nerdvana

Using my dubious octopus charm I was able to trick Jayson Peters, the driving force behind Arizona’s own Nerdvana, into answering some questions for Lighting Octopus.

Stretch, cross your legs, breath deep, and listen to the cosmos as you read:

So tell us about Nerdvana.

Nerdvana is a blog hosted by the East Valley Tribune that is dedicated to “All the Keys to Your Inner Geekdom.”

It was built around the idea that everybody is a nerd at heart, geeking out about something, whether it be comics, computers, toys or sports. At least, that’s what I keep repeating to feel better about myself and all my eccentricities…

Why did you start Nerdvana? Where did the idea come from?

I started Nerdvana in August 2007 while working as a copy editor and page designer for the newspaper, because our pop culture offerings were a little thin (little did I know how thin they would still become!) and I wanted to dip my feet into online media.

Scott Kirchhofer, a Tribune graphic artist, and I cooked up the format — I’m not sure what the influences were at the time, but I know that Wired’s GeekDad blog has been a huge ongoing inspiration, as well as io9 and Kotaku, of course.

Nerdvana has opened so many doors for me, and I suspect the initiative it showed has helped me stick around here through many rounds of downsizing. I’m not usually one to stick my neck out, so it’s gratifying whenever that pays off.

How do you choose what’s “Nerdvana worthy” when you come across a story?

It has to be something that I can turn around quickly, because I’m so busy these days wearing so many different hats. I don’t even really have time to attend movie screenings anymore — unless there are lightsabers involved.

We have a relative newcomer, Dustin Diehl, who reviews movies in tandem with his own blog, Pop Goes the Culture. I hooked him up with a sign-on when our website was redesigned recentlyand we lost the community-generated blogs he had been using to promote his reviews and Star Wars writing.

I’ve also managed to entangle Valley convention guru Lee Whiteside into writing for us once in a while, to give us an inside look at the thriving con scene here in the West. Every so often I can even talk my colleague Emily Whitmore into writing a post.

Tell us about one of your favorite stories on Nerdvana. Anything stand out?

“Can You Dig It? Top 10 Archaeologists In Sci-Fi” is one of my favorites – I want to do more like that, if I can find the time.

I have a love-hate relationship with this post from two years ago that still gets an insane amount of traffic.

I love writing about Doctor Who, but sometimes it feels like I’m just doing that for myself. And it’s always fun to geek out about the goofy Star Wars Expanded Universe!

What kind of geek would you describe yourself as?

I was big into D&D when I was a kid, and my cousin got the Red Box for his birthday. Guess what I then got for my next birthday? I haven’t got nearly as much play in as I’d like, though I own parts of each edition. But I love world-building and the lore you find in campaign settings and monster manuals.

I grew up on Star Wars action figures and Star Trek reruns, with a healthy (?) dose of G.I. JOE and DuckTales (woo-hoo!).

I love a little bit of everything. I like comics, but I’m a bit of a dillettante in that area. Nerdvana really depended on the comics knowledge of co-founder Scott Kirchhofer and, later, Chris “KeL” Adams, both of whom have left the Tribune and moved on. I would love for another real comics nerd to come along and blog for Nerdvana — but I can only pay them in adulation!

I need to thank Jayson for not only being willing to be spotlighted, but for being such a great Lightning Octopus supporter.

You can follow Jayson on Twitter, Facebook, and Nerdvana itself.