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Looking back at 2012’s NerdvanaCon and the art of local blog fandom

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Nine years ago this summer, Nerdvana briefly transcended the bounds of reality and became, for just one day anyway, more than a blog.

Aug. 10, 2012, was the first — and, so far, only — NerdvanaCon. Taking place in conjunction with Downtown Mesa’s 2nd Friday block party, NerdvanaCon marked Nerdvana’s fifth anniversary.

I had just actually shipped out from the East Valley Tribune, where the blog began and was still hosted at that time, to work for a different newspaper in Colorado, but my former employers graciously brought me back to help celebrate. (In 2016, I would acquire the blog for myself and spin it off as the independent site it is today.)

One of my favorite memories of NerdvanaCon, aside from spending time with creative friends both old and new, is the artwork that promoted the event.

A driving force behind NerdvanaCon, our own contributor Bob Leeper, created exciting promotional artwork that drew upon old, pulpy sci-fi adventures and has continued to inform various identity elements on our social media channels through the years:

Then there was the poster promoting Bookmans’ and Dr. Diabolic’s screening at NerdvanaCon of The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension — and the event was actually the first time I ever watched the cult-classic film:

And what would a NerdvanaCon be without gaming? Phoenix Vul-Con (now, sadly, defunct) ran tabletop gaming at the event, and artist Keith Decesare cooked up this great poster highlighting host Queen’s Pizzeria & Cafe — also, sadly, now gone — on Mesa’s Main Street, in a funny and loving homage to the iconic David Trampier cover art for the original Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Players Handbook. The poster features the dicey characters from the artist’s hilarious Roll 4 Damage webcomic; I recently caught up with Keith on Instagram, and he was delighted to see the poster again (I found it while cleaning my home office) and he even said he’d been entertaining thoughts of reviving Roll 4 Damage!

The late, lamented Monsterland Bar & Grill also got into the act with a pop culture artists corner — and, again, the promotional artwork was wonderfully evocative:

Will there ever be another NerdvanaCon? Suffice it to say there have been preliminary conversations about reviving the concept. Who knows what the future may hold? Whatever it is, it will probably look amazing!

Feb 2023

Arizona Renaissance Festival – the 4th, 10:00 am - 6:00 pm, Arizona Renaissance Festival
Arizona Renaissance Festival – the 5th, 10:00 am - 6:00 pm, Arizona Renaissance Festival
Arizona Renaissance Festival – the 11th, 10:00 am - 6:00 pm, Arizona Renaissance Festival
Arizona Renaissance Festival – the 12th, 10:00 am - 6:00 pm, Arizona Renaissance Festival
Arizona Renaissance Festival – the 18th, 10:00 am - 6:00 pm, Arizona Renaissance Festival
Cult Classics presents The Lost Boys – the 18th, 9:30 pm, Landmark Theatres Scottsdale Quarter
Arizona Renaissance Festival – the 19th, 10:00 am - 6:00 pm, Arizona Renaissance Festival
Arizona Renaissance Festival – the 20th, 10:00 am - 6:00 pm, Arizona Renaissance Festival
Arizona Renaissance Festival – the 25th, 10:00 am - 6:00 pm, Arizona Renaissance Festival
Arizona Comicbook Arts Festival – the 25th, 11:00 am - 6:00 pm, El Zaribah Shrine Auditorium
Arizona Renaissance Festival – the 26th, 10:00 am - 6:00 pm, Arizona Renaissance Festival

Mar 2023

Arizona Renaissance Festival – the 4th, 10:00 am - 6:00 pm, Arizona Renaissance Festival
Arizona Renaissance Festival – the 5th, 10:00 am - 6:00 pm, Arizona Renaissance Festival
Arizona Renaissance Festival – the 11th, 10:00 am - 6:00 pm, Arizona Renaissance Festival
Arizona Renaissance Festival – the 12th, 10:00 am - 6:00 pm, Arizona Renaissance Festival
Arizona Renaissance Festival – the 18th, 10:00 am - 6:00 pm, Arizona Renaissance Festival
Arizona Renaissance Festival – the 19th, 10:00 am - 6:00 pm, Arizona Renaissance Festival
Phoenix Film Festival 2023 – the 23rd, All Day, Harkins Scottsdale 101 Theaters
Phoenix Film Festival 2023 – the 24th, All Day, Harkins Scottsdale 101 Theaters
Phoenix Film Festival 2023 – the 25th, All Day, Harkins Scottsdale 101 Theaters
Arizona Renaissance Festival – the 25th, 10:00 am - 6:00 pm, Arizona Renaissance Festival
Phoenix Film Festival 2023 – the 26th, All Day, Harkins Scottsdale 101 Theaters
Arizona Renaissance Festival – the 26th, 10:00 am - 6:00 pm, Arizona Renaissance Festival
Phoenix Film Festival 2023 – the 27th, All Day, Harkins Scottsdale 101 Theaters
Phoenix Film Festival 2023 – the 28th, All Day, Harkins Scottsdale 101 Theaters

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