GeekCraft Expo RDU
The Durham Armory
Sunday, April 17, 2016
There’s so much more to the culture of fandom than the movies, TV shows and books that provide the source material. Diehards also have to have the coolest, most original toys, accessories, decorations and tchotchkes based on their favorite properties, be they Doctor Who or Star Wars. You can find this stuff by scouring comic book conventions and craft fairs, but an ambitious new expo coming to Durham next year aims to cut right to the good stuff for crafty fanboys and fangirls.
Daniel Way, a comic book writer perhaps best known for his work on Marvel’s sarcastic anti-hero, Deadpool, relocated to Morrisville a couple of years ago, where he works on independent comics projects. Next year, in collaboration with several other geek-stuff lovers, he’s rolling out a massive new endeavor called GeekCraft Expo, which makes its regional debut at the Durham Armory on April 17. It will also pop up in many other cities, from Orlando, Florida to Portland, Oregon.
GeekCraft Expo will offer a convention-like space for crafters to display and sell a dazzling variety of pop-culture wares, with an emphasis on supporting local artisans and economies. GeekCraft Expo RDU is still accepting vendor applications if you’ve been looking for an outlet for your handmade, high-quality, geek-themed jewelry, apparel, artwork or whatever else you can dream up. Way recently told the INDY more about the new enterprise, which is free to attend but will leave you with a happily dented wallet if you have any craving for unique takes on your favorite franchise.
INDY: What is GeekCraft Expo?
DANIEL WAY: GeekCraft Expo is a curated craft market that specializes in handmade geek goods created by local artisans. We understand that the term “geek goods” may be unfamiliar to some readers—as a matter of fact, I think we made it up—so I’m sending you some photo examples.
Does it have any inspirations, other events like it? What makes it unique among them?
GeekCraft Expo is kind of a hybrid: craft fair meets comic book convention. While you’re bound to see some geeky craft items at either of those kinds of events, at GeekCraft Expo, it’s all you’re going to see, wall to wall.
Who else is involved in running it with you?
There are five us at the core of GeekCraft Expo. I’m a comic book writer; I worked with Marvel for 14 years before taking on projects from other publishers as well as working on my own independent properties. I’ve also done video game work with Epic Games and Activision/High Moon Studios, such as on the Deadpool game.
There’s Kim Matsuzaki, a former senior community developer at Red Storm/Ubisoft turned Stay at Home CEO. She’s also a crafty Jill of all trades, from sewing and quilting to nerdy gifts she makes me, like this Breaking Bad cross-stitch that I freakin’ love.
There’s Amber Frazier-Finkelstein, owner of Retro M, a content curation and marketing company based in Morrisville. In addition to a lots of other clients, Amber’s done work for Ultimate Comics, NC Comicon and the Oak City Comic Show.
There’s Jenny Valle, warehouse manager at Ultimate Comics. Jenny spends a lot of time interfacing with comic book, collectibles and game buyers, putting her squarely on the front lines of geek culture.
And there’s Aaron Haaland, owner of A Comic Shop and The Geekeasy, a geek-themed bar, both in Winter Park, Florida. Aaron does a weekly video broadcast, A Comic Show, which covers all things geeky. With the exception of Aaron, we’re all local.
What made you want to do this?
I’ve worked as a comic book and video game writer for about 15 years, which means that I’ve attended a lot of conventions. At almost all of those conventions, I’ve either bought or have had fans give me all kinds of geeky craft items. Our house is full of them! Kim is the same way—a lot of these things, we bought together—as are the other partners. We think this stuff is about as cool and unique as it gets, and we absolutely love that there are people out there making it. We (and, I’m sure, lots of our fellow geeks) get tired of combing through two-for-$25 T-shirt booths and ninja swords made in China to find the unique items that catch our eye. But I noticed that, while there are plenty of comic book conventions around, and just as many if not more craft fairs, none of them specialize in this kind of stuff.
GeekCraft Expo is happening in Durham and many other locations across America. What’s the idea there?
Strength in numbers! There’s already a huge, globe-spanning geek-crafting community; the idea is to give it a banner under which to organize. Though our organization is international, each individual GeekCraft Expo exists on a local level—local artisans, local patronage. We organize the event but attendance is free; the overwhelming majority of the money stays local, landing right in the pockets of locals.
Do you see it becoming an annual thing?
Absolutely! And though the renovations at The Armory, the venue for GeekCraft Expo RDU, caused a bit of a bottleneck, reservation-wise, and we were only able to book it for one day this year, GeekCraft Expo RDU 2017 will be at least a two-day event. Actually, if the local response is strong enough, we may start doing it twice a year.
What sort of things will visitors experience there? Who is the expo for?
Because GeekCraft Expo is a curated show, attendees will have a worthwhile shopping experience. Like I mentioned earlier, they won’t have to dig through the “usual suspect” booths in order to find something cool. Everything there will be great!
Also, both vendors and attendees will benefit from knowing that the booths won’t be loaded with all the same stuff, with vendors vying for sales and attendees waffling among booths. Additionally, money brought to the show to spend has been earmarked specifically for buying cool geek crafts, unlike at a comic convention, where attendees have to decide between paying $40 for a signature or using it for a crocheted Batman.
Geek culture has never been more widely accepted than it is right now, so, to answer your second question, it’s for everyone. That being said, we think GeekCraft Expo will be especially appealing to those who wish to buy local, support the artistic community and value craftsmanship. For example, instead of buying my teenage son a Star Wars shirt from Target that one in 10 guys at his school will probably wear, I got him a dope-ass Japanese Jaws shirt from NC Comicon.
Anything else we need to know about GeekCraft Expo?
GeekCraft Expo is a curated craft market, meaning that the exhibitors have been selected from a pool of applicants based upon quality and originality. In other words, we’re doing all we can to make sure that you’ll be presented with the coolest, most unique and geekiest craft items available. This isn’t a flea market; it won’t come down to luck whether or not you find something worth buying—it’s all killer, no filler.
And we’re still accepting applications for exhibitor space. For GeekCraft Expo RDU 2016, the cut-off date for applications is January 23. Go to www.geekcraftexpo.com for information.
GeekCraft Expo RDU