Welcome to the new and improved Anime Central Blog! We’re back, up and running again to bring you the latest scoop on ACen, along with tips to improve your con experience. But ACen isn’t about just anime. We’ll give you the skinny about a multitude of cultural events, industry inside info, artist tips and tricks, along with a whole bunch of other fun facts!

But where do we begin, perhaps at the start? How about a little on the humble beginnings of our con?

In April 1996, the Midwest Animation Promotion Society (MAPS) incorporated as a 501(c)(3) Educational Non Profit Organization. CHAOS (CHicagoland Animation Observation Society) was the founding club for Anime Central.  Maria Rider (Munoz), Scott Rider, Ryan Gavigan, Jeff Williamson, Aaron McLin, Lorraine McLees (Reyes), Ben Nunez, James Sebastian, and Roderick Lee were the founding 9 members.  The Animatrix Network Fan Club, run by Michael Palmaira, also brought in a slew of volunteers for staff. To this day, Anime Central is still run by volunteers (unpaid!) who are anime fans like you!

After two years of intense planning, we held the first Anime Central in 1998, from April 3rd to the 5th at the Holiday Inn International O’Hare hotel in Rosemont, Illinois. Guests that weekend were Juliet Cesario, Robert DeJesus, Jason Gray-Stanford, Fumio Iida, Tsukasa Kotobuki, Trish Ledoux, Steve Pearl, Jan Scott-Frazier, Scott Simpson, Kenichi Sonoda, Amanda Winn Lee, and Toshifumi Yoshida. On that weekend, we had 1203 of our best friends attending the convention.

It’s hard to imagine that in 15 short years, we’ve gone from 1200 attendees in 1998 to over 24,000 attendees in 2012. Here’s hoping for 15 and more years after!

How long have you been going to ACen? What was your first ACen experience like? Feel free to leave a comment!

Look back here every Wednesday for new posts about ACen! And don’t forget to mark it on your calendars! ACen 2013 is from May 17th to the 19th, at the Hyatt Regency O’Hare and the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont, Illinois!