By Ed Sum (The Vintage Tempest)
On November 9-11, Fan Expo Vancouver (FEV) 2017 is looking almost exactly like 2016, but with a slightly different guest lineup from CW’s group of superhero shows. For fans wanting an event to meet their favourite television heroes, this fact is good. The latest crop of guest announcements includes Grant Gustin, Stephen Amell, David Ramsey, Neal McDonough, Paul Blackthorne and Caity Lotz.
For others craving diversity year after year, there’s always Emerald City Comic Con (ECCC) in March. Given the distance, to travel there is easy. The expense is not. I usually attend both. For FEV, I’ll be there because of The Fonz! Yes, I love Henry Winkler and all he’s done in the entertainment industry.
As for what’s in store for this upcoming event, I offer my look back at last year’s show. This article was first printed in Absolute Underground Magazine:
Fan Expo Vancouver 2016, A Retrospective
Fan Expo Vancouver (FEV) can almost be called The CW Exposition. When bigger name cancellations occurred days before, the remaining guests were the spotlight. John Barrowman, Tom Felton, Tom Cavanagh, Candice Patton, David Ramsey, Alex Kingston and Neal McDonough are half of the names that appeared at this event. They appeared on CW’s The Arrow, The Flash or Legends of Tomorrow. Other talents included Christopher Lloyd (Back to the Future), Dean Cain (Lois & Clark), Paul McGillion (Stargate Atlantis) and D.B. Woodside (Lucifer). For comic book aficionados, Bruce Timm (Batman: The Animated Series) and Jae Lee (Superman/Batman) are just but a sampling of the many artistic talents who appeared at this show.
According to Dan Parent (cover artist for Archie), he’s here for the people of Vancouver and said, “I’ve done this show before. It’s a busy and fun show. That’s why I’m back.”
Even the multi-talented guru of the pop culture scene, Kevin Smith, talked about how he has made this city his home. In “An Evening with Kevin Smith” on Saturday night, he talked about his early life, his time with dad and his early days in this city, when he moved here to learn how to be a filmmaker. He recalled his past as a freshman and he talked about the best of times and worst of times. He also entertained the crowd by talking about how he managed to get his bud, Jason Mewes, into most of his projects. By the end, Smith had inspiring words for everyone to hear — never give up on your dreams.
Fan Expo Vancouver is not just about meeting huge celebrity names. Comic books and the artist alley shared an equal amount of space along with the retailers and exhibitors. The highlight was with Warner Brothers Interactive Entertainment demoing Batman: Arkham VR and LEGO Dimensions. Star Wars: Rogue One was hard not to miss with the recruitment booth to get a photo op at and Yogibo (all nerds need comfy support to rest their weary bodies) was situated nearly at perfect center of the convention space for those needing a moment to rest.
But that did not stop this weary reporter from checking out the independent creators and coming back to chat. Andrew Burke is the founder/writer of this Zombie Robot Comics, and their flagship title is Ultraterrestrial. The story is set in the Pacific Northwest, on Olympic Island, where aliens have come to this planet through portals to terrorize a small town. With only a sheriff and deputy available to deal with this invasion, trying to repel them is tough. This creator says his influence comes from the all that ol’ sci-fi, X-Files kind of stuff (aliens, ufos and bigfoot) he loved from the 80’s and 90’s. “I decided to do comics revolving around those Unsolved Mysteries,” said Burke.
His company’s newest title is Starfighter, which focuses more on space exploration and includes something from the Roswell legend to make “it” work.
Another operation is Arcana Studios. This company produces more than just comics. With TV programs like Kagagi: The Raven now available online at APTN to view and feature-length films, especially Howard Lovecraft and the Frozen Kingdom being distributed by Shout! Factory, their future is bright. [update: my hopes the next film, Undersea Kingdom will release just in time for the 2017 show!]
The original book was recently reprinted and the compilation, Three Kingdoms, is still in print despite what some comic book retailers (using selective distributors) are saying. As for why Howie is getting lots of love is because Michelle O’Rielly, co-owner of Arcana, said both she and her husband, Sean, wanted to give this production house a bit of rebrand, to focus more on kid-friendly content. “Everyone loves H.P. Lovecraft but he’s not very kid-friendly so we made our own version that’s suitable for younger audiences,” revealed O’Reilly.
While some attendees may complain about the odd problem with Fan Expo Vancouver (the anime component felt a world apart), they are trivial when compared to larger events with logistics problems to keep lines moving with their vast lineup of stars.
Brian Stelfreeze (Black Panther) is a very popular and respected artist; waiting to chat with him was not all that long during the times I passed by his booth. He’s been to many conventions all over the world and says FEV is a really cool event to be at. Like many other artists, to interact with the fans is what is appealing, and he finds it’s the fans that make the show truly successful or not. “The way I see the way it all comes together is absolutely incredible. That’s one of the things I really enjoy about attending,” said Stelfreeze.