Collective Con Brings Nationally Trending Nerd Culture to Jacksonville
Nerd culture conventions are not just the fodder of late night talk show jokes anymore. The days of convention attendants being mocked for not having girlfriends is a thing of the past. In the last 5 years, the larger conventions, like San Diego’s famous Comic-Com, have grown so popular, you have to buy your tickets almost a year in advance or it’ll sellout before you even know what character you intend to go as.Dragon Con in Atlanta has proven that this phenomenon isn’t exclusive to the west coast. Recently, Orlando’s MegaCon has even become a national contender. So the concept of bringing a convention of this magnitude to Jacksonville is not as risky an endeavor as it may seem.
“When we first decided to do this convention, we knew we wanted to focus on more than just one group of fans. We decided which groups we wanted to go after,” says Christopher Major, founder of Ocala Comic Con and one of the founders of Collective Con.
“Initially, we looked at what was currently going on and who we could realistically approach with a first-year convention. From there we created a list of who we would like to have at our convention and started to send out offers.”
Although a first-year convention, respondents were open to the invite because Jacksonville has some things to offer that other cities simply can’t match. In addition to being the first large-scale genre-crossing convention, serving sci-fi, fantasy, anime, cosplay, horror, and gaming fans, Collective Con also happens at the fairgrounds in Downtown, providing a variety of both free and ticketed attractions.
“Jacksonville gives the convention the room it needs to grow. It’s also a great location to have something like this because it gives us the opportunity to pull fans from in the state and also outside of it,” says Major.
Jacksonville has a lot of nerds and one of the fastest growing populations of millennials in Florida. This city is lousy with digital natives that grew up gaming. And Jacksonville has great weather, a gorgeous downtown, and of course, the river.Max Michaels, a local promoter responsible for events such as PIXELATED, and one of the con’s founders, says, “Our city has been fertile ground for nerd culture and a hot bed for smaller cons who cater to more specific genres like Anime or Steampunk. But there hasn’t been a con yet that speaks to the whole of the scene like some larger cons in other cities do. Collective will be the first to do that here.”
Unlike most conventions that are trapped inside of convention centers, Collective Con has outdoor programming to complement the convention experience.
Free Music Festival
Also capitalizing on Jacksonville is the Collective Music Fest. Whereas founders like Max Michaels and Christopher Major are known for bringing cult and niche events to the area, the other members of the team, Mike Yokan and Jason Lewis, are experienced at staging big music events like The Big Ticket and Welcome to Rockville in the River City.
“The part of our convention that will stand out the most would be our music festival. We all believe that the Collective Music Fest will give us something different than the other conventions in the state. With each year, we plan to bring bigger and bigger acts,” says Major.
Jacksonville has a rich musical history, of course, but it also has a very active current music culture. So Collective Con is bringing a free music festival with national and regional acts to the extensive list of activities to make it more than just your traditional convention atmosphere (if there is such a thing).
“It’s not normal [to have a live music stage at a convention such as this]. Occasionally cons have live music performances, but probably not to this extent,” says Jason Lewis. “We booked bands like the Aquabats! and Peelander-Z that fit the convention scene, but also have a broader appeal.”
In addition to the national acts, there will be some high-quality acts that perform nationally, but live in the area. These acts range from the crunk/punk band Whole Wheat Bread to pop-rockers Sunbears! and more.
“We are also featuring nerdcore acts such as Willie Evans Jr., Tough Junkie, EyeQ, and others, that appeal to many in the con scene. The goal is to bring in people and create a true festival atmosphere. Go big or go home!” says Lewis.
Ticket & Hotel Info
Outdoor activities are free to the public. To attend the indoor convention events, including meeting the celebrity guests, you will need tickets. Single day tickets range from $20 to $55 (VIP) and 3-day passes range from $45 to $110 (VIP). Tickets are on sale now at www.collectivecon.com.
