Copyright © 2021 Roswell Daily Record
Copyright © 2021 Roswell Daily Record
New location, new date and new highlights
By Christina Stock
Roswell’s own Galacticon — a wordplay on Roswell’s image as “UFO capital of the world” and the popular comic book conventions or comic con — will take place this year from Nov. 12 to 14 at the Clarion Inn & Suites Sally Port. Its theme is “Hope Rises.” The family-friendly event emphasizes science fiction and fantasy.
The SciFi Film Fest returns to Allen Theaters Galaxy 8 at the Roswell Mall, while Area 52 is a new “field trip” location included in the 11th annual Roswell Galacticon.
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According to Galacticon’s director, Elaine Mayfield, the event was moved to a later date this year — usually it takes place during the UFO Festival in early July — because state restrictions prohibited mass gatherings indoors.
“I am so grateful to Clarion for working with us on a location,” Mayfield wrote in an email.
The team of Galacticon has been working on the event the entire year. Galacticon was also present at the first MainStreet Roswell Alien Fest as a sponsor, and they organized the Alien Pet and Costume Contest.
“The energy and fun meter was off the dial,” Mayfield wrote. “Matt Bromley ran the gaming and we also had lawn games for free.”
Bromley, a local game inventor, also takes the lead as coordinator for the games planned this year at Galacticon.
Events kick off on Friday with the traditional karaoke ice-breaker at Peppers Grill & Bar, 500 N. Main St., at 7 p.m. Cosplay is highly encouraged, but not mandatory. Roswell has a large Steampunk community, and their custom-made elaborate clothing and matching accessories are a sight to see. From superhero, gaming or comic cosplayers, everybody is welcome. The karaoke is provided by local personality John Bitner. Bitner is known in the community as actor and technical director at the local theaters.
On Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Sunday, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., vendors and authors will be set up in the ballroom of the Clarion Inn & Suites Sally Port.
“The vendors include arts and crafts, comic books, vintage books, posters, collectibles and much more,” Mayfield wrote. “There is an admission charge of $5. Children 11 and under get in for free with an accompanying adult. This charge will cover the events on that day.”
According to Bromley, there will be board games and role-playing games throughout Saturday and Sunday. The games are free with purchase of the Galacticon entry ticket of the day. Bromley is the lead designer, artist and owner of Wildbird Games, based in Roswell. For as long as he can remember, he has been designing games for family and friends. Some of his most popular games are “Taco Party!” and “Invasion of the Little Green Meeples.”
“Taco Party!” is a family-friendly game where the winner is the one who assembles the tacos first. There are plenty of challenges that include luck and speed: dice-rolling for ingredients, swaps, steals, out-crunching, party-fouls and dexterity/speed challenges such as the five-second rule, food fight, cubit, order-up, “Taco Two’sDay, and “Carrot-e Chop.”
The game “Invasion of the Little Green Meeples” is actually two games at once. First players have to fight off an invasion. Then they board the “Meeples” space ship and collect all the alien technology they can, find their way off the ship and prevent the invasion of Earth.
Bromley is supported by a large group of gamers that will be guiding beginners and pro-gamers in various role playing games (RPG) as well as table top and card games.
One of the game aficionados coming to town is John W. Curtis III. Asked about his background, Curtis wrote in an email, “I was born in Fort Worth, Texas, and grew up sort of all over Texas. I went to college at Texas Tech University, with a BA (bachelor’s) degree in English and a minor in computer science.”
Curtis said that he found games of all types fascinating when he was a young child. In the 1980s he added a hobby, board gaming and role playing games.
“At the end of the ’80s, I wrote a handful of articles for an RPG fanzine. As the ’90s rolled around, I was hired by Iron Crown Enterprises (he moved to its headquarter in Virginia) and ended up the series editor for their flagship RPG. I learned a lot about how the hobby game industry worked. I also got to work as a developer on many board games and card games.”
