Before I begin, I think it might be a good idea to give some background. So... What is Fandom Fest? Fandom Fest, is an amalgamation of various conventions, there's horror, comic book, anime, gaming, and just general geekery. It is held annually in Louisville, Ky, and routinely features some amazing guests, great vendors, and more people in costumes than you can shake a stick at. This things is huge.
This year, they had such amazing guests, as Stan Lee, Gene Simmons, Gillian Anderson, William Shatner, and Adrian Paul. An impressive guest list, with just those five names, but when you add in Alan Tudyk, Jewel Staite, Adam Baldwin, John Barrowman, Jason Mamoa, Norman Reedus, Michael Rooker, Brian O'Halloran, and Joey Lauren Adams, you may begin to see why this was a congregation point for all the geeks in the are.
One can never forget the vendors, who often make the convention all the more interesting. With Midwest convention mainstays like artists Lydia Burris and Jay Fife. (Jay, if you read this... is there a website I can link to for you?) it is rarely hard to find something interesting to look at, and a few new items to add to your collection. There is also never a shortage of action figures, movie posters, lunch boxes, and just about any other trinket or knickknack you may want.
Living just north of Cincinnati, this convention is one that I try to hit each year, at least for a day. This year, I want with a mission. A mandate, if you will. I was going down for precisely 4 autographs; Jewel Staite, Alan Tudyk, Adam Baldwin, and John Barrowman. If I could get those 4 autographs, I could leave the show happy, and with little regret. But more on that later.
First... I want to talk about lines. If you saw the Twitter feed yesterday, you may have seen that I was stuck in a number of lines. There was a line to get in to registration, which itself was a line, that once completed sent you to another line, which they did not tell you was the wrong line. Then, they directed you upstairs, and put you in a line, which again was the wrong line, so they sent you to another line. Which then got displaced into another line, so that you could be moved to yet another line. To finally enter the doors.... And stand in line. Did you get all of that?
Now, I'm not complaining about standing in line. Standing in line is perhaps the most common thing at a convention. My issue, was the multiple wrong lines I got shuffled into. I asked the staff which line I needed to stand in to get into the exhibition hall. The first guy told me to stand at the end of a line right outside the door. 20 minutes later, someone else came along, and mentioned that we were all in the line for photo-ops, and asked us all to move closer to the wall. I asked this guy (who seemed to know what he was doing, and he directed me to go upstairs. At the top of the stairs, they directed me to the end of another line. Which, after standing there briefly, I realized was the VIP line, and I asked a staff member where the regular line ended, and got shuffled over there. Rule number one for a successful convention, don't confuse the convention attendees. The necessary adjunct to this rule.... Have staff that can answer questions correctly, or will at the very least seek out the proper answer.
Another interesting issue with this convention, that I have never really experienced before, was the two building set up. The convention was spread out between the Louisville Convention center, and the Galt House hotel. This constitutes about a quarter of a mile separation between the two sections, or if you factor in traffic, and slow walking, upwards of a 10 minute walk (for the record, Google maps estimates it at a 4 minute walk). Thus begins griping, round two! This is a story, that I was told by multiple people as I waited in various lines. Adapted here, for shits and giggles. Last year, registration was at the Galt House. So one would naturally assume that one would have to go to the Galt House again this year to get their wrist band. There, they were told "No, wrist bands will be distributed at the convention center". At the convention center, a staff member says "No! The wrist bands will be distributed at the Galt House." Back at the Galt House, they are once again directed to the convention center.... Where they finally just say, to hell with it, and stick around there. If you happened to be disabled, this would have been the end of your convention.
Now, I'm done with the complaining. On to the funny stories!
The first autograph I went for was John Barrowman. Not necessarily because it was more important to me than the others, rather that it was the first line I saw. Got stuck in line with some great people, who were apparently Canadian. We pass the time talking, because, even though the convention doors open at 9-ish. The celebrities were not in attendance until at least 10- 10:15 or later. So, there was a lot of time to stand and talk. When John finally did show up, he came out to the line to ask a favor of all the people in line. Long story short, he ends up asking the entire line to sing happy birthday to a friend of his. So, if video of me singing happy birthday ever surfaces.... it's a lie. I blame CGI or some such! Frank don't sing.
Then I moved on to the Firefly folk, starting with Alan Tudyk. Due to the Shatner and Stan Lee lines, Alan's line was relatively small, and moved quickly. The people in front of me asked him to do the King Candy voice, which was hilarious, and well worth the trip down there.
Above, is the picture that I had the cast signing. Alan took one look at it, and complained that Wash would never have flown Serenity into an Asteroid belt like this. To which, I naturally replied that obviously, he is dead at this point. This leads him to agree, and blame this horrible driving job on River! Obviously, that psychotic girl decided to take over the helm.
Sadly, I have no really funny Jewel Staite story... I did mention to her, that I promised Jay Fife (the artist of the above art) that I would request that she sign above his signature, which she happily complied with.
Last on my list was Adam Baldwin, again, not because he was in any way lesser than the others, but that is just how the lines fell. I got up to see him, and he noticed that all I was getting was signatures, at which point I confided that I had frozen up when talking to the others, and had forgotten to ask them to put a little quote or some such with their autographs, at which point he decided to go ahead and put on a quote, which is why his is the only autograph above with anything beyond the autograph itself. Gonna kick myself for not getting quotes from the others. Although, to be honest, the first quote that came to mind for Jewel might have been mildly inappropriate... Curse that movie for being at the forefront of my mind at that moment.
Now for the apologetic in me to come out. While the line issue was annoying, and the split up nature of the convention was inconvenient, it was still an enjoyable time, and I look forward to seeing how they try and top themselves for next year. I'm going to go ahead and applaud their decision to do away with the highly confusing "Autograph Tickets" that plagued my experience last year. Those tickets are the reason I do not have a Professor Arturo (John Rhys-Davies) up on my wall right now, and that makes me sad.
Good times were had, and here's to looking forward to next year!