SDCC 2016: Doing the Con Without the Badge

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Admiring the Convention Center and all that was happening inside, while we tried to have fun outside of it

It was a sad day in November when my cousin and I failed to secure our SDCC badges during Pre-Reg. We felt even worse when we struck out again during Open Reg. Despite our bad luck, we decided to still head down to San Diego and partake in the off-site Con activities, with Nerd HQ being our main priority.

Even with our focus on Nerd HQ, if you’ve ever tried to get panel tickets for it, you know it’s almost as hard as getting actual Con badges. They go on sale and less than a minute later, they’re gone. Cousin and I couldn’t get tickets for the Zachary Levi panel, or Zac and Friends, or Orphan Black, and then somehow we FINALLY lucked out and got tickets for the Stephen Amell and Friends panel. So we set Friday as our day to wander downtown.

First on the agenda? Go see Star Trek Beyond. Yeah, we know, so much to do, so little time, but it’s Star Trek! During Comic-Con weekend! In San Diego! We weren’t gonna pass on that. So we went straight to Horton Plaza for the 10AM showing, and because everybody was busy doing actual Con stuff, we were maybe 2 of 10 people in that screening. For what it’s worth, it was a really fun and enjoyable action movie, with just the right amount of character building/drama to push it past some other mindless action movies.

Star Trek Beyond

Special postcard-size lithograph from the screening

After the movie, we had about two hours to check out all the stuff around the Convention Center, so we made our way down Gaslamp. Our objective was pretty much to get the Entertainment Weekly Comic-Con issue (because duh, Wonder Woman/Gal Gadot on the cover), which we knew wasn’t going to be difficult, and get whatever free stuff we could get our hands on. Free Zico coconut water? Thank you for the much needed hydration on a hot day in San Diego! I would’ve liked to check out the Suicide Squad Belle Rive set-up and the NBC stuff at Tin Fish, but there were some hella lines going on and limited time. Had we not gone to see the movie, I definitely would’ve hit up Camp Conival just to check out the Nerdist panels (mainly to see the always wonderful Dark Matter cast) but I didn’t feel the need to go otherwise. It was a quick run through the Petco Interactive Zone, which seemed a little lacking this year, though maybe it was just that there was nothing that particularly interested us. The FXhibition was just whatever for me, seeing as how the only two shows I watch on the network are The Americans and You’re the Worst, both of which are not Con shows, so didn’t care for it. Ditto with the Adult Swim.

I think it’s always fun to check out the yachts docked behind the Convention Center, mainly because celebs make their way through to do interviews. But unless you’ve got insider info somehow, you don’t know who will be coming at any given time. A couple of years ago we caught some of the cast of The Walking Dead walk by. This year, we stuck around for all of 2 minutes and nearly bumped into Stan Lee!

A highlight of our short time around the Center was Con-X, the Entertainment Weekly off-site. It was located in the Embarcadero Marina Park, so it was quite a bit of a walk from the Center, meaning it wasn’t that busy. It might’ve been a little busier had we gotten there when they were doing interviews, but at that moment there wasn’t anything. Anyways, the free stuff was obviously the best part. Free Krispy Kreme donut, with a side of Power Rangers swag (posters, lanyards, pins)? Why, thank you! Free water? Again, thanks for keeping us hydrated! Free ice cream? That one came with an asterisk of having to take a picture with the Scream Queens people (not the cast) and sharing on social media (an annoying re-occurance). Really, you’re gonna make me work for the ice cream? I don’t even like the show, I just want the damn ice cream. PASS. Free t-shirts though?! YES PLEASE! Except there was a sizable line-up that we didn’t have time for, so unfortunately we also had to pass on that. So a good amount of free food, drinks, and swag – hope EW brings this back next year!

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Then it was onward to NerdHQ for the panel! When they announced the Stephen and Friends panel, I immediately just assumed that more of the Arrow cast was going to be there, but then I thought “Wouldn’t they just call it an Arrow panel then?” I followed up that thought with “What if he brings Grant Gustin and Melissa Benoist?!” which didn’t happen. Instead, the “and Friends” part of the panel consisted of Emily Bett Rickards (YAYYYY!!), Cody Rhodes fka Stardust (amusing but meh), Arthur Darville, and a surprise appearance from John Barrowman. I’m not gonna go into detail about the panel because you can just watch it, but needless to say, it was pretty fun. Stuck around NerdHQ for the rest of the afternoon after the panel, in hopes of catching some Smiles for Smiles, but nothing happened so that was it for us.

