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!

Jan 2022

Taiyou Con 2022 – the 7th, All Day, Mesa Convention Center
Taiyou Con 2022 – the 8th, All Day, Mesa Convention Center
Taiyou Con 2022 – the 9th, All Day, Mesa Convention Center

Mar 2022

Arizona Game Fair 2022 – the 10th, All Day, Mesa Convention Center
Arizona Game Fair 2022 – the 11th, All Day, Mesa Convention Center
Arizona Game Fair 2022 – the 12th, All Day, Mesa Convention Center
Arizona Game Fair 2022 – the 13th, All Day, Mesa Convention Center

Aug 2022

Game on Expo 2022 – the 5th, All Day, Phoenix Convention Center
Game on Expo 2022 – the 6th, All Day, Phoenix Convention Center
Game on Expo 2022 – the 7th, All Day, Phoenix Convention Center

Sep 2022

Tucson Comic-Con 2022 – the 2nd, All Day, Tucson Convention Center
Tucson Comic-Con 2022 – the 3rd, All Day, Tucson Convention Center
Tucson Comic-Con 2022 – the 4th, All Day, Tucson Convention Center

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