Special discounted hotel rates are available to convention-goers at the Wyndham Jacksonville Riverwalk Hotel and the Crowne Plaza Jacksonville Riverfront for a little more than $100 per night. You can book your room on the website (www.collectivecon.com/tickets.html) or by calling the hotel and telling them you are attending Collective Con at the time of your booking.
Insider Tips – Must-Sees
Olde world fair
Food truck village
The old School arcade
Fire performances by Inferno Inc
Fighting exhibitions by Tamren Kessoku Unity and North River Amtgard
Johnny Young Bosch
Sara, Brittany and Rachael Frazetta-Taylor – Granddaughters of famous fantasy artist Frank Frazetta
Collective After Dark Events
Meet James O’Barr, creator of The Crow, as he hosts a screening of The Crow at Sun-Ray Cinema
Voltaire and Ego Likeness Live at Underbelly
Assimilate; Resistance Is Futile nerdy dance party with DJs, sexy cyborgs, space vixens, and a stage show.
Featured Guests (Alphabetical Order)
Mitsuhiro Arita – Artist: Pokémon Trading Card Game and Final Fantasy XI
Philo Barnhart – Animator: The Secret of NIMH, Disney’s The Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast
John Beatty – Artist: Captain America, Punisher, Batman, and Secret Wars
Steve Blum – Voice Actor: Spike Spiegel on Cowboy Bebop, Orochimaru in Naruto, Wolverine in Wolverine and the X-Men & Amon in The Legend of Korra
Johnny Yong Bosch – Voice Actor: Ichigo on Kurosaki, Power Rangers, Trigun, and Bleach
Adelso Corona – Artist: Grimm Fairy Tales, Marvel, DC, Image Comics
Jeff Dexal – Illustrator: Marvel and Valiant Comics
Todd Haberkorn – Voice Actor: Natsu DragneeL in Fairy Tail, Death the Kid in Soul Eater and Italy in Hetalia
Michael Koske – Actor: The Walking Dead, The Originals, The Crazies
Phil Lamarr – Actor/Voice Actor: Mad TV, Pulp Fiction, Green Lantern, FuturamaAl Letson – Writer/Creator: NPR’s State of the Re:Union, Reveal, Imperfect
Caity Lotz – Actor: Sara Lance/Black Canary in Arrow, Mad Men, Death Valley
Bob McLeod Artist/Creator: Co-creator and artist for The New Mutants, artist for Hulk, Batman, Wonder Woman
Vic Mignogna – Voice Actor/Actor: Full Metal Alchemist, Star Trek Continues
James O’Barr – Artist/Creator: The Crow comic book series
Maryse Ouellet and Barbie Blank (formerly known as Kelly Kelly) – World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE)
Sajad Shah – Artist: IDW, Zenescope and Contraband Comics
Lew Temple – Actor/Voice Actor: Axel on AMC’s The Walking Dead, Adam Banjo on The Devil’s Rejects, Locus Fender in Domino, Mr. Furgus in Rango
Jerrad Vunovich – Actor: AHS Freak Show, Hunger Games, Fantastic 4
David Walker – Author/Filmmaker: Tokyo Tribes, The Adventures of Darius Logan, Dark Horse Comics series Number 13, The Army of Dr. Moreau
Larry Watts – Artist: Army of Darkness, Grimm Fairy Tales
Sam Witwer – Actor/Voice Actor: Aidan Waite in Being Human, Darth Maul in Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Davis Bloome in Smallville
Terrance Zdunich – Actor: Repo: The Genetic Opera, The Devil’s Carnival
The Blonde Tongues
Cog Is Dead
The Dog Apollo
Eyeshine – Rock Featuring Johnny Yong Bosch
Herd of Watts
Snake Blood Remedy
Stop Making Sense
Whole Wheat Bread
Willie Evans Jr
Chloe Dykstra (Heroes of Cosplay), Heatheri337, Jennifer Ann, Candy Keane, and 219th Brain Surgeons – Resident Evil Cosplayers
For the full schedule, visit http://www.collectivecon.com/schedule.html.