How does one define a good time? Every individual has their our own preferences and expectations. Their own boundaries and comfort levels. Combining the levels of enjoyment of each of these things, is probably what defines one's level of good during a certain time period. Money is also always a factor, when discussing conventions or anything else, for that matter. So, a good time could be formulated to each individual based on all of those factors. Mine runs on some form of this equation...
LEVEL OF STRESS/THINGS THAT MADE ME SMILE OR LAUGH + MEMORABLE MOMENTS = FUN LEVEL
(wow...that is like...really nerdy right?)
So, did I have a good time this weekend? The short answer would be quite simple: No. Were there things I enjoyed? Of course! Did those things outweigh the overall staggering cluster fuck of everything else? No. No, it did not. I am going to break down the issues I personally had below.
My go-to has always been reviews that are short and to the point. I struggled immensely with staying within those walls for this review. There was no way around providing a narrative of the events that left me with a severe lack of satisfaction and a bad taste in my mouth. So, for those that don't want to hear my long drawn out explanation, here is a tidy and less explained version of FanExpo Dallas.
Purchasing the Premium passes really didn't end up having a justifiable amount of perks for the cost. The photo-op lines and entry were the biggest time sucks and guess what...Premium passes didn't effect either of those things.
Genuine concern about safety were certainly present. Although they were being really strict on weapons (props) check, they were not searching or looking inside anyone's bag or purse. Even backpacks were not being checked. There were several areas where people were severely overcrowded and I am speaking in terms of fire safety or emergency situations, not just my personal comfort level.
Various staff, although I am unsure which staff was convention staff and which staff was venue, passed the boundaries of enforcing rules and were down right nasty to attendees. Treating paying customers for truly insignificant things like prison inmates instead of paying customers is not a great company practice.
The amount of artists and vendors (excluding food) was excellent and the variety of panels and special events was a pleasant ray of sunshine.
Photo-ops were a complete disaster. On so many different levels. I know people are going to throw out the "this isn't run by the con" line, but the reality is the convention organizers choose who they use to provide this service. At some point it is their conscious decision to ignore the level of incompetence with Epic Photo-ops. I know that I will never purchase photo-ops from Epic Photo-ops again, regardless of the celebrity.
Organization for the regular attendees was just not executed well. At all. The outsourced media organizers did run their end very smoothly and I enjoyed the updates prior to the convention. Although, I still have no idea where I was supposed to be to get my badge punched?
Disclaimer: I received Press passes to this convention in exchange for reviewing FanExpo.
I also personally purchased Premium Passes, prior to receiving notification that I was accepted as Press to the con.
Here is a description of the Premium Ticket:
PREMIUM PACKAGE INCLUDES THE DELUXE FAN EXPO DALLAS™ PASS, PLUS:
- • Admission to all 3 days of FAN EXPO DALLAS™
- • Access to Special Preview on Friday at 2pm
- • Exclusive Priority Entrance
- • Priority access to all Main Theater Presentations
- • Exclusive Premium Lounge Access
- • Limited Edition FAN EXPO DALLAS™ Premium Badge
- • Exclusive FAN EXPO DALLAS™ Bag
- • Exclusive Comic from Major Publisher
- • Limited Edition Superhero Lithograph
- • Exclusive Collectible
- • NEW! Free SINGLE DAY General Admission pass (excluding Saturdays) to
ALL FAN EXPO HQ events until, but not including, FAN EXPO DALLAS™ 2018
- • Exclusive Ticket Counter
• Must be in the Premium line 30 minutes before scheduled presentation time
• Premium ticket holders allowed into Main Theater presentations after VIP ticket holders
• Lounge Access: Limited capacity – first come, first serve basis
• Excludes Specially Ticketed Events unless otherwise noted
• Premium Packages and Perks are not transferrable
I listed the above information because it has a few things not mentioned and this is where my journey begins. In a GINORMOUS line. OK, I get it. The Mini (my 11 year old daughter) and I were a little late. But, from prior experiences, it seems being 30 minutes late only really allows everyone else to move through the line and ease up on the wait. What I was UNAWARE of was this small fact: Premium Pass holders that had bought their tickets in advance had to pick up said tickets in the same line as everyone else. Including people that just purchased Saturday passes. This was frustrating. Ok, beyond frustrating...it didn't make sense to me and it was a cluster. But, I regress.
