I lived in Evansville, Indiana for four years without ever having the chance of attending EvilleCon, their local anime convention, which hosts an assortment of events, panels, video gaming, table-top gaming, vendors, artists, and more. While not exactly an otaku myself, I did grow up watching such classics as Dragon Ball Z, Pokemon, Full Metal Panic!, and Sailor Moon, while also dabbling in others like Cardcaptor Sakura, Hellsing, Cowboy Bebop, and Tsubasa Chronicle, and hearing that Eric Vale–the voice of Trunks, my favorite DBZ character–was going to be there this year, I wanted to get in on the action. After contacting the staff, I was able to get an interview with one of their organizers, Joey Stalker, the public face of the convention.
Below is an interview with Joey, who has been kind enough to provide me with a press badge and the opportunity to meet some of the guests in one-on-one interviews.
DHGF: How long has EvilleCon been going on, and when did you start to get involved?
STALKER: The official blurb:
“In 2009, the Otona no Otaku anime club (a Japanese anime club that meets at Evansville Central Library twice a month to watch anime and to do Japanese related activities) decided to have a mini-con that they titled EvilleCon. Partnering with Evansville Central Library, Otona no Otaku decided to have their mini-con (now known as EvilleCon Year 0) as a free con at the library on February 14th, 2009. EvilleCon Year 0 consisted of a video game room, an anime viewing room, a panel room, a small Artists Alley in the library’s hallways, and a Cosplay Contest at the end of the day. One special guest, Josh Elder, was brought to the convention. Lasting from 9am to 5pm, approximately 300 people attended EvilleCon Year 0.
In 2010, Evansville Anime Convention, Inc. (EAC, Inc.) decided to bring EvilleCon back. Again partnering with the Evansville Central Library, EAC, Inc. decided to have their first full two-day convention at the The Centre in Evansville, Indiana on February 6th and 7th, 2010. EvilleCon 2010 consisted of a video game room, an anime viewing room, a Main Events room (which hosted karaoke, Cosplay Chess, a Rave, a Cosplay Contest, and much more), a panel room, and an Artists Alley. That year brought Jaime Marchi as a special guest, known for her work in Witchblade and Soul Eater, who hosted Q&A panels and autograph sessions. Over the span of the entire two days, approximately 350 people attended EvilleCon 2010.
In 2011, Evansville Anime Convention, Inc. decided to bring EvilleCon back again, but this time changed the time frame and location. EvilleCon 2011 was a three-day convention at the Evansville Airport Holiday Inn and occurred from April 1st to 3rd, 2011. EvilleCon 2011 consisted of a video game room, an anime viewing room, a Main Events room (which hosted karaoke, Cosplay Chess, a Rave, a performance by Evansville Tribal Dance and the FICE Girls, a Cosplay Contest, and much more), two panel rooms, and an Artists Alley.
That year brought voice actor Matt Hill, author Shane Moore, and professional cosplayers Pikabellechu and Dr. Anime as special guests. Matt Hill, known most for his works in Gundam Seed, Card Captors, Ed, Edd, and Eddy, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, hosted Q&A panels and the Voice Actor Dueling panel. Author Shane Moore also hosted panels and interacted with con-goers throughout the convention. Professional cosplayers Pikabellechu and Dr. Anime also hosted panels (including a rousing Pokemon panel) and helped judge the Cosplay Contest.
Over the span of the entire three days, approximately 600 people attended EvilleCon 2011.”Â
Essentially, EvilleCon has been around since 2009 when EvilleCon 2009 (Year 0) started. It was a mini-con that was hosted at the Evansville Central Library.
