I Spent My Birthday At Thy Geekdom Con

Thy Geekdom Con 2024 was held at the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center in Oaks, PA from May 24-26. I recently returned to the anime convention scene after a five-year hiatus,  so when I found out there would be a convention on my birthday (May 26th), I thought, what better way to celebrate my 25th trip around the sun? I had to work on both Friday and Saturday, but my birthday was on Sunday anyway so that worked out perfectly. Although Sundays are always the slowest day of a convention, that doesn’t mean there’s nothing to see or do or that it isn’t worth going for just the day. My three best friends and I bought one-day tickets and we had a great time! Here is an overview of what I experienced on the Sunday of this year’s Thy Geekdom Con.

Dealer Hall

My group immediately headed to the Dealer Hall as soon as we arrived at the convention, and this is where we ended up spending the bulk of our time. One bonus about going on the last day of the con was that a few of the vendors had special Sunday-only sales; for example, there was one vendor whose entire shop was 10% off, and another with sales ranging from 15% to 50% off (I bought something from them that was originally $75 for $65). There was a wide variety of dealers, including your typical anime merch booths in addition to more unexpected sellers such as Truly Pure & Natural Honey (local honey), Paper & Leaf (a cannabis boutique), and Lady Lynora’s Gemstone Treasures & Gifts (a crystal shop that reminded me of East Meets West). One of the most interesting stalls was the Extraordinary Doll Exhibition. According to their banner, the exhibit was created by t-shirt store My Lady Disdain, YouTuber Shizusan, Ningyo BINGO podcast, Smart Doll store Kit n Kat Shop, and YouTuber MagicalGirlKitCat Gaming. I don’t know anything about dolls, but their collection of ball-jointed dolls was impressive and I’d never seen anything like it at a con before. My favorite vendor, however, was probably Generation Otaku. As someone who has watched over 200 anime series, it’s inevitable that I belong to some fandoms that are pretty niche. Yet this store had merch available for anime that I thought were too obscure to still have any fans! Small merchandise such as buttons, keychains, and figurines were organized by fandom in rows of clear plastic bins (see above). I was particularly excited to see bins for unpopular sports anime such as All Out and Dive, since I’ve never encountered anyone (neither on the internet nor in real life) who has watched them. If money wasn’t an issue, I genuinely could have spent hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars there. Instead I settled for just adding a few more items to my Rook Hunt from Twisted Wonderland collection. I intend to make an ita bag dedicated to him and was actually hoping to buy a bag at the con, but I wasn’t able to find one. Still, I went home with plenty of things I hadn’t planned on buying and didn’t feel unsatisfied despite not finding what I was looking for.

Artist Alley
Art by Melanie Squadroni (https://msquadronicreations.com)

The Artist Alley was just as extensive as the Dealer Hall, and my group ended up spending about three hours between the two of them. Clearly there was plenty to see (and buy)! I was excited to see so much art of the DC character Harley Quinn since I was cosplaying as her, and with the artists’ permission I posed with all the paintings and drawings I came across. One of my convention traditions is collecting business cards from nearly every artist I see and following them on Instagram as soon as I get home; I left Thy Geekdom Con with approximately 40 business cards. I was fascinated by the wide range of fame amongst the artists: some of them have less than 200 followers, while others have thousands. I thought it was lovely to see new and local artists selling their art alongside well-established artists on equal footing. I had a wonderful conversation about goats with the two ladies at Velomellowart‘s stall, which led to me buying a cup and two coasters from them. I also chatted with Oliver from FennecAntlers about Warriors after he recognized my friend Hailey‘s Firestar cosplay. Coincidentally, one of the items I was on the lookout for during the con was a pair of black cat ears so I can cosplay Scourge from the series, and Oliver was in the middle of sketching Scourge when we came to his booth! He offered to commission a custom pair of ears for my upcoming cosplay, and I immediately agreed. I can’t believe how perfectly it worked out! I did have one mildly disappointing experience in the Artist Alley: I wanted to buy three stickers from an artist who had a 3-for-$5 (if I remember correctly) deal going on, but they didn’t have anything left in the designs I wanted. Artists selling out of their merch is probably the biggest downside of only attending a con on its final day.


The food options were surprisingly good. Attendees were able to access the convention center’s food court and its fairly extensive menu including nachos, salads, fruits, pizza, pastries, coffee, and more. I bought a chicken gyro (which I certainly did not expect to see on a food court menu) and it was pretty tasty! Prices were admittedly high, but that’s typical for an event venue (just think of how much snacks cost at a concert venue or movie theater, for example). I will say, though, that one of my friends bought fries and said they were awful. In addition to the food court, the Dealer Hall also had a few food options, including lemonade, smoothies, pickles, and Japanese snacks.

