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.
By Ed Sum (The Vintage Tempest)
Model railroads, Hot Rod cars, G.I. Joe, Transformers, Barbie and LEGO are all toys everyone has played with in their childhood, but growing up often leaves those playthings far behind. For the adult toy collector, they can finally own the stuff they couldn’t buy as a child, and the new toys coming out are a must because they look cool.
Biagio Woodward, manager of Cherry Bomb Toys in Victoria, BC believes that toys are designed for people of all ages. This shop moves a fair bit of product and the Christmas season is the best time for shoppers to look for that hard to find item for that hard to please nerd in the family. Sometimes, the perfect gift is a recycled one to bring back the nostalgia of what that geek loved when he or she was young, and in what was played with. Woodward believes what the current line of toys are trying to do is to match the quality of old toys, and collectors are willing to pay more money for them, old or new.
“For example, GI Joe toys from the 60’s is the basis of the 12″ toys of today because they are super-poseable,” says Woodward.
Camosun College’s 4th Annual Comic Arts Festival is certainly growing and the program teaching the next generation of visual artists are here to show to residents of Victoria, BC they are ready to tackle the world. This show took place over the April 16th weekend, on the third floor of the Young Building at Lansdowne Campus.
Plenty of talent can be found in this exhibit of past graduate, current graduate and artists in the field of creating sequential art. Local talents like Nelson Dewey, Janine Johnston, and Glen Mullaly (to name a few) were also on hand to present their works, and sell their wares alongside their students. Gareth Gaudin’s Perogy Cat also made an appearance!
Also attending was Tsukino-Con to show that their event is not just about anime, but in celebrating the visual arts medium. Superheroes of Victoria was also present in costume (you have to be careful walking around Deadpool, otherwise the hilt may hit you) for the drop-in drawing-room. A few panels also highlighted the afternoon which looked at constructing web-comics (hosted by Alex Steacy), Splash! a watercolour painting demonstration by Karen Gillmore (Spam and the Sasquatch, Mermaid Music) in one of the most difficult of mediums to master, and a discussion of the ever-changing role of women in comics. A careful selection of comic convention level conversations can be found at this small show and they alone make this event worth attending every year. The best part is that for now, this festival is free to the public.
Expectations were very high by fans to see if the organizers could successfully pull off Fan Expo Vancouver for a second year. Problems were abound in its first year because nobody from the East Coast team knew what the West Coast interest would be like. The major complaint heard from the grapevine, especially on Facebook, was with the lineups. At least that looked better managed in this event’s second year. More signage could have helped direct traffic and one out of the many problems that still needs to be addressed is with hallway congestion. If that issue is not enough, detractors say Fan Expo is a form of Creation Con, a style of organization where the show is designed to take every penny out of a fan’s pocket, and true fan-run conventions are few and far-between.
At least the die-hard masses tends to ignore the naysayers and find enjoyment in everything that Fan Expo celebrates: pop culture.
This year, the show took over three ballrooms at the Vancouver Convention Center’s West Wing and it stretched out to the conference rooms on the second level. The exhibit hall was organized to have dealers for one-third of the space, exhibitors (like LEGO and Sony Playstation) in the middle and displays from special organizations at the end, near the loading docks.