Let me back up one second. Part of the issue with being so late to get in line was our cosplay weapons. The weapons check was at the complete opposite side of the location to enter/pick up pre-paid passes. It was also damn near impossible to find. I don't think I have ever had to search so hard for the weapons check and I wasn't the only one. Upon finding the weapons check, I was told that my bat would not be allowed in, since it was "metal". Ok. It was an aluminum youth baseball bat and I had added foam spikes covered in aluminum tape. I read the cosplay rules pretty carefully. The officer told me they were even turning away wood bats. "Anything that could be considered having the potential to do harm." *sigh* OK, fine I get it. Rules are rules. I would think that this level of caution would have been extended to things not visible, like bag checks, but apparently not. A very confusing policy, considering the level of security with props.
We walked back to the car and stashed my weapon of destruction. We entered the line into the gates of what awaited. I was disappointed, but took responsibility for my interpretation of things like "metal" and "dangerous". Safety. I get it!
We wait in the line for a verrah verrah long time. I had my child coupon ready and was so happy when we reached the front. The lady then proceeds to tell me I cannot use the coupon because it doesn't apply to Saturday passes. *face palm* I have to explain that I don't have Saturday passes. I purchased PREMIUM passes. That was the whole reason I bought the Premium passes to begin with. I read the details of the coupon to her and she agreed that they applied. *PHEW* Disaster averted but I am sure my blood pressure at this point would have anyone freaked out.
The passes were in an envelope and I had to attempt to retrieve them between leaving the ticket booth and entering the actual convention area. Not only did we need to have the actual badges on, but it was required we ALSO wore the wristbands for the entire weekend. I REALLY am not a fan of wristbands for extended periods of time. I know..I made jewelry and you would think that wearing things around my wrist wouldn't bother me, but if you follow my jewelry design, you would notice that I don't make a lot of bracelets and I rarely wear them. I type for HOURS a day. You really cannot do this comfortably while wearing bracelets, so anything around my wrists at this point just annoys the crap out of me...especially if I have to SLEEP IN THEM. OK, rules...whatever. I shall comply with the Man's request.
I stopped to conduct myself and pull the passes out just as security is yelling at everyone about "standing in the hall", I have no idea why. This "hall" was huge and was the location of some of the restrooms and there were very few people standing around. Fine, I attempted to retrieve the passes while walking and navigating people to reach our designated Premium area. I already needed a time-out at this point.
Eureka. We arrived at the Premium area. I took a few minutes to compose myself (seriously ADULT TIME OUT) and arrange the Premium pass on the ...... string thing they were calling a lanyard. All right, let's go see some artists!
This is when my internal dialog of "you got this and the worst part is over" went to "oh #&$@". Everywhere was beyond crowded. I honestly am not sure if the isles were just not big enough, but I suspect it was more than that. It made shopping or looking at all the awesome things for sale impossible. If I stopped, the crowd tending to bump and push into me. Not something I am really very comfortable with.
The photo-op location was at the other end of the hall, which means no choice but to go through the masses and briefly wave to the artists I agreed to stop and meet with.
*Arrives at photo-op area?* My first thought was "what in the hell is this mass of people doing". Then I realize...they were lines? Blobs? There was no designated section. No organization. It was full on ciaos. CIAOS. No one knew where they were supposed to be. How to find out or what area was for which photo-op. I start to panic. We had a 1:30 pm photo op. We arrived at the convention center before 10:00 am and it was now after 11:15 am. The above is all we had managed to accomplish. Let that sink in.
Again, I shrug off the situation. It is what it is. We will grab something to eat and then come back to get in line and maybe *hopefully* this photo-op situation will look different when we get back. I know there will be lines for food, but *shrugs* clearly photo-ops are running behind and we will be fine.
*enters main hall outside the center*
OMG. The amount of people was suffocating. Yes, the lines were long and confusing. There were several places to eat and I stopped to try and ask the people in line what the line was for and if there was more than one line (this area had about 3 or 4 different places within the one section). About this time I am told by a fellow con-attendee that "if you don't start walking, You are going to have 400lb of man do it for you." I feel my daughter grab onto my jacket. I turn around and explain to the "400lb man" what a giant asshole he is for threatening me with his MAN size. At this point, I am just short of a panic attack. I decide it is probably best to return to a spot for time out "the sequel" and align myself with accepting that this day is not going to be conforming to the schedule I had lined out.
