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GeekU.P. returns to MTU campus

Garrett Neese/Daily Mining Gazette Fans browse vendors at the 2022 GeekU.P. This year’s event, held from noon to 7 p.m., moves to the Rozsa Center.

HOUGHTON — Fans of comic books, video games, anime, film, cosplay and more can find something for them at this year’s GeekU.P.

The Copper Country convention will celebrate its fifth year from noon to 7 p.m. Saturday at the Rozsa Center.

“It’s just an opportunity for everybody, whatever it is that they’re into, that they get to get together as a group,” said Shana Porteen, co-organizer of the convention. “That doesn’t happen very often, to be able to express that love and that fandom together. As soon as they hit the door, I don’t think they stop smiling for seven hours.”

This year marks a move to a bigger venue for the convention, previously held at the Memorial Union Building.

“It’s a beautiful space … having that beautiful auditorium to be able to feature the cosplay contest, and to have a really great area for the celebrity Q&A,” Porteen said.

In another first, this year’s celebrity panel has expanded to three: festival co-organizer Patricia Summersett and Roger Craig Smith, who are both returning from last year’s convention, plus fellow voice actor Colleen O’Shaugnessey.

“They recognize how much people love the characters that they get a chance to play and I think that they are moved by how gracious the fans are, particularly how our fans are here, because they are so kind and just really pour out a lot of love for them,” Porteen said.

Summersett, a L’Anse native, graduated from Houghton High School and has amassed a number of voice credits, including “Rainbow Six: Siege” and the “Assassin’s Creed” franchise. She’s best known for her voice and full performance capture work as Princess Zelda in the “The Legend of Zelda” series, including one of 2023’s most popular video games, “The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.”

Smith has taken on a number of notable voice roles. Most notably, he’s voiced Sonic the Hedgehog in a variety of media, including the video games, but also the Disney film series, “Wreck-It Ralph” and Cartoon Network’s animated show “Sonic Boom.” Other roles include Batman in the video game “Arkham Origins” and the DC animated films “Batman: Ninja” and “Superman: Red Son.”

O’Shaughnessey can be heard in numerous animated series and features, video games, commercials and toys. Like Smith, she also appeared in the “Sonic the Hedgehog” movie and “Sonic Boom,” playing Sonic’s best friend Tails. Other roles have included Wasp in “Avengers-Earth’s Mightiest Heroes,” Jazz in Nickelodeon’s “Danny Phantom,” and Sora in the anime series, “Digimon & Digimon Adventure Tri.”

Moving to the Rozsa also means a bigger stage for the annual cosplay contest, which has both adult (15 and above) and youth categories.

“Last year, the response was phenomenal, and so we’re really expecting it to be even more so this year, which is really exciting,” Porteen said.

People interested in competing are encouraged to register ahead of time at Black Ice Comics or online at geekup906.com/cosplay-registration.html.

Nearly 20 vendors will be on hand, with wares spanning sci-fi books, vintage toys and digital art prints.

Several student groups will participate in the event: Husky Amateur Wargaming, Gamers Anonymous, Houghton Anime Review Organization (Haro), Pokemon League at Michigan Tech, Playtesters (Video Game Music Ensemble) and Fighting Game Club.

Playtesters, a 30-member student-run ensemble, will perform songs from video game franchises.

“We dearly love working with these groups, they are the foundation of what we do, and are such a part of that kind of that wonderfully solid geek culture that we have in this area,” Porteen said. “And they do a great job reaching out to the general community as well. And so this is such a great opportunity. And I think that has also started catching on more where we’re starting to see community members interact more with the student groups on campus.”

Proceeds from GeekU.P. go to a charity. For the second year in a row, GeekU.P. chose Unit” Mental Health and Wellness, a nonprofit mental health practice in Houghton.

“I have customers that come in and are very candid and say, ‘I didn’t even know they existed, I found out and now I’m actually getting help from them,'” Porteen said. “And that meant the world to me, because I love this community and we want everybody to have the access to mental health care that they need.”

Tickets to GeekU.P. are $15 for adults, $10 for current Michigan Technological University students with ID, and $10 for kids 14 and under. They can be purchased at the door or ahead of time at Black Ice Comics & Books at 503 Shelden Ave.

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