Prologue: Sundays are always tricky; for me, they are full of coordinating the hotel check out and travel plans, buying the “last minute” things, touching base with people and, of course, the CupOTeaSDCC hangout with An Englishman in SDCC. I also need to get a feeling from the vendors and crew how the show was going, more on that later. However, Sundays can also be very enjoyable if I go into them with no huge specific plans, this Sunday was just such a day.
Freedom from plans often lead to new appreciation of different fandoms or aspects of the geek world. The key is to go where the feet lead. My schedule was free until the live CupOTeaSDCC hangout at 1pm. I had 2 booths I wanted to visit but certainly no extended plans for the day. I found myself wandering the floor at 11am, looking at the schedule, and deciding to see if I could get into the Karl Urban panel at 11:30. Granted, I am a single, so walking in and finding a good seat is very possible (even at SDCC). At about 25mins to show time, the room was half full, and I was able to get 3rd row center.
One of the first topics brought up was how many franchises Karl is involved with: i.e. Lord of the Rings, Almost Human, Star Trek. He was asked if there was any talk of him becoming involved in the Star Wars universe. “No talks so far,” but Karl did go on to say he enjoyed the grittiness of Rogue One. He went on to describe how he got the roll of Bones, saying he did not present well in the first interview but nailed the second screen test. During the test, JJ even said, “You are Bones.” Karl got a call from his agent 45 minutes later, telling him he had the gig. He reflected on the concept of ‘luck’ and said that yes, he was lucky, but it’s also true that “the more you train and invest in yourself, the more ‘luck’ you have.”
He did throw a little tidbit out regarding his role in the upcoming Thor movie; “I play a lovable rogue,” he said. He also asked folks to follow him on Dubsmash for hilarity. He impresses me as a thinking actor with a kind heart.
Time for the CupOTeaSDCC live hangout. The first half an hr of the show is devoted to Boston Comic Con (BCC).
Earlier in the day, I had posed the following question on Twitter: “Which panel should I see, John Barrowman or Image comic’s 25th year?” Folks rightly pointed out that I had seen a lot of Image comics panels but there is only one John Barrowman. I queued up at about 1:45 for a 2:30 show. I was able to get a seat 12 rows back center. The force that is John Barrowman took the stage in a Tardis dress, declaring, “This is to celebrate the gender bending Doctor Who!” John told the audience vibrant and sometimes embarrassing stories about his husband, the shows he’s worked on, the inclusiveness of his tribe, etc. No group (save younger kids) were spared from his touching, brutally honest humor.
Throughout the panel, we were treated to an onstage marriage proposal (she said yes), a pre-announcement of a new Torchwood comic book, conversations about the Face of Boe, Arrow bloopers and many other antics generally ‘R’ rated. The most notable being sabotaged while dancing in a chorus line. His understudy fed him a bottle of laxative which took effect on stage during a solo dance number. John was in a one piece white unitard. We were also treated to seeing his children on stage, who proclaimed John to be ‘normal,’ exciting and down to earth. I’ve linked an audio recording of the last half hour of John’s performance below.
Link to the audio recording – I apologize for the poor audio quality.
I was hesitant to compare this year’s convention run by FanExpo and last years convention run by a local organization. My concern was that a large commercial company would come in and wipe out the charm of the locally run organization. To some extent, that has happened. We had fewer small, low end local vendors, but 2017 still included a substantial presence of Comic Creators and vendors. The focus shifted from a small comic-con that dabbled in media guests to a convention including Comics with a defined Artist Alley and a large amount of space devoted to media talent, photo ops and signings. They were also able to bring the high-end cosplay community to the convention, which attracted a tremulous amount of cosplaying attendees. Normally I would be upset about the change but FanExpo knows its audience and does a fabulous job producing a show for all of its fans not just the folks coming for the media talent. Everyone I spoke to was happy including vendors who seemed to be doing well.
FanExpo is obviously dedicated to keeping comics in comic con’s. I did not feel pressured to buy a photo op or an autograph session. It is completely possible to do this con on the cheap end of things and just pay for the tickets to the event. A fan will still have a wonderful time. I defy fans of comics or media guests to not be tempted though. The roster of talent is deep but there are free opportunities to see the talent in addition to the paid events.
Long time followers of mine will know that my pet issue is line and people management. In general, without participating in all the lines, FanExpo gets an A- for managing the amount of people and the lines. I subtracted a half graded due to the entrance to the show floor. When attendees first get to the floor it was like being dumped into the middle of the floor into a random isle. There needed to be a reasonable space to pause, get the map out & take it all in. In the scope of everything FanExpo did right, this is a minor point.
Readers may have noticed my trend of listing when I got into line for the Main Stage and the respective seat I was able to get. I was consistently impressed by the main stage folks. They did a great job of keeping us informed & generally watched out after the folks that needed a little extra help. I also appreciated the line control in the Artist Alley area. They were able to use the areas behind the backdrop curtains for overflow lines. This kept the floors clear(ish) in front of the artists tables. The photo opp & signature area’s seemed to be well taped off also.
According to the respective venue sites, we saw an effective doubling in the square footage over the last year. This year the approx. sq. footage was 254,000 vs. last year’s sq. footage of 120,000. Click for the Signature Convention center information here and last year’s venue, the Boston World Trade Center, here. The new facility is nicer and more modern; plus, there is a huge amount of room for expansion. FanExpo could double or triple its BCC size without any difficulty within the facility.
When the final attendance numbers come out, I believe we will see a significant uptick in the numbers of attendees. I believe we saw 44,000 attendees in 2016. I look forward to attending many more FanExpo events. It is a well run and managed event that delivers on the promise to provide access to the talent in both the comic and media areas.
Epilogue: Yes, I am a foodie.
Please join the conversation on the forum, post your pictures and give feedback on what we should cover next year. Click here to be taken to the BCC thread.