Sunday
Oct202013

A Day at the Geek Bazaar

A sale

You’re a geek with some money to spend.  Thing is, you’re maybe looking for some steampunk accessories. Maybe you might even like a Tardis cookie jar for your counter.  The problem is you have no idea where to look.  Luckily the Ottawa Geek Market has you covered.

The Geek market is now into its second year.  You can still find all the great vendors of all things geeky that you could find last year only now everything is bigger.

Tuscan Raiders on the attack. Photo courtesy Jodi Peterson.Last year’s venue was barely able to hold the 2000 plus people that came through their doors.  So now it’s taking place at Carleton University’s Fieldhouse over the weekend of Oct. 19th-20th. Even the costumes people are wearing seem more elaborate.

“That’s really the best part about this,” says Elizabeth Howell, Ottawa Geek Market’s media coordinator at the mere mention of the costumes people are wearing. 

The event has always wanted to spread the good around.  Last year the Geek Market raised $2448 for the Make-a-Wish foundation.  Now they’ve brought their attention to three organizations that are trying to put a stop to bullying across all age groups.  The money raised this year will go to the Kids Help Phone, Jer’s Vision and the Distress Centre of Ottawa and Region.

Kale the dragon takes a break from shopping. Photo coutesy Jodi PetersonThe organizers have always felt that the geek community is one that celebrates diversity. Fans of anime can mingle with horror fans.  Sci-fi fans will hang out with fantasy aficionados.  So they felt that the market is one of the best ways for geeks to show their support for the community.

“If we can take this little microcosm and make it a little bit bigger to include the wider world I think we’ll be living in a better spot,” says Howell.

The geeks of Ottawa did not disappoint.  Yesterday’s rainy weather didn’t hold anyone back from attending.  A line up had formed around the Fieldhouse even before the doors opened for the event.  The excitement never let up.  All the vendors noticed a steady stream of nerd shoppers coming by their tables.

“People are having a good time,” says Howell.  “I hear good things when they come by! Look at these smiles!”

 Everyone was smiling today! Phot courtesy Jodi Peterson

Friday
May312013

Gamers Saving the Day

Justin Tessier and Carla de Ciccio, the duo behind E-Sports North. Photo courtesy Nyree Costello

The typical video game plot revolves around saving the world. The hero is meant to come in, save the day and brighten the world. This Saturday June 1st, gamers across Ottawa will be coming together to save the day and brighten the world for sick kids at the first ever Ottawa’s Got Game Tournament.

Held at the Canadian Aviation and Space Museum, the tournament will bring together StarCraft and Call of Duty players from around the region to raise money for the Child’s Play Charity.

With all the attention that the Ottawa International Game Conference is bringing to game development in the city, Justin Tessier, one half of the E-Sports North duo putting on the tournament, saw an opportunity to leverage that attention to bring gamers together for the event.

From there it’s been a crazy rush putting everything together.  Building on the relationships that the team behind RocketOwl built when they tried something similar, they immediately got the museum on board with the event.  The fact that the Star Wars exhibit would be opening up this summer was a very happy coincidence for them.

Now, they’re just putting the final touches and coordinating those final details with their volunteers.  They’ve even managed to get sponsors ranging from Red Bull to Twitch.tv.

Along with the tournament there will be some non-competitive games for those not participating in the tournament. 

You can purchase tickets here.  For those wishing to donate toys and games directly, there will be a donation box set up.

Friday
Apr262013

Artists on a Mission

 

Kristopher Waddell and Dominic Bercier at Wonder Geeks Activate 2. Photo credit Mike Arnold (http://www.facebook.com/ChocoPhotogro )Life in a creative field should inspire a certain amount of passion and dedication.  That life should instil the drive to push the artist to his limit.  Dominic Bercier and Kristopher Waddell, the main forces behind local comic book publisher Mirror Comics, bring that drive with them when they set their pens to paper to create a new comic book.

The duo are just putting the finishing touches on the last issue of the Mission Arizona trilogy due out this Saturday April 27th.   The story centers around the fight for the soul of one Samuel Risk.  Set against a western back drop, the devil has come to collect his due.

Despite having grown up with comics, Waddell began his career working on TV and film sets creating award winning scripts along the way. However, the man behind the story of Mission Arizona ran up against a wall when his vision would grow too big for what could realistically be accomplished on film. The comic world by contrast allowed him to realize his stories without compromising on anything.

“The thing that I love about comic books is that I can create a $300 million film in a 23 page script,” Waddell says. “I just can’t justify spending 10 – 2ok on an indie film, working within restrictions, when I can create and play in much bigger worlds for a fraction of the cost.”

Meanwhile, Bercier’s life in the industry began when he managed to meet one of his major influences.  Like Waddell, Bercier grew up with comics. Artists like Jim Lee, Neal Adams and Arthur Adams all left their marks on him.

“I grew up on comics so they all influenced me,” Bercier says.

His first major push into the industry came from an encounter with another one of his major influences.  Back in 1996, Bercier presented some of his work to David McKean, who was impressed with Bercier’s skill.  So much so that he believed Bercier had the skill to become a fantastic artist if he went to art school. Bercier took him up on that advice.

He began working for film studios like Dreamworks and Nelvana after leaving school.  He’d create the ink drawings and paintings for their films.  Later, he would pencil the backgrounds for comics published by Dark Horse and Image.  This left him unfulfilled since he had no identity while working for them.  

“Still, I was full of piss and vinegar, and looked forward to striking out on my own, which I have finally done with Mirror Comics,” Bercier says.

He kept drawing and creating comics in the meantime. It was all he could think about.

mission arizona 1 version 2During that time Waddell created a story he entered for the ‘Who wants to create a super heroine’ contest with Image/Shadowline. Though his idea Challenger garnered a second place standing in the contest, it was eventually turned down. Undeterred, Waddell simply finished the book with artist Veronica Fish.