After a hiatus, Curtis moved back to Texas in 2012 and re-started his gaming. “I ended up as a play tester for FFG (Fantasy Flight Games). getting to alpha-test ‘Mansions of Madness,’ second edition. From there, I was asked to help demo for the Asmodee team at PAX (formerly known as Penny Arcade Expo) South and BGG Con (BoardGameGeek Con, the official name of the convention). I was demoing ‘Keyforge’ on launch day for the product; that was a blast,” Curtis wrote.
During the pandemic, gaming conventions became virtual and Curtis started demonstrating tests for Indie Game Alliance. “So now I do much smaller venues,” he wrote, “demoing and running tournaments for games in their catalog, not exclusively, just primarily.”
Curtis’ own game collection numbers more than 1,000, not counting the various game extensions. Asked what he will be presenting at Galacticon, he wrote that he will bring at least a few dozen games from his personal collection.
“I find that I have a penchant for teaching games. I teach a lot of games. That is one of the reasons I am overseeing the game library at Galacticon. I will teach any of them, or just play if you want,” he wrote.
The gaming roster includes game inventor Willy Enriquez. He will travel to Roswell from El Paso, Texas. His company is 3 Wizards of Mustache, which has been hosting El Paso’s Three Wizards Board Game Convention since 2016. The convention was originally a creation by a student organization. Enriquez is bringing his games “Megacity Heist” and “Capsaicin” to the Galacticon.
According to an email by Enriquez, his “Megacity” game is a “worker management, make-your-own-luck game where the player is a comic villain who is trying to take over the peaceful Megacity.” There are villains, henchmen, heists to pull, heroes to fight and attacks on other villains to rake in the loot and points. The winner takes all.
“Capsaicin,” on the other hand, is a game where players compete in eating the same type of peppers until they quit because of the burn. The only way out is either to take another bite or escape the game with one’s score intact.
One of the highlights of Galacticon is the line up of authors. New indie authors and experienced authors will have their own booths on Saturday and Sunday and will have a limited number of books with them to sign.
Local author E.J. Wilson has been writing for many years, his work covering fiction and nonfiction. In a phone interview he said that he is looking forward to having normalcy back.
“Galacticon is always so much fun for me. It’s better than Christmas. Meeting like-minded people who are interested in the same things is always fun, and sharing various information and new ideas and all of that. I’ve got a new book, I haven’t had it at Galacticon before, I’m excited about it so I have several copies with me. It’s called ‘Letters from the Road.’ It is written by me and my brother. I have an identical twin brother who was a truck driver for a number of years, and this book is about all the crazy things he not only witnessed but perpetrated on America’s highways and it’s just fall-down funny. So I am bringing this with me this year,” Wilson said.
Wilson rarely missed attending Galacticon. With six books under his belt, or rather pen, and a strong fan base, Wilson was surprised learning that his nonfiction book “Star Trek: Exploring the Original Series,” has five stars on goodreads.com. “didn’t even know I was doing so well, that’s good to hear,” he said.
As many before him, Wilson grew up being a fan of the TV series “Star Trek” and soon started writing science fiction short stories. After being a co-author of “The Ultimate Guide to the Roswell UFO Crash” in 2012, which he wrote with Noe Torres and is prefaced by author and historian John LeMay, Wilson wanted to go out on his own.
“They say, write what you know,” he said and chuckled. “I took about four years to research the ‘Star Trek’ book and I got stuff nobody knew. I found people who worked on the original show in nursing homes in Southern California and in family residences all around the country. They were so grateful to hear from me, that someone was interested enough in what they did to track them down, but it was a great labor of love. That always goes over big at Galacticon. I am excited about that as well.”
Another five-star goodread.com author is John LeMay, a local historian. His books cover a wide array, from non-fiction as in “Roswell” for the historical national book series :Images of America: New Mexico,” to “Cowboys & Saurians: Dinosaurs and Prehistoric Bests as Seen by the Pioneers.” LeMay is also a monthly columnist for the Daily Record’s Sunday Vision section, contributing with stories he has researched about unusual phenomena, legends and haunts of Roswell and beyond.
