SoonerCon 25 report: Star Trek Continues, The Wolf Man and more
SoonerCon has wrapped up its 25th show. Due to a break in the years the show was held, this 25th show was held on the 30th anniversary year of the first show, in 1986. The multi-genre convention has been held for the past few years at Reed Center in Midwest City. From what I'm told, attendance surpassed last year's entire weekend attendance at some point on Saturday, with Sunday numbers added on top of that.
More details are likely forthcoming, but on the Monday after the event my post-event feeling is that the convention remains a fun, social gathering for fans of many different kinds of genre entertainment. Anime voice actors like Vic Mignogna and Rachael Messer had large autograph lines; panels devoted to sci-fi books had large, energized audiences; people delved into comics, local film, podcasting and genre classics among many other things. Ron Chaney seemed to have a good crowd most of the weekend as he shared stories from classic horror cinema. Chaney was on hand to accept his grandfather Lon Chaney Jr.'s induction into the Oklahoma Speculative Fiction Hall of Fame. Lon Chaney Jr. was born in Oklahoma City and is perhaps best-known for playing Larry Talbot/the Wolf Man in the 1941 film "The Wolf Man."
Artists including Nene Thomas and Brad W. Foster, among others, impressed fans on hand with the art at their booth displays.
Groups representing Jedi OKC and the Central Oklahoma Whovians were on hand promoting their group and their local charity tie-ins. Given the crowd at the art auction for SoonerCon 25, I've no doubt the convention itself will be making a sizeable charity donation, which will likely be announced in the coming weeks.
If you were there to talk Star Trek on the 50th anniversary year of that show, you had lots of programming aimed at you as well. The "Star Trek" at 50 panel with Mignogna, Larry Nemecek, and Vickey Malone Kennedy was a wellspring of heartwarming stories and good humor. Mignogna, whose well-regarded "Star Trek Continues" fan series may have to come to a close sooner than originally expected due to recent changes in how Paramount deals with fan productions, talked about his great love for the original "Star Trek" property. It was that love for the original property that led to "Continues."
"Our goal was to pick the series up where it was cancelled, and continue as if it had not been cancelled," Mignogna said of beginning "Star Trek Continues" more than three years ago.
Mignogna said in many cases, fans of his from anime and voice over work have discovered Star Trek through "Star Trek Continues."
"My anime audience skews a little younger, that's fair to say... the fact that myself, and Todd (Haberkorn) and Chuck (Huber) and people that are voice actors are doing this, we've got this whole new generation of young people in the anime world that are going and watching our series because they like our voice acting work ... I love the chance to introduce young people to Star Trek."
The most recent episode of "Star Trek Continues," "Come Not Between the Dragons," was screened at SoonerCon. It can also be seen on the "Star Trek Continues" YouTube and Vimeo channels.
Because SoonerCon welcomes so many varieties of fandom and hosts something like 140 different panels, it's hard to get a strong "overview" perhaps outside one's own personal experience with the convention on any given year. But, as far as the panels I moderated and the ones I attended, the social, community feel of SoonerCon remains in full force, even allowing for the growing attendance -- and the growing "geek" community overall in the state.