Welcome to Salukicon!
April 26, 2023
From cosplayers to dozens of vendors to special guests, this year’s Salukicon was unlike any other. Hundreds of people around southern Illinois attended the small convention.
Salukicon began five years ago, originally as Eclipse Con, as a way for people to find their niche and get the rare chance to indulge in it with like-minded people.
The highlight of the event for many was getting the chance to meet two voice actors, Jason Spisak and Olivia Catherine Hack. Spisak is most well known for his role as Silco in Arcane, Wally West in Young Justice, and Lux Bonteri in Star Wars: Clone Wars. He has been in the business for over 27 years and continues to try and get new roles each day.
When asked what was his favorite role he ever played, he replied, “It’s tough because when you create a character, it’s like they’re your babies… but I definitely have a special place in my heart for two characters Wally West from Young Justice and Silco in Arcane. The story is just so brilliantly written and it’s not often that you get to just be subtle and play a villain who people can end up caring about,” Spisak said.
“I had never played League [of Legends], I had heard of it because I knew they filled eSports arenas with championships, but never actually played. One of the beautiful things about the story the directors wrote was that you don’t have to play League to love Arcane. It’s just a really good prehistory of the things that you end up seeing in the League of Legends… I didn’t have to play the game to be the man,” Spisak said.
Many voice actors have different origin stories as to how they started and why, but Spisak’s is unique due to how he came upon the idea of voice acting.
“What inspired me to get into voice acting, well this is going to be odd. I was in college and I had never thought of voice acting as kind of a career option… and I had always done voices when I was a kid sitting too close to the TV and did voices and I saw the Animaniacs and said this is friggin’ hilarious and then I realized that I could do like all the voices in the show. So I was like maybe this is a career path and that’s when I thought that might be a cool career,” Spisak said.
Spisak had the largest audience during his hour-long panel at noon and shared memories and thoughts with the crowd that made them laugh and made them ponder, leaving the audience refreshed and with a smile on their faces.
Later, Hack, most known for the voice of Ty Lee from Avatar the Last Airbender and Rhonda Lloyd from Hey Arnold, similarly had a panel where she got the chance to show others about her career and the emotions and enjoyment that went along with it.
“Playing Ty Lee in Avatar was super awesome, but I never read the scripts, so I didn’t know that Ty Lee was a bad guy… So I went to this Comic con in Australia and it was my first con ever and I was with Dante Bosch who played Zuko and we were signing all this Avatar stuff and I was asked what was it like playing a villain? And I just go, ‘I’m a villain,’ and I was like, ‘but I’m pink!’” Hack said.
“One of the reasons Ty Lee is so perky was because I never read the full scripts and I just thought she was pink so I just played her pink,” Hack said.
When asked whether she preferred Japanese animation or Western animation she replied, “Traditional animation all the way, always, because the thing with anime is that you are so limited and bound by time code… and you are rewriting that stuff sometimes as you are recording it. Everyone is like that doesn’t fit here at all and we got to trim 20 words off this,” Hack said.
“One of the great things about voice acting is you don’t have to remember any lines but when you do anime you kind of do because you have to watch the mouth at the same time, so you’re remembering the lines, trying to fit it in there, watch their mouth at the same time, and you are just getting the lines not the full script so you don’t really know what’s going on a lot of the time… With traditional animation, it’s just so free and you can ad lib, so it’s just kind of better and it’s more actor friendly,” Hack said.
Hack’s career began as a child and she similarly continues to find new roles to grow her resume and show others her voice is out there, as well as taking on screen acting jobs from time to time. Her panel made others really get an inside scoop on the acting world and how voice acting for different people can vary so much.
Salukicon was also home to many cosplayers, the largest fandoms throughout the convention being from the game Genshin Impact, which is an open-world anime-inspired fantasy game as well as the popular anime Demon Slayer. Marvel and DC characters are always seen in comic cons and were no exception to Salukicon, from Batman and the Joker to Spider-man and Thor.
Other events included a small chess tournament outside of the main hall of the Student Center, a maid cafe that was serving attendees snacks and performances, gaming lounges and anime viewings, as well as kid-friendly activities to entertain the little ones. It was a great turnout and allowed so many of the students here at SIU to express themselves in ways they might not have been able to in day to day life.
Staff reporter and photographer Mo Collar can be reached at [email protected] or on instagram @m0.alexander.