Nfld. & Labrador

'I've come home': How Sci-Fi on the Rock brings like-minded fans together

Every year, sci-fi, fantasy, and comic book fans from all across Newfoundland and Labrador wait for their chance to be with like-minded fans at Sci-Fi on the Rock.

Convention a free-for-all for fans to let their creativity and geekdom fly

Sci-Fi on the Rock attendees share a laugh and pile into the elevator on Saturday. (Andrew Sampson/CBC)

Every year, sci-fi, fantasy, and comic book fans from all across Newfoundland and Labrador wait for their chance to come back to Sci-Fi on the Rock.

Many of them spend all year in schools, communities, and towns where there may only be a handful of other people who share their interests.

But when they get to the convention, and look around and see Pikachu darting to their left, and Reptar, Cyclops, and Professor McGonagall to their right, one thing's for sure.

They're back with their people — hundreds and hundreds of them.

Only at a comic book convention! Harry Potter's Professor McGonagall (Heather Lane) and Star Wars fan favourite Chewbacca (Daryl Mekish) share a moment at Sci-Fi on the Rock. (Andrew Sampson/CBC)
"When I first came to Sci-Fi … when I walked in I felt really insecure because, I mean, I'm a 44-year-old woman dressed up like a witch, what the heck?" says Heather Lane, who arrived in costume as Professor McGonagall from the Harry Potter series.

 "But when I walked through the door I was instantly recognized, so I just felt like, 'OK, I've come home.'"

From a young brother and sister duo dressed up as Cheryl and Jason Blossom from the Riverdale TV show based on the Archie Comics characters, to Harley Quinn and the Joker from the Suicide Squad film, there was no shortage of characters on display on Saturday.

Something wicked this way comes? Real-life brother and sister Claire Power-Maunders and Jack MacDonald-Mackey are the spitting image of Cheryl and Jason Blossom from Riverdale. (Andrew Sampson/CBC)
James Squires (The Joker) and Destinee Beck (Harley Quinn) were just a few of many cosplayers taking inspiration from DC Comics on Saturday. (Andrew Sampson/CBC)

Tight-knit community

Rowan White came dressed as Star, the main character of the anime series Star vs. the Forces of Evil.

She said the sense of community at Sci-Fi on the Rock is second to none.

"A lot of people here are always gonna be friends with each other, especially where a lot of people come back or fly in from different places," said White.

"You get to know all of the people who are selling work, all of the people who make a lot of cool costumes, and it's sort of like making friends instantly over stuff that you really enjoy."
Caroline Pike (Lotte Jansson) and Rowan White (Star) say that coming to the festival each year is a great way to find your people. (Andrew Sampson/CBC)

Many in the crowd at the Sheraton Hotel in St. John's live in town, but just as many others, like Brooke, travelled hours away. 

Brooke didn't want to give a last name, is from Marystown and has been coming to the con for the last five years.
Ryan Mitchell and Brooke travelled all the way from Marystown to attend the convention. (Andrew Sampson/CBC)

"We just like having any excuse to hang out with friends and other people with the same interests," said Brooke.

"It's a lot easier to find them at a big con like this than during the year. Because a lot of us are reclusive and just kinda stay indoors playing the games that we talk about here."

Feels like home

Standing in the atrium, you can see this community growing in real time.

People of all ages — adults, teenagers, young children — mill about, dancing and getting to know each other.

Some were strangers before they walked through the doors of the convention this weekend, but now they're standing together like kin, united by a shared love for fandom.
What's new Pikachu? A fan greets the notoriously cute Pokemon near the vendors at Sci-Fi on the Rock. (Andrew Sampson/CBC)

Near the back, two young adults sit and play the piano, cycling through recognizable songs. 

They play everything from the ballad "Say Something" to "Welcome to the Black Parade" by the band My Chemical Romance.
A crowd of kids and teenagers dance and sing along to a song at Sci-Fi on the Rock Saturday. (Andrew Sampson/CBC)

But they finally settle on one song that everybody knows, and the familiar notes ring on the piano, and the crowd of kids chants in unison.

"Don't stop believing. Hold on to that feeling."

It's the perfect song for a group sing-a-long, but it also partly reflects why people keep coming back to conventions like Sci-Fi on the Rock every year.

Here, attendees can be themselves, fully and without fear.

Sci-Fi on the Rock continues on Sunday at the Sheraton Hotel in St. John's.