I love my hometown of Erie, PA despite its inability to define itself and really know what it wants to be when it grows up. We have a lot of cool things here like Presque Isle and four distinct seasons and wineries and a werewolf migration. We’re number two in safety from natural disasters, but we’re also tied for tenth place in obesity (it’s all these delicious home-style restaurants and the sad lack of dog parks), and we rank number three in snow (which I happen to like). And while we’re hardly cosmopolitan (though Lord knows we try!), there is this great groundswell of music, arts, theatre and dance run by dedicated and passionate folks who want to make The Arts what Erie is known for.
I moved back to Erie after a twenty-year (!) absence in 2010. I knew I wanted to be closer to my family and to have more authentic contact than the Sunday phone calls that recapped the week of, let’s face it, things I was missing. I figured when I got to town, I’d settle in and decide pretty quickly what it was I wanted to do here for work and for life. Well, “quickly” became “two years later” before I knew it, and while employed and somewhat social, I didn’t feel as connected to my hometown as I thought I would be. I wasn’t doing anything to make Erie better for my being here.
Then in 2012, I ran a Kickstarter to raise money to host the first (in Erie) 24 Hour Comics Day. I babysat that campaign every day of its 30 day life, and in the end successfully raised $1,500 to give something new to the Erie art and geek scenes. But first, there was New York Comic Con where I attended two panels with my friend PJ (with whom I had often discussed the dream of opening our own LCS) which were hosted by ComicsPro: Comics and Your Community with Thomas Gaul of Corner Store Comics and Beach Ball Comics and Be a Comic Book Retailer! led by Amanda Emmert. After the sessions, I knew that I wanted to open my own comic book store. PJ and I talked about it for hours –days– afterwards, and there was never any doubt about how much work it would be, but how much fun as well.
I mean, what life-long comic geek doesn’t dream about having his or her own comic shop?
One week later was 24 Hour Comics Day, where I met some amazing, creative locals and learned some startling things about my hometown (like there’s a print shop that does comic books and another that makes board game pieces; who knew?).Â When the event was over and I woke up two days later, my first thought was “Yeah. This could work. I could do this, but what would ‘this’ look like?”
“This” eventually became The GeekERIE with, of course, a few iterations along the way. Currently, The GeekERIE is a literacy non-profit organization in its early days, but with several successful events come and gone – Automatic Comics, 24 Hour Comics Day, Erie Library Comic Con – and several more coming up, I’d say we’re making a splash.
The GeekERIE’s (official, according to our application to the IRS) purpose is “to promote literacy and provide literacy education to under-served, low-income populations in Erie County by hosting creative programming in schools, libraries, and other public venues, utilizing transmedia, such as micropressing, animation, live theatre, educational classes, and art showsâ€“ to engage learners by their active participation in the creative process. Our programs include 24 Hour Comics Day, Automatic Comics, Exquisite Comics, Lovecraft Live, The Bulwer-Lytton Race to the Bottom, and Kristmas with Krampus. Other programs and publications not listed will come under ‘The GeekERIE presents.”
Our fundraisers are going to be totally different from anything you’ve ever seen before: they will be fun, entertaining, and there will not be a cheese platter in sight. Ever. You’re more likely to see pizza and beer.
Besides the literacy programming, we’re looking into a commercial store for all your gaming, comic book, coffee and socializing desires. Plus, if all goes according to plan, who wouldn’t want one of these around town???
I want it. You want it. Stick with us and we’ll get it, and more.