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Costumed heroes, villains take Escondido by storm

Darlene Rixey with the San Diego Costume Guild checks out the vendors at the Escondido Nerd Con 2015. (Hanadi Cackler/The Telescope)

“Nerd culture” and “geek culture” are fairly prominent buzz-phrases at the moment. And understandably so. Marvel and DC Comics rule at the box office, The Walking Dead and Doctor Who dominate TV ratings, and anything Star Wars-related is virtually ubiquitous in our society.

Whether you embrace this new jumbo jet of a bandwagon, resent the entire thing because you were “there first,” or lie somewhere in the middle, the fact of the matter is that “geek” is the predominant force in American pop culture today.

And what better evidence of this situation than the event that took place at The California Center for the Arts, Escondido, on Saturday Aug. 22: Nerd Con.

Nerd Con, a single-day convention, touts itself as “the quickest growing nerd convention in Southern California, for nerds, by nerds.” A potentially dubious claim, as this was Nerd Con’s very first event, and only time will tell if it was successful enough for there to be a second.

Being completely immersed in the community by hosting and attending events helps to stay focused on the ultimate goal “To Strengthen and Unite the Nerd Community.”

Once in the door, Nerd Con featured all of the standard pieces of programming you would expect at an event like this. Two separate stages for programming (panel discussions, music, etc), table games, video games, and of course, a dealers room, where wide array of vendors sold all kinds of merchandise.

There were Star Trek collectibles, video games, comic books, artists, and costumes. Ephemera from all sorts of genre staples was also available. Whether you are into Ghostbusters, WWE, anime, and/or cosplaying, just to name a few, there was something here for everybody.

The dealer’s room was immediately adjacent to the main programming stage, and both were packed to the gills with fans. In fact there was so little room on the dealers floor that foot traffic often came to a complete standstill, as a result of a photo op, or a table with particularly enticing merchandise.

This was the perpetual dichotomy of Nerd Con. The content and professionals were laudable. The execution however, left something to be desired.

There were some fairly significant snags in the operation and execution of things.

Charlie Mirador, operator of the Otakufuel booth at Nerd Con, reflected on this very issue. Otakufuel is a vendor that sells all kinds of Japanese merchandise, from Pocky and Ramune to anime and manga, and even art supplies.

“Vendor set up was kind of crazy,” observed Mirador. “We were supposed to get a bigger booth. We were suddenly refunded for some reason, but we’re here. We managed to fit into this tiny booth.”

Although it wasn’t all doom and gloom. Expressing understanding of what a monumental task it must be to organize an event like this Mirador also added “I give them real good credit for a first show.”

Another bonus at Nerd Con was live music. The semi-cover, self-described “glitter-punk” quartet Doll Skin from Phoenix played the VIP party that closed the event, but also proved they were gluttons for punishment, performing in full costume, in the blistering heat of the unadulterated 11 a.m. sun.

One of the misnomers about San Diego’s Comic Con International, is that everyone is in costume. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Most Comic Con attendees aren’t in costume. It’s just those that are, are the only ones that the local news media cares to report on.

Nerd Con actually lived up to the kind of hype that Comic Con receives, as the majority of folks at this event were in costume. Everyone from furries, to Optimus Prime, to Sailor Moon was out in full force.

It’s no San Diego Comic Con. Hell, it isn’t even a San Diego Comic Fest. But maybe that is a good thing. Perhaps the organizers would like Nerd Con to acquire a connotation all its own. Not something you do instead of one of those other events, but rather something you look forward to attending as well as those other events.

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Costumed heroes, villains take Escondido by storm