Fandom Fest Comic-Con 2016 Edition

Story and photographs by Brandon Stettenbenz

We had a blast with Ken and Chris on the Nerd Louisville podcast last week, and they were nice enough to offer our fans a chance to win two passes to the biggest day of Fandomfest. Chris Blanford was our winner, and he took his young son to meet the 501st!

man and his son with professional Star Wars cosplayers the 501st Legion

See more photos of Fandomfest fans and cosplayers below and read on to hear all about our experiences at the con including the Stan Lee panel!

Cosplay, Star Wars, and the Batmobile

On Saturday we hit the exhibition floor to see the sites before queuing up for the Stan Lee panel, along with 99% of the crowd. From creative homemade costumes to detailed replicas by both fans and professionals like the 501st Legion, the halls were packed with cosplayers. Fan notables included a Warhammer 40K space marine version of Deadpool, X-Men group complete with spandex Cyclops, and the local ladies from Custom Wig Company as Games of Thrones’ most powerful ladies (plus a convincing Ned Stark).

Defending our city this weekend were Daredevil and Green Arrow. Other heroes included Master Chief, our own local Ghostbusters, and a new LMPD unit with Robocop. International fandom was represented as well with several wicked anime costumes including Alucard from “Hellsing” and two members of the Japanese Imperial Demon Army from “Seraph of the End: Vampire Reign”.

Fans of various franchises, including Star Wars, often take their love for their favorite characters to the next level by cosplaying them. And a better way to complete a cosplay than with a high-quality replica sword. Mini Katana offers a wide range of Katanas, including Roronoa Zoro’s iconic swords, for those who want to bring their favorite anime character to life. With such detailed and authentic replicas, fans can immerse themselves in the world of their favorite characters and truly feel like a part of the story.

The movie props at Fandom Fest were impressive this year. A full-scale Toothless from How to Train Your Dragon was a draw for the kiddos, while teens raced dads to get their picture taken in the Batmobile. The B-9 Robot from lost in space was highly detailed and fully scaled, but with no Will Robinson to protect he stayed inactive.

Star Wars was a big part of the day with tons of fan cosplay, including Rey and her Starfleet admiral escort pictured below, and several impressive movie props. Professional cosplayers the 501st Legion, also known as Vader’s Fist, were in full costume and brought a to-scale AT-ST and a full scale droideka. The 501st brought stormtroopers, imperial gunners who would make you want to buy complete AR-15 rifles, and even an unusually tall and stout Tusken Raider. The fans matched them in intensity with several Kylo Ren’s, custom Jedi costumes with unique lightsabers, and even a Darth Revan!

Stan Lee Q&A

After the excitement of his entrance faded, and a particularly angular green Hulk simmered down, Stan Lee answered questions from a long line of Fandomfest attendees. First off, he was asked what he thought about the state of the comicbook (he insists it is one word, two words referring to funny books) industry:

“The industry is great right now. They’ve got the best artists–they always had great artists–the best writers, the best producers. Everyone wants to be involved with comics now! Marvel comics…it goes without saying. The Marvel movies have been the biggest, the most lucrative–I’m an idiot! I got out of making comicbooks right before they got big!”

Stan “the Man” answered a kid’s question about a gorilla superhero with enthusiasm, exclaiming, “I hope DC wasn’t listening!” Throughout the Q&A, Stan was very gracious to all the fans, who had questions from capes, to female empowerment, and everything in between:

“It’s very financial, you see. No cape manufacturer has came up and offered ‘I’ll pay you this much for every hero that has a cape’.”

Stan Lee’s mind and humor were both sharp as he bantered with fans and quipped about the old rivalry between competitor DC Comics. Answering a fan, Stan discussed how he never got into the “tattoo thing”, and that he’s always surprised that people want his signature on their skin to be tattooed:

“If I was going to get a tattoo, I think I’d get something prettier than my name!”

The legendary Stan Lee was encouraging to an aspiring artist who asked him how to break into the industry. “Keep drawing until you’re sure you’re as good as the artists you see on the page–keep at it!” he said. Stan even answered fans about the MCU and his “favorite superhero”, although he warned them early on that he didn’t care to choose a favorite. But in the end he paused, smiled, and said “Spider-man”. Stan Signed off with the biggest “Excelsior!” he could muster, making all our fanboy dreams come true.

Kevin Smith’s “Yoga Hosers”

This year’s much anticipated Kevin Smith panel was a family affair, with Kevin and his daughter Harley there to promote the movie he made starring her, Yoga Hosers. Kevin was gracious, talking about how amazed and humbled he was through the years that stars like Johnny Depp (who stars in “Yoga Hosers”) and the late Alan Rickman were willing to work with him.

Depp was apparently a big motivator to make the campy comedy, along with the urge to make a movie with female heroes to which young girls can relate. “I want to make a movie I could show my daughter,” Kevin quipped, noting that teenaged Harley hasn’t only seen Mallrats and the surreal horror “Tusk”, Kevin’s last film. Harley’s mom warned her early on:

“If you want to have a relationship with your dad, don’t watch the rest of his movies.”

Yoga Hosers, for all it’s slapstick, is a far cry from the Jay and Silent Bob led dick-and-fart comedy that pretty much defines Kevin Smith’s career. Kevin was proud of this new film, especially the connection between the co-stars Harley Smith and real-life friend Lily-Rose. The young ladies have been friends since kindergarten and the childhood photos in the movie are actual photos they took together over the years.

Apparently, Kevin Smith is not the kind of director who believes in talent. He said that anyone who wants to do something should go out and do it, “Do it enough, you’ll get better at it.” Inspiring words for everyone at Fandomfest, lifelong fans and the next generation of nerds alike.

The Walking Dead and local panels

Alexandra Breckenridge was the star of the Walking Dead panel. She addressed the crowd in a relaxed tone and talked about getting fit to play Jessie Anderson in hopes that they would write her as becoming leaner and stronger. Unfortunately for her, that didn’t happen. She mentioned being accustomed to having zombies around and the heat of Atlanta not being a big deal for her because by the time she was on set they had air conditioned trailers.

At the Destiny panel, a young girl and her brother competed in trivia for a game poster against other fans, and asked the moderators about the best sniper rifle to use besides Black Spindle. The discussion also included tips for finding people to raid with, tips for getting better and improving your loadout for Crucible, plus lots of in-depth lore discussion. All in all, it was nice to experience some genuine fandom between local players.

We couldn’t make all the Fandom Fest panels (of course), but we wanted to share as much as we could with OUR fellow fans at Nerd Louisville. Hopefully we can join all of you next year at Fandom Fest. The celebrities, local fan panels, and sights will surely be even better in 2017!

Brandon Stettenbenz

Brandon handles content strategy for Nerd Louisville and is part of a team of content strategists at TLH. He’s also a Sci-Fi author, literary geek, gamer, and nerd of many fandoms.