By James Robert Shaw
(The Wind up Geek)
For anyone who lives in the Pacific Northwest, it is common knowledge that Vancouver Island is one of the toughest places to host an event. The lethargy displayed by the fan community backed by decades of failed events, an unhealthy fan club scene and conventions that once shone only to dull and disappear is enough to make any organizer think twice.
But one has to admire the sheer bravery of any person who tries to create something wonderful for the local community. Three such people are Evan Hatch, Carson Upton, and Michael Lum creators of GottaCon, a gaming event that lasted a handful of years before closing. Replaced by LANtasy, both are proof that southern Vancouver Island isn’t big enough to support two such events.
The aforementioned LANtasy (held at the GR Pearkes Arena in Saanich) and the anime/cosplay-centric Tsukino Con (hosted by the University of Victoria) are the only annual multi-day conventions on Vancouver Island. For those who can’t attend either, there are one-day events such as Camosun College’s Comic Arts Festival and Victoria’s Ultimate Hobby and Toy Fair run by Cherry Bomb Toys. Most of these are located in the City of Victoria proper and for fans who live in the municipality of Saanich or further, the travel time is something to consider.
Josh Kully looks to alleviate this problem. Recently, he announced the creation of the Vancouver Island Comic Convention (Van Isle Con), a one-day event to be held at the Mary Winspear Centre in beautiful Sidney By Sea, a town located north of Victoria. For fans living in and around Saanich, this is like Christmas dropping into their laps. Little is currently known until their official website is up but what I do know has me excited. In addition to the artists, demos panels and a cosplay contest, a special guest from California (yet to be announced) will be present to attend the June 11th event.
The Sidney Museum is part of this celebration and will have a special comic book exhibit (May 1 – June 30th). The Panorama Recreation Center will also be involved with a potential special screening. Also, Canadian Comic Book Creator Hall of Fame member Ken Steacy (instructor at Camosun College and also the organizer of this campus’ Comic Arts Festival) will be participating.
I like to see this show eventually grow to a weekend con. Entry is by donation, which is great, but how does that define an event? With LANtasy and Tsukino Con, having the big three genres covered on Vancouver Island (gaming, comics, and anime) is great. But with the graveyard of past events like I-Con, RimCon, Japanese Animation Club Victoria’s anime marathons, the original University of Victoria Anime Club’s AnimeJam and the 2015 collapse of IFCon only a week before the event was to be held, leaves one to be more cautious and realistic about such things.
If Islanders truly want Van Isle Con to succeed, they are going to have to show more support than they did than with simply being members of organizations, like the original Japanese Animation Club of Victoria, U.S.S. Resolution Star Trek club, Robotech club or the Star Wars Rebel Alliance. Being active is key. They fell because they were victims, to some extent, of our lethargy.
Van Isle Con will be held June 11, 2017 at the Mary Winspear Centre in Sidney By Sea and will run 9:00 am to 6:00 pm. For more information, please visit their official Facebook site at https://www.facebook.com/VanIsleCon