Comic convention takes flight at Cradle of Aviation

Cradle-Con fosters pride for women in STEM

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For the first time at the Cradle of Aviation Museum in Uniondale, voices in art, animation and pop culture united with fans under one roof for an event dubbed Cradle-Con.

On June 23 and 24, guests dressed up as their favorite characters in pop culture mingled with local artists and met celebrity icons like Rick and Morty Co-Creator Dan Harmon, Power Rangers’ blue ranger, Michael Copon and The Walking Dead’s feature “walker,” zombie, Jeremy Ambler.

Cradle-Con was Ambler’s first experience in connecting with fans and cosplay enthusiasts. Traveling from White Sulphur Springs, W. Va. Visiting Long Island was an adventure he couldn’t resist, he said.

“I thought [this] would be cool to attend and [Long Island] is a different location than what I’m used to,” Ambler said.

An event similar to the international Comic-Con is new territory for the Cradle of Aviation, which is known locally for its planetarium, exhibits in air and space and growing STEM education programs.

However, according to Cradle-Con Director Seamus Keane, he and the other minds behind the event sought to connect education with pop culture, while showcasing local talent, emphasizing diversity in art and fostering collaboration between fans and artists.

"[Cradle-Con] is an innovative community and family-friendly event in response to the fans’ evolving needs and our changing climate,” Keane said.

One of the themes of Cradle-Con was female empowerment, as all proceeds will go toward the museum’s budding program called “Women in STEM.” Designed to encourage young women to pursue careers in STEM, the programs allow students from local middle and high schools to visit the museum and speak with women who have made achievements in a variety of different fields.

Cradle-Con special guests were chosen for their contributions to diversity and cultural relevance, Keane said. This included members of Somos Arte, a Brooklyn-based production and creative services company that created a comic book called Ricanconstruction. The graphic anthology lets readers explore the history of Puerto Rico through the stories of several superheroes. Somos Arte sends all proceeds toward Hurricane Maria relief efforts.

The event also included artists like Kelly Gordon and his wife Jennifer, both of Levittown. Gordon works as the art director at the East Meadow Public Library, where he hosts a number of events and drawing workshops. He and Jennifer create artistic renditions of their favorite video game and pop culture characters.

The event also included a live band, Time King, from Baldwin. Time King played dozens of television show, anime and movie musical covers. While lead singer, Kalvin Rodriguez belted out the words for the 1990s version of the Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers theme song, the television show’s opening sequence played on the screen followed by a montage of fight scenes. Listeners danced and cheered as the band finished the song and transitioned into songs from the movie “Good Burger,” the Teenaged Mutant Ninja Turtles and video game theme song, Mega Man.

Also from Baldwin, Mid-Tier Summit Gaming, a gaming organization creating E-sports and a safe gaming community across Nassau County, participated by providing free video games for attendees to play. The crew’s video games included classics like Mortal Combat, Pac Man and even a set of retro video game consoles like the first ever Mario Bros on Nintendo, Super Nintendo, Sega Genesis and more.

Another featured guest was Dan Harmon, the co-creator of Adult Swim’s Rick and Morty. After completing its third season last summer, Rick and Morty received critical acclaim for a number of emotionally charged episodes written by female content creators such as Jessica Gao, of HBO’s Silicon Valley. Harmon greeted fans during an autograph signing and recorded an episode of his podcast Harmontown in front of a live audience.