While some may just see it as the September long weekend, we nerds see it as one of the biggest events of the year: Fan Expo. A four day convention packed full of celebrity interaction, new gaming releases, rare comic book sales, cosplay parties, and countless vendors of art to add to your fan-art wall. (You have a fan-art wall, right? If you don’t, why are you still reading this? You know what you should be doing right now.)
A couple of us Canadian reps here at The Game of Nerds had the opportunity to attend this awesome con. Here are our favourite highlights!
Fan Expo 2016 marks the final appearance of dynamic Batman duo Adam West and Burt Ward. Fans were excited and often emotional to see the actors who brought Batman and Robin to life, but they had nothing on the die-hard Stan Lee fans. Stan Lee, 93 year-old comic book legend announced that Fanexpo 2016 would be his final Canadian show, and fans trekked across the nation just to lay eyes on the father of all things Marvel. The Stan Lee Zone acted as a shrine where fans could bask in his amazingness and buy merch.
Day 1 may have been the shortest, but that in no way stopped the nerdiness from kicking off at full force! Whether it be a group Lego project or a D&D meetup, there’s something for everyone there, so much exploration was had by all. The Artist Alley opened, filled with all things geek you could think of for your collection(s).
The main event on Thursday for most was the first of two appearances over the weekend by the one and only Stan Lee.
The excitement in the air is contagious by the evening, for what is to come over the next few days filled with geekery for all.
Friday, Day 2 of the event of nerd paradise, featured a number of celebrity panels, including Adam West and Burt Ward, Christpher Lloyd (”Doc Brown” himself!), Doctor Who’s Alex Kingston and Michelle Gomez, Firefly’s Jewel Staite, and Star Trek’s own William Shatner.
Crowds continued to grow, and everywhere you looked there would be cosplayers (and their admirers). It also wasn’t uncommon to have a Dalek, R2-D2, or K-9 roll past you as you walked down a hallway. No big deal.
The exhibition halls and Artist Alley were bustling, filled with shoppers and lineups of folks waiting to meet their favourite artists and get their books signed. Regardless of whether they were a new fan-art creator or a seasoned comic book designer, nearly every artist was approachable and willing to take the time to chat with their fans. That equal ground between the creators and consumers made for such a friendly atmosphere all weekend long.
Saturday featured various celebrity panels, including those of John Barrowman, Gillian Anderson, and Haley Attwell; all fan-favourites. Attwell’s panel revealed new hope for Agent Carter’s future; the actress hinting at the possibility of Netflix picking the show up, while Anderson discussed the exciting (albeit brief) return of X-Files, and Barrowman briefly looked back on his Doctor Who career.
Events were plentiful; from mass photo-ops with the resident Stormtrooper legion, to various workshops deciphering the keys to comic book and cosplay artistry, but freebies were much less common. In past years, fans were given free bags, snacks, energy drink samples, buttons, the works. Very few freebies were available this year, although the Powerpuff Girls custom tote bags drew in quite a crowd.
As always, the Artist Alley was jam-packed with quirky merchandise and talented individuals ready to take commissions. The artists were friendly and knowledgeable about their respective fandoms, and all perfectly willing to take a few minutes to geek out with fellow nerds.
All-in-all, Saturday at Fanexpo was a hectic, jam-packed day of geekery; and we love it that way.
Sunday, the fourth and final day of the convention, arrived too quickly. (Time goes by exceptionally fast when you’re on “nerd standard time,” apparently.) The excitement did not stop, however, and the day was just as packed with attractions and activities as the three before.
Some of the day’s panels included Charlie Cox and Eldon Henson of Marvel’s Daredevil, Game of Thrones’s Jack Gleeson, and iconic actor/activist George Takei. Devils and direwolves and space, ohh myyyy! (See what we did there?)
As the day quickly came to a close, the halls slowly emptied as convention-goers and exhibitors alike began to clear out. One particular cosplayer, on their way out the doors, could be heard saying “Alright, time to confuse the eff out of people on public transit!” Pretty accurately sums things up.
One big nerdy family
With the rush of virtual reality games, Pokémon merchandise came back full force this year. Piplup plushies and Trainer gear was ubiquitous, and the action even included a physical Pokéstop where Trainers could refuel hype and Pokéballs. The sense of community was overwhelming; players waiting in line often shouted the names of incoming Pokémon before the phones came out and the cheering began.
That is just one example of how easily people could just ‘connect’ with each other at such an event. 100 000 is a huge number of people, and yet, in one way or another, every one of those people shared a common interest. What starts out as a “Hey, your cosplay is awesome!” in passing, could easily become a lengthy conversation revolving around favourite fandoms. Total strangers one minute could be friends the next. And that, is the awesome power of the nerd community.