Last weekend Fandomfest descended upon The Kentucky Exposition Center in Louisville. The pop culture convention brought together vendors and guests from a wide variety of interests. Headlined by Marvel and comicbook legend Stan Lee, Fandomfest also featured members from *NSYNC and the Backstreet Boys, Kevin Smith, cast members from the original Godzilla and Ultraman, and various other actors from The Walking Dead to wrestling legend Jim Cornette. The exhibition and vendor hall was a bazaar of just about any pop culture merchandise you could want like t-shirts, old movie posters, autographed pictures, and more. There were even some familiar faces. Among the throng once again was our old friend and KSR fan Tony Acree with Hydra Publications. The event was a fun and unique experience, allowing fans to interact with their pop culture heroes. Here are some of the highlights from the weekend:
Stan Lee is the architect of the modern day comicbook craze, and having the opportunity to sit in on his Q&A session last weekend was the biggest highlight for me. He had a ton of great things to say, but here are just a few that stood out with me:
- You may have noticed that I’m writing comicbook as one word instead of two. This is a direct request from the man himself. He said he didn’t like comicbook being two words because a comic book is nothing more than a “funny book.” A comicbook features intricate plots, dialogue, and you’re “free to use any form of violence.”
- Despite not having the modern-day fanfare of the Avengers or X-Men, the comicbook Marvel fans should be most grateful for is Fantastic Four. Lee was ready to quit his job because he was frustrated with not being able to write the stories he wanted to. On the advice of his wife, Lee wrote one more story in which he created the Fantastic Four. The comic was a success and the rest is history.
- Lee’s favorite superpower is luck.
- Lee threw some serious shade at rival comicbook publisher DC. After making a quip about DC which drew a laugh from the crowd Lee quickly addressed the remark: “I don’t want you to think we a hostile relationship with them. I love DC. It’s good to have a competitor you’re so much better than.” Check and mate.
Joey Fatone, Chris Kirkpatrick, Nick Carter, AJ McLean
I’m a 30 year old guy. I grew up hating the Backstreet Boys and *NSYNC. My feelings have softened since the late 90s/early 2000s, especially towards NSYNC (thanks in no small part to Justin Timberlake’s solo career). After speaking with Fatone and Kirkpatrick at Fandomfest, I daresay I’m an NSYNC fan. Full of self-deprecating humor and (seemingly) genuine gratitude in their interactions with people, Fatone and Kirkpatrick had actual conversations with the people who came through their autograph line.
Carter and McLean were also very gracious with the fans that came through. They weren’t as talkative as the *NSYNC guys, but they were still far from standoffish. When my wife went up to meet McLean, all she managed was “I don’t know what to say.” He seemed experienced with this reaction as he didn’t miss a beat and replied “You could say hi.” Then he flashed a smile and I was certain my wife was ready to leave me.
Once again, the Cosplay Contest was crazy. Last year I experienced my first Cosplay Contest and was taken aback by everything involved. This year I was a seasoned vet and wouldn’t be caught off guard…until this guy showed up. Alf sat across the aisle from me and seemingly never stopped staring at me. It was unnerving, but that didn’t stop me from getting pics of my favorite costumes.
The two years I have gone to Fandomfest have been really enjoyable experiences. With any event like this, fans always run the risk of celebrities not showing up or not being what they expected. It stink when that happens, but ultimately it’s hard to blame the event coordinators. On the other hand, when the event fails to follow through on what they advertise it can be very frustrating. The specific instance from this weekend revolved around the 90s Pop Idol VIP Experience. This was a ticket package which allowed fans to get autographs from the boy band members, a group photo, and a special meet and greet party where the four would do a performance and then screen their movie Dead 7. The autographs and photo were straightforward enough, but the meet and greet party turned out to be a bit different than advertised. There was a bunch of confusion as to which room the party was in. Nobody really seemed to know where to go including staffers, fans, and the guys themselves. In addition to that, the Backstreet Boys members weren’t aware of the performance and the *NSYNC guys had apparently informed organizers they would not be performing earlier in the week, so that didn’t happen. There also wasn’t a screening of the movie, which probably wasn’t a huge loss. At no point was the website or app updated to reflect those changes. I get that these events tend to be very fluid as people are constantly adjusting their schedules, but when people pay for a package like this they should at least be able to expect clear communication of what was going on with the event. On the good side the guys did show up, albeit briefly, and according to my wife the people attending still had a good time despite the disappointment.
Overall Fandomfest was a fun experience which allowed a lot of people to come meet some of their favorite pop culture icons and take part in a community-wide celebration of all kinds of pop culture. From the vendors and exhibitors to the guests and fans, the event is definitely worth checking out. If you were able to attend Fandomfest I’d love to read about your experience in the comments below!