First Fan Expo Vancouver a sell-out success

By Shawn Conner

In Seattle, the Emerald City Comicon just reached its tenth year. In Portland this weekend, the Stumptown Comics Fest is going into its eighth. In Vancouver, we just had our first ever major con.

Organized by the same people who hold Fan Expo Canada in Toronto (over 80,000 people last year), Fan Expo Vancouver took over the Vancouver Convention Centre last weekend (April 21-22). It was long overdue.

Some great Batgirls at Fan Expo Vancouver (Photo by Ryan Ingram)

Sure, we have comic cons every six weeks or so, and the annual event VCON is the Pacific Northwest’s longest-running sci-fi convention. But the one-day comic cons bring out a few hundred people and VCON brought out just over 600 last year. For Fan Expo Vancouver, a publicist for organizer Hobby Star Marketing estimates that about 20,000 people passed through the convention centre doors. On the first day, they were turning people away.

This is all the more impressive when you consider that some of the biggest names included Adam West (‘60s Batman), Lou Ferrigno (‘70s Hulk), and Kevin Sorbo (‘90s Hercules). The ‘60s Batmobile was there, and actress Rachel Nichols (Conan, Star Trek) appeared on a panel for Continuum (a Vancouver-shot and set TV series debuting in Canada – not sure about the U.S. – at the end of May). Then again, apparently Hobby Star didn’t sign on the dotted line until two months ago, which didn’t give them a lot of time to book in-demand stars for an untried con.

Our Artists Alley, however, rocked. It included several artists and writers for Bongo Comics (The Simpsons, Futurama), all based in Vancouver, who also did a Sunday morning panel, Springfield North. Other local talent such as Emily Carroll, Camilla D’Errico, Rebecca Dart, Brandon Graham and James Stokoe also manned tables and talked to fans. Writer Greg Rucka (Stumptown) came up from Portland, and some big-name Marvel artists and writers, including Stuart Immonen, Esad Ribic, Tim Bradstreet, Tony Daniel and Len Wein, came out as well.

I’m happy to say that Vancouver was no slouch in the costume department, either. There were the usual Stormtroopers, of course (do these guys work every convention?) as well as a contingent from the Vancouver chapter of Ghostbusters. Batman, Batgirl and the X-Men were well-represented. One of the best outfits I saw was a Daenerys Targaryen (Game of Thrones), complete with sewn-on (or glued-on) dragons.

Amazing Daenerys Targaryen Cosplay (Photo by Jade Dempsey)

As a long-time comics fan and Vancouver resident, I was quite proud of my city for supporting something of this size and geekiness. There are a few kinks to be ironed out, as would be expected for a new con. But by most measures the two-day event was a success, and I’m looking forward next year’s. And next time, I’ll wear a costume.

Shawn Conner is a Vancouver-based freelance journalist and the publisher/editor of The Snipe News, a comics/science fiction/fantasy/horror e-magazine:


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