The 2020 Pacific Northwest Convention Scene & How Star Trek Plays into It…

26 Nov

By Ed Sum (Find him on Twitter as @edohotep)

In the Pacific Northwest, if the organizers behind the coming “comic book” conventions for next year are not careful, the focus on Star Trek will not be as exciting as it ought to be. The 90s was ripe for the scene because everyone loved watching The Next Generation. Appearances of talents from this franchise at a comic book store or science fiction convention was a guaranteed draw. I met a handful of these talents before charging for autographs became a mandatory thing.

CBS All Access Picard is a dream come true. It’s a continuation of The Next Generation and will bring the cast back (or feature other Admirals, past villains and etc) as easy as writing a time travel episode.

With Emerald City Comic Con (ECCC) announcing Walter Koenig and LeVar Burton as their first headlining guests, the logic boards in my brain are on overdrive. The latter is definitely appearing in the new series, but to find Koenig at more conventions? Surely, something is up!

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Gates is a champion guest speaker!

Almost in response, Capital City Comic Convention (4C Victoria, BC) announced Gates McFadden a few weeks later. She will no doubt appear in Picard since the two (in character) were once romantically involved. I’m not super excited to be honest. I had a chance at ECCC; her appearance only affirms my theory of wait long enough, and that talent will return to the region at a different convention.

Generally, the organizers know of what other events are doing and have to plan accordingly. I will roll with what each show wants to plug and I feel CBS has nothing to worry about. This show would not be green lit had there been any concerns.

Kelowna’s Fan Experience (KFX) is in the thick of things with their calendar position in March. The lists of who appeared at this event reveal they don’t depend on big name guests to keep this show cool. I’m waiting to see if they will jump on board the Starship bandwagon? Their 2020 lineup will have to be announced soon.

Part of me wants to find a fandom event willing to take chances. While the Calgary Expo looks like rollin’ fun (the city truly gets on board because of the parades), no other Pacific Northwest show has yet to imitate. ECCC once had a road side celebration, but it was limited to going to the Cinerama for a special Back to the Future screening.

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Fans can find Bats and cosplay at Fan Experience!

At least for Britcon, the distinction is immediate: British fandom. The organizers are using the crowdfunding approach to ensure early membership sales through some awesome stretch goals. This event is off to a start with Paul McGann as a guest. After the Kickstarter campaign has concluded and the team accesses where to go next, they will consider what to bring in next to keep things safe.

Perhaps that’s what Capital City needs, than being gung-ho. Their second year event was far better organized and the nitpicks are low key. Only the Mr. Spock in me is questioning what DBVA executive director Jeff Bray’s said to CTVNews, “We’re now starting to hit our stride of really knowing how to run these things at a world-class level.”

A huge concern not being answered is capacity. The Victoria Conference Center confirms on their webpage a 2,500 people maximum in a single instance. The past two years had people being denied access to a very tight theatre space. Once the doors are closed, that’s it and stragglers are left disappointed. While they can go find something else to do, to not be able to see a keynote requires a contingency plan so no negativity spreads.

ECCC heard similar rants and were smart to stream online the major panels–to which every volunteer knew to reveal to frustrated patrons. Their 2020 event is confirmed to have overflow rooms for those to watch the main stage Q&As from nearby. As for broadcasting to a specific hotel’s TV channel, hopefully the organizers are listening! The live environment is exciting to catch those off camera moments, but if all people want is a late night show ala Jimmy Kimmel, including taped segments, perhaps this idea I offer should be considered.

It’s not like how Fan Expo Vancouver operates with their open space environment. People come and go as they please and can stand by the sidelines for a view. Some attendees dislike it because of noise levels, but it surprisingly works so anyone nearby can listen in. If FXV wanted additional rooms for more panels (programming), the problems from the past was simply because other functions took place the same weekend. The decision to change calendar dates may help and I am very curious in how their February event will look. Will more space be opened up for them to use? I’ll have to go to find out!

Image result for b woodward cherry bombI chatted with B Woodward of Cherry Bomb Toys about all these shows and he’s optimistic for every show that takes place. He tries not to play favourites, but that’s hard when the team here make up one third of the Capital City Comic Convention Planning Committee. At the time, I was asking for his opinion about Washington State Toy and Geek Fest and how different this looks because it’s located at the Puyallup Fair Grounds. Yes, these fan conventions can become media circuses at times, and the smell of the farm–but that’s besides the point… He said each event caters to a specific (regional) community instead of convincing everyone around the world to come see this show. If a fan from afar will be there based on what he or she really likes. Otherwise patience is its own reward. 

For now, based on guest announcements, the must go to show is with Fan Expo Vancouver because of Brendan Fraser! To see him with this brand of conventions (barring being called to set) has me ape in excitement and swinging over! George, here I come!

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