This year was my first time at FanExpo (or any kind of con for that matter) and I will start off by saying that I had a great and am completely sold on the experience. I’m ready to sign up for life.
My wife, Courtney, and I attended three out of the four days of the event (Thursday, Saturday and Sunday) and enjoyed every moment. It was a weekend filled with good times and good company.
Here are some of the highlights:
On the Show Floor
The main floor of FanExpo was a bustling city of vendors and exhibitors. The broad scope of the show helps make it a great atmosphere for everyone, from the super-nerdy to the ultra-nerdy. With Gaming, Comics, Sci-Fi, Anime and Horror being represented, there really is a lot going on. And there are plenty of cosplayers on hand too, so you’ll see your fair share of Storm Troopers, Wolverines and Narutoes (Naruti?).
Here’s an awesome Pyramid Head costume from the show floor:
I couldn’t help but feel that my knowledge of Anime is shallow at best, as there were a lot of Anime costumes that I didn’t even have a clue about. Actually, maybe I should take comfort in that :P
Next to all of the big corporate booths is Artist Alley, where many independent (and very talented) artists set up booths to showcase and sell their artistic creations. This actually proved to be one of the more interesting places for us as we came across several great pieces of art that we just had to have.
One of the things I was hell-bent on finding was anything Mega Man related (which was surprisingly (or maybe unsurprisingly) difficult to find). So when I saw this print by artist Elizabeth Sherry, I had to get it:
The Light family portrait... all kinds of awesome!
Another artist of note was Ricky Kruger, who was showing off some really fantastic superhero paintings. Courtney fell in love with Ricky’s Captain America. It is one of our most prized finds of FanExpo. You can see it and more at Ricky’s website.
Ricky's an awesome dude, and deserves a million high-fives!
Fan conventions are very sycophantic gatherings, so there is never a shortage of celebrities. There were many big names on hand to see and get autographs from, but we were more interested in attending panels and walking the floor than standing in long lines for all-too-brief exchanges with celebrities. There was, however, one person on hand that Courtney couldn’t pass up the opportunity to see in person, John Waters.
We waited patiently as the line inched forward at a slow to non-existent forward pace. Courtney had a photo on hand, ready for an autograph, looking forward to catch little glimpses of his exchanges with the fans. We noted how kind and cool he was carrying himself, as expected.
We got to the front of the line, it was our turn. We walked up, got a smile and an autograph then a quick handshake and I took a few quick photographs of John Waters with Courtney. We walked away and I realized that it all happened so fast, it was a blur.
Marvel Panels: Re-invigorating my burning desire for comics
We attended a few Marvel panels (I was at two and Courtney went to four in total) and all were excellent. Getting the chance to meet comic book writers and editors provided amazing insight into the creative process (which was awesome enough). Getting information on current and upcoming storylines and series’ was cool, and it was all fascinating and occasionally hilarious (Jason Aaron is a master of deadpan humor).
The lesson I learned: It is my Canadian duty to support Alpha Flight. And I’m only too happy to step up.
Marvel Comics panelists (Left to Right): C.B. Cebulski (talent management), Axel Alonso (editor-in-chief) and Jason Aaron (writer)
Retro Gaming Lounge
One of my favorite places of FanExpo was the Retro Gaming Lounge set up on the 800 level. It was a large room with Old Computers (an Apple II and Commodore 64), Retro Consoles (NES’s, SNES’s, N64’s) and some nice rarities (a top-loading NES, an original PONG and a compact Genesis/SEGA-CD duo). There was plenty to look at and even more to play as there were stations set up and ready for Super Mario Kart, Mario Kart 64, Goldeneye and more.
There was lots of cool stuff there and I found it useful for those times I had an hour or so between panels.
We are merely passing through history. But this... this IS history!
There were some games on display, but not very many. Sony had a huge booth set up for Uncharted 3 (the multiplayer beta has been available for a while, so it wasn’t new). Microsoft had a slightly stronger showing with a booth that had Gears of War 3 and Halo: Anniversary multiplayer matches going. I watched gameplay of both (there were lengthy lines of people waiting to play) and came away with more of a desire to pick up Halo: Anniversary than I did before (as in, my interest went from “None” to “A little”). I was reminded of how much I loved the original Halo, so I may actually pick it up now.
Ubisoft was showing off Assassin’s Creed: Revelations and Rayman Origins. As an Assassin’s Creed fan, AC: Revelations is a must-by for me. It was nice to see Rayman Origins, which is a fantastic looking multiplayer platformer (the animation is top-notch!). Unfortunately, the experience was marred by Ubisoft insisting on making the demo run on a 3DTV (I’m not a lover of the current 3D ‘craze’).
The Uncharted 3 booth was pretty cool, but I'm already sold on the game so I didn't stick around too long
In Good Company
Meeting people is easy. Sometimes. FanExpo is one of those times. It is a crowded, fast-paced and sometimes stressful environment, but in the end, everyone is there for the same (or at least, very similar) reasons. It was easy to meet people and start up a conversation (you are literally constantly surrounded by conversation starters).
One of the last panels I attended on Sunday afternoon was for Brent Black (AKA Brentalfloss). Brentalfloss is a musician who performs the “…with lyrics” series, where he takes classic videogame themes and adds lyrics.
Interestingly enough, while waiting in line to get into the panel, I noticed that a few places in line in front of me was Tommy Tallarico, a videogame music composer most known for creating the music for the game Earthworm Jim and one of the founders of the Video Games Live concert series (I’ve been twice).
This turned out to be the highlight of my weekend! It was a Q&A session was hilarious, interactive and just a lot of fun. The hour flew by so quick and everyone was having such a good time, that when organizers literally drove us from the room, Brentalfloss took it to the hallway and just kept going. Afterwards, he took the time to meet everyone, one by one. It was really awesome!
Brentalfloss was full of hilarious stories. Everyone had a great time.
I had a great time at FanExpo and recommend it to anyone who has a dedicated interest in Gaming, Comics, Sci-Fi, Anime or Horror. And I highly recommend it to anyone who has an interest in many or all of those mediums/genres.
We’ll be at FanExpo 2012 for sure. But we’re also looking forward to San Diego Comic-Con and (hopefully)PAX East as well!
I don't know what took me so long...