They may be geeks. They may be non-conformists. They’re definitely champions for practically anything alternative.
But mainstream? Really?
Sure, we all know the top Hollywood flicks of the year are from comic-book lore, but there’s more to it than that. Take the 125,000 frenzied fanboys at this year’s San Diego Comic-Con — the mecca of the “cult” generation — for one. Or how about another 32,000-plus at the Phoenix Comicon, for another.
For an oft-costumed, self-proclaimed group of counter-culture outcasts, there’s a funny irony in how accepted the geek community has become — especially right here in Arizona.
Jayson Peters, co-founder and manager the East Valley Tribune’s ever-popular “Nerdvana” blog and online community, has seen it coming for a while now.
“Phoenix Comicon was once this tiny thing,” Peters says, noting that it wasn’t that long ago that the modest event was held locally in the East Valley — in Mesa. “Phoenix Comicon one day I think might rival San Diego Comic-Con — it’s already rivaling it in terms of talent for guests.”
While it’s been three years since Phoenix Comicon left Mesa, the East Valley’s largest city has a chance Friday to showcase its affinity for all-things geek. “NerdvanaCon” — named in celebration of the Nerdvana blog’s fifth birthday this month — was called on as the theme for Downtown Mesa’s monthly 2nd Friday art-walk and block party.
Businesses will be buzzing, the music blasting, and booths and vendors will line Main Street as far as the eye can see to celebrate all that has become of Arizona’s geek culture.
That hardly means the event is only for those with a softer side for Star Trek or Star Wars, however — especially considering the large following the monthly 2nd Friday events already claim.
As Peters has long explained, there’s hardly much of a difference between fantasy football or Dungeons and Dragons. Everyone geeks out about something, and, to Peters, everyone can find something of interest at NerdvanaCon.
It was late last year that Peters left his position as a Tribune editor for an opportunity in Pueblo, Colo. But even with his move north, Nerdvana never left his side.
“You can’t really pry me away from it,” he said. “That won’t happen.”
That’s why when plans for NerdvanaCon kicked into gear, Peters made sure he’d be there tonight to see his old Nerdvana pals, and hopefully meet a few of the thousands upon thousands of new members of the community he’s helped cultivate.
Come for a little bit or stay for the whole 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. timeslot to try and get it all in. Either way, those in attendance are in for a fun night.
Some features include a “How to Draw Sheriff Joe” (no joke) comic-art workshop by Amazing Arizona Comics’ Russ Kazmierszak Jr., mind-blowing science and technology demonstrations by Mesa’s HeatSync Labs, costume contests, a strategy gaming event, pop-culture artist corner, live music, more than 70 booths and attractions, and plenty of giveaways, food, and other entertainment options.
The Tribune, thanks to its friends at the Mesa Arts Center, will also be giving away two tickets to see William Shatner — Captain James Tiberius Kirk himself! — live at MAC in January, along with loads of other prizes.
“I’m sure you’ll get plenty of people in costume … getting into it,” Peters said. “I haven’t decided if I’ll be in costume yet – but it’s going to a fun party no matter what.”
If You Go
What: NerdvanaCon (Downtown Mesa’s ‘2nd Friday’)
When: 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Friday
Where: Main Street in downtown Mesa
Cost: Free for all ages
Nerdvana blog: EastValleyTribune.com/nerdvana