A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, it wasn't so cool to be a nerd.
Gamers and comic book fanatics used to be teased mercilessly for their obsessions and picked on for not marching with the mainstream, but oh, how times have changed.
Geek chic is in. Fanboys and fangirls everywhere have been empowered to let their freak flags fly and be proud of their nerd-dom. Geek culture has infiltrated the mainstream, and conventions like San Diego's Comic-Con and Atlanta's DragonCon have gone from nerd-only affairs to platforms for Hollywood to launch a new blockbuster.
Enter Savannah's GnomeCon. Now in its third year, GnomeCon isn't quite at the level of Comic-Con, but that's not what organizers Philip and Heidi Schweier were shooting for. Heidi is the gamer and Philip the comic book guy, and when they decided to start their own "con" in Savannah, they were just looking to bring a bunch of like-minded people together to have a lot of fun doing whatever it is that gets their geek motor running.
"I'm a big fan of DragonCon," Philip said. "It's like Christmas to me. Just being in that environment is fun. So we just want to see people come and enjoy themselves and have fun and let their hair down. I know there are people who, because of their job, don't want to admit they watch anime or dress up like 'Lord of the Rings' to go to the premiere of 'The Hobbit,' and if we can give them an environment where they can wear whatever they want, by all means, we're happy to have them."
And he points out that GnomeCon is for all types of fans across the nerd spectrum. There will be an official Magic: The Gathering qualifier where the cost is separate from the convention, but there will also be an open game room available until 2 a.m. each night for all attendees to sit and play their favorite strategic board game or role paying game. There will also be miniatures and collectible card games, as well as LARPing (live action role playing), an Artist's Alley with original artworks for sale, a dealers room with T-shirts, gaming supplies, comics and collectibles, and an all-new costume contest headlined by cosplay siren Nikki Wulf. Savannah improv group Odd Lot will be performing and the "Rocky Horror Picture Show" will also be screening.
Like any good con, GnomeCon will also feature a full schedule of lectures and panel discussions on everything from classic movie monsters to gaming. For the kids, there will be a "Paint Your Own Gnome" activity as well as a puppet slam with Angela Beasley's Puppet People (it's like a poetry slam, but with puppet skits). And in the grand tradition of late-night horror movie hosts, Professor Fear will host a quiz show on Saturday night open to everyone in attendance. In the same vein, writer/director Larry Blamire will host screenings of his Ed Wood-inspired films, "The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra" and "Trail of the Screaming Forehead."
Basically whatever your geek interest is, you'll find something to your liking at GnomeCon. And both Philip and Heidi are encouraging everyone who comes out to dress up however they like. It's not limited to dressing like a super hero - you can be a cop, fireman or whatever suits your fancy. The name of the game is to have fun. And what's more is some of the proceeds from GnomeCon will go to support the Live Oak Public Library.
"There's a lot of geek in everyone and there's no harm in it," Philip said with a laugh. "Ultimately the goal is for everyone involved to have fun, and that includes volunteers, staff, participants and guests. We want people walking away from the weekend saying, 'That was a lot of fun! I can't wait to come back next year!'"