August 14, 2011 in City

Gamers, artists and fans of all types strut their stuff at SpoCon

By The Spokesman-Review
 
Picture story: SpoCon 2011

Jessica Vowels, left, Ammie Hague, center, and Jennifer Baker display their cyberpunk, fairy and steampunk looks at SpoCon 2011.
(Full-size photo)(All photos)

If you go

SpoCon 2011

What: Sci-fi and fantasy convention

Where: The DoubleTree Inn, downtown Spokane

When: Today, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Cost: $35

Information:http://spocon.org

They’re geeks and nerds and proud of it.

Fans of science fiction, fantasy and horror movies, literature, art and gaming checked out of the real world this weekend and into SpoCon, Spokane’s own sci-fi convention, where they were able to indulge in their favorite fantasies and exercise their imaginations.

The convention is a place where “geeks can learn to be better geeks,” said convention Chair Chris “Big C” Snell.

Attendees’ interests vary widely. Some love anime or costuming while others enjoy role playing and gaming. Some like B movies, and others are fans of comic books.

But, ultimately, everyone was there for one reason: to have fun and connect with fellow self-proclaimed “geeks” and “nerds.”

“It’s fun, it’s friends, it’s family,” Snell said. “We’ll take time away from our busy schedules to come catch up.”

The convention features readings and workshops with authors, artists, gamers and costumers. It also gives vendors a chance to show off their wares and consumers a place to find unique goods they can’t find in a mall.

While other conventions take place in Spokane, this is the only one that is all-inclusive, Snell said.

“We are a full-spectrum convention,” Snell said. “We have to kind of cover everything.”

SpoCon benefits the community too, he said. Organizers have partnered with librarians at Spokane-area schools to provide them books that are in high demand, such as the Harry Potter series.

Among the celebrities at the convention were best-selling urban fantasy novelist Patricia Briggs, artist Dan Dos Santos and Dragon Dronet, who has made props for “Star Wars,” “Planet of the Apes,” “Total Recall,” “True Blood” and “The X-Files.”

It may be the only place in Spokane where one can hear someone leveling a Shakespearean insult while a group of zombies walks by, followed by the Cheshire cat and what appears to be the cast of a “Star Wars” movie.

“You can’t go to the coffee shop and dress up like this,” Snell said. “You can’t go to the mall and dress like this without getting made fun of, so you come here to this event.”

Some of the costumers spend a great deal of time and money painstakingly re-creating a piece of their favorite fantasy characters. Alex Ybarra, dressed as Darth Maul, said he came to the convention to indulge in his love for costuming and to promote his group, 501st Legion, which raises money for nonprofit charities.

“Guys can get into (the costumes) for a lot of money and a lot of time,” he said, adding that he spent two months on his costume and that his face-painting took two hours. “It’s just a fun thing to do.”

Last year, the group raised $60,000 and members appeared in costume at hospitals and children’s events.

“A lot of kids love this,” he said. “It’s cool to see kids’ faces when they see their favorite ‘Star Wars’ character.”

Author Jane Fancher said one thing that draws her to science fiction is the ability to address difficult issues humans face through a different lens.

“It allows us to explore aspects of human nature in a protected environment,” she said. “A lot of what I do is some of the darker aspects of people and overcoming them. It’s a great way to explore being human.”

Sci-fi and fantasy fans in Spokane could be in for a treat in 2015. Snell said Spokane organizers have put in a bid to host that year’s Worldcon, the “oldest and most established sci-fi convention.”

“Spokane has a good shot,” he said.


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