His best-known books include “Tall Tales and Half Truths of Billy the Kid, a collection of far-out folklore on the famed desperado” and “Jaws Unmade: The Lost Sequels, Prequels, Remakes and Rip-Offs,” one of many other books about lost and/or unmade films. LeMay is also the co-author of the well-received “The Real Cowboys and Aliens” series with Ufologist Noe Torres, which spotlights UFO sightings from the Old West and early day America.
Asked how he became an author and what he is looking forward to at Galacticon, LeMay wrote in an email, “I became an author because I like to create the books that I wished existed but don’t. That’s why I did a book on unproduced “Godzilla” scripts, which ended up being one of the biggest hits I’ve ever done nationwide. That inspired me to do other film histories, which led to “Jaws Unmade,” about unproduced “Jaws” movies. That has been the biggest seller of my career. So even though everyone here (in Roswell) knows me for the Roswell history, it’s the film history books like those that make me a living. I enjoy Galacticon because it gives me a chance to showcase the film histories I’ve done, which I will have on hand there in addition to the usual Roswell history titles.”
Eide S. Nevets is the pen name of a new author who has started publishing her books during the pandemic. In Roswell she’s known as Edie Stevens. As Stevens she is well-respected in the community. She is involved in the arts and with charities, supporting events and being an actor and director of the local community theater.
Asked how she came to become an author, Stevens said, “I’ve had these ideas floating in my head for years and then when COVID hit and they didn’t need sales directors in hotels (Stevens’ profession) because we were only allowed 25% occupancy, I had plenty of time on my hands. When I ran out of books I could read, I started writing. One of my favorite themes that I wanted to write for a long, long time is time travel in the Old West. So I had to do a lot of research for this, to make sure I put things in the right timeline and then put in how one might travel back and forth.
“It was very fun to write. It’s a trilogy. The first book came out in April of this year. The second book in the trilogy came out in May and the third one came out in June.”
Stevens said that she will have a limited number of books at Galacticon. However, her books mostly sell as e-books.
Asked what her hopes are for attending a convention such as Galacticon for the first time, Stevens said, “I’m a little bit nervous, actually. I am hopeful that people will find time travel of interest. I’m hopeful that people will find the Old West and the introduction of the technology as it came to pass in our history interesting. I’m hoping that that means that I have a whole new avenue of people interested in reading the books.”
Another new author, with his very first fantasy book having been published in August, is Michael Wolfe of Las Vegas, Nevada. His book “Titania: Fairy Princess” is about — no surprise — a fairy princess who has to journey through her magical kingdom to save her people from the cruelty of an evil sorceress.
According to his agent, Stephen Ellison, Wolfe has been planning a full series with 12 books in total, with the second book to be released at the end of the year and the third book mid-2022. In a phone conversation, Ellison said that he will be coming in from California for Roswell’s Galacticon as well, and that neither Wolfe or he has been to Roswell before. He said that they were spending four days in town to be able to explore the town and the International UFO Museum and Research Center.
A new Galacticon event
Mayfield wrote that the evening experience at the tactical laser tag and virtual reality venue Area 52 will be exclusive for Galacticon visitors with their admission identification of the day.
Both Mayfield and Area 52 owner Patricia Andrade highly recommend to make reservations online at area52roswellnm.com. There is a dress code and open toe shoes aren’t permitted. The reason behind it is that one part of the tactical laser tag game takes place outdoors and has a gravel ground coverage.
Andrade and her husband came to Roswell as tourists from Illinois, she said.
“We realized there was not much for the younger generation. We went back to Illinois, and we said, well, it’s beautiful, there’s no traffic, the people are friendly and why not offer them something? So my husband, who is in construction, helped to build that and I helped the architect in Illinois to design it. We decided that we would take a chance with Roswell, and hopefully Roswell will take a chance with us. The teenagers have literally thanked us for doing this,” Andrade said.
