A Look Back at Phoenix Fan Fest 2015

Phoenix Fan Fest Logo
Phoenix Fan Fest Logo

My Visit to Phoenix Comicon’s Fan Fest

by Durrilion

Since joining the Video Jouzu crew I have been lucky enough to attend several smaller cons and meet some amazing people.  When I got the assignment for Fan Fest I was eager to go.  When I saw the guest list I was excited!  In no particular order, Denise Crosby, Sean Maher, Tom Lenk, and Eve Myles (though life happened and she ended up postponing) to name a few, were going to be there!  I couldn’t wait to go!  Additionally I knew several of my cosplay and vendor friends would be attending as well.  I called it a win/win.  So on that note, let’s dive into the fun at Fan Fest 2015!

The location, University of Phoenix Stadium (or Cardinals Stadium depending on who one asks), in Glendale, AZ is massive.  I’d never been there before and was duly impressed outside.  Inside it was even more so.  For those who have not been, the convention is held on the floor of the arena.  The grass field is on tracks that allow it to be taken outside for sun, rain, etc.

University of Phoenix Stadium, without the field
University of Phoenix Stadium, without the field

Stepping onto the arena floor was quite a change of perspective.  I had to take a look up and all around, imaging the thousands of empty seats being filled with sports fans (or from a more history geek point of view – Romans at the Colosseum).  Over a day and half I saw lots of people, and managed to get a few pictures, but not as many as I would have liked.  Everyone kept moving, especially cosplayers, who were being photographed almost constantly.

In between walking around the con I made time for Q & A panels.  Alaina Huffman, Sean Maher, and Gareth David-Lloyd on Saturday (before I had to leave for my ‘day job’) and Denise Crosby on Sunday.  If I could have been in two places at once then I might have been able to do all the things!  Especially since Tom Lenk was hosting a screening of his new film Nerdgasm Saturday evening.  Sadly I missed it.  Not to worry, though I’m keeping my eyes on the internet for any related news.

One of the first booths I located was The Pop Shop AZ.  My friends from a previous con had two of their sons working with them.  It was great to see them again, meet the boys, and see all the cool new stuff they had for sale.  I snagged a random selection of their LOTR pins as a gift for LOTR fan Sean Maher.  I hope he saw the humor, and liked the gesture.  Either way I might end up as ‘one of those stories’ Celebs tell about their convention experiences.

The Pop Shop AZ 'Mom' and her son Dan. I love his shirt!
The Pop Shop AZ ‘Mom’ and her son Dan. I love his shirt!
'Pop' with his sons Mike and Dan.
‘Pop’ with his sons Mike and Dan.

Right next door to The Pop Shop was Fan Art by DTK.

Fan Art by DTK
Fan Art by DTK

A few rows up from Dan’s booth, I ran into my friends from the Society for Creative Anachronism.  I had forgotten they would be there.  In addition to showcasing the various activities of the Middle Ages/Renaissance focused group, these fun lively people were also handing out flyers for a free event they host every year.  This event, Heroes of the Silent Angels, raises money for the Rett Syndrome Foundation, www.rettsyndrome.org/.  It was great to see them, and snag a pic, though it did feel weird since I was not in historical costume.  We had a laugh, and then we all went back to ‘work’.  More information about the Society can be found at sca.org, and for the Arizona chapter specifically at atenveldt.org.

The Society for Creative Anachronism, represented by members of three central AZ branches.
The Society for Creative Anachronism, represented by members of three central AZ branches.

As I wandered the hall I ran into a friend, who said he was photographed nearly as much as the cosplayers.  Of course his Darth Maul shirt was pretty awesome! It turns out he was photographed because he was ‘the ribbon guy’.  He has plans for not only these ribbons, but any future ones as well.  I’d tell you what he said, but as my Dr. Who fave says “Spoilers”.  He helped run the Aurora’s Creations booth with his wife.  Dawn a.k.a. Aurora sells a mix of leather goods, jewelry, and ‘fuzzy hats’.  The hats are Russian/Mongolian in style, very well made, and I want one like Gollum wants his precious.  One day I will get one, because they are just awesome.

'Blaze' a.k.a. the ribbon guy
‘Blaze’ a.k.a. the ribbon guy

After a quick chat with ‘Blaze’ I resumed exploring.  That’s when I came across these two talented young women and their amazing art work.  I met them a few months ago, and have followed them on Facebook ever since.  This time I planned ahead and was finally able to purchase something from each of them.  Their prices are super reasonable, and the art is stunning.  If you haven’t already, check them out online; www.facebook.com/retronerdstudios and www.facebook.com/MarsArtwork/ as well as on Etsy.

Sita Navas of Retro Nerd Studios
Suemei Mar of Mars Artwork

As luck would have it, I found these Daleks of which I am sure so many Whovians have heard.  The both have been signed by cast members of Dr. Who and Torchwood.  I managed this picture of these killing machines, but someone snagged a pic of Gareth David-Lloyd signing one!

The autographed Daleks!
The autographed Daleks!

Everyone was in high spirits, and seemed to be having a great time.  I know I did despite two rather embarrassing fanboy moments.  Known primarily for his role as Andrew Wells on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Tom also played Verges in Joss Whedon’s film version of Shakespeare’s ‘Much Ado about  Nothing’.

Tom Lenk with Danny Strong and Adam Busch from Buffy
Tom Lenk with Danny Strong and Adam Busch from Buffy

Tom’s filmography is full of a variety of roles.  During the convention I had seen him walk around the hall a few times, but didn’t have a chance to speak with him, until later.  Tom Lenk is quite a talented man.  He’s also very handsome.

Tom Lenk
Tom Lenk

So much so that I completely forgot what I was going to ask him when he made direct eye contact with me.  I was fine all day, speaking with Denise Crosby, Sean Maher, Alaina Huffman, and Gareth David-Lloyd, and yet Tom Lenk and his beautiful blue eyes paralyzed me.  I am sure he’s used to fans freezing and he tried to help me re-set by asking for my business card.  That almost worked, until I made eye contact again.  Hopefully I will have another opportunity to meet him, and I will have a written list of questions ready, just in case.  Tom’s new film ‘Nerdgasm’ has no set release date as of yet, so Tom said to keep an eye on his website.

Nerdgasm
Nerdgasm

My other fan boy moment involved a group cosplay from one of the best movies of my childhood. You can read about that one in my Fan Fest Cosplayers article.

To everyone who attended:  fans, cosplayers, vendors, guests, and event staff, thank you very much for a great convention and memories that will last a lifetime!  I look forward to the next one!  Until then I’ll do some research.  Surely there’s a fool-proof way to not have a fanboy lock up when meeting a celebrity.

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