The Mini and I decided it is not worth trying to get food again right now and we will just do so after our photo-op with Khary Payton. We decide to risk the Hall of Doom vs the exhibitor and artist area and enter on the other side, close to the photo-op "area". This is the general entry area. We are intercepted by staff/security, I don't know, whoever was manning the entry area. She stopped me because of my daughter, who did have the required wristband, but she couldn't see it. The Mini is quick and flashes her banded wrist and smiles. I show her my Premium pass and she points at my media badge. I was like..um yeah? She tells me I cannot enter because I cannot have two passes and that my media badge isn't "punched" for that day. Ummmm...ok, instead of freaking out. I decide to take the comedic route. We have less than 15 minutes to get to our photo-op and I have managed to not see anything else. I cover my media badge with my hand, hold up my premium pass and smile sweetly. She gets loud. People behind me are starting to give me "that look". I am starting to tear up and feel overwhelmed. I have never been treated like this before. I have never had any of these issues at other cons. I retreat back to the Hall of Doom.
We end up at the help desk, I am sure at this point I needed more help than anyone was qualified to give, but I needed IN. The lady from the help desk did personally take me into the hall and was very kind. although at that point, the fact that I was already in full blown tears probably had something to do with it. I managed to regain my composure and didn't want to look like a total lunatic for my pictures, but the weight of the wait and pushing and rudeness is starting to press hard against me. I keep getting alerts about all the panels I had scheduled myself to cover as media that I am missing. I am disappointed in myself for not anticipating what an issue the photo ops were going to be. I am genuinely sad that I am missing the panels that I was looking forward to....
I have an idea. I just want out. I don't want to deal with the photos, so I decide to stand in the line for tickets/support at the photo op "section". No, they won't refund my money, but after explaining the situation they did have a solution and were kind enough to understand the situation and accommodate me due to the time issue. I am going to be a little vague here, because I am sure this is not something that will ever work again, nor did I attempt it the next day.
This is my pic with Khary Payton. I think it probably comes through pretty clear where my level of stress was. RED ZONE.
I FINALLY made it to a panel. "Legends of Comics panel - Part 1" was the title. I was excited....and then I was disappointed. I am going to be a little unlike myself here and not point out...NO. No, you know what. I am. I keep struggling with an unusual (for me) level of fear about posting my feelings and dealing with some kind of atomic fallout for this review. You know what, I refuse. I refuse to edit myself about how this panel made me personally feel. This panel was composed of Don Rosa, Mike Zech, Pat Broderick and Val Mayerik. I am going to start with the good. Don Rosa is fantastic and a fan of comics. He was my favorite thing about this panel and was someone I would love to sit down and just talk to. Mike Zech was pleasant to listen to and I enjoyed his story. Pat and Val......well, they were like listening to people talk about the good old days but not embracing the wonderful way that comics are changing. Diversity and story lines with social meaning, this is something that many companies are currently doing a great job of, and it was clear that they felt good story lines were a past time. I am call bullshit. No, they are not. I was shocked and stunned at the mindset of (especially) Val Mayerik.
Now onto what was by-far the best time I had on Saturday. JOHN BARROWMAN. The Celebrity Q&A with John Barrowman was from 5 pm - 6 pm. Now, this is where my passes helped beyond providing me a personal time out area. I was moved between the VIP and regular ticket holders in line and as expected, there was quite a line. John Barrowman is just pure and simple - awesomeness. He is fun. He loves his fans and he is entertaining. He oozes it from every pore and fiber of his being. Every moment was just what I needed as soon as he walked on stage. A huge smile and big laughs. This event was running late, apparently bu about 15 or 20 minutes. At 10 till 6 pm, the con (not sure what this person was in the aspect of the con) was trying to run him off stage. While he was on STAGE. TALKING. Dude, really? He was there for his fans and we could hear his entire side...he had the mic in his hand. He was explaining to them that he had an HOUR. That was the deal and whatever (photo-ops!?!?!) caused him to be late, was not his fault and was supposed to have an hour. Long story short here..he got his hour. (Go, ASIAN BITCH! You are my hero!) THANK GOODNESS. Leaving on this kind of note, with a smile on my face, made the entire day melt away. At least a little. I took a few short videos and I was having technical difficulties posting, so I will post to my Facebook Page, if you are interested in checking out the awesome that is contained in John Barrowman.
