I Went To a Comic Con...
(IBEX News) No, I didn’t go to THE Comic Con in San Diego, Ca and the New York comic con hasn’t happened yet. I went to the Fan Boy Expo comic con in Knoxville, TN.
It was held at the Convention Center in downtown Knoxville from June 29th to July 1st. I purchased my ticket a few months in advance and thankfully, I was able to snag a VIP pass for all 3 days for only $85. The guest list of celebrities, artists, wrestlers and writers was impressive. From the cast of Hellboy (yes, that included Ron Perlman, Doug Jones and Selma Blair) to cast members from Buffy the Vampire Slayer (Nicholas Brendon, Charisma Carpenter and Juliet Landau). The roster even included three out of five members of the Backstreet Boys, Elvira: Mistress is the Dark, Lou Diamond Phillips (La Bamba, Courage under Fire, The Big Hit) , Corbin Bernsen (LA Law, Major League, Psych) Jason Marsden (voice of Max Goof in all things Disney, Full House, Spirited Away), Daniel Logan (Star Wars: Clone wars and Star Wars: Episode II) Judith Hoag (Halloweentown Series, The Magicians) ... unfortunately, Richard Dreyfus was supposed to be in attendance but his filming schedule conflicted. The same occurred with James Marsters, who played Spike, everyone’s favorite Billy Idol lookalike Vampire on Buffy; he’s currently cast in the tv show The Runaways and his schedule had been altered and he had to cancel his appearance a few days before the event took place.
There were THOUSANDS of spectators, hundreds of vendors and dozens of celebrities scheduled to be there. The only thing no one counted on... was a horrible rain storm that led to plane delays and cancellations. Anyone coming from New York was ultimately going to get delayed. Personally, I drove from New Jersey to Tennessee. It was cheaper and I could control when I left.
A friend and I left around 2am in the morning of Thursday the 28th. The estimated time to travel looked at about 10-11 hours, however, Pennsylvania decided it would be the state that the skies opened up on us. That torrential rain storm that was affecting everyone’s travel plans caught us up in its wrath. However, it was only the tail end of it but mixed with rain, some traffic and rests stops it took us 15 hours to arrive at our hotel. We stayed at The Hilton which was within 2 blocks of the convention center. The hotel was the most expensive thing about the trip and it was totally worth it. Everyone at the Hilton was considerate, friendly and extremely helpful. I left my cell phone charger and small bag of toiletries in my car and one of the valets offered to run to my car to get them for me. Room service was impeccable, for the record I hardly ever do room service but after driving for 15 hours, there was no feasible way I was going out for food at all for the first two days I was in Knoxville.
FanBoy expo had opened their doors on Thursday afternoon so everyone who had preordered their tickets, VIPS, or meet and greets could pick them up early before the event started. Saving you precious time from waiting on line the first day of the event. The biggest problem with picking up the tickets was that the air conditioning hadn't been turned on prior to the doors being opened. It was stifling hot in the venue, both on Thursday and on Friday. That being said, I have been to a few Comic Con events previously: Walker Stalker Con in Chicago, Wizard World in Richmond, and Rewind Con in Chicago... while the level of celebrity of varied at each event (and in the case of Rewind Con, where the level of police activity and arrests was astounding) nothing compared to the event in Knoxville.
FanBoy Expo was truly an all ages event, complete with games, costume contests and a Disney Princess tea party area with hired models and actors dressed as various Disney princesses who sat around with children (mainly little girls but not always) at small child sized tables and chairs while drinking imaginary tea and holding conversations, I can only assume, about Olaf, Flounder and MuShu.
Character actors dressed as Green Lantern, Dr. Who, the Ghostbusters, Pennywise (from the new incarnation of Stephen King’s It), Death from Hellboy, a Giant Groot (in a lacy pink robe) walked the floor. I should mention, most people you see walking the floor in full costume are actually paying customers. Cosplayers, is the term that has garnered the most attention over the last few years. These cosplayers are insanely talented, creative and brilliant in their designs, building of the costumes or accessories and executing their ideas seamlessly. They gladly took photos with other patrons, talked with children who didn’t know they weren’t the real deal and posed for photos with celebrities who couldn’t get over the level detail and dedication they put into their outfits.
Whenever attending a Comic Con like event, I always like to do the full three or four day event. My theory is this, if there are a few certain celebrities that you just HAVE to meet, (each celebrity will have a autographs, selfies or combos for sale at their individual tables) I always suggest looking at the arrival schedule for the roster. Try and get as many of your chosen celebrity stops as you can done in that first day. The first day is normally a Friday, and those days are normally the lightest in terms of crowds of people. Aside from the air conditioning issue again, and some celebrity guests not being able to arrive due to weather or plane issues, Friday was the day I chose to go and be my very own version of a fan girl.
Saturday was the busiest day of the convention, with the largest crowd lining up for Doug Jones, Selma Blair and Ron Perlman's only day in attendance. Nick Carter and AJ Mclean of the Backstreet Boys also finally arrived after being stuck in airports for over a full day after flight delays and a malfunctioning plane. The Convention Center was noticeably cooler that day too; which was a welcome relief from the Tennessee heat. When talking to a volunteer from the event, Ben, who recognized me every day (It was probably my Blue hair) he asked if it was feeling better inside and then advised that before they left Friday night, they cranked up the AC and left it running all night to make sure no one would be uncomfortable.
Sunday was the last day of the event, the crowd being bigger than Friday but not as big as Saturday, it was also the day I personally met Cassandra Peterson better known as Elvira. I snagged an autograph for both myself and my father. Meeting her made the entire trip, for me personally, worth all the drama. The event staff was nothing short of amazing, they really went out of their way to make the patrons comfortable and keeping everyone happy. You could see the staff roaming all over the event floor, their volunteers moving around to their assigned stations helping anyone and everyone with their concerns or possible issues. They even brought in extra ATMS on Saturday, the total of 6 ATMS in the building all ran out of cash, might I add.
One thing I will mention, growing up in New York City, I was shocked by how nice, polite, and friendly every single person I met was while there. It was a little off-putting at first, but the warmth from everyone made me very comfortable very fast. Another thing to note, Knoxville is so dog friendly. Which made my happy dog loving soul happy; I had no shame in getting up from my table inside a restaurant and rushing outside to pet a dog that I saw through a window. Pet owners in Knoxville were so welcoming and had no problem with strangers coming up and petting their dogs. (Please, ALWAYS ask before you pet a strange dog.)
All in all, Fanboy Expo in Knoxville was worth it. My advice to you, IBexclusive readers, go to a Comic Con, if that is your thing of course. You'll meet some new people, be impressed by strangers creative talent and just possibly meet some of your favorite celebrities. Another thing I want to stress, travel. Go to cities you've never been before. Experience the people and their hospitality. Have experiences doing things you enjoy.
That's what everything is all about anyway.
I've included the video above from Fanboy Expo that captures most of what I described, as well as created a gallery of photos that were submitted to me from people who attended the event, along with some of my own. A huge Thank you to everyone who submitted their photos and anecdotes about the event. If you were at FanBoy Expo in Knoxville and want your photos featured, reach out and let us know.