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A community-building con

Posted: June 15th, 2018 | Features, Top Stories | No Comments

By Jordan Damond

Mission Valley plays host to InterGalactiCon’s inaugural event

There are times where a name perfectly symbolizes a person’s future. For Steve “Captain” Kirk, the surname he shares with the famous “Star Trek” character James T. Kirk, could explain his latest enterprise — producing InterGalactiCon, a convention for fans of sci-fi and fantasy pop culture.

InterGalactiCon founder Steve “Captain” Kirk wants his latest convention to bring the comic book culture together as a community. (Courtesy Steve Kirk)

InterGalactiCon, held June 15–16 at the Town and Country Convention Center in Mission Valley, is a medium-sized convention for fans of manga, anime, movies, cosplay and comic books. The convention is not Kirk’s first foray into the world of fan conventions. The former Playstation executive was also a member of the team that put on DEF CON, a convention for computer hackers. He said his experience in the corporate world helped him in organizing InterGalactiCon because it has taught him the value of listening to the members of his team and to fans.

(l to r) “Star Wars” Death Star designer Colin Cantwell is a panelist at the inaugural InterGalactiCon (Photo courtesy MIXTE Communications)

“If you apply that to running the convention, you know being smart enough at the start to say, ‘I don’t know everything.’ So sometimes it’s that change in perspective where instead of asking why, asking why not.”

Kirk hopes that his convention will be an environment where fans can listen and talk comfortably with those who hold opposing opinions on pop culture. As a long time “Star Wars” fan, Kirk points to the franchise’s divided fanbase over its most recent films.

“‘Star Wars’ in the last couple months has been very divisive with ‘The Last Jedi’ and even ‘Solo’ to an extent where you get really strong factions who are on the opposite end of the spectrum. But more often than not, especially in an in-person format, the negative voices tend to turn down a bit,” he said. “And even the positive people learn and respect having a general discussion, where you can be comfortable criticizing, deconstructing something without it being hateful.”

At InterGalactiCon, “Star Wars” fans will get the chance to interact with Colin Cantwell, who designed the film’s iconic Death Star. Other panelists at the convention include “Babylon 5” actress Claudia Christian, cast members of the TV show “Eureka,” and Force Storm Entertainment founder Noah Fleder and more. The event will also feature live video game battles, light-saber duels for children and adults, a makeup and prosthetics workshop and hundreds of cosplay fans dressed up for the convention.

InterGalactiCon’s manga, anime, movies, cosplay and comic book events are a lot for any one person to know about, and Kirk understands that he is not an expert in every kind of comic, sci-fi and fantasy pop culture, which is why he has a council of local members from these communities who can offer advice whenever he needs it. This council includes, cosplayers, tabletop players and the planner for DEF CON. The convention-hosting knowledge Kirk and his council have allows them to keep things fresh and offer something fans won’t see at other conventions.

Babyon 5” actress Claudia Christian is a panelist at the
inaugural InterGalactiCon (Photo courtesy MIXTE Communications)

“It’s kinda like flowing down a river,” he said. “You gotta go where the current takes you and you can’t stand there and say that just because DEF CON was great, that we’ll just do the exact same thing. That may not work out.”

One way Kirk is keeping InterGalactiCon fresh is by having its primary goal be connecting fans.

“That is probably the biggest point of all this, bringing people together and building that community,” he said.

Over the long term, Kirk would like to see InterGalactiCon retain that close-knit feeling so that everyone who attends doesn’t feel overwhelmed. After watching DEF CON grow in size from 150 to 25,000 participants, he said he knows what range gives the convention the optimal amount of people, while still keeping that tight-knit atmosphere.

“We can still maintain that small and intimate atmosphere anywhere from 8,000 to 10,000 people,” he said. “The event is a success if everyone walks away still excited — whether it be from making new friends or learning new things. As long as they leave with the same amount of passion as they came into the InterGalactiCon with, it is a success.”

InterGalactiCon will be held June 15–16 at the Town and Country Convention Center, 500 Hotel Circle North, San Diego. Tickets are $10 for child passes, $50 for adults and $90 for VIP. A ticket for Saturday’s after-party is $25. Tickets and schedule for InterGalactiCon are available at intergalacticonsd.com.

— Jordan Damond is an editorial intern for SDCNN, parent company of Mission Valley News, and a graduating senior at High Tech High School who will be attending University of Redlands in the fall.

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