Image by Dan Thorson Photography
When founder and co-executive director of SoDak Con Shareece Tatum attended her first anime convention in Denver, Colo.—Nan Desu Kan (NDK)—she was automatically enthralled by the ambiance and open arms of fellow fans.
“I was just blown away by everything they offered and the camaraderie of attendees,” she described. “No matter what you were a fan of, you were accepted.”
Wanting to fill that void in South Dakota, she started hosting a small gathering at the Rushmore Mall to encourage the passion of everything anime, in whatever form. Soon she was shocked to see the void definitely was there, and it soon became cramped at Walden Books.
That was nine years ago, and now the statewide convention is trying to keep up with demand of attendees at the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center.
“We take up almost half of it,” she said of the convention center. “Our growth is a continuous 50 percent per year. Last year we hit 1,100 per day, so we’re shooting for 1,500 per day this year.”
Not only is the convention getting bigger every year, but this year what was originally called the SoDak Anime Convention is now going through a rebrand as SoDak Con with the subtitle Anime and Geek Convention.
Tatum explained, “We’re not changing a whole lot of how we run or anything, it’s just that we have noticed that people are understanding that we have all forms of geekdom allowed and encouraged.”
She continued, “Because there really isn’t any outlet for any kind of geekdom out here and all through South Dakota, we did panels and all other kinds of things to enhance the other fandom, but people weren’t understanding that because they were hearing anime.”
The three-day event begins May 30 and ends June 1. Those three days it’s pretty much guaranteed Tatum is on little to no sleep.
“We’re only closed for six hours early in the morning,” she said. “There’s a lot of action. It never stops.”
Image by Jason Jones
So much action that the convention has 13 departments and 50 staffers.
“We have a video game room with tournaments all weekend, we have a table-top room with Dudgeons and Dragons and Magic the Gathering going all weekend, we have a video room that’s anime all weekend—each department is keeping track of schedules and what they’re going to do,” said Tatum.
Another duty is to keep track of special guests, like voice actors of anime Jeremy Inman, Cris “Chubs” George and Tyson Rinehart, horror writers Doug Murano, Adrian Ludens and C.W. LaSart, and anime artist Tom Rasch (whose series BLACK ALPHA is featured in USA Today).
To read the full article, pick up a copy of the May issue today!