Now, we went home after the above. I live outside the city and was just both emotionally and physically drained from the day. Several people we talked to were solely there for the photo-ops with Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Norman Reedus. Originally, the duo was scheduled both Saturday and Sunday, but to to scheduling conflicts (clearly with the Talking Dead) they pulled out of Sunday. I actually understand this. Actors are bound by contracts and those trump the conventions. Most actors are attending cons on their own time for fans and whatnot. So, I really cannot place any blame on the actors or convention for the absolute shit storm this apparently created.
I didn't witness any of this chaos, but the app feed was absolutely FILLED with comments and not many of them nice. Apparently, there was even some angry mob outside..come on guys. We are all better than that! I know that a LOT of people took of work and spent their time and money for photo-ops that were possibly once-in-a-lifetime but the combination of the photo-op company and mismanagement of this scheduling change clearly went beyond just annoying or stressing some people out. I cannot imagine being one of these people and was so relieved that I decided not to do either of these photo-ops. IT WAS UGLY. A lot of people ended up getting booted out of the photo-ops for (from my understanding) being outside of fire-code compliances, prior to photo-ops finishing up. Double YIKES.
♦♦♦♦♦ Sunday ♦♦♦♦♦
Ahhhh. Sunday. I was finally able to look at some art, comics and various other things.
First off, I think the vendors and artists had a great weekend. The amount of people being pushed through the artists and vendor area was insane and I am super happy for them. It did seem to translate to sales, at least to those that I talked to. <this probably means and bought stuff from>
So, these were freakin' adorable. It is really REALLY hard to find non-pink things for the Mini. We ended up special ordering a Walking Dead top from Tica Nani Treasure - firstname.lastname@example.org - and I have to say, very reasonably priced and extremely nice people to do business with. The tops could be bought separate and quality was superb.
I also ran into Kenzie Cosplays and couldn't help myself...look how freakin' adorable she is! She looked amazing and was SO SO nice. You can follow her on Instagram here.
Of course I managed to find an author...and bought TRACKS by K.M. Tolan. I really enjoyed talking to them and hope to see them at future cons! www.KMTOLAN.com
These two....I want to go out and hang out with. Not only were they outrageously friendly - THE BEAUTIFUL ART. STUNNING. (I didn't manage to make my way back - and I am seriously disappointed that I didn't get to purchase anything. It is an official con regret!) Serious REGRETS and easily the best new-to-me artist I found so far this year. Nen Chang @ www.RetroMortis.com
Brian Woodward was another artist that really grabbed me. Love his unique designs... www.brian-woodward.com I apparently didn't snap a pic, but really. Check out his webpage is dark and mesmerizing!
Emmanuel Andrade caught my attention as well. Great original artwork as well as some fantastic fanart - I really wanted this Groot!
These two were clearly having too much fun!
and clearly someone couldn't be left out!
After my run through and much loss of money, I went to the panel of GAIL SIMONE. This was like the opposite of the panel from the prior day. Simone is beyond a breath of fresh air and I cannot wait for her upcoming release CROSSWIND. Apparently, I was too engrossed in listening to what she had to say, to actually take a picture. I did take notes though!
Scott Straka is a favorite of mine and I was surprised to see him there. The Mini actually asked about him, since I have a wall of art I have already purchased. I didn't expect him and we were excited!
Mostafa Moussa was super busy (yay) Saturday and I didn't make my way back over to him Sunday, but I totally snapped this shot while he was chatting it up with some attendees! mostafaink.com
I also held off on purchasing Scott Snyder and Jeff Lemire's AD AFTER DEATH Book One and ended up buying a signed copy at Scott's booth. I waited a long time to pay while the guy manning the booth was talking to other people *guys* purchasing various items. When it was my turn to pay, I was treated like a second class citizen. I don't know if this is because I am a giiirrrllll or because of some other reason, but GUYS STOP THIS. Even though it wasn't the author or artist that treated me this way, it pisses me off everytime I look at the book now. And this is a book I posted about prior to the con! Again...not the author nor the artist, so I will read this and I am looking forward to it.
I am sure I forgot at least 10 people that I wanted to talk about and I know I purchased WAY more than I talked about here.
Part of me hates that I had to lay it all out and sound so negative, but when I asked for media passes it was on the specific issue of reviewing the con. It is unfortunate that this was my experience. Honesty is very important to me and honesty on this site is something I take very serious.
I don't know if I will attend next year. The reason I didn't "artist up" for this convention was because I wanted to just be a fan and enjoy everything. Clearly, that didn't happen. Writing this review was hard for me and so right now I think I will reserve any predictions about FanExpo Dallas 2018.