Heroes and Villains Fan Fest recently concluded its first year at the San Jose Convention Center, bringing with it a multitude of actors from DC’s Arrow and Flash TV shows. Advertisements proudly boasted, “It’s not your father’s Comic Con, it’s your Fan Fest,” so did it live up to its promises, or did the convention fail this city?
The first thing that must be mentioned about the con is the fantastic guest list. Stephen Amell topped the list, accompanied by fellow Arrow stars John Barrowman, Caity Lotz, Katie Cassidy, and, well, generally a whole lot of actors from the show. From The Flash we also had Danielle Panabaker and Robbie Amell, and Once Upon a Time fans came to see Lana Parrilla and Rebecca Mader. Karen Gillan, known for the roles of Amy Pond in Doctor Who and Nebula in Guardians of the Galaxy drew huge crowds, and fellow Marvel movie actress Hayley Atwell was due to attend, but unfortunately had to cancel.
That is just lightly touching upon the number of guests that the convention had to offer. Each had their own autograph booths, with lengthy lines throughout the weekend, as well as photo sessions and panels. The prices of each were the same as one would find at a typical Wizard World convention, with an average of $50 per photo or autograph.
We did, however, get the opportunity to get a quick three-question interview with Neal McDonough. Fans of Marvel will recognize him from his role of Dum Dum Dugan in Captain America: The First Avenger, while those who are more DC-focused have been enjoying seeing him on Arrow as Damien Darhk. This was his first time at a comic convention, but it seemed to leave a good impression.
The convention itself was held in the San Jose Convention Center, and divided the main hall into a few sections. Near the back of the hall were all the autograph tables, and over to the side was the photo area. Most of the middle was taken up by vendors, who were selling all the usual comic convention goods, and to another side was a large stage where they held panels throughout the day.
While there were many excellent panels throughout the weekend, usually featuring the various guests talking about their experiences and answering audience questions, any panel featuring John Barrowman was a must-see. Unpredictable, unrestrained, and wildly entertaining would just barely begin to describe his time on the stage… and occasionally off the stage, depending on his whims.
Unique to the Fan Fest, however, was a kids’ area. It was located right by the main stage, so tired parents could rest their feet and watch the panels while their children ran through the bounce house and inflatable slide, or enjoyed the moon jump that was set up. Not too far from there was a large inflatable zipline, which all attendees were welcome to enjoy.
There were a few other unique activities there, such as a small target range for provided prop guns. Outside of those, however, the con was mainly for meeting guests, watching the panels, and buying from the vendors. Typically, any of the above involved long lines, which is to be expected. Fans can, will, and frequently do wait in line for hours to get a few precious seconds with the guest they came to see, and it is worth it.
Of course, no convention would be complete without cosplayers, and of those there were plenty. Naturally, the majority of attendees were cosplaying from one of DC’s live action shows; green was the color of the day, with the occasional red-clad archer as well (and one or two Hawkeyes, trying to represent Marvel’s marksman). Marvel and DC cosplayers were easy to spot, but there were also plenty of attendees cosplaying from Star Wars, Doctor Who, and even Power Rangers. The costume contest featured some impressive competition, with cosplayers bringing their A-games and having a good time.
Overall, Heroes and Villains Fan Fest brought in some outstanding guests, and those with the cash and patience to meet their favorites would certainly get their money’s worth. Of course, as it is a relatively new convention, there is still room to grow, but we can look forward to seeing it grow in the years to come.
For our readers on the East Coast, don’t feel left out – there will be a Fan Fest in New Jersey this January.
All photos taken by Danny “Dviouz1” DeLuna