Things finally began coming together during a comic convention in Ottawa. There Bercier first came in contact with Waddell.  The two kept in touch.  When Bercier co-founded Mirror Comics with Allan Isfan in 2010, Waddell quickly got in contact with him.  Waddell pitched Challenger to them not only to have it published but also to join the company in a larger capacity.  Bercier had no qualms with that.

“It was also easy to ask Kris to join us as editor-in-chief,” Bercier says. “He is so enthusiastic about comics.”

That enthusiasm will be on display once again when the last of the Mission Arizona trilogy hits the stands this Saturday.  The duo threw everything they had into this series.  Bercier even went so far as to experiment with colour with the series. It starts off with a black and white first issue which was meant to convey the hell that the protagonist was living. It progresses neatly into the full colour finale.

The duo don’t plan to stop there.  2013 promises to be a huge year for Mirror Comics with loads of new comics lined up.

“We have our focus, great stories and great artwork, but it’s taking us in many directions in 2013,” Bercier says. “You’ll see!” 

Bercier and Waddell will be on hand for the launch of Mission Arizona #3 at the Comic Book Shoppe on Bank Street on April the 27th.  On April 28th, it will also be available at the Comic Book Shoppe on Clyde St.

Saturday
Feb232013

What Will the Wonder Geeks Unleash?

WGA logo large

The sheer breadth of creativity Ottawa has is amazing.  The city has no shortage of graphic artists, musicians and dancers of every sort.  Though, it’s not often that artists are seen expressing their nerdy side.  That changes February 25th when Wonder Geeks Activate has its first show at Zaphod’s.

The brains behind the show, Adam Tupper, seems to have been made for this show.  Growing up in the 80s, a lot of his work is heavily influenced by the cartoons coming out of that era. He-Man, the Ninja Turtles and others feature prominently in his work, albeit with a dark twist.

So when another art show departed from the Ottawa scene he had to get into action. He had always wanted to hold an art show where artists could geek out.  When he began mentioning the idea to all the local artists he’s met at conventions, the reaction was swift.

“The Tetris blocks just started falling into place,” Tupper said.

Artists have eagerly jumped on board.  Show goers will find everyone from comic creators like Mirror Comics to what Tupper calls a geeky burlesque show.  He’s especially excited to have DJ Lowpass provide music for the show.

“I have never ever gone to a bar and heard the Mario theme done in a techno style and you will hear that at my show,” Tupper said.

Adam Tupper, up up and away!Tupper explains that show goers will hear everything from 8-bit songs to nerdcore. Along with lots and lots of Daft Punk.  Though, unlike other music gigs, DJ Lowpass is actively looking for suggestions through the night.  So if there is a particularly nerdy song you want to hear, feel free to let him know.

That sort of relaxed attitude towards music will extend to other areas of the show.  Tupper explains that he wants the show to feel more like a house party than a typical art show.  So video games and anime will be all over the screens in Zaphod’s.  The idea is that, like in a house party, you may find a group of people off to the side having a game or watching Dragon Ball Z. 

So excited by the idea of a geek art show, Tupper has already set in motion further shows in the future each on a different theme.  There may be a geek burlesque show one month and an art show the next. He believes Ottawa is starved for this kind of show since it’s only really served by Ottawa Comic Con.

“There is a market here in Ottawa for this sort of thing,” said Tupper.

With the enthusiastic reaction he’s received from the art community, it’s easy to see why he thinks so.

Thursday
Feb072013

Everyone Brought Their ‘A’ Game

SONY DSC

February 2nd may have seemed to be a write off at first glance.  There was a fresh layer of snow.  It was cold and very grey. However, there were many reasons for being upbeat about the day.  Wiarton Willie did not see its shadow, giving us an early spring. It was Winterlude’s opening weekend.  The highlight for gamers, though, was the 6th Game Summit.

The winner of the Heroscape tournamet, Trong KhoiClose to 1000 people came through the doors of the Palais des Congrès for the convention.  Inside, free tables were at a premium.  Organizers were expecting that once the convention closed its doors the next day, close to 2000 people will have been there.

Part of that may have been due to the incorporation of the Geek Market to this year’s convention. Local artisans gathered together showing off their wares. Everything from steampunk watches to medieval inquisition kits was there for those looking to find something unique at the event.

At the other end, those looking for insight on bringing a game from a concept to tabletops everywhere could listen in on a talk from Jason Anarchy, the creator of Drinking Quest. The audience was treated to an informative and funny recap of his experiences bringing the game to market.  Quite a few in the audience seemed to be ready to run home and implement all the advice given.

One person who didn’t end up needing his advice, though, was in the main hall.  Last year Louis-Nicolas Dozois showed his new game Shake Out.  The day after the Game Summit convention, his game got picked up by a publisher. Since then, the game has been renamed to Roll n’ Bump. From there it’s ben nothing but success for him. He managed to get his game sold in major retailers across Quebec like Archambault. The morning of this year’s convention, he got news that his game will now be available at Miss Tiggy Winkles.  Turns out this convention is a great place to discover games before they get popular everywhere else.

New to the staple of giant games this year is Giant Catan!That was likely the biggest draw of the event.  Gamers were able to pick up and try any new game that caught their eye.  They could even enlist the help of the volunteers in explaining a new game.  Ashley Cabecinha, whose business card lists her as the Most Honourable Chairwoman of The Meeple’s Republic, was on hand to help anyone with a new game.

Her company holds events to help people socialize while learning a new game.

“We want people to understand why we like board games,” Cabecinha said.

For those that went, that summed up the day entirely.