Live Review: Fan Expo @ Vancouver Convention Centre – April 22nd, 2012

I awoke on Saturday morning excited to attend Vancouver’s very first Fan Expo. This event has been running for many years in Toronto and is a smaller version of the famous Comic-Cons that take place in the States. Even while walking to the SkyTrain we began to notice various costume cropping up, and by the time we were on the train half of the people around us were clearly headed downtown. Most people were simply sporting their favourite superhero t-shirt, but there was also a strong contingent of cosplay enthusiasts. For the first time in a long time I realized I would not be main target of stares.
People must have started lining up bright and early on Saturday morning because by the time the doors opened at 10 am there were already a few thousand people standing in line to get in. From the moment we entered the Expo we were overwhelmed by the vast assortment of vendors with walls of t-shirts and table upon table of comics and toys as far as the eye could see. To say that there was a cornucopia of geekery would be an understatement. There was everything for sale from steampunk gear to Batman bathrobes. And if the vast amount of goodies wasn’t enough to empty out your wallet there were also celebrity signings and photo ops for a pretty penny with people such as Adam West, Burt Ward, Lou Ferrigno, Kevin Sorbo, and Alan Ruck.
Throughout the day there were various attractions like sketch duels, celebrity Q&A sessions, and photo ops for proud parents to have pictures taken of their babies with storm troopers and ghost busters. There were also dozens of artists selling original artwork and graphic novels from every genre imaginable. Interspersed between the more predictable booths, there were also setups from modelling companies, special effects makeup schools, and more.
After a couple hours of hopping from booth to booth we decided to take a nourishment break and headed across the street to the food court. On our way out we saw that the line to get in was all the way down the street and out of sight. One volunteer was telling people that it was a two hour wait to get in because they were currently at capacity. However, it seemed that the promise of epic wait times wasn’t causing anyone to walk away. In the food court there was a delightful hodgepodge of Expo attendees chowing down on fast food while trying not to smudge their makeup or spill on their costumes, lest they matt their fur or stain their spandex.
After lunch we returned for more, and revelled in watching kids of every age cavorting about the showroom. The phrase “Let your freak flag fly!” came to mind many times throughout the day as people of every shape and size were proudly demonstrating their commitment to fandom. While most were clearly into specific comics or TV shows, there was also a small faction who appeared to just be creatively attired individuals who wanted to be accepted for a day. Either way, the entire event was a judgement free zone; there were only smiles, cheers, and high fives as people appreciated each other’s ingenuity and enthusiasm. The general joy felt by the geek population of the Lower Mainland gave the entire day a wonderfully upbeat tone causing everyone to be incredibly considerate and polite all day long.
Overall, you didn’t have to be a nerd to enjoy the festivities. Whether you were a hardcore fan or just someone looking to reminisce about your childhood, a great time was had by all. By the end of the day there was a solid consensus from the group that it had been an impressive event, especially for its first year. There is no doubt in my mind that this will become an annual event in Vancouver and is sure to grow in size exponentially each year.

Photos © Lea Cave

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