By Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)
Fan Expo Vancouver (FXV) is eight years old! This event began in 2012 and over the years saw plenty of ups and downs. It shifted from a February event to November, and now it’s back in its mainstay of late Winter. The latest event took place a few weeks ago, during this province’s Family Day last month and attendance was quite good. Pairing this event with a long weekend felt good, and to have this event run from Saturday to Monday may seem unusual to some, but it’ll become a norm for this event’s future. Children and parents had a place to play in! A corner was sectioned off for young wizards to sort Harry Potter style. There were bouncy balls and even a small area for costumed tykes to show off their best superhero pose.
Ideally, the family section should be in a room of its own (cosplay contest included). When the organizers behind this show seem to be settling on using the biggest singular room possible, maximizing the space will be a challenge in the future. The huge food court area may get shrunk. Thankfully, sandwiches, doughnuts and sodas will keep attendees appetites sated. Wild Bill’s Old Fashioned Soda is looking to make a dent in the convention scene with its flavourful root beers. I couldn’t resist and picked up a souvenir cup ($40) which was freely refillable for a day. For $5 on other days, I could remain on a carbonated high. However, for those wanting something more hearty have restaurants outside the convention center to eat in, like the Tap & Barrel. Since this space stretches out to cover both stages on opposite ends, the choice is sound for those not needing a good seat for the panels offered.
Meeting comic creators in a pop culture expo is always a highlight. To name a few of the most well known talents, Todd McFarlene (creator of Spawn), Art Adams (Longshot), Michael Golden (The Micronauts), and Mike Grell (Green Arrow) appeared. McFarlene was only here for a day and he was the most popular! He signed comics (2 only) for free and truly spent time interacting with his many fans. It was a pleasure to learn McFarlene has not forgotten his Vancouver Island roots (where his family lives now) and visits on occasion. Previous years had wonderful talents which also included Bruce Timm! I felt sad that the table given to him was next to the 501st Legion, so he did not get the foot traffic he truly deserved. The variety changes every year, and some talents enjoy returning to the Pacific Northwest (they have booths at Emerald City Comic Con too).
Overall, the vibe is very different when compared to past shows. This year, new sponsors came on board. London Drugs is gone and I think this decision is for the best. Although I miss LEGO, I understand the marketing perspective of when they don’t have a new product to sell, there’s no point in being present. Hewlett Packard is gone in favour of local reps MSI and The Gaming Stadium for proper representation of e-sports. Even to my surprise was space for SHUX, a board game convention which takes place in October. This year, Fan Expo Vancouver offered pretty much everything this city has in fandom in its various aspects.
Representation from nearly all the past television shows and present was generally well received. They had Madelaine Petsch from Riverdale. From Star Trek: The Next Generation, Marina Sirtis and LeVar Burton made appearances. There was even Oscar Nuñez and Brian Baumgartner from The Office. Giancarlo Esposito from The Mandalorian was perhaps the biggest surprise, and he offered hints at what’s to come for season two. Most of that information has been speculated on, and we will learn how his character obtained the Dark Saber! He said filming is done and now in post-production; perhaps a tease will be ready in time for San Diego Comic Con!
Nearly a third of the cast from The Flash and Battlestar Galactica were present during the three days. Lineups to meet the stars were modest. Some seemed to have struggled, almost suggesting X-Files is past its prime but that did not deter talents like Nicolas Lea, Mitch Pileggi and William B. Davis from sitting back and seeing what the fandom is like now when compared to when their shows were really popular.
One convention attendee I spoke to said that when film/tv crew also attends these events, they would rather see other talents who are not local. They can see and talk to them when at work, mostly in technical matters of recording, and I can see their point. I’m impartial, since I’m still waiting for more Stargate to appear in non-Creation Con shows. Not everyone can afford the “higher costs” of tiered seating just to see and meet their favourite actors/actresses. FXV teased fans last year with stars from Stargate: Universe, but to get the SG-1 crew may be tough. Richard Dean Anderson is a family man now. Amanda Tapping is working hard behind the scenes, directing a lot of fan favourites in Vancouver. Michael Shanks and Lexa Doig have their respective shows to be in, and as for where Teryl Rothery is, her work in the new Nancy Drew series will eventually bring her back. These days, Christopher Judge is lending his voice to the cartoon world.
Local television personality Thor Diakow served as host for the panels with the celebrities. He asked a few what are you doing now type questions before turning the remainder of the time to the lineups by the microphone. Nothing new could be gleaned about the latest projects, but one big plug was definitely with Brendan Fraser and Tom Welling‘s The Professional. It’s described as A-Team meets Oceans 11. Of the two, Welling was very personable and a fun spirited, enjoying the show. Fraser was in top form with his humour on stage. Fans remember him more for his early career and I’m sure he wants his current projects to be in the forefront. He doesn’t want to be typecast and nobody can blame him!
Bruce Campbell returns to Fan Expo Van with really nothing to promote this time around, and fans loved him still the same. Corey Feldman is still a dream and Chandler Riggs of Walking Dead fame has really grown up! Hearing Jesse Rath talk about getting the role of Brainiac V was the panel I had to investigate for Monday. A surprise appearance by Nicole Maines (Nia) made a lot of fans happy, and I knew there was a reason I had to be present for this day!
To note, the tenth anniversary is not that far away! As whether something big will take place or not, the organizers have not made an official statement. All I can hope for is complete use of a building rather than just one space in the building.