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Kick Off the Cons: Putting the NW ‘geekonomy’ on display

Cosplayers attend Renton City Comic Con in 2017. (Courtesy of Renton City Comic Con)

While the Northwest’s economy chugs along, an underground scene has grown its own “economy” in stride — the geekonomy.

“Surprisingly enough, for most people, the Northwest is one of the leading areas for geek and nerd culture and convention anywhere in the United States,” said Brian Morris, CEO of the Renton City Comic Con or RenCon.

“There are just gobs and tons of these cons that happen all year long,” he said. “And a lot of them, people don’t realize are happening.”

RELATED: Why Renton City Comic Con was not in Renton in 2018

All this activity — comicons and related happenings — add up to what some of us — well, some of us nerds — call the “geekonomy.” Quantifying it is difficult. The closest thing I can liken it to is the Northwest’s underground music scene of the ’80s and ’90s. Folks knew it was happening, but adding up the network of indie bands, basement shows, t-shirt sellers, and so forth would be quite a task.

The geekonomy, therefore, is a loose subculture of local vendors and artists selling crafty wares. It’s contracted gigs – like getting hired to make someone’s cosplay. Or it’s Mox Boarding House, a popular pub where board and hobby game enthusiasts can play Dungeons and Dragons or Magic: The Gathering. It all adds up to a community that can fill events between Ellensburg and Seattle, Bellingham, and Spokane.

Kick Off the Cons: Geekonomy on display

With so many event organizers in the Northwest, RenCon officials got to thinking that there may be a need for them to network. Now, there is one place where this geekonomy is on display — in Renton on Jan. 19 at Kick Off the Cons. It’s a convention for conventions.

“Kick Off the Cons is an annual event that Renton City Comic Con puts on that invites other cons in the region to come and show off their stuff for the public,” Morris said.

At its core, Kick Off the Cons is a mini-comic convention itself. It’s aimed at comicon attendees as much as the con crowd, but it’s a bit more quaint than your average geeky get-together. It’s kind of like stretching before the season of conventions really get going with Emerald City Comic Con, continuing on to Rose City Comic Con, and PAX and so many others. At Kick Off, you get the vendors, some eSports activities, demonstrations, and a lot of cosplay. On top of that, a collection of the region’s geek culture events.

“There’s Jet City Comic Show, Geek Girl, and some of the cons that are coming you don’t normally think of as geek cons, like a ren fair, toy festivals,” Morris said. “There might be some little odd cons that you are like ‘Wow, I didn’t know that existed!'”

Perhaps you’re more into horror movies and the macabre, there’s a con for that – it’s called Crypticon. Don’t want to venture south of Snohomish County for a pop culture fix? There’s a con for that – it’s called Nerd Faire. Are you a bookworm who specializes in sci-fi and fantasy? There’s Norwescon for that. You get the idea.

“We believe that in this area of the world, in the Northwest, as all cons succeed, individual cons succeed,” Morris said. “And we can encourage and support and build each other up so that we are not just a bunch of little individual cons, or even individual big ones, but that we are all working toward the same goals of building up and supporting the geek and nerd culture here in the Northwest.”

Kick Off the Cons is not just for convention networking. It’s aimed at fans as much as the con crowd. Check here for more details. Here more about the geekonomy on KIRO Nights below.

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