If you’ve ever hoofed it around downtown Portland and wandered over towards Powell’s on Burnside & 10th, there’s a really good chance you’ve gazed into the window of Billy Galaxy, Portland’s very own vintage toy store. Lining the windows, cabinets and walls of this store are age-old plastic memories that dare even the stodgiest onlooker to not let out a little sigh of nostalgia. Since 1995, if you wanted a trip down the memory lane of your childhood toys, Billy Galaxy has been the shop to enter. But the evil genius behind this storefront has bigger plans for Portland. This month, our fair and awesome city will play host to a brand new pop-culture convention called Wonder Northwest. If you haven’t heard of it, that’s not too surprising since this is the first year, but it promises to be a fantastic expo of all things geeky.
According to the website: Wonder Northwest is an amalgamation of pop-culture subcultures. Here you will find regular folks co-mingling with super heroes, pirates, geeks, nerds, cosplayers, film enthusiasts, gamers and other nice people! Our vendor room will feature comic books, toys, video games and more from some of the best dealers from across the country. Contests, panels and other special events will be open for all attendees to enjoy. Conveniently located in the heart of Portland with easy access to PDX (Portland International Airport), public transportation, nearby restaurants and other attractions.
Because the show is less than two weeks away, the PGC3 thought it would be quite apt to speak with the organizer of the show, Billy Galaxy.
PGC3: Billy, thanks for taking the time to do this. Now, you are actually a member of the Portland Geek Council of Commerce & Culture. For those who don’t know who you are and what you do, what is your role in the group?
BILLY GALAXY: My personal role in the PGC3 is a minor one – a participant or spectator or cheerleader or something like that. On the other hand many member organizations of the PGC3 are involved with Wonder Northwest on some level. The event itself is a sort of microcosm of the organization.
PGC3: What made you decide to organize your own pop-culture convention here in Portland?
BG: The geek scene here and most other places seems to me very clique driven and divisive, which to me is the antithesis of everything that is awesome about geekiness. I think there is more cross pollination between sub-cultures than a lot of people involved in them realize. Plus, Portland is such an awesome town and is home to so many businesses and fans that support this sort of thing. It’s about time that Portland has the convention that it deserves.
PGC3: What can attendees expect to see at Wonder Northwest?
BG: I think that attendees, no matter what kind of geeky subculture that they are into can expect to see something that is of interest to them.
PGC3: Are there any other events happening outside of the actual convention that are partnered with Wonder Northwest?
BG: The Portland Zombie Walk is now in Northeast Portland and on the Saturday of the show. We specifically gave Saturday a bit more of a horror bent for these undead attendees. The after-party that night is going to be to be held at a new horror themed bar called Lovecraft. Critical Hit Burlesque is putting on a Geeklesque event at the Bossa Nova Ballroom which will be our Sunday night after-party. Ground Kontrol is also hosting an after-party after dealer setup on Friday night as well.
PGC3: What in the lineup are you most excited to see come to fruition?
BG: I think (Multnomah County Epidemiologist) Dr. Amy Sullivan’s panel on the spread of zombie plague has the potential to be great. Cosplay Karaoke I am sure will turn into an annual fan favorite – I mean, how can it not be awesome!?! I don’t feel like we have any content that is filler at all. Every one of the panels and presentations should be good.
PGC3: Is this show something that you see continuing in Portland for years to come?
BG: Once this first one is all done, we will pretty much immediately get into organizing Wonder Northwest 2012. Hopefully there will be significant growth in both size and content between this year and next!
PGC3: Sounds like it’s going to be a great start and we wish you and Wonder Northwest the best of luck. The PGC3 is psyched to be part of the con!
Wonder Northwest takes place at the Crowne Plaza Hotel on May 14th & 15th. The Crowne Plaza Hotel is located at 1441 NE 2nd Avenue in Portland, close to the I-5 freeway and conveniently located near the Convention Center max stop.
If you’d like to see more about Wonder Northwest, make sure to visit the website where you can purchase your attendee badge (for only $6 per day or just $10 for the whole weekend), check out the panels, and see all of the events that are scheduled for the show.
CONTRIBUTOR: Kyle hosts a bi-monthly podcast about giant rubber monster movies from Japan called the Kaijucast, and that’s pretty damned nerdy.