"I DIDN'T FEEL like Portland had the convention that I felt Portland deserved," says Billy Galaxy when I ask him what inspired him to put together Wonder Northwest, a new "comics and pop culture expo." While Portland's already full of nerd get-togethers—there's the Stumptown Comics Fest, the anime-based Kumoricon, the Portland Retro Gaming Expo, the flea market-y Portland Comic Book Show, and even Seattle's Emerald City Comicon, which plenty of Portlanders travel to—Galaxy's inspiration was to create "a show that would be a destination event for people of diverse interests, as opposed to [only] people who're just into anime, or just into indie comics. There's room for growth in all of those subgenres of popular culture, for them to meld together."
Billy Galaxy—who also owns a downtown memorabilia shop with the same name—has taken a curatorial role in an attempt to make Wonder Northwest stand out. "I don't want some giant show that we can't manage," he says. "I want a small show, where all of the content is awesome."
Not that he's entirely on his own: "We definitely have the full support of the PGC3," he says, referring to the Portland Geek Council of Commerce and Culture, a group made up of 30 or so of Portland's nerd-friendly businesses and organizations.
As for what he recommends hitting at Wonder Northwest? "The panel on the spread of zombie plague by the Multnomah County epidemiologist is going to be excellent," Galaxy says, deadpan (that'd be "Epidemiologic Methods for Investigating the Zombie Apocalypse," on Saturday at 4 pm). He also points to a discussion with Blankets creator Craig Thompson (Saturday, 3 pm), and a cosplay karaoke session (Sunday, 6 pm). "Cosplay karaoke is, without a doubt, gonna be a blast," Galaxy says. "We've also pulled Baby Ketten Karaoke into that."
Ideally, Galaxy sees Wonder Northwest becoming a regular event. "After this goes off successfully, and we don't all explode from the stress," he says, "we'll probably start planning Wonder Northwest 2012."