Rencon brings out the sci-fi and fantasy in Renton

Comic and game convention still seeks permanent home for yearly event

As school starts up again, something besides students came to campus: a comic book convention.

Renton City Comicon (Rencon) came back to Renton for the 2019 convention at Renton Technical College (RTC), Sept 6-8. The event had panels, vendors and cosplay from guests.

“This is where our convention started and where we want it to be,” Co-founder Ben Andrews said.

This year had a few new features, including the “Star Wars” exhibit and cars from the movie “Transformers,” the television series “Supernatural” and the comics under the “Marvel Universe.”

Andrews said his favorite cosplays were guests Carma Cosplay, who did a Wonder Woman costume, and co-founder Emilio Morales’s large robot cosplay.

As a returning vendor, writer and illustrator Sara Ventura said it was active on Saturday. Ventura and graphic designer/illustrator Chris Buckley vend at comic conventions around the Northwest. Ventura said RTC was also more accessible for guests, being on a single level, and had less bottle-necking than the Tukwila convention.

As a team, Andrews said they were excited to bring the convention back to Renton, which received $10,000 from the grant in the second round of applications this year. Supporters of Rencon came to city council after not receiving funds in the first round, which was due to the convention’s return on investment.

“The city took the time to help us get to where we needed to be,” Andrews said.

“They gave us a lot of validation, I’m proud we all worked together to implement this.”

He compared it to how geek culture has grown and become profitable, and made a positive impact on society. He said in 2016 they started with a chip on their shoulder, wanting to be recognized.

After the 2018 convention Brian Morris, one of the other co-founders along with Emilio Morales, took over as Rencon CEO.

Andrews said he thought the convention was better suited for a hotel environment, but that the decision to have it at RTC was right for 2019.

Last year the event was in Tukwila at Hotel Interurban after not receiving funding from Renton’s hotel lodging tax grant. Previously it was held at Red Lion Hotel in Renton and the downtown Renton core. Andrews said they’ve had a variety of locations to learn lessons from.

Andrews said the event was down on attendance this year, to about 1,000 guests, which he thinks was due to them moving the venue each year. He said he hopes to find a home for Rencon and stay there. Despite the low turnout, Andrews said it was the most “functional” year for the convention.

Some of the younger guests, including Brooklyn, a 13 year old from Des Moines, said this year felt more organized and had more artists compared to last year. She said it was a good mix of vendors too. Her and one friend were cosplaying as characters from the anime “My Hero Academia” and the other as someone from video game series “Danganronpa.”

“It’s a cute convention. It’s not like the bigger conventions that take a whole weekend. That’s why we’re here,” Brooklyn said.

Now Andrews said they need to rebuild the marketing machine for next year, including possibly rebranding the convention to a name that reflects all of South King County, and the other municipalities interested in the event.

“It can live in Renton, and it will live in Renton,” Andrews said. “But we want to make all the surrounding communities feel like it’s theirs also.”

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