Asked what visitors can expect, Andrade said her business is different from usual laser tag venues.
“It is (a) very immersed experience because it is indoors and outdoors. It is actually 12 indoor rooms and three outdoor shelters. More like combat. It’s a lot of fun for ages 8 and older, especially the preteens, including adults. They go in there and have fun time with their family, and it gives the entire family an opportunity to share the experience and create great memories. On the other side, we have virtual reality, which are two stations,” she said.
Asked how many virtual games players can choose from, Andrade said that there are at least 20 games, each one lasting for 15 minutes. The virtual games are geared to different age groups and interests. “You have games such as ‘Painting 3D;’ ‘Gorn’ where you are a gladiator in a pit and you have to fight against other gladiators. It’s all in caricature (The gladiators do not look lifelike, but are animated fast-moving geometrical figures.) Then you have “Fruit Ninja,” where you have to hit the fruit and that’s for younger audience,” she said.
The tactical laser tag also has variations. Beginners play “Team Death Match.”
“Two teams of maximum 10 people go against each other and try to score as a team and get the highest score,” Andrade said.
Where there’s a con, there are comics. Kenneth Simpson lives the life that any comic fan can dream of. He is the owner of the Traveling Comic Book Store and is looking forward to being able to be on the road again after the pandemic shut downs.
“I first fell in love with reading comic books as (a) young boy growing up in Hobbs. I came to the hobby after graduating from college. But I wasn’t happy with buying new releases that were damaged from a national chain, so I decided to start selling new release comic books in Odessa, Texas, and we’ve been operating from there ever since. I have been a retailer for nearly 12 years and doing conventions all over the South and Southwest for eight years. I bring comic books from the Golden Age, 1930s-50s, new releases as well as toys, statues, magazines and mangas,” Simpson wrote in an email.
Another vendor is Melissa Urias, who will have unusual candy and treats.
“I was born in Juarez, Mexico, and migrated to the U.S. with my parents and siblings as a small child,” Urias wrote in an email. “I feel very proud to say I am a naturalized American citizen and a Mexican-born citizen. Roswell has been home for over 25 years now. Crashsite Candies was established in the late fall of 2019. Although we offer a variety of munchies and snacks, we specialize in Dulces Enchilados or Mexican-style candies. We take all of our old favorite candies such as gummy worms, gushers, cherry sours, even hot tamales. We dip them in chamoy sauce (a fruity chile sauce) and then they are coated with our special Crashsite chili powder mix. When I say we, I refer to my parents, kids and sister, who help me so much. I am a mom of four. My oldest is a freshman in high school and my youngest is 2. So I need and will gladly accept all the help I can get. The UFO Festival was what really kicked it off for us, and we are grateful to have been welcomed with open arms. We can’t wait for what the near future will bring.”
Mayfield said that Galacticon will return to be a part of the 75th UFO festivities next year. However, depending on how the November event turns out, the team is considering having two events a year, one in July and one in the fall.
Mayfield wrote that the SciFi Film Fest was open to submissions earlier this year and received a record 60 submissions by the end of September. The film judges have selected 30 films for awards consideration and are currently viewing and choosing the winners to be announced at the Galacticon and on roswellgalacticon.com.
Awards will be given in nine categories and for the audience favorite. The winners and selected films will be shown at Allen Theatres Galaxy 8 in the Roswell mall on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. All SciFi Filmfest showings are included in the Galacticon entry fee. Some films may not be suitable for children; ratings will be posted. A detailed film schedule was not available at press time.
The event and gaming schedule is available on the e-newspaper edition and on hard copy in Nov. 7 edition of the Roswell Daily Record. Event times and locations are subject to change due to unforeseen circumstances. For cancellations, updates and information, visit roswellgalacticon.com and/or its Facebook page.