of people that show up. Beyond that, StocktonCon was great! Nice people, nice cosplay, nice guests, all around, a nice time.