Needless to say, it was a whirlwind day. It’s true, there is SO much going on in the downtown area outside of the convention center that it will keep you busy. But just like everything else, it all comes down to personal preference – not to mention how willing you are to wait for something. I mean sure, SDCC (or any other Con for that matter) is lovingly nicknamed Line Con, but when you’ve got one day, or in our case a couple hours, you gotta pick your battles.

BUT WAIT! My cousin didn’t get a chance to meet up with her friend on Friday to deliver some stuff, so we managed to squeeze in one more hour on Saturday! As luck would have it, in that hour that we were back downtown, somewhat close to NerdHQ, they announced separate Smiles for Smiles with Scott Porter (Friday Night Lights) and Kumail Nanjiani (Silicon Valley). One of my other cousins got a picture with Kumail, while I ran in to get one of the last pictures with Scott. Even if it was for only like 20 seconds, at least I can say I finally got to meet Scott (Jason Street/George Tucker, y’all!) Regardless, my limited SDCC turned out to be a success!

Smiles for Smiles

So SDCC without the badge was fine, but just for the day. I guess if we had spent more than one day then we probably could’ve done more of the other stuff that required us standing in line for a long time. But honestly, being so close to the Convention Center and not being able to go inside was kinda brutal. I mean with all the panels and not getting to see some of my faves again? Harsh. I missed the final SDCC panel for Orphan Black (I’m certain I’ll still be able to see them at one of the Toronto cons at least). Missed DC TV, Agents of SHIELD, Luke Cage. I missed getting the chance to see my Nikita people again – Shane West for Salem, and even Maggie Q came back this year promoting Designated Survivor! I MISSED SEEING ANNA KENDRICK AND JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE (there for the Trolls portion of the Dreamworks panel)! I’m not entirely sure I’d want to put myself through that again if I don’t get badges again next time. It’s one thing to suffer serious FOMO when you’re at home, but when you’re so close to the action and not at the same time? I don’t think my fangirl heart can take it.

SDCC 2014 Wrap-Up

Can’t believe another Comic-Con has come and gone! Second year in the books! It sinceriously (yes, that’s a made up word. Thank Stephen Amell) just went by so quickly, I almost didn’t want to get this post going. But here we are, already reminiscing about what happened just days ago and looking forward to next year.

BEFORE THE CON

Last year, I did a crazy thing and went to the Justin Timberlake/Jay-Z concert in Toronto the night before SDCC, flew into San Diego the morning of and went straight into the madness. No such craziness this year. I flew in early Wednesday and gave myself time to just take it easy before the Con. Of course, me being well…me, I wanted to get more things into an already packed 5 days in SD. It is supposed to be a vacation after all! After my cousin and I went to Town & Country to pick up our badges (which was a surprisingly smooth process), we headed over to The Old Globe in Balboa Park to check out a performance of Othello, which starred Blair Underwood, Kristen Connelly, and Richard Thomas. The leads were great and I had wanted to visit Balboa Park anyways, but I admit I went to see Othello to support Noah Bean (in what would be a recurring theme of me seeing the former Nikita castmembers throughout the Con). The show itself was just fantastic and it was definitely nice to do something outside of Comic Con!

Othello at The Old Globe in Balboa Park! Had to go support Noah Bean and check out the rest of the wonderful cast!

Othello at The Old Globe in Balboa Park! Had to go support Noah Bean and check out the rest of the wonderful cast!

THURSDAY

So Thursday rolls around and my cousin and I had a game plan for the morning, which of course didn’t go EXACTLY as planned (timing was a small issue) but we made it work. It was an early morning as I went with my cousin to help her get the Guillermo Del Toro signing, but when they didn’t start doing the drawings at 9 as scheduled, I had to split (she still managed to get the signing). First was a quick trip down to the exhibit hall to check with BBC America if they were doing an Orphan Black signing (nope) and find out the Fox autograph schedule [FWIW, I really think Fox dropped the ball on how they handled the Con as a whole. What up with not revealing the full autograph schedule ahead of time?! And no appearance by the new Fantastic Four cast at the panel? Come on now.]

