News: 'Sci-fi convention by fans, for fans'
Story by Sgt. Candice Harrison
EL PASO, Texas - A young man and his mother have teamed up to bring the first El Paso-based science fiction convention, Sun City Scifi, to the community April 26 through 28 at the Airport Marriott Hotel here.
Ean Puhlman, a native of El Paso, is one of the masterminds behind bringing the convention to the locals. Along with his mother, the duo hopes to provide an event that will continue for many years to come
“We’re bringing in eight celebrities from different sci-fi shows, television and movies,” said Puhlman. “We try to diversify - not just bring Star Wars or Star Trek. We wanted to appeal to all the sci-fi fans here in El Paso.”
Some of the celebrities slated to attend are: Peter Mayhew, best known for his role as the Wookiee, Chewbacca, from the “Star Wars” series; Tony Amendola, also known as Master Bratac from his long running role on “Stargate: SG1”; David Yost, the blue Power Ranger; Dana Snyder, voice of Master Shake from “Aqua Teen Hunger Force;” and Marina Sirtis, Counselor Deanna Troi from “Star Trek: The Next Generation.”
Along with interactions with the celebrities, attendees of the convention will have a chance to stroll the aisles with vendors selling a wide array of merchandise. There will also be a game room where guests can interact with each other in trading card games.
Attendees are encouraged to dress up for the convention.
“I hope to see a lot of people in costume. El Paso really has a lot of people here that like to (costume play), and that’s a good thing,” said Puhlman. “On Sunday, there will be a costume contest. We have three judges who are all experts … they’ve all made their own costumes.”
The first, second and third prizes for the costume contest will be awarded prior to an auction with a portion of the proceeds going to the Wounded Warrior Project.
Items for auction include poster sets and banners autographed by the celebrity guests, gift certificates and merchandise provided by the vendors as well as some of the Puhlmans’ personal autographed memorabilia.
“We are very active with the Wounded Warrior Project,” said Puhlman. “The military is very close to our hearts, we just want them to know that we support them and we want to continue supporting them for every convention we do.”
Puhlman’s grandfather was a soldier in World War II and participated in the Battle of the Bulge. During the war, his grandfather was injured by a bullet in his shoulder. He was a wounded warrior.
Not just wounded warriors benefit from the convention; all military personnel can receive a discount.
“We want the military community to know that we are giving a military discount of $5 off each ticket,” reminded Puhlman. Regular priced tickets are $20 for Saturday and Sunday, or $35 for the weekend.
With the brand-new convention quickly arriving, its beginnings can be traced back to a young boy’s introduction to science fiction.
“The first movie I ever saw was ‘A New Hope,’ the first ‘Star Wars,’ and as Darth Vader walked through the door of the ship, I was immediately hooked,” said Puhlman of his first taste of scifi. “I went to my first convention when I was 11 years old, and I’m almost 22 now. So, for almost 11 years I have been going to at least 3 or 4 shows a year.”
Puhlman and his mother began the track to convention organizers as attendees. They then became vendors selling autographed memorabilia. Throughout their journey they made the contacts necessary to bring an event to El Paso.
“We made a lot of connections with celebrities and their agents, different vendors, organizers and fans,” Puhlman described. “We just decided that we have the resources to do a show ourselves and no one could tell us what to do with it and we could make sure it is the right kind of show for El Paso.”
Humble beginnings can be said of many of today’s most popular events.
“We would like to have Sun City Scifi in 2023 and 15 years from now,” said Puhlman with a hopeful gleam in his eyes. “San Diego Comic-Con, the Mecca of all conventions, started out in a ball room in a hotel with like 50 people and now its 150,000 people every year.”
Even though Sun City Scifi aspires to become a large convention one day, there are some benefits to the intimacy of a smaller convention.
“I think the fans understand that when they’re going to a bigger show there won’t be as much contact,” explains Amendola, who plays a recurring role as Gepetto on the TV series “Once Upon a Time,” during an interview for Fusion Magazine. “If they’re going to a smaller, dedicated event, then there’s a good chance that there will be contact and that the fans will be able to talk to the actors.”
The basis behind the Sun City Scifi convention can be understood from their slogan: “The convention by fans, for fans.” Where the large commercial events can lose touch with what the fans really want during the chase for dollars, Sun City Scifi promises to keep the desires of the fans as their basic driving force.
“We hope to be the most fan-friendly show in this area, hopefully the most fan-friendly show in the country. We are out to (ensure) the fans have a great time,” said Puhlman. “We’re really trying to put on a great, first-rate convention that El Paso will be proud to have every year.”
For more information about the Sun City Scifi convention, visit their website at suncityscifi.com.