A giant nerdgasmic success
Article: Allan Hall – Contributor
When it was first announced that the organizers of Fan Expo Canada were planning on bringing the Fan Expo to Regina, there was a sense of cautious optimism from some of the members of Regina’s nerd community.
On one hand, it was awesome to hear that Regina was finally getting this type of event, but on the other hand, some were fearful that the event was going to flop harder than the Imperial forces battling Ewoks on the planet Endor.
Many people initially weren’t expecting too much based off the size of Regina and it being the inaugural event. Typically, these events start off fairly small and then grow in attendance over several years. The first Fan Expo in Toronto (known then as the Canadian National Comic Book Exposition) drew 1,400 people. The first Calgary Comic & Entertainment Expo (Calgary Expo) in 2006 drew around 3,400 people.
Gauging from the response of the 8,000 attendees at the inaugural Fan Expo in Regina, to borrow the vernacular from Battlestar Galactica, it’s safe to say that the event was a giant frakking success.
“It was amazing. It was so much bigger, so much better than I ever expected. There were so many people, so many people of all generations, and from all over the province. It’s been really successful,” says Christine Moleski, a Regina artist who travels across Canada selling nerdy prints and hand-crafted items at comic/pop culture conventions (cons) for her business 3.14 Sleeping Rabbits.
Fan Expos and other pop culture-themed conventions are really freakishly interesting events to attend. Fan Expo Regina was essentially a two-day event that celebrated all things pop culture such as sci-fi, horror, comics, anime, and gaming. The event featured Q&A panels, autograph and photo-op sessions, sketch duels, costume contests, and had over 50 exhibitors.
Like most other cons, there was a huge abundance of attendees dressed up in an amazing range of costumes. They had everything from Jedis, superheroes such as Iron Man, Batman, and Thor, members of the Nights Watch, to anime characters, such as Sailor Moon, Edward Elric, and Goku.
It was also remarkable to see the faces of the excited fans as they were watching the Q&A panels or getting autographs from a wide range of celebrity guests, which included Marina Sirtis, Ray Park, Kevin Sorbo, IronE Singleton, and Veronica Taylor.
“The atmosphere was wholly magical. It was like freebasing a unicorn. Tons of nerds getting to do their thing at a proper con,” says Matt Valgardson, the host of The Nerdcore Cabaret on CJTR.
One of the neatest things about the Fan Expo was that it showcased the local nerd culture. It featured local organizations such as the Pile Of Bones Steampunk Society, Zombie Prep Camp, Regina Zombie Obstacle Challenge, Regina Costume League, Otaku Palooza, and Regina Manga Club. For many attendees it was the first time that they have had an opportunity to find out information about these nerdy and eclectic local organizations and events.
“FanExpo was a great start. It really shows what the Queen City can do when it sets its mind to something. We’ve got a great bunch of nerds in this city and it was quite grand to not have to go out of town to be amongst our fellow weirdos,” said Valgardson.
In recent years, these types of fan conventions have become far more popular. James Armstrong, the event coordinator of Fan Expo Regina, believes that one of the main reasons for the rise in popularity of events like the Fan Expo is because pop culture has become mainstream rather than just a subculture.
“Pop culture as a whole has grown and has become mainstream. It’s no longer a cult status type of thing. Take the top grossing films of all time; they are all now science fiction or fantasy films [such as] Star Wars and Lord of the Rings.”
In fact, pop culture is “not really a subculture anymore; it’s [become] very mainstream… On televisions you have The Walking Dead, which is massively popular, Lost Girl, which has found a big audience, and of course the Big Bang Theory, which is a sitcom that speaks to this huge pop culture explosion.”
After the success of the inaugural Fan Expo in Regina, the organizers have announced that they will be coming back to Regina again in 2015.