Behind the Music: Crime, Death and Resurrection panel with celebrity moderator Shane West! Panelists (L-R): Jeff Russo, James Levine, Daniel Licht, Steve Jablonsky, Brian Reitzell, Christopher Young

Behind the Music: Crime, Death and Resurrection panel with celebrity moderator Shane West! Panelists (L-R): Jeff Russo, James Levine, Daniel Licht, Steve Jablonsky, Brian Reitzell, Christopher Young

Shortly thereafter, I made my way to my first panel of the Con – Behind the Music: Crime, Death, and Resurrection. Being a music nerd myself, I was already interested in the panel when I first saw the schedule and then they announced the special celebrity moderator: Shane West! Just like that, the panel became a priority. The panel itself was very interesting, with all these composers talking about their inspirations, how they work, and their working relationships with different directors/producers. After the panel, I got up the nerve to go talk to/meet/get a picture with Shane, who honestly could not have been any nicer while I tried my damned hardest not to fangirl. Con trip was made on the very first day, and seriously it was gonna be tough to top that interaction. I mean 4 years of trying and failing miserably to find and meet the Nikita cast in/around Toronto and I FINALLY get to meet Shane – I was on cloud nine and you sinceriously could not wipe the grin off my face. With no other panel that REALLY interested us until later on (didn’t think we’d get into Community, the Paramount Pictures panel didn’t seem entirely promising until we found out Nolan and McConaughey made a surprise appearance), we actually ended up doing a lot of our purchases. It was then onto the Witches of East End panel, a show I thoroughly enjoy and whose cast I absolutely adore (hi Jenna Dewan-Tatum, one of my favourite dancers-turned-actresses!) They actually treated us to a lengthy preview of an upcoming episode, so there were actual spoilers being teased. I think what I loved most about the panel was seeing the cast interaction, because it definitely seemed like they’ve become family. It was all very cute. It was then off to grab some food and head back to the hotel, and despite having every intention to go out to the Female Geek Bloggers meet-up then the NerdHQ party, I just crashed. I really wanted to meet the FGB community but the jetlag caught up to me; I’m deeply sorry I didn’t get to meet everyone!

Meeting Shane West after the Behind the Music panel?! AHHHH!!!! Comic-Con trip made!

Meeting Shane West after the Behind the Music panel?! AHHHH!!!! Comic-Con trip made!

Witches of East End panel L-R: Julia Ormond, Jenna Dewan-Tatum, Rachel Boston, Madchen Amick, Daniel DiTomasso, Eric Winter

Witches of East End panel
L-R: Julia Ormond, Jenna Dewan-Tatum, Rachel Boston, Madchen Amick, Daniel DiTomasso, Eric Winter

FRIDAY

Friday was actually pretty eventful. I found out Adam Baldwin was doing another NerdHQ panel (he did one on Thursday with his The Last Ship castmates), this time with writer Nathan Edmondson in the morning, so I went to see that. They were actually promoting a graphic novel they’ve been working on that’ll be released soon which will be cool, but of course, Adam got fielded with Chuck and Firefly questions as well. I was going to get my Nerd Machine shirts after the panel but checking the time and not knowing if I had enough of it, I sprinted over back to the convention center so I could catch the panel for iZombie, a new CW show based on a DC comic that is airing midseason. Got into the room as the previous panel was wrapping up and there was no line-up! Due to some small recasting, the full pilot didn’t end up getting shown here or on preview night, but they did show a fairly lengthy video which was basically the pilot in a nutshell, and hey, more time for Q&A! iZombie is executive produced by Rob Thomas (Veronica Mars) and stars Rose McIver (Tink from Once Upon a Time) as Liv, a med student now working at the city morgue so she can have access to brains that way she doesn’t have to kill…because she’s a zombie. The cast also includes Robert Buckley (Clay from One Tree Hill! Not gonna lie, I really wanted to see him), David Anders (Sark from Alias! He will always be Sark to me), Rahul Kohli, and Malcolm Goodwin. It sinceriously looks like a really fun show and I am actually really looking forward to it.

