Two big conventions — or “cons,” as attendees call them — hit Eugene this weekend, one focused on gaming and the other revolving around comics and pop culture.
The emergence of tech-centric events is great for the area economically, but the question of whether this town is too small for multiple cons has led to a little drama, according to event organizers.
Indie Game Con packed the house at Eugene Mindworks on 5th Avenue last year, with at least 300 guests. The convention is moving to LCC’s downtown campus this year, where game developers will display 27 video games, most of which are locally created.
“There’s a desire for this kind of thing,” says Ted Brown, director of Indie Game Con. “It gives exposure to developers who otherwise have few outlets to showcase their games.”
It’s also good for Eugene, Brown says, because it exposes people to the area — a developer from Canada will participate this year — and encourages growth in the tech scene.
“The more people we have here working, the better we can be,” Brown says. “Indie Game Con is the flashpoint. The public sees it, investors see it and the government sees it.”
This year, Brown and fellow organizers received $5,000 in sponsorships and a $10,000 economic development grant from Lane County for Indie Game Con.
“It’s time to move past timber and make some tech,” Brown says.
Emerald Valley Comic Fest — not to be confused with Eugene Comic Con (EUCON), which takes place in November — happens the same weekend as Indie Game Con.
The fest is a form of “comic con,” a pop culture event that celebrates comic books, movies, television shows, artists, writers and more.
John Roach, the fest’s organizer and promoter, says the event is one of about 10 events he hopes to produce in Oregon, Idaho and Washington in the next few years, including the possibility of an anime show in Eugene.
Roach says when Cherry City Comic Con in Salem fell through due to bad management last year, he swooped in and took over this spring. “So many people were telling me that it was the most fun show they had ever been to,” he says. The show inspired him to put on more events elsewhere, he says.
Roach, who lives west of Salem in Dallas, says the fest will feature more than 20 artists and celebrity guests, including Nicholas Brendon from Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Cody Saintgnue from Teen Wolf.
“It’s a place where you can be yourself and you don’t have to worry about being judged — just go there and have fun with other people who are there to have fun,” Roach says.
Royce Myers, producer of EUCON in November, says he started developing EUCON last year and hopes it has a positive impact on the local community. “I’m grateful to have the opportunity to give Eugene its first locally produced comic con in 10 years,” says Myers, who lives in Eugene.
As of press time, 556 people have indicated on Facebook that they plan to attend Emerald Valley Comic Fest, while EUCON has 4,769 Facebook RSVPs.
Brown of Indie Game Con says he hasn’t connected with Emerald Valley Comic Fest but has reached out to cross promote with Myers of EUCON, adding that the “drama” of having two events on the same weekend is all a part of growing a successful event.
And, as Brown points out, fans of games and comics alike can attend the Indie Game Con on Saturday and Emerald Valley Comic Fest on Sunday.
Indie Game Con starts 7 pm Friday, Oct. 2, with a free video game art show at LCC’s downtown campus; the game expo is 10 am to 6 pm Saturday, Oct. 3. Tickets start at $10; see indiegamecon.com. Emerald Valley Comic Fest is 10 am to 8 pm Saturday, Oct. 3, and 11 am to 5 pm Sunday, Oct. 4, with panels, costume contests and more, at Lane Events Center. Weekend passes start at $25; see wkly.ws/22q. Eugene Comic Con is Nov. 14-15 at Lane Events Center; see eugenecomiccon.com.