Manga Library
After experiencing the delightful Manga Carolina Library at Zenkaikon, I was greatly disappointed by Thy Geekdom Con’s manga library. Their collection of manga and comics consisted of just 3.5 bookshelves, and in order to access two of them I had to squeeze past a staff member who was seated in front of them. One table had a printed list of all the available titles, split into “Manga” and “Comics” and with 18+ content highlighted in red. Although this list was very helpful, it was alphabetized incorrectly with every title beginning with “The” listed under “T.” As a Literature major with OCD this greatly upset me, especially considering I vividly remember learning in elementary school that “The,” “A,” and “An” don’t count as part of the title when you’re alphabetizing. Many of the sets were also incomplete or random; for example, they had volumes 1-7 and 34 of Attack On Titan, volumes 1, 4, 5, and 6 of Versus, and volumes 1, 2, 4, and 6 of Aquaman. Lastly, one of the bookshelves had a bunch of random books stacked precariously on top of it even though it had plenty of empty shelves where the books could have gone.

Tabletop Games

I’m not into tabletop games at all, but I figured I would at least stop by and see what the room had to offer. There was a decently extensive collection of games ranging from Beyblade to card games to classics like Clue and Life. I noticed that there was a SPY X FAMILY game, and I was very taken aback when the staff member told me that although he’d never played that specific game himself, all anime-based board games except for the Cowboy Bebop ones are bad. When I asked about the Tokyo Ghoul games (which you can see in the right half of the picture above), he just repeated that all anime-based board games are bad and randomly shared that while Sailor Moon is a great anime it has a terrible game. All I wanted was to see what the games were about, but the staff member wouldn’t even let me check them out. I suppose he just didn’t want me to waste my time, but I would have liked to be the judge of that myself. He then recommended a two-player card game even though my group clearly had four people. Needless to say, we didn’t stick around that room for very long.

Video Games

When I lived in France, my favorite hangout spot was the Reload Gaming Bar. Since returning to the United States, I’ve yet to encounter a place like that where I could play video games with friends in public for free; however, the video game area at Thy Geekdom Con allowed for a fairly similar experience. There were many gaming systems set up throughout the room, including classic arcade games and Nintendo Switches. My group immediately planted ourselves in front of Super Smash Bros on a Switch and remained there until it was time for the panel we wanted to attend. The console was connected to a controller adapter with enough GameCube controllers plugged in for all four of us to play, which was great. There were plenty of seats and games to go around, so we were able to play for as long as we wanted; I’m not sure if we would have had that luxury if we’d gone on a busier day like Saturday. 


Let’s get the negative out of the way: The setup for the panel spaces was very poor. All three panel spaces were set up in the same room as the video games, separated from each other by just curtains (see above). You could easily hear everything that was going on in the other “rooms”; for example, we attended a panel in Panel Room A, and we were surrounded by the sound effects from the video games to the left and someone singing into a microphone in Panel Room B to the right. This was very distracting and also made it more difficult to hear the panelists. My group sat in the very front row, but I suspect the people sitting in the back had trouble hearing. 

The only panel we attended was called “Unmasking: Autism and ADHD Representation in Anime and Manga.” The description was as follows:

As awareness of Autism and ADHD increases, there is still a lack of acknowledged representation in Anime and manga. In this panel, we’ll discuss characters that have been given diagnoses by their authors, and those that the communities have embraced as having these conditions, despite the lack of designation from their creators.

After explaining that they are not doctors or psychologists and are therefore not qualified to diagnose mental illnesses, the panelists provided examples of anime characters that exhibit traits of Autism or ADHD. They used the diagnostic tools from the DSM 5 to support their choices, as well as personal feelings of relatability and feedback from neurodivergent Redditors. Each character had a slide dedicated to them with bullet points of their symptoms. The panelists also read a quote from every character that further supported the argument that they have the respective condition. For Autism, they discussed Hibiki from Bubble, Senku Ishigami from Dr. Stone, L and Near from Death Note, Mashiro Shiina from The Pet Girl of Sakurasou, Sawako Kuronuma from Kimi ni Todoke, Ayame Himuro and Shinya Yukimura from Science Fell In Love So I Tried to Prove It, and Kusuo Saiki from The Disastrous Life of Saiki K; for Hyperactive ADHD, they discussed Naruto Uzumaki from Naruto, Usagi Tsukino from Sailor Moon, Katarina Claes from My Next Life As A Villainess, and the main trio (Tanjiro Kamado, Zenitsu Agatsuma, and Inosuke Hashibira) from Demon Slayer; and for Inattentive ADHD, they discussed Yoh Asakura from Shaman King and Toshinari Seki from My Neighbor Seki. They also included a list of anime and manga that contain canon representations of Autism and ADHD: for the former, Gekijouban Ataru, Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam, Muu-chan to Te wo TsunaideSazankaThat’s My Atypical Girl, and With the Light; for the latter, Keep Your Hands off Eizouken!, My Brain is Different, Uchi niwa Kuzu ga Choudoii, and BETTERMAN. You can view the panelists’ reasoning for the characters they chose, as well as the descriptions of the media with depictions of Autism and ADHD, in the gallery below. The panel was very informative and well-researched; however, one of the panelists spoiled a MAJOR plot point in Death Note, and used terminology from Demon Slayer and Naruto that may have made it difficult for audience members who haven’t watched those anime to follow along. I did, though, enjoy and appreciate how they discussed cultural views of mental illness in Japan to contextualize the anime and manga they talked about.

