I have attended many pop culture style conventions in the past 25 or so years. Some took place in my home town of Victoria, British Columbia but more off island. I am sad not many local shows have a footprint of lasting more than five years. Attempts have been made to centralize all aspects of geekdom, but to pull it off needs a proper committee of dedicated folks. I’m aware most of the businesses along Nerd Row (on Johnson Street and Broad) are in communication with one another, but this community was not in place till the early part of this century.
In terms of history, a major comic book type event (which was a one-off) took place at the Empress Hotel in the late 80’s which had a who’s who of talent (from New York even), which Big Brothers and Big Sisters organized — my introduction to the scene — but since then, everything else which followed never compared. Van Isle Con is a step in the right direction, and although a short commute is required to get there, I’m wondering what’s next? Are there individuals willing to make something happen within the capital city?
Sometimes for a con going big or go home can be dangerous. When your event makes a single guest your draw, going big can be a good thing. As in the case with Van Isle Con, Vancouver Island’s upcoming comic and cosplay convention, having Moana‘s co-director Chris Williams as your guest of honor is a very smart move. Sure, Williams doesn’t have the muscles of Dwayne Johnson (who voiced Maui), and okay, maybe he can’t sing like Auli’i Cravalho (Moana), but what he does have is a lot of talent and experience when it comes to creating films for all ages to enjoy.
William’s earliest credits are as story contributor for Disney on animated feature films such as 1998’s Mulan, The Emporer’s New Groove, and Brother Bear. More than just an ideas man, Williams also performed story artist duties on films Chicken Little, Meet the Robinsons, Tangled, Frozen (where he voiced Oaken), and the Academy Award winning Zootopia.
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.