Adam Baldwin & Nathan Edmondson panel at NerdHQ

Adam Baldwin & Nathan Edmondson panel at NerdHQ

iZombie panel L-R: EP Rob Thomas, EP Diane Ruggiero-Wright, Rose McIver, Malcolm Goodwin, Rahul Kohli, Robert Buckley, David Anders

iZombie panel
L-R: EP Rob Thomas, EP Diane Ruggiero-Wright, Rose McIver, Malcolm Goodwin, Rahul Kohli, Robert Buckley, David Anders

My cousin braced the Hall H line this morning so she could check out the Game of Thrones panel, and because we weren’t going to make it to the Marvel TV panel if we wanted to get into our MUST SEE panel of the day (her 2nd b/c she got GoT) I headed on down back to the exhibit hall to take pictures of Hayley Atwell during the Agent Carter signing at the Marvel booth. I probably could’ve tried for the signing itself, but I had no idea how Marvel did the ticketing for it (at least I now know for next year though!) I have to say that the Marvel booth and how well they handle the hoardes of people and the signing were amazing. They were beyond efficient and even with Hayley taking pictures with fans, they let random people standing around the booth go for an autograph because they had gone through the initial people who had gotten tickets and still had time. I was so close to being one of those people, but not close enough. I didn’t seem as enthusiastic as everyone else around me I suppose. It’s okay, I managed to get some great shots of Hayley!

Hayley Atwell at the autograph signing for Agent Carter

Hayley Atwell at the autograph signing for Agent Carter

So before Comic-Con started, the four panels I was most looking forward to were Orphan Black, Arrow, Sleepy Hollow, and Salem; in a cruel turn of events, the first three were all scheduled for Friday…AT THE EXACT SAME TIME (technically, they overlapped within 15 minutes of each other). I had a huge decision to make: I figured OB was in too small of a room (6A really?) and as much as I wanted to see the entire Arrow cast, I missed Sleepy Hollow last year, so SH it was (John Freakin’ Noble and Lyndie Greenwood being on the panel certainly helped make the decision a little easier). Again, not really being sure as to how full 6BCF would get once the SH panel came around, I made a conscious decision to get into the room a good two panels before SH. Sat through the panels for The 100 and Falling Skies, two shows I don’t watch and though looks kind of interesting there wasn’t much of a draw for me to get pulled in. So the Sleepy Hollow panel! SO MUCH FUN! Tom Mison and Nicole Beharie with their facial expressions were my everything. Orlando Jones, ever the jokester. Katia Winter, so gorgeous. Lyndie, just being awesome. And oh yeah, did I mention JOHN FREAKIN’ NOBLE was on the panel? Just bears repeating. Tom Mison also promised he’d do his Heisenberg/Bryan Cranston impression at next year’s panel, so it’s out there, we have to hold him to it next year!

SLEEPY HOLLOW panel!!! L-R: Alex Kurtzman, Robert Orci, Mark Goffman, Heather Kadin, Tom Mison, Nicole Beharie, Orlando Jones, Katia Winter, Lyndie Greenwood, John Noble

SLEEPY HOLLOW panel!!!
L-R: Alex Kurtzman, Robert Orci, Mark Goffman, Heather Kadin, Tom Mison, Nicole Beharie, Orlando Jones, Katia Winter, Lyndie Greenwood, John Noble

Putting to good use what I learned at last year’s Con from my Nikita fan friend, after the panel I ran out to the hallway and kinda milled around waiting for the cast to come out and go over to the break room/holding station? across the hall. For the record, my cousin and I just wanted to get a close-up picture of the cast and say “Hi”; we’re incredibly respectful fans, almost to a fault (explains why I failed miserably to meet the Nikita cast all these years). Security was tight immediately after the panel but once they had gone to the other room, it wasn’t so bad. I mean Tom Mison walked out to greet a friend shortly thereafter like it was no big deal. Lyndie walked out, getting ready to leave and I managed to get in a “Hi Lyndie!” and “Go Toronto!” for which she then turned around, waved at me, and asked “You’re from Toronto?” I probably should’ve asked for a picture, but I knew she was on her way out, and there I go again being so nice and respectful. But hey! Two days at SDCC, two interactions with former Nikita castmembers! I’m HAPPY! Oh man, that hallway though after the Orphan Black panel let out? CRAZINESS! My cousin and I managed small interactions with Jordan Gavaris, Kristian Bruun, Dylan Bruce, and Maria Doyle Kennedy as they walked past: eye contact, waves, “Hi!”, complements, thank yous – literally seconds of interaction and you can tell how nice they are (seriously though, I made eye contact with Dylan Bruce and swooned lol). Trying to get a picture of Tatiana Maslany though? Impossible. There was like a mob around her. Even with us being in front of her, we were like running to get out of the way of the mob.

