Denver Comic Con 2017 has ended and I am very happy to report that my panel, Bridging The Expanse, was a success. Before I describe the experience, I want to give a heartfelt ‘Thank You’ to Cas Anvar, who plays Alex Kamal on The Expanse, for his video introduction for our panel. The audience loved him! I also want to thank Hallie Lambert, a writer on The Expanse, for coordinating with Cas to make his video introduction possible. Thank you, Cas and Hallie! I also want to thank my fellow panel members for all their hard work and contribution to making this a successful panel. It was a team effort.
Weeks before the convention, I remained in contact with Alexis Reed, the Denver Comic Con Sci-Fi Programming Coordinator, and Liz Jaite, the Programming Manager. Both Alexis and Liz were quick to respond to any questions or concerns I had. They provided detailed instructions and maps for us regarding where and when to secure our badges. I would like to thank them for all of their help.
The day of the presentation, I arrived early to pick up my badge and to have time to deal with any last-minute issues. I am glad that I did this, as there was additional security getting into the convention center in the aftermath of the incident at Phoenix Comic Con. Since I was the first of our panel members to pick up their badge, I tweeted everyone regarding the changed procedures for entering the convention center.
During the day, I remained in contact with my fellow panelists. For some of the panelists, this was their first con and they had a great time! Denver Comic Con was even bigger and better than last year.
Just prior to the time our panel was scheduled to start, I met with all of the panelists outside of the room to go over our presentation one last time. While we were reviewing our presentation, we discovered that a line had formed to see our panel. I want to put this in perspective. Our panel was the last panel in Room 605 after an exhausting day of great panels. The Expanse fans were waiting in line for a seat to attend our panel! I can honestly say that this really energized us to give the best possible panel. The enthusiasm of the fans was contagious.
Our time came and we were ready to start. Our panel consisted of the following people:
Michael Pea-Staff writer for Friends of CC and an über fan of The Expanse.
Rachel Lara Watson – Ph.D. student studying Media Studies at the University of Colorado Boulder. But she spends the rest of her time thinking about outer space. Here is her blogsite. www.highandlowblog.com
D. Ashley Campbell – Ph.D. student studying Media Studies at the University of Colorado Boulder. Her blog site is http://www.datcampbell.com/
Darius Rydahl – Electrical engineer who is new to The Expanse fandom.
Dr. Andrea Bruder – Associate Professor of mathematics at Colorado College and a recent fan of The Expanse.
We had a few technical problems with the equipment, which we solved, and the panel started. The audience loved our special introduction from Cas Anvar! From there, we introduced ourselves and I gave a quick primer on the “Geniuses behind the Scenes.” We had a special prize for a fan, Cody Kerr, who had read all of the books, novellas, and comic books. He was awarded a coffee cup with an OPA (Outer Planet Alliance) insignia on it.
At this point we began a discussion of the show. We started with each panelist identifying their favorite character. We then asked the audience to identify their favorite character and why they chose the character as their favorite. There was considerable discussion about Amos Burton, the Rocinante’s mechanic.
Our conversation about Amos led to an incredibly rewarding moment for our panel. We were discussing whether or not Amos Burton, a major character in The Expanse, was on the autism scale. We had reached the conclusion that he was on the scale when one the of audience members raised their hand. He related how he understood Amos, because he is on the autism scale and recognized some of the same qualities in Amos. We felt honored that he felt comfortable enough to tell us this fact; but, more importantly, that he had shared something very personal with us and that the panel had provided him the opportunity. Moments like this make all the work worthwhile.
After discussing the characters, we asked the audience to identify their favorite episode. The audience and the panel identified several episodes but there was consensus that Home and Paradigm Shift were among the best. We ended the panel with questions we want answered in season three.
In talking with the panel members after the panel, we all agreed that we had enjoyed taking part in the panel. The audience was fully engaged during the entire course of our presentation and discussion. The audience demonstrated a remarkable knowledge of the show and characters as well as a love for the show and characters. I would like thank them for making us their last stop of the day at Denver Comic Con.
Now, I want to share a few lessons I learned about hosting panels.
- Have a presentation (don’t just wing it). Visual aids make a panel more interesting.
- Always test your equipment with the equipment at your venue.
- Have a backup plan. If you need a computer, make sure you have a second backup computer or thumb drive with your presentation on it. If your computer is a PC, have the backup be a Mac. There were compatibility issues with my PC.
- If you have a video presentation which requires an internet connection, try to download the video to your computer or add it directly to your presentation, in case there is not an internet connection.
- Practice with your fellow panelists.
- Ask for help if you need it.
- Stay in contact with the sponsoring Con as situations constantly change.
I truly enjoyed hosting the fan panel. It was a lot of work by a lot of people but it paid off. Both the audience and the panel had a great time. In fact, one person in the audience asked to be on the panel next year. If The Expanse is renewed for another season, then I definitely plan to host another fan panel in the future.
Did you attend this panel? Please share your experience on the FoCC forum by clicking here.