Fans of fantasy, science fiction and more will gather for SoonerCon 22, held this year in the Reed Convention Center in Midwest City.
Fantasy and comic conventions have been showing increases in attendance in recent years, and SoonerCon is no exception. The original iteration of the convention was held from 1986-1997. The convention returned in 2006. Since then, says convention co-chair Jerry Wall, attendance has been on a steady increase.
“When we started back up in 2006, we had around 300 attendees,” Wall said. “Last year, our largest year, we had over 1,500 in attendance. This year we're trending about 15 percent higher on presales, so we expect to exceed last year's totals.”
Wall says the attraction of fantasy and sci-fi conventions can be the desire to see the world as it could be.
“A big part of it is the chance to experience a better world,” Wall said. “Gene Roddenberry offered it outstandingly in ‘Star Trek,' which showed not just a future, but the best possible future he could offer. Worlds where good triumphs over evil, dragons are slain, and princesses are saved, all offer an escape.”
Larry Nemecek, “Star Trek” expert originally from Norman, will be on hand promoting “Con of Wrath,” a film he's making based on a disastrous 1982 Houston Star Trek convention. Nemecek is currently starring as Dr. Leonard McCoy in the ambitious fan project “Star Trek Continues.”
SoonerCon will offer a special big-screen HD showing Friday night of “Pilgrim of Eternity,” the debut episode of “Star Trek Continues” that was debuted at Phoenix ComiCon. The program has been viewed more than 250,000 times online. The screening is part of the “Con of Wrath” benefit meetup, with admissions going to help fund Nemecek's documentary about an ill-fated 1982 “Star Trek” convention.
The three-hour “Con of Wrath” benefit, available with a minimum donation of $20, starts at 9 p.m. Friday and includes the showing of “Pilgrim of Eternity.”
Nemecek has a long history with SoonerCon, going back to its original incarnation in the 1980s.
“It's been gratifying to see SoonerCon not only reborn but boom, and to take in as many arenas as it does — not just sci-fi and fantasy lit and media and art, but everything popular now in all ‘genre' and even indie film production,” Nemecek said. “It's a real statement that OKC is right there in the nationwide trend that started when San Diego Comic-Con brought Hollywood to the pure comic cons ... and the numbers skyrocketed. The melding made everyone realize how many people really are crossover fans after all, and what you can leverage with those kinds of numbers as a convention or show.”
As Nemecek notes, “Trek” isn't the only fan base that will walk the halls of this year's SoonerCon. Wall said interest has grown in all types of genre entertainment.