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Third annual Pop Con puts geek chic on display at the University of Alaska Fairbanks

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Posted: Thursday, November 8, 2012 11:27 pm | Updated: 11:55 am, Mon Jan 21, 2013.

FAIRBANKS — Can’t make it down to San Diego for Comic Con? Don’t be glum, fanboys, you can make up for it this weekend with Pop Con, the University of Alaska Fairbanks’ con that brings the best in games, comics and pop culture right to our backyard.

It’s two days of gaming tournaments, comic book perusing, anime action and the inevitable argument over who shot first: Han or Greedo? Break out the love for “The Walking Dead” and shuffle your zombie apocalypse-appreciating self over to the Wood Center on campus, because as any gamer will tell you, it’s no fun unless you go as your World of Warcraft character or your favorite hobbit.

“This hits a population on campus that our other programs don’t,” said Cody Rogers, assistant director of student activities at UAF. “It’s a chance to meet like-minded people and new folks.”

This year marks the third Pop Con event UAF has hosted, and it started because of some student assistants in the activities office, Rogers said. Three years ago, several of her assistants were heavily immersed in the comic book and gaming culture, and, as she learned more, it intrigued her. A trip to The Comic Shop in Fairbanks, where one of her student assistants also worked, sold her on the idea of a con type of event on campus.

“This year, we have about 17 vendors, four to six workshops, four different gaming tournaments,” she said. “We’re seeing it grow year after year. I’m impressed with the students coming out to volunteer and get involved.”

Kevin Collins, general manager of The Comic Shop, the go-to spot in Fairbanks for all that is holy in comic book land, said he was more than happy with the growth of Pop Con in just three short years. The Comic Shop is heavily involved in helping out with the event.

“Every year, I’m kind of surprised,” he said. “It’s the whole pop culture thing. Even with the ‘Big Bang Theory,’ that’s based on nerd culture, yet it appeals to everyone.”

Because that culture has such a fan base — from games to graphic novels to appreciation for the artistic aspects of comics and video games — Collins said it’s worth The Comic Shop’s time to get involved. So many students and young people are fans of the genres yet can’t get off campus or suffer from a lack of transportation that Collins looks at the con as bringing pop culture to them.

“If we can get enough people coming in, we could get a comic artist or writer up here in Fairbanks, Alaska,” he said. “Nerd culture is pretty big. Gone are the days when I just sold some comics and baseball cards and D&D.”

Know the lingo

Never, ever, ever call it a “convention.” It is a “con.” If you go in calling it a convention, you’ll be blasted faster than Greedo in the Mos Eisley Cantina. (And, yes, Han did shoot first.)

Pop Con events

In addition to booths, vendors and tons of gamers dressed in their best sci-fi garb, here’s a list of events going on during this year’s Pop Con. For more information, visit www.uaf.edu/woodcenter/activities/popcon/. Pop Con is free and open to the public.

Schedule of events

• TODAY

Open gaming, noon to 9 p.m.

5 p.m. — Live action role playing, Gruening Building room 303

6 p.m. — Burrito eating contest, multi-level lounge

6:30 p.m. — Magic: The Gathering tournament, food court

6:30 p.m. — Halo 4 tournament, multi-level lounge

• SATURDAY

1 p.m. — Street Fighter X Tekken tournament, Wood Center Ballroom

1 p.m. — Super Smash Brothers tournament, multi-level lounge

2 p.m. — Lecture: Isaac Paris speaks on tactics for fighting writer’s block

2 p.m. — Pool tournament

2 p.m. — Intro to Warhammer: Warmachine workshop, food court

3:30 p.m. — Street Fighter 4 tournament, Wood Center Ballroom

4 p.m. — Para Para Dance, conference room

5 p.m. — Live action role playing, Gruening Building room 303

6 p.m. — Ultimate Marvel versus Capcom tournament, Wood Center Ballroom

6:30 p.m. — Are Video Games Art? 2.0: The Aftermath, conference room

8 p.m. — Movie, “The Dark Knight Rises,” Wood Center Ballroom

9 p.m. — Super Hero Dance Party, UAF pub (must be 21 and over)

Types of cons

• Anime cons: A con dedicated to anime, manga and Japanese culture. Break out the doe-eyed costuming.

• Comic book cons: For the D.C. versus Marvel crowd.

• Furry cons: Put on the panda suit, this is a subculture for four-legged fans.

• Horror cons: Learn to ask “Was that the boogey man” because you’ll see lots of Michael Myers fans.

• Gaming cons: World of Warcraft and Halo for everyone.

• Science-fiction cons: Bring your Klingon-to-English dictionary, hoist a pint of Romulan ale, duke it out with Tank Girl and bemoan the cancellation of “Firefly.”

• Multi-genre cons: A crowded convention hall with more geekdom than Sheldon Cooper and Wil Wheaton’s love child.

Contact Features Editor Gary Black at 459-7504 or on Twitter at @FDNMfeatures.

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