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NerdvanaCon recap: 2nd Friday geeks out

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Voyage Trekkers boothIt was great being back in Arizona this weekend to attend NerdvanaCon, downtown Mesa’s 2nd Friday celebration of Nerdvana and all the geeky things it represents. I was reminded of all the rich relationships between creative forces in the Valley.

First, the haul: I scored a Mass Effect-style Samus Aran print by designer and digital artist Anabel Martinez, a Season One DVD of Voyage Trekkers signed by creator and director Nathan Blackwell, some Uncle Scrooge and DuckTales comics (a personal favorite of mine) from Gotham City Comics & Coffee, and a collection of Amazing Arizona Comics from creator and Nerdvana contributor Russ Kazmierczak Jr. I also picked up a copy of the film featured in the Bookmans/Dr. Diabolic screening — more on that later.

When the panels started at the OneOhOne Gallery, I missed the first one – Russ’ panel on “How to Draw Joe Arpaio,” but I’m hopeless at drawing anyway, and caught up with Russ later in the evening at his booth where we geeked out about The Dark Knight Rises. I did catch Allen Amis’ panel on the creation of the Samurai Boba Fett cosplay that made waves online recently, as well as Anabel’s panel on getting started as a digital artist. I skipped Nathan’s Voyage Trekkers panel to man his booth for him while he presented, but I heard it was awesome!

East Valley Tribune web developer Tal Graff, web editor Brett Fera and publisher Terry Horne manned the Tribune booth, challenging passersby to NES gaming while promoting the new EVTNews app for iPhone, iPod Touch and Android phones. It’s a great app and it’s free.

I was so busy buzzing around catching up with old friends and making new ones that I didn’t get over to HeatSync Labs where they were doing DIY tech demonstrations. That’s definitely still on my wish list of things to explore downtown. But I did get a whirlwind tour of Monsterland Bar & Grill, and hope to haunt again there someday. It was at the artist booths at Monsterland that I got to meet Keith Decesare, who created the awesome poster artwork for Vul-Con’s strategy gaming event as well as the gaming-themed comic strip Roll 4 Damage — check it out!.

Dr. Diabolic introduces the Buckaroo Banzai screening that capped off NerdvanaCon.The screening of The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension, presented by Bookmans Entertainment Exchange and The Dr. Diabolic Show, was a great way to finish off the evening. I had never watched more than a few minutes of the cult classic before, and it was a fun romp that belongs in any ’80s genre DVD collection. And now it’s in mine.

I didn’t make it over to Vul-Con gaming in the former Evermore Nevermore brick-and-mortar space adjacent to Queen’s Pizzeria, but I did help Jay of Vul-Con unpack and set up a bit on Friday. They had a great selection of games that kept people busy not just Friday, but into Saturday evening as well.

Despite the oppressive heat that lasted well into depths of night, there were some truly excellent costumes walking around Friday night. I have pics of some of them, and Twisted Manga has some more. (Do you have your own shots of the cosplayers? Send them to us at or post them in the comments!)

We also had great live video-game themed music from geek-rockers Scych (formerly Oblyvion). They’re a great band that we hope to see and hear a lot more of! And they stood outside in the heat entertaining the crowds with grace. A real class act.

Even though it was hotter than a Tatooine brick oven last weekend, NerdvanaCon was a dream come true, and it was a great way to cap off five fun years of bringing you the best pop culture the Valley has to offer. Thanks to those who could come out — and to those who couldn’t, we hope to see you next time.

I also want to thank Suzanne Woodford and the OneOhOne Gallery, Mesa 2nd Friday, Bob Leeper of Evermore Nevermore, Lori at Bookmans, The Dr. Diabolic Show and The East Valley Tribune, as well as Queen’s Pizzeria, Geekksociated Press, Vul-Con, Monsterland, HeatSync Labs, Gotham City Comics & Coffee and all the downtown Mesa merchants that make 2nd Friday a showcase of the community. Without all of them, NerdvanaCon would not have been possible, let alone awesome.

How do you follow up a sci-fi celebration like NerdvanaCon? With pirates, of course!

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