Some of the other panels and workshops that occurred on Sunday included “Mental Health in Anime and Gaming,” “Padawan Training Institute,” “The Struggle of Creating Art, As Told by Anime,” “Adult Lightsaber Training Class,” “Anime Then and Now,” “LARP 101 for beginner and experienced LARPers,” “Is it better in Vinyl? Anime Dolls,” “Novelizations of Video Games,” and “Five Nights at Freddy’s Jeopardy.”

Other Experiences

There were a few other experiences that we probably would have had time for if we made an effort to squeeze them in, but we opted not to. First is the autograph sessions, which we witnessed from afar while we ate at the food court. Throughout the day, there were 13 voice actors and actresses giving out autographs: Aaron Dismuke, Austin Tindle, David Lodge, David Vincent, Griffin Burns, Jessie James Grelle, Joe Zieja, Johnny Yong Bosch, Justin Cook, Lindsay Seidel, Mark Whitten, Stephanie Nadolny, and Tia Ballard. Anyone who regularly watches English dubbed anime has most likely heard at least a few of these voices, so it was a pretty impressive lineup! With the exception of Johnny Yong Bosch who was only in attendance on Saturday and Sunday, all of these guests were present on all three days of the convention. The autograph lines were decently lengthy even on Sunday, so I imagine the wait time on Saturday was significantly long. Unfortunately, interacting with the guests was not free: David Vincent, for example, charged up to $90 for different autographed items, and even just a selfie with him cost $40. It’s been a long time since I watched any English dubs, so anime voice actors no longer hold any particular relevance for me, but I remember meeting voice actor Todd Haberkorn at Zenkaikon way back in 2011 and getting both a signed plushie and a picture with him for free. I guess times have changed.

Next was the Body Mod Market. Although I’ve never been to one, I imagine this was like a tattoo convention but on a smaller scale. A portion of the Expo Center was dedicated to several tattoo and piercing pop-up shops (I didn’t get an exact number, but I counted at least six). The artists all had tattoo design portfolios for guests to flip through. Some of them had set designs to choose from, while others were willing to do anything you gave them. You could either make an appointment or just walk up to whoever had availability at the moment. 3/4 of my friend group is tatted, so we were super interested in this concept; however, none of us decided to get inked while we were there because this would have eaten up far too much time with us only having one day. It would have been an awesome opportunity if we were there for the whole weekend, though: in fact, Cosplayer Spotlite interviewee Torihime attended the con for the full weekend and used some of her time on Sunday to get a tattoo.

Lastly, I also noticed a barber set up near the panel rooms when we first walked in, but they were gone by the time we came back and I didn’t see anything about them on the con’s website so I don’t really have any information about them. Thy Geekdom Con was the 16th convention I’ve attended in my life, and I can definitely say getting a haircut is not an activity I have ever considered doing or even seeing at a con!


Even though we were only there for one day (and not even for the full time—the con was from 10 AM to 6 PM, and we were only there from about 11 AM to 5 PM), there was plenty for my group to see and do and I definitely feel that it was worth the $25 Sunday-only ticket price. We had some wonderful conversations with vendors and artists, and lots of people wished me a happy birthday (shoutout to CreationzbyCC on Etsy for my “Birthday Bitch” sash!). The venue and the staff admittedly weren’t all that great, but that didn’t strongly detract from my overall experience. I can’t confidently say this was my best birthday ever, but it was easily in my top 5. I will definitely keep this convention on my radar for the future!

About Gabby Bibus

Gabby has been obsessed with anime since she was just 9 years old, and is proud to say she has watched over 200 different series. But that’s not even her biggest claim to fame: she also lives on a farm with over 80 goats! Although anime and animals are her two favorite things in the world, she also loves music, books, and movies. Her day job is a middle school ESL teacher, and she is also a staff member at the New Jersey Renaissance Faire.

View all posts by Gabby Bibus

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.