I personally did not get involved until I decided to volunteer in 2010 after moving to Evansville, IN from Gainesville, FL. I used it as a means of making some friends in Evansville, IN and to have a way of getting involved locally with something constructive. During EvilleCon 2010, I basically went above and beyond the call of a normal volunteer which was quickly recognized by EvilleCon Staff. At the end of the convention, Staff extended me an invite to join EvilleCon Staff. I started out officially as a just a regular staff member but quickly found myself helping to find the Special Guests for EvilleCon 2011, taking and writing up the Meeting Minutes, running meetings, and just overall helping out wherever I was needed. I really became a driving force among EvilleCon Staff. During voting for EvilleCon 2012 Staff, I suddenly found myself as the official EvilleCon Secretary and counted amongst the Executive Staff and was also offered a position on the Board of Directors for which I was also voted in as the Secretary.
DHGF: How many people are involved in organizing the Con?
STALKER: EvilleCon Staff officially consists of fifteen different people. Most Staff take on multiple different roles spelled out within the official EvilleCon Staff Policies. The Board of Directors consists of nine people, some of whom also serve on EvilleCon Staff.
DHGF: Why was the Con started?
STALKER: EvilleCon was started as a means of filling a hole in Evansville for which there were no similar conventions. It was also created as a means of giving anime fans in Evansville and the surrounding area something to do and as a way of meeting other like-minded individuals.
DHGF: What are your responsibilities regarding the Con?
STALKER: I am officially the EvilleCon Secretary, Convention Site Liaison, Media Liaison, Games Coordinator, Webmaster and Secretary of the Executive Board Member. I will summarize what I do in each position:
EvilleCon Secretary – Create the Meeting Agenda, run the official meetings, take notes for the Meeting Minutes, and write the Meeting Minutes.
Convention Site Liaison – Determine feasible locations in the area to host EvilleCon. Work with the host location to make sure that everything they need and that we need is taken care of (for example, making sure whether or not a Red Cross Blood Mobile can park in the parking lot).
Media Liaison – Working with members of the media, doing interviews, and facilitating their coverage of the convention.
Games Coordinator – Running the eBash Video Game Room, organizing video game and other tournaments, overseeing the Table Top Gaming Room, and overseeing any other facet of gaming needs at the convention.
Webmaster – Writing and editing the text, content, and look of the website.
Secretary of the Executive Board Member – The same duties for the Executive Board meetings as for EvilleCon Staff meetings.
DHGF: How many people typically show up for the Con? Has it been difficult getting people to come? Why do you think that is?
STALKER: Last year we had 600 people attend.. before that we had 350 people. Attendance is definitely not where we want it to be, but it’s quickly growing. The biggest problem we’ve had is getting the word out. Conventions mostly spread by word of mouth. I still will meet anime fans in Evansville who are completely shocked to find out that Evansville has a convention. We are trying to pursue multiple different avenues to advertise and further get our name out there.
DHGF: What kinds of topics/events does EvilleCon cover? What’s your favorite?
STALKER: EvilleCon is primarily a Japanese anime and manga convention. That is our primary focus. When making decisions, we try to keep those goals in mind to gear our events towards anime and manga. However, we recognize the great interplay between anime fans and general nerdiness. That’s why we try to indulge the other common passions for our convention attendees because in the end, that’s what our TRUE goal is: to make sure everyone has a good time. That’s why we’ve partnered with a local company called eBash to host the eBash Video Game Room complete with video game tournaments like Smash Brothers and Mortal Kombat. That’s why we will have table top game role playing games (like dungeons and dragons), a Yu-Gi-Oh! Trading Card Game tournament, and so much more. That’s why we will have an epic Cosplay Contest to showcase the amazing work that people put into their costumes. It’s really to try and give everyone a little taste of their passions.
My personal favorites are a little biased. My favorite events are the ones I’m directly involved with: the Cosplay Contest (I’ll be MCing), EvilleCon’s Got Talent (I’ll also be MCing), Ani-Jeopardy (I make the entire event and host it), and Whose Line Is it, Anime (I also make the entire event and will host it).
DHGF: What’s the best thing about EvilleCon, in your opinion?