See? Tom Mison walked out of the holding room like it was nothing

See? Tom Mison walked out of the holding room like it was nothing

Tatiana Maslany however? I think the blurry picture says it all...

Tatiana Maslany however? I think the blurry picture says it all…

Jordan Gavaris and Kristian Bruun managed a selfie with a fan though!

Jordan Gavaris and Kristian Bruun managed a selfie with a fan though!

SATURDAY

Unfortunately, we didn’t have Saturday badges. The panels I was looking forward to (Salem, WB/DC TV, TV Guide Fan Favorites) and the signings I was hoping to try for or even just pass by and get a glimpse of (Agents of Shield, Avengers, Gotham, Sleepy Hollow, Salem, Arrow) weren’t gonna happen. But ya know what? We made the most of having no badge. Checking out some of the offsite stuff was pretty cool. All the Simpsons stuff was neat – sunscreen station? Free cotton candy? Games? Hells yeah! The Gotham zip line looked cool, and I was gonna suck it up and do it despite being scared of heights, but I saw how fast people were going and completely chickened out. It was then over to NerdHQ, just to check things out and get some merch before the Orphan Black panel. Oh yeah, did I mention I got completely lucky and scored tickets for the OB NerdHQ panel? SO EXCITED and SO MUCH FUN! Funny thing, while waiting and hanging out at NerdHQ, my cousin and I were sitting in the stands and noticed the area where the celebs were coming in and out, before/after their panels. Basically, we were trying to do our best spy work and being paparazzi ahaha. Also, we just wanted to stick around in hopes of getting in on the Smiles for Smiles. We correctly assumed that there wouldn’t be one for the OB cast (Tatiana definitely wouldn’t have had time to do it, we were holding out hope for everybody else), but was wishfully thinking that whoever was doing the Badass Women panel would do pictures. As soon as my cousin got the notification (which she didn’t even read, just saw that it said “Smiles”), she was like “Let’s go!” and we got in line not knowing who we were gonna get pictures with. Turns out it was Missy Peregrym (-Levi?), Retta, and Yvonne Strahovski! I’ve met Missy and Retta before, so not that I wasn’t excited to meet them again, but omigod Yvonne! I would’ve liked a tad bit more interaction with them (though maybe it was for the best, less time for me to get all awkward), but I understand the efficiency of keeping the line going. NerdHQ clearly knows how to handle photo ops.

Free cotton candy! Thanks FXX and The Simpsons!

Free cotton candy! Thanks FXX and The Simpsons!

Gotham zip-line. Yeah, I chickened out...

Gotham zip-line. Yeah, I chickened out…

ORPHAN BLACK panel at NerdHQ!! Love this cast so much!

ORPHAN BLACK panel at NerdHQ!! Love this cast so much!

Paparazzi shot of Jordan Gavaris heading backstage

Paparazzi shot of Jordan Gavaris heading backstage

SUNDAY

I spent another morning at NerdHQ, as I somehow managed to get a ticket for Stephen Amell’s panel. Things magically worked out, because despite that major Friday panel conflict, I still got to see a lot of my favourite celebs throughout the weekend. So yeah, sitting in a room for 45 minutes just listening to Stephen answer questions and be his charming self, was pretty much a great way to spend Sunday morning. Oh, and this is also where he made up “sinceriously,” which we’re all just gonna run with now because it’s funny. Before the panel, I made a prediction that if anyone was gonna do a Smiles for Smiles, it’d be Stephen, just because he’s super charitable, and it’s the type of thing that he’d do. And I was right! Bonus: it was only for people who were at the panel, so I didn’t even have to worry about missing the notification! Again the efficiency and swiftness of the whole thing led to minimal interaction, but I did manage a “Hi! Nice to see you again!” not that he’d remember me from FanExpo last year, but I just wanted to say it anyways. Ya know, like it’s no big deal.

Stephen Amell panel at NerdHQ

Stephen Amell panel at NerdHQ

So after all that NerdHQ goodness, I went back to the Convention Center to meet up with my cousin and our friends, and just kinda milled around the exhibit hall, making our final purchases. After going along with me to my Witches of East End panel on Thursday, it was only fair that I went along with my cousin to the Sons of Anarchy panel (even if Charlie Hunnam wasn’t there).

