Come get your geek on at the fifth anniversary of the East Valley Tribune’s nerd-friendly blog, “Nerdvana,” at the aptly titled NerdvanaCon. The celebration will be incorporated into downtown Mesa’s annual Second Friday art festival with events and activities for the entire spectrum of geeks.
If you’re into cosplay (dressing in costume), comic style drawing, movies or strategy games, this is the place you have to be.
College Times recently interviewed NerdvanaCon organizer Bob Leeper, who is the owner and manager of Evermore Nevermore, a pop culture and art network based out of Arizona, about what to expect from the event.
College Times: So how did NerdvanaCon get its start?
Bob Leeper: NerdvanaCon is the fifth anniversary of the “Nerdvana” blog. The blog's founder, Jayson Peters, approached the Second Friday group last year with the idea of incorporating the anniversary into one of our themed Second Friday art festivals. “Nerdvana” has always helped promote our geeky downtown Mesa events and businesses, so we thought it was a great idea.
Who is putting on the event?
There are several people involved in various components of NerdvanaCon and it has really been a collaborative effort. Suzanne Woodford and myself are coordinating the overall Second Friday/NerdvanaCon event. OneOhOne Gallery, Bookmans & The Dr. Diabolic Show are sponsoring the “Buckaroo Banzai” movie screening. HeatSync Labs will be holding technology demonstrations. Queens Pizzeria, “Geekssociated Press” and Vul-Con are putting together the gaming event. Monsterland is hosting an artist corner and costume contest and the East Valley Tribune is helping out with bands and prizes.
Can you touch on some of the most interesting things going on?
We've got a ton of cool things planned, including discussion panels and workshops on drawing Sheriff Joe [Arpaio], costume and prop design, getting started as a pop culture artist and “Voyage Trekkers.” There will be costume contests, genre-themed artists, cool music and dining, technology demos, the cult movie screening, strategy gaming and unique shopping opportunities.
What would you suggest doing at NerdvanaCon?
My advice would be to hit everything. Come in costume if you like, do some gaming at Queens, take in a panel at the OneOhOne, listen to some music as you walk up Main Street, checking out the artists at LuluBell Toys, Gotham City Comics, Monsterland and the OneOhOne as well as the dozens of artists on the sidewalk in between. Grab some great food and don't miss the costume contests at OneOhOne and Monsterland. Make it back to the movie screening, [and] then hit Monsterland for some Romulan Ale at the after party.
Any special appearances?
Dr. Diabolic will be hosting the “Buckaroo Banzai” movie screening, Gary Ham will be signing his new toy design at Lulubell Toys, Russ Kazmierczak will be holding the "Draw Sheriff Joe" workshop and there will be several popular local artists doing sketches and showing off their handiwork.
How much of the event features local talent?
Second Friday is combined almost completely of local artists, and bands and “Nerdvana” and NerdvanaCon is certainly all about celebrating the local geek community and popular culture.
Are there contests for people who want to dress up?
Absolutely! There will be two costume contests; one at the OneOhOne Gallery before the movie screening and one later at Monsterland. Cool prizes will be awarded at both venues for the most awe-inspiring costumes. If you are into cosplay, there is no better place in the Valley to come out and feel at home in whatever guise you choose.
How could someone unfamiliar with geeky culture enjoy NerdvanaCon?
There will be something for everyone at this event. In addition to the themed attractions, Second Friday always hosts 60 to 80 local artisans of all types and offers fun music and the unique dining & shopping experiences of downtown Mesa. But give some of the nerdy themed events a try too, and you might discover a whole new world.
NerdvanaCon, OneOhOne Gallery, 101 W. Main Street, Mesa, Blogs.EVTrib.com/Nerdvana/NerdvanaCon, Friday, August 10, 6 to 10 p.m., free. Note: Gaming at Queens Pizzeria and the Artist Corner at Monsterland continue free-of-charge on Saturday, August 11