A taste of outer space at RVACon

Alex Falls
Contributing Writer

The Canal Club is hosting RVACon from Oct. 24-26. Afterparties for VIP attendees will be held upstairs. Photo by Brooke Marsh

Richmond’s artistic culture will embrace pop culture at the second-annual RVACon during the weekend starting Oct. 24.

This year’s three-day convention features a major evolution from RVACon’s first show last year. Co-founder of RVACon Alex Gentile said organizing the event last year was one of the hardest and most challenging things he’s ever done, but that hard work has paved the way for a more comprehensive presentation.

“I think this year is going to be much more successful,” Gentile said. “Last year was a success, not to downplay last year, but we spent as much as we made and we were happy to break even. This year I’m actually fighting to make room in the programming to have people speak and have different vendors. I’m almost acting more as a filter now.”

Gentile said Richmond hosts a liberal arts-oriented community, best characterized by VCU’s focus on the arts. Comic arts are not excluded from Richmond’s scope, as VCU Libraries curates a Comic Arts Collection considered one of the most impressive in the country.

VCU’s library specialist for comic arts Cindy Jackson said Richmond has a long standing tradition of lending itself to the comic community and comic book heritage.

“A lot of it has to do with the strong artistic vibe in Richmond, it’s always been here,” Jackson said. “Richmond has always been so receptive to art, even avant-garde art, and I just think that acceptance of the art community has made this an area that’s welcome to comic book artists.”

The Comic Arts Collection contains more than 150,000 items, featuring original newspaper strips, memorabilia and an extensive comic book reference collection encompassing decades of comics and graphic novels.

“It depends on what you’re into, but I can make fanboys and fangirls squeal somehow, some way,” Jackson said.

Unlike last year when RVACon didn’t have a central theme, this year’s event will have a focus on the final frontier: space. Gentile said they hope to cater to the passionate fanbases of Star Wars and Star Trek, but pop culture in all of its forms will be represented.

“We thought it would be an awesome idea — not to focus on space — but to create an atmosphere of outer space,” Gentile said. “Not the dark, black outer space, endless infinity you might be thinking. But more of the beautiful things about space like the nebulas and supernovas and bright stuff.”

For all three days activities and entertainment will capture the imaginations of the imaginative. Gentile said the major attraction will be a full-scale space bridge simulator where a group of attendees can feel what it’s like to run the helm of an actual space ship.

Other planned entertainment includes performances by Virginia Beach-based Geek’s Night of Comedy, a troupe that specializes in geek comedy, who will perform stand-up, improv sketches and even a roast of Star Trek icon Captain Kirk.

“We didn’t want to step on anyone’s toes,” Gentile said. “We didn’t want to be just comic-focused like VA Comic-Con. We wanted to have that whole scope of different things.”

RVACon’s three-day geek extravaganza begins Oct. 24 at 10 a.m. at the Canal Club. Tickets are on sale at the official RVACon website.

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