23 February 2022

Canberra geeks unite to give Lifeline Bookfair a new hope

| James Coleman
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Daniel Rathbone

Director of the Canberra Geek Markets and avid collector Daniel Rathbone. Photo: Dominic Giannini.

Darth Vader and his storm troopers might seem unlikely allies, but they’ll join the army of Canberrans giving Lifeline a leg-up following disruption to February’s bookfair.

The first Canberra Geek Markets for 2022 is coming to Exhibition Park in Canberra (EPIC) on Saturday, 2 April, offering Lifeline Canberra a space amongst the cosplay, movie memorabilia, comic books and trading cards to shift some of their unsold books.

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Director of Canberra Geek Markets and self-confessed “massive Star Wars comic book guy”, Daniel Rathbone said the partnership with Lifeline was in place before vaccine mandate protestors broke down the biennial bookfair’s fences at EPIC on Friday, 11 February, but that the charity has since been allocated more space.

“We’ve said to Lifeline, ‘Because you couldn’t go ahead with the bookfair, we want to increase the space we’ve given to you so you can sell some of those books you weren’t able to sell over the bookfair weekend’,” he said. “I think that’s going to be a massive highlight.”

Lifeline Canberra CEO Carrie-Anne Leeson said they are “really appreciative” of the additional size and scale of their stall.

“We’re used to having something for everyone at the bookfair, but the team of volunteers are now really having fun pulling together books for this specific genre,” she said.

The Canberra Geek Markets was last held in May and September last year, but Daniel said they’ve managed to snag additional ‘geeky’ guests and stalls this time.

“There will be over 80 vendors and a whole range of local and interstate artists and traders,” he said.

“People will be able to speak to contestants from season three of LEGO Masters, as well as our professional cosplayers, including Andrew who is known as ‘The Thor of Oz’.”

READ ALSO Lifeline shuts Bookfair amid deteriorating situation at EPIC

Video gamers from the Esports Lounge at the University of Canberra (UC) will also be on hand, playing live tournaments.

Daniel described the Canberra Geek Markets as a “convention and market hybrid”.

“It came about from my love of all things geekness.”

Canberra Geek Markets

Cosplay artists at Canberra Geek Markets. Photo: Canberra Geek Markets.

Daniel was born in the little seaside town in Wales of Swansea, before coming to Australia ten years ago and finding his life partner.

“My fondest memory was going to a comic book store and walking into the smell of new books. When I was growing up, I read a lot of Judge Dredd and AD, and my first collection was of the X-Men and Spiderman, before I moved on to Batman and different types of comic books.”

The first film he ever saw in the cinema was The Empire Strikes Back, the second episode in the original Star Wars trilogy.

From that moment on, he was hooked by the Star Wars bug and for the next 30 years, set about collecting all manner of Star Wars LEGO and figurines, stored in what is ostensibly a study but more of what he calls a “cave to keep everything in”.

“I’ve met some of my best friends through collecting and just essentially being a geek.”

Canberra Geek Markets

Socks inspired by Canberra’s iconic bus stops were on sale at last year’s Canberra Geek Markets. Photo: Canberra Geek Markets.

Daniel said his wife thought “it’s all a bit much” but both at least shared a love for Lord of the Rings.

For the past eight years, Daniel has “built up a network of geeks” by working for EB Games and holding regular pop-culture conventions.

“I held onto that list and reached out and a lot of them went, ‘Yeah, we’re in’.”

Daniel said the most attractive thing about the event is that it’s free.

“People love the fact it is free entry. It just removes that barrier for families wanting to come.”

Canberra Geek Markets will be held on Saturday, 2 April from 9 am to 5 pm at The Fitzroy Pavilion, Exhibition Park in Canberra (EPIC).

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