On June 11th, 2017, Van Isle Con promises to give nerds and Canada 150 partners a fun-filled weekend in Sidney, British Columbia. Located north of Victoria, the capital of this province, this township may well get a new nickname. Instead of book town, it will be all things sequential art related, and that’s not including the written word. It will shape the landscape around this community starting in May and it will lead to this event.
Josh Kully is part of the team who is helping to shape it. As a freelance illustrator making roads into the comic book industry with his recently published work, The Stork, he has come to know the local talents also living on Vancouver Island. In fact, they may appear in this show; Dan Schoening (Ghostbusters) and Ken Steacy (Tempus Fugitive) are well-known. His involvement in the local community and knowledge of the medium will be pivotal to making this show great.
“I honestly don’t remember a time I wasn’t into comics or art. It’s just something I have always been drawn to and it is a huge part of my life,” said Kully.
When considering the past history of events in Victoria, questions will also be asked by those unsure about the success. Over at Otakunoculture, we want all local geeky shows to succeed. I got a chance to talk to Josh, and had to begin with the tough one:
Aside from filling a niche that no other genre-specific convention can always cover for Southern Vancouver Island (and the hoo-ha that happened with IFCon), were there other reasons that made you decide to create this show, and have it in Sidney, BC?
The main reason I got on board was because there was a very obvious and great opportunity here. I was hesitant at first, knowing how much work goes into these and how easy it is to fail. I really didn’t want to take on something I couldn’t handle. But after hearing what kind of support we had, who all was involved and how much everyone was overwhelmingly enthusiastic about the convention, it was pretty easy to say yes.
The reason for having it in Sidney was this is where the opportunity was presented. The community is planning a series of events for Canada 150 and this is one of them. The Sidney Museum, who is putting on a superhero comic exhibit, were the ones who approached us with the idea. Their exhibit is called, “Up, Up and Away! Comic Book Superheroes and Our Culture.”
I was asked by the museum to help with their exhibit and they asked if I would be interested in coordinating a convention to be a part of a 2 month-long Comic Book Festival here in Sidney, which you can find out more about on our website.
Who else is involved in the planning of this event?
The Town of Sidney is supporting the event as a Canada 150 initiative. In addition, the other key organizations are, the Sidney Business Improvement Area Society (Sidney BIA) and the Mary Winspear Centre. Really, the whole community is just an amazing place to host an event; everyone is so supportive and helpful – they all want to see it be successful.
What can you say to people who are hesitant either because of the past or about heading up to this township?
I would say not to worry. I understand completely where people are coming from because I am one of them. I have been the fan and the vendor so I know how it feels. This event is being organized by people who are passionate fans and con goers like myself. We are supported by non-profit organizations who are not doing this for money or praise, we just want to make a fun event that is so lacking and much-needed in our community.
What can people expect to do or see at this show?
We are going to have the main hall filled with artists, cosplayers, comics, games, and other fun stuff. Throughout the day, we are going to have panels where you can listen and ask questions. Our keynote speaker is Chris Williams, who has worked for Disney studios for over 20 years. He has worked on such films as Big Hero 6, Moana, Mulan, Bolt, Frozen and many more.
There will be a Cosplay Contest and maybe even some product demonstrations. Our goal is to make this a full day of events and activities [around town]. We will have a resting area, games area, food trucks, movies will be playing in the background on projector screens, things for kids to do, comics to buy and read, get your photo taken with some cosplayers and even a T.A.R.D.I.S.
What made you decide to make this event by donation?
Because it is the first year, we want it to be accessible to everyone and to encourage people to come. I am also a bit of a romantic in this sense that I believe if we do all that we can to make a great event and to get the people there that it will be more beneficial to everyone to have it by donation.
In terms of local artists confirmed to appear, who can you announce?
We have some really talented locals involved and many more in the works. One of which is Nevin Anold who is releasing a book called Monsterella under his own label Hang Man Comics. Some of the artists who worked on the book will be there like a fantastic digital painter named Sun Kahmunaki. We have a phenomenal cosplayer who goes by the name Teryl Dactyl, a group of fantasy artists, The Dark Knight of Victoria, and many more.
What are your hopes for the future of this show?
My main goal is for this one to be well done and successful. We would love to have it be two days, filled with even more guests, exhibitors, panels, and events [but not yet.] I really want to see this convention be strong enough to happen each year and get better over time.