Fan Expo Vancouver brings celebrities to the geeky masses

Third annual Canadian Videogame Awards also coming to Vancouver Convention Centre

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      Be you geek or nerd, Star Wars fanatic or Trekkie, horror buff or anime expert, the first-ever Fan Expo Vancouver is here for you. “As soon as you walk through that door, you immediately have something in common with everybody inside,” James Armstrong, head event coordinator, told the Georgia Straight by phone. “And that’s a unique experience.”

      The two-day expo is set to take over the Vancouver Convention Centre on April 21 and 22. Celebrity guests include Adam West and Burt Ward (Batman), Lou Ferrigno (The Incredible Hulk), Kevin Sorbo (Hercules), Nicholas Brendon (Buffy the Vampire Slayer), and a trio of Star Trek: The Next Generation favourites—John de Lancie (Q), Michael Dorn (Worf), and Marina Sirtis (Deanna Troi).

      According to Armstrong, the celebrities will be taking part in panel discussions, Q & A presentations, and autograph sessions. A professional photo studio will be on-site, so attendees can schedule a time to pose with their favourite star, complete with a backdrop, lighting, and a high-end camera. “You can experience a lot of things online, you can buy things online or from a store,” Armstrong said, “but we trump that with all the live experiences and interaction that we offer at the event.”

      Armstrong noted that Vancouver’s proximity to Hollywood has helped with programming. “If a celebrity actor is crushed for time, they’re more likely to make it up to Vancouver for the day rather than Toronto,” he said.

      One highlight of Fan Expo Vancouver will be the ReBoot reunion. The animated series was produced by Vancouver’s Mainframe Entertainment (now Rainmaker Entertainment) and was a staple of Canadian kids’ television in the late ’90s. Creator Gavin Blair and cast members Garry Chalk, Sharon Alexander, and Shirley Millner will be on a panel.

      Since Vancouver is a hub for web series, Armstrong said there will be sessions about what he calls the “new form of entertainment”, including one featuring the 12-episode Hitman 101. “We’re assembling some of the creators, cast, and crew of these to explain what they do, why it’s special, and what’s different,” he said.

      The third annual Canadian Videogame Awards are slated to take place at the Vancouver Convention Centre on the evening of April 21, and a number of seats are being made available to Fan Expo Vancouver pass holders. Television personality Victor Lucas, who coproduces the CVAs, says the partnership means more fans can join the celebration of Canadian-made video games. “It’s all incredibly exciting and positive,” he said on the phone.

      Screenwriter and actor David Hayter, known to video-game fans as the voice of Solid Snake in Konami’s Metal Gear Solid franchise, will appear at Fan Expo Vancouver and host the CVAs.

      Comics are also a big component of Fan Expo Vancouver, with workshops and seminars, opportunities to meet comic creators, and even portfolio reviews. Unfortunately, organizers were not able to put together nerd speed dating, which Armstrong said was a “smash hit” at Fan Expo Canada in Toronto last August.

      Fan Expo Vancouver is produced by Toronto’s Hobby Star Marketing, which has grown the annual Fan Expo Canada event to 80,000 attendees over four days. Armstrong said they expect between 10,000 and 12,000 at the inaugural Vancouver event.

      More important, he added, is determining the success of Fan Expo Vancouver. The ultimate goal is to make it an annual event. “We have a lot of things in place to measure where we do well and where we don’t,” he said. “Based on that is how we’ll proceed.”

      Tickets to Fan Expo Vancouver are $20 for one day and $30 for both days. Kids 12 and under pay $10 a day.