Just Like Bender from Futurama, Fan Expo Vancouver is back!
The event showed no signs of operating at half capacity since a few days prior, the latest health protocols said it was okay to be at capacity. I firmly believe the organisers got lucky. Plus, entry to the event was perfectly handled and there was enough staff throughout the day. You walked in, showed your vaccine card and id, and you’re in. There was no bottleneck. All that was asked for is for everyone to continue wearing a face mask. Travellers from afar were enjoying other events this city offered and were unaware this event was happening. I chatted with a few who were curious about the cosplayers walking around the inlet.
The team behind this event were certainly cautious in how much should be spent advertising because all I saw around town were ads on poster cylinders. I can’t speak for newspaper or television since I didn’t look, but I feel that’s needed as this part of the world is getting back to normal and leaving the pandemic behind.
Even though there were overlaps with panels and when I had to be present for a photo op, there was plenty to see and do. I enjoyed chatting with the talents in Artists’ Alley and when there were no lineups for the celebrities, got to talk to them. Like previous years, there’s always going to be some kind of representation with the locally made television shows, namely Legends of Tomorrow, and this aspect is always appreciated. This year, it was about the latest, Superman and Lois.
I missed the panel with the entire Kent family since I was in line waiting for my photo-op with the lovely Ming-Na Wen. That kind of planning is tough to avoid, so I went with the flow. Later in the day, when it was just photos with Superman himself, Tyler Hoechlin, I was pleased to see that he didn’t want plexiglass in the photo. I got a great picture memento with him to make this year a treat.
In what made this year’s event unique was in the representation of this iconic character. We had Erica Durance and Tom Welling together again. Even after many years Smallville has been off the air, they can still charm. What they talked about was in how nervous Erica was when trying to fit into Lois Lane’s shoes, becoming a director herself (with Saving Hope), and how they still stayed in touch. The best news out of that panel is in Welling mentioning how this series is likely to continue. Their appearance when Crisis on Infinite Earths aired apparently whetted the appetite of many. There’s an animated series in development and pretty much everyone is on board to return to voice their respective characters!
This year was different because instead of just having one paranormal organisation talk about what they do, there were at least four! They had to operate in the lower mainland, and instead of lumping them all together, The Vancouver Paranormal Society, Cornerstone Paranormal and Ghostly Vancouver Tours had two independent presentations! I would’ve gone to those, but deep down, I knew what’s presented wouldn’t be anything new since I’ve had more than my share of experiences when investigating with PARAVI and independently. I’d have to go to a dedicated event for that myself, but for the curious, it’s a way to be introduced to what investigative groups do rather than watch it on television.
It was very busy on Saturday and as some guests were unable to attend for all three days, the decline was noticeable but not detrimental.
In terms of the guest lineup, the big two were William Shatner and Ming-Na Wen on Saturday. As one captain of the Enterprise, the love for James T. Kirk was very clear. But these days, I see him as the man who wants to do it all. From going into space himself to hosting explorations of the mind and spirit with The UnXplained and appearing in Ancient Aliens, I don’t think he’s missing a beat. Instead of slowing down, he’s out to find answers to the greatest mysteries. Although he hasn’t found them yet, the greatest frontier he will have to face is his own mortality—to which I think he’s fully prepared for. He took to stage for Saturday and Sunday to expound on all he’s experienced, and it’s a thrill to hear him speak.
The voice over talents, the Trailer Park boys and Clerks gang (minus Jay and Silent Bob) deserve high praise for being present for all three days of the event. Saturday and Sunday were the busiest because there were more talents present, including the charming Teryl Rothery. I had a moment to chat with her about her past work in cartoons, and she revealed it’s tough to keep track of all those voices she’s done in the past. Not everyone remembers her as Kodachi Kuno from Ranma ½ or A-ko from Project A-ko from when anime was just getting started in the 90s. A lot has changed since, including where the dubbing work is done. It’s not always Ocean Studios or done in Vancouver. This actress also does spirit guide work, and she explained what she does is more intuitive based when compared to other styles, which involves connecting with animal spirits or is psi-based.
Billy West‘s panel was one part memoir and many parts answering fan’s questions. The best includes how to approach getting into the voice over industry. It’s tough, and it all boils down to being yourself. This talent didn’t talk about John DiMaggio‘s issues with Hulu in the upcoming revival. The first table reads are done, and he hopes his friend will find that pen to sign on the dotted line. The good news is that he’s back!
In the meantime, West mentioned that he’s working on a book. No date was announced, but I’m sure it’s going to be a fascinating read since it’ll go into greater depth of his childhood and how he used voice-over to overcome his difficult times in life.
I can’t wait to see how the organisers plan to regrow the event. Although the show did not expand out beyond its usual space, it’ll one day happen. It needs the support of the local industry to help finance the renting out of the entire building. I don’t blame them for sticking to one space, but when crowds become as thick as pea soup, they’ll have to consider spreading out.
As for what’s next, it‘s safe to say they’ll be back next year during BC Family Day. I was pleased that it wasn’t competing with another event upstairs and all I can hope for is to see the city embrace this event like in Calgary, complete with a parade.