Reflections on Fan Expo Vancouver 2017

16 Nov

215d2-fanexpovancouverBy Ed Sum (The Vintage Tempest)

The variety of nerdy interests represented at Fan Expo Vancouver every year will differ. They have certainly become the crossroads of where all kinds of pop culture can converge, hence the X in their #FXV hashtag. While previous shows may feel more jam-packed than recent, this year’s event only affirms what I suspected from 2016 — this local event is getting connected with various television productions which film around the Lower Mainland of British Columbia. This event is settling into a groove most will approve and I can only imagine it will get better. Although years away, I’m sure the organizers will have something grand planned when year ten hits. But that’s four years away.

This festival moved from April to November two years ago, making the expense of staying at hotels a touch better during the offseason and offering to both exhibitors and fans a chance to rest before setting up for the next show. Epic Photo Ops deserves special mention for effectively managing the lineups for those seeking a memento with their favourite group of (or with a particular) performer.

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Grant Gustin does not appear at many conventions so those hoping to meet him will have to do so at this show. As The Flash in The CW‘s flagship show, I can imagine he’s not easy to meet. To see both him and the entire STAR labs team (minus Jesse L. Martin) on stage is usually a San Diego Comic Con Hall H scale event, and fans of the show got it at Fan Expo in Vancouver, BC Canada! This panel was packed, and anyone there saw the sweet chemistry he has with Candice Patton in real life too. The star of this panel, however, was Zoe Patton, a cute canine which no doubt won many hearts. Viewers who saw this week’s episode, “When Harry met Harry,” got to understand what the Council of Wells was about, and Tom Cavanagh talked about how this segment was pieced together.

When considering the number of television and film productions going on in this corner of the world, folks hoping for a celebrity sighting will find attending this event better than to wait during a film/television shoot. A chance to interact with a star is never guaranteed when the set is a workplace. From the massive list of CW comic book based shows (Riverdale, Arrow, The Flash, Legends of Tomorrow, Supergirl and iZombie) to movies like Deadpool 2 — which ended production the month before — just who will attend are decided months before. Attendees will have to hope there are no sudden changes the week before due to work (or family, like Stephen Amell had) obligations coming up last-minute. I’m sure there were attendees hoping to spot Ryan Reynolds or Kevin Smith (who did appear in 2016).

But to have an opportunity to meet a huge celebrity is not what defines these shows. Other talents include the writers and artists behind that comic book or a voice over maestro. The organizers do a remarkable job at knowing who to bring back like Veronica Taylor, the original voice of Ash Ketchum of Pokemon, and which talents to spotlight. Mike Zeck is best known for Marvel Comic’s Secret Wars and be the first to put the black costume on Spider-Man. John Beatty, the inker for these issues was also in attendance. Zeck also worked on Kraven’s Last Hunt (Amazing Spider-Man). This year had three talents who worked on Archie Comics (Dan Parent, Gisèle Lagacé and Fernando Ruiz) since CW’s Riverdale is helping to bring this brand back to the fore.

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New to this year is the Traveller’s Bazaar which offered Steampunk styled goods and panels to discuss what this subgenre is about. When considering their section was right next to the photo ops section, anyone who wanted to know more was able to ask what this is about instead of heading to the second floor where panel discussions were held. This type of strategic planning in where to place exhibitors is important, especially when considering not every nerd is aware of this subculture.

On the exhibitor side, the show floor requires at least half a day to truly explore. Regulars like Imperial Hobbies and Toy Traders are always welcome to see when considering it’s not easy to get to their warehouse operations. Others like Jigglypig and Metropolis Comics do not define this show as I see them at every convention I’ve been to. Although, I did notice Tower of Shirts and the LEGO group were not present this year.

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Playstation (Sony) is a regular presence and Electronic Arts were recruiting beta testers as usual. I like to see this game company do more, but their resources must be limited. Perhaps do not want to play favourites with which console to spotlight. They missed an opportunity to not show off Battlefront II, due out November 17th, at this event. On the other side of this gaming spectrum, Synnex Corporation and Kingston’s HyperX brand was showing off the latest in computer technology peripherals.

Virtual reality gaming demos were available at more tables than usual, and playing Doom VR certainly had me testing my shooting skills and wishing this product was a room scale game than a sit down one. To offer this on the show floor can be problematical, but there was plenty of space on the second floor. Getting used to the look and click interface to move around will take time because it goes against how virtual reality should work. Maybe one year, some vendor will bring in those roll cages or introduce a tech like in Pacific Rim to let players truly navigate around.

23405870_10212928024327843_7565698980715116980_o (1)This demo does show how personal a game can get, as it had me nervously looking around a few times since I was not fast with my trigger finger to find those monsters!

To shuffle between here and the main ballroom was relatively quick. When leaving the latter, especially after a popular panel, to get back to the exhibit space requires someone to manage traffic. I much prefer the west building and the exercise to get back inside than the east. During the wet months of Autumn, I can understand wanting to keep as much of this show indoors, but eventually, as this event grows, to section off the hallway so people can navigate better will have to be looked at.

As a regular to this exposition, I find this event is a great one to regularly attend. The event organizers are settling into a niche which I highly approve of and can not wait to see them expand upon. Next year will most likely see more talents from CW’s Supergirl and Riverdale swing by, even if it’s just for a day.

I was very happy to be able to walk around and converse with vendors and the many talents (when there’s no big lineup) who were present. This aspect has been consistent throughout the years I have been attending. When they are very accommodating to nerds like me who revisits more than thrice because I’m really drawn to their work (props to Gisèle Lagacé, Henry “The Fonz” Winkler and Jive Communications for their patience), all I have to say is thank you, Namaste and we shall dance again!

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