Fan Expo St. Louis Sets High Bar For Conventions (Review)
It has been over 3 years since St. Louis has seen a comic convention to the likes of what is dubbed as “Comic Con,” but 2022 saw the return of Fan Expo (formerly known as Wizard World) at the America’s Center Convention Complex. Having been a few years since the event has come to town, the anticipation and excitement was extremely high between convention goers, guests, artists, and the hosts alike.
One of the most exciting parts of these conventions is fans getting the opportunity to mingle and meet with some of their favorite celeb guests, rather it is through purchasing an opportunity to get a professional photo op, having something autographed, or enjoying one of the many panels presented throughout the weekend. As always, the roster is always impressive, with this previous event being no exception. St. Louis welcomed a whole bunch of talented performers, voice actors, professional cosplayers – and a wide variety of local, national, and global artists.
The cast of the Clerks franchise – Jason Mewes, Brian O’Halloran, Jeff Anderson, Trevor Fehman, and director/writer Kevin Smith were all in attendance, with the first four slated to appear all weekend, while Smith was only scheduled to appear Saturday. Fans were lined up since the convention opened on Saturday for photo ops with Smith, albeit one-on-one, a combo with Mewes, or a chance to snap a pic with all 5 guests, and a special opportunity to take a photo with Mewes and Smith in character as the infamous duo Jay and Silent Bob! Fans were surprised to see that Smith made a second surprise appearance the following day, allowing more fans an opportunity to snag a photo op or get their favorite memorabilia signed!
Check out our Fan Expo guest album below:
Also joining the roster of guests was Michael Rooker from Guardians of the Galaxy and The Walking Dead, Mark Sheppard from Supernatural, Theo Rossi from Son of Anarchy and Luke Cage, a trio of guests from Smallville – which included Clark Kent himself, Tom Welling, as well as Kristin Kreuk and Michael Rosenbaum. Carl Weathers from Rocky and The Mandalorian was also in attendance, as well as Ron Perlman from Hellboy and Sons of Anarchy. While the majority of the guests appeared for the duration of the weekend, convention-vet and megastar William Shatner was also in attendance on Sunday, and brought in quite the crowd.
Fans were also treated with a plethora of voice actors, rather it be from their favorite video game franchise, anime, or animated series. Billy West from Futurama, Rodger Bumpass from Spongebob Squarepants, Rob Paulsen from The Animaniacs, and Sean Schemmel from Dragon Ball Z were among some of the featured guests. Videogame fans could also meet Nolan North, Carolina Ravassa or even Super Mario himself, Charles Martinet, who voiced the iconic character in the franchise for over 30 years!
Fans of all sorts gather at these conventions, and seeing the inventiveness and creative sides of people with these elaborate and beautiful costumes is always a highlight of attending. The cosplay is next level, whether it be attendees just sporting a costume of their favorite character while browsing the different vendors and artists, or walking the cosplay red carpet for a special event. It never ceases to amaze me how mesmerizing and intricate these costumes can be.
Speaking of artists, there were so many for convention-goers to meet, getting plenty of opportunities to look at some of the top talents in the industry. Fan Expo has a great mixture of local and not-so-local artists that cover so many different genres and prepare their pieces with such passion, uniqueness, and intricacy. One booth that stood out to me was a booth from Sigma Comics. Sigma Comics is a smaller company currently running a series called “Here Comes Calico.” Each issue, which is backed by Kickstarter, features a new type of superhero. Going after animal abusers, “Here Comes Calico” raises awareness for animal rights and activism with a giant portion of its proceeds going towards animal rights groups, such as Animal Welfare Institute and the Humane Farming Association to name a few. This is just one example of all the amazing artists featured at Fan Expo, drawing from different inspirations, causes, and styles to create a unique curation for fans to celebrate.
Each day was jampacked full of activities too! From workshops on drawing, games, discussions on a variety of different topics, to even presentations of the psychology of The Batman – all three days had a vast calendar of events and activities. Several guests had featured panels, giving an in-depth look at some of their recent projects, fan-celebrated films, shows, games, and more. Many exciting Q and As took place, allowing fans to ask questions of their own, and creating a more intimate experience. The weekend also featured two ticketed events sponsored by Fan Expo, “Smallville Nights” and “Jay and Silent Bob Get Old.” Local bars also hosted some after-parties, including a Cosplay Kickoff party, a Fan Expo Gaming Party, and even a Fan Expo DJs and Drag Party.
Here are some of the great cosplays that were on display over the weekend:
I was lucky to attend most of the panels, and they were a great time – each providing a unique experience. No matter if they are year-to-year, or city-to-city, these unique events are never the same.
I absolutely loved Michael Rooker’s panel, as he took charge and made it mostly a Q&A, abandoning the stage and moving around the audience to answer questions. Once he worked through the line of fans wishing to ask Rooker something, he just started mingling with the crowd and asking random individuals if they had anything they wanted to add to the conversation – it was quite hysterical, and with Rooker’s charm, enjoyable, lighthearted, and shows how engaged he is with his fanbase.
Ron Perlman and Theo Rossi shared a stage, surprising guests (as their panels were originally scheduled to be separate) by combining the conversation to be inclusive of their work together on Sons of Anarchy. Of course, they also touched upon their seperate roles in Hellboy and Luke Cage. Mark Sheppard was there to talk all things Supernatural, giving fans an inside look at the pranks and shenanigans that happened on set, and discussing his unique perspective of the infamous tomfoolery fans have come to love about the stars of the show. The Smallville trio talked about all things superhero, reflecting on some of their favorite guest stars and moments from filming the beloved series, including its influence on the wildly successful Arrowverse that CW is currently known for.
Brian O’Halloran, Jeff Anderson, and Trevor Fehrman hosted a Clerks panel, which was wonderful to see as the trio seemed to seamlessly slip in and out of character for impressions, stories, and an experience that I’m only going to simply describe as a dramatic reading of an erotic fanfic. William Shatner filled the Ferrera Theater, as his panel-turned-Q&A saw fans lining up and down the aisles with questions from their favorite Trekkie. It was also interesting to see the beginnings of Charles Martinet, the voice behind Nintendo’s Super Mario. His story about voicing one of the most iconic characters in video game history is quite the tale to be heard.
Whether it be the guests, artists, or vendors that bring you into Fan Expo, the experience is tailored for fans of nerd culture in every way possible. With the lack of conventions over the past three years, this was exactly what I needed. I’m already excited for Fan Expo’s return next year, but in the meantime there are still several big cities to hit in 2022. You can get more details at www.fanexpohq.com.