STALKER: One of EvilleCon’s greatest goals is to keep the convention attendees as engaged as possible. We try to maximize the amount of events and panels that get the attendees actively participating. For example, I will be hosting a game show panel called Ani-Jeopardy. At the beginning of the event, I will allow all people at the panel to audition for the event by answering a brief quiz. The highest scorers on the quiz will then get to advance to the actual Ani-Jeopardy round. We will also be hosting an anime-themed talent show called EvilleCon’s Got Talent. The talent show will showcase the amazing singing voices, dancing skills, and other unknown abilities of convention attendees. The convention attendees themselves will be the Superstars of the event (although only one will officially receive the title of EvilleCon’s Superstar).
Overall, we want convention attendees to feel connected to the convention. We want them to become attached to it. We don’t want them to just sit around and watch what happens at the convention, we want them to feel like they themselves are helping to make both the events and the convention itself a success.
DHGF: Can you tell me a little more about this year’s guests?
STALKER: This year’s guests are Eric Vale, Micah Solusod, Shane Moore, and Malinda and Kyle Mathis.
Eric is a well-known voice actor working primarily with the anime-dubbing company Funimation. He is most known for his roles as Trunks in Dragon Ball Z/Dragon Ball Z Kai and as America and Canada in Hetalia Axis Powers.
Micah Solusod is an up-and-coming voice actor who has also worked with Funimation. He is the ideal for most aspiring anime voice actors that attend conventions – an anime fan that broke into the anime dubbing industry. He is most known for his starring role as Soul Evans in the anime Soul Eater.
Shane Moore an author based out of St. Louis, Missouri. He attended our convention last year and was a great hit and so we decided to bring him back again. He is a genre-spanning author who is known for his work in the fantasy industry. He will be releasing his book White Wrath at EvilleCon 2012.
Malinda (known as Malindachan) and Kyle Mathis (known as Ex-Shadow), known together as Synchor-Hearts, are a well-known cosplaying couple. They’ve won numerous cosplaying awards for their amazing costumes. Malinda is primarily known for her ridiculously awesome wigs and her incredibly detailed Yu-Gi-Oh! Cosplays. Kyle is also known for his Yu-Gi-Oh! Cosplays but also for his fully-accurate Jack Skellington and Vash the Stampede costumes.
DHGF: Where would you like to see the Con go in the future?
STALKER: I would like to see EvilleCon continue to grow so that we can keep coming back every year. However, I would like to make sure that EvilleCon never forgets where it came from and never forgets to keep forging bonds with the convention attendees. A convention is about the people that come to be there and EvilleCon should always keep that as priority number one as it expands.
DHGF: Lastly, how can someone get involved with the Con if they’d like to help?
STALKER: That depends on how someone wants to get involved! If someone wants to help out at the convention, we always welcome volunteers.. and staff members are often chosen from volunteers who show dedication to the convention. If someone wants to run a panel, then they simply submit a panel application through the website after coming up with a panel idea. If someone wants to be an artist in the Artists Alley or a vendor in the Vendor Room, then they also submit an application through the website. If someone wants to host a special event at the convention, then they just send us an email letting us know what kind of set up they want to have.. and if the space and time is available, then we will likely incorporate it. We are always looking for things to enrich the convention.. If someone wants to be a part of that process, they just have to let us know!
EvilleCon will be held March 30-April 1, 2012 at the Evansville Airport Holiday Inn, located at 7101 Highway 41 North in Evansville, Indiana. Preregistration is closed, but tickets can still be purchased at the door at the following prices: $35 for a three-day badge, $20 for a Friday badge, $20 for a Saturday badge, and $15 for a Sunday badge. See their website for more information about events and exhibits. I’ll be there, dressed as Seras Victoria from Hellsing, so if you see me, be sure to say hello! When I return, expect to see an interview with Kyle and Malinda Mathis, known together as Synchor-Hearts.