2019 Fan Expo Vancouver Report, Takeaways & What’s Next for this Show?

11 Mar

img_8687.jpgBy Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)

Fan Expo Vancouver made the shift from November to March and the change was certainly noticeable. Most industry observers believe they want to challenge Emerald City Comic Con, which takes place two weeks later, and others were hard pressed in which show to support. Next year’s event will be held February 15-17 giving room for all events to share the busy late Winter schedule. One thing that I learned is with some of the exclusives, especially the comic books, are simply reprinted material from previous year’s offerings. A lot of people were asking every time I passed by the merchandise table, and not every member of the staff knew. Though they have slightly different covers, the content is the same.

Unconfirmed reports suggest lower than usual attendance on Saturday. I found navigating through the crowds easy and welcomed the smaller crowds. The event had a steady flow of people throughout the day. I liked the new layout. There were a larger food court area and the main stage was visible upon entry. Those who wanted to be at the big celebrity Q&As did not have to walk far. Two smaller stages were positioned at opposite ends, making noise levels reasonable, but one did have to compete against the main. The types of panels offered ranged from mostly meetups to sketch-duels. Very little industry material existed and I was very thankful for the information from Conor McCreery (Kill Shakespeare) offered for those interested in working in the comic book industry.

It’s tough to beat the year Kevin Smith was here. Vancouver fans loved him. The 2016 show had more panels than I can remember and it did take up parts of the main and the second floor. Not only did it have more corporate exhibitors but also it was in the East Building.

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Lightsabers ahoy!

Missing this year was Sony Entertainment, Warner Brothers Entertainment and LEGO. An unofficial rep (A London Drugs employee) said when there’s no new product to exhibit, it’s not likely any company will have a convention presence. I miss LEGO and understand why they are no longer a presence. They have Ninjago as their primary exclusive product to carry this brand forward. All others are tied to subcontracts with Disney or elsewhere.

At least Beat Saber had the spotlight on the PS4. Confirmed are three expansion music packs. No dates were given for this release.

The spotlight panels were the main draw and it was standing room only when Billy Dee Williams hit the stage. He could not say anything about his coming appearance in Star Wars: Episode 9. So he chatted about his other work instead and how nobody can replace that suave demeanour when he is Lando Calrissian. He talked a bit about his role as Two-Face in Tim Burton’s Batman, but in what I particularly enjoyed is in the fact no other voice over talent can recreate what he has done in the animated and video game front. From Freemaker Adventures to Detours (this dead project received renewed interest last year), he is Lando! When at home, he can be heard singing to many a Jazz classic, and sadly, no album is being considered.

IMG_8748 George Takei

Overjoyed is hardly the word here to describe George Takei.

On Saturday, George Takei took command and took the time to thank everyone who was there late morning. He talked about his upcoming role in AMC’s supernaturally charged show, The Terror. The next season is very close to him as it deals with World War 2 and the American treatment of Japanese-Americans. He was brought on as a consultant to the series and the producers saw more and offered him a role. The panel would later cover his other work and was Q&A for the latter half. He revealed next season will broadcast late Summer 2019.

IMG_8737 Sean Pertwee and Ed

Meeting Sean Pertwee!

From Fox TV’s series, Gotham, some information was offered in what’s coming. It was mostly fun banter between young Bruce and Alfred (David Mazouz and Sean Pertwee). To see the two interact when out of set shows how close this family has become. I got to chat with Sean afterwards about his other work. With most of his family performers, he never thought of being the son of Jon (Doctor Who) as anything bigger until he was in school. Plus, I knew I had to get a selfie for my journals.

One takeaway from the panel is when Pertwee mentioned a movie in the Gotham-verse is in development. Nerdy Curiosities confirmed this with a live tweet. No details can be offered as it would mean Batman hushing him for good.

The love for DreamWorks Voltron Legendary Defender made up for what I missed last year at Emerald City. The panel was a Q&A with Josh Keaton and Kimberly Brooks. They talked about what the series meant to them, and the excellent writing in making their characters special. Sadly, any recording was prohibited and I have to go by memory in what was said during their panel. A lot was said about how the writing is miles ahead of other shows made this animation special. The fact Shiro is gay puts this show light years ahead for its support of LGBTQ.

Allura’s sacrifice was certainly needed and a lot of time was spent discussing this. No plans exist for continuing side stories or anything, which was my question to them. I doubt these cats are willing to be put down. Brooks would love for it to happen and Keaton is pessimistic. Show creators have a start and end in mind than to stretch it out. For these two, their next stop is at the Calgary Expo. The good news is that the entire team will be at Fan Expo Canada in late August.

IMG_8727 Kimberly and Josh

Kimberly Brooks (left) and Josh Keaton (right)

Meeting Brooks was particularly special for me since I am just as much of a Scooby-Doo fan as Voltron. She confirmed that she and fellow Hex Girls co-stars Jennifer Hale and Jane Wiedlin would love to have their own spinoff show. But that’s ultimately up to Warner Brothers Animation to decide. I developed a fondness for their bubblegum style music, and believe they can solve mysteries too! She teased at the band’s return in a new Scooby-Doo project and is pumped at the fact that DC Super Hero Girls is continuing as a television series. All the regulars from the web series are back, and Lauren Faust is showrunning.  The show just started broadcasting, and for fans who wanted to meet more strong female role models, this show offered to Disney enthusiasts a chance to meet actresses Linda Larkin (Alladin) and Paige O’Hara (Beauty and the Beast).

I sense Fan Expo Vancouver will continue bringing in positive role models for all to meet. To see families in attendance is telling Informa Exhibitions (the parent company) to keep it up! While this west coast show had a few downs throughout the years with certain companies dropping out, I feel they will find its niche by year ten. Back when this show started in 2012, by Hobby Star Marketing (1) instead of Informa, the excitement was lukewarm. This event was hit hard when Rue Morgue announced they will no longer be part of the show.

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To see this event bring talents from productions locally filmed is helping make this show different from others. Vancouver, BC is a hotbed of many a production, ranging from The CW Network‘s nerd block to many a work from Bardel Entertainment. With The Flash, Legends of Tomorrow and Riverdale having a strong following, a lot of people were present. With Arrow recently announced as being the last season, perhaps some of the cast will migrate over to these other shows as momentum for the next crossover, Crisis of Infinite Earths, builds.

Only time will tell on what’s to will happen in the Arrowverse. Continuing the trend from previous years is a visit from a performer who appeared on Stargate SG-1, Atlantis or Universe. This series did a lot to define this city in the world of pop culture fandom. Last year had Joe Flanigan, Jason Momoa and Alaina Huffman. This year had Teryl Rothery. Could an SG-1 reunion be in store for Fan Expo Vancouver? This downtown-based convention is affordable (Sorry Gatecon, but you’re just too expensive) and I would love to see this happen.

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