 

And just like that, another Comic-Con was in the books. I paced myself a little bit better than last year, but clearly I still have some work to do. I got to meet some of my favourite celebs, caught up with friends from last year, met some new friends, and most importantly, I had lots of fun. I still am really sorry that I didn’t make it to the FGB meet-up Thursday, but next year FOR SURE! (Or earlier, if there’s anyone around Toronto who wants to meet up or you L.A. folk because I know I’ve got an L.A trip in the works for early next year.) Thanks for putting up with my super long post. SDCC 2015, will be epic, I’m already sure of it!

Fan Expo 2013 – The Time I Met Oliver Queen, Anna Espinosa, Annie Walker + Sandy Cohen!

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So these happened at Fan Expo…

Last month, I fulfilled my dream of going to San Diego Comic Con for the first time ever. I know the true comic book fans are upset at the Hollywood-ization of SDCC, but it’s kinda one of the big reasons why I wanted to go. In comparison, Toronto’s Fan Expo, the third largest Con in North America, is much more comic-oriented but still has lots of room for the TV shows and celebrities.

I actually went to Fan Expo last year, not really knowing what to expect. This year, having survived the crazy awesomeness of SDCC, I decided that I would once again go to Fan Expo, though just for one day. I picked Sunday as my day to attend. Now, one of the biggest changes for Fan Expo this year was the inclusion of a Sports Fan Expo, which meant that the entire Metro Toronto Convention Centre was being used, not just the South building. I can’t tell you how great a decision that was. It might have been that I went on Sunday, so maybe it was less crowded than Saturday, but there was actually room to walk around the exhibit hall. There was no feeling like people were invading your personal space like at SDCC! Plus, the lines aren’t nearly as crazy as SDCC. I heard some people complaining about how long some of the lines were, and I thought to myself “This is nothing compared to Hall H & Ballroom 20!”

I’m not sure if this happens at other Cons that aren’t SDCC, but one of the cool things about Fan Expo is that because they have a limited number (but still a fair amount) of celebrities attending, the celebs have an area where they sign autographs while they are at the Expo. Between these autographs and photo-ops, it gives the fans a good opportunity to meet the stars they want to see. The downside to this is that, whereas at SDCC the stars are sponsored/brought in by the studios and networks, at Fan Expo the stars are essentially paid to take time out of their schedules and show up, so you have to pay for the autographs and photo-ops (which are taken by professionals).

Now I got to the Convention Centre pretty much as they opened, so after getting my wristband and heading in, I figured I’d check out the autograph area to see what times certain celebs were gonna be there signing. When I got there, Stephen Amell was already at his table! Awesome! I’m terrible at small talk, being the awkward introvert that I am, so I said a few quick words when it was my turn to see Stephen, got my autograph and was on my way. Of note, I paid $40 for his autograph, and for an extra $20 I could’ve gotten my picture taken with him, but I didn’t, and I kind of regretted it later (See, sometimes, the real Asian in me can cause me to be really cheap and not spend money. Idiot.) I figured since I’m there, let’s get in line to see Gina Torres! Gina does not usually do Cons so I HAD to make sure I went to see her. And sure, Gina is in town because Suits films in Toronto, but between me not actually living in Toronto, the bad luck I have at meeting celebs on set, and my general awkwardness, this was my only chance. What’s funny is that meeting Stephen, I was my usual awkward self, though he was really nice. With Gina, I was actually shaking a little bit, on top of being my awkward self. I might not have seen Firefly (a little blasphemous, I know) but I’ve admired this woman from her days on Alias (I will always remember her as Anna Espinosa), and of course now Suits. With getting these autographs, we can get the celebs to personalize them, and I’m already paying for it so why not? My name may be short but since kindergarten, everybody has had a hard time guessing how to pronounce my name until I tell them (it’s pronounced like the letter T). So I get very impressed by anyone who does it on the first try, which is what Gina Torres did. And man, did it feel nice to just get her acknowledgment like that. Yup, it’s the little things that can turn me into a dork.

Stephen Amell signing autographs

Stephen Amell signing autographs

We technically weren't supposed to take picture of Gina or Nathan Fillion (who was signing autographs beside her), but I sneaked one in

We technically weren’t supposed to take picture of Gina Torres or Nathan Fillion (who was signing autographs beside her), but I managed to sneak one in

I had intended on going to see Shawn and Aaron Ashmore’s panel, after getting my autographs, but in a case of not thinking straight, I had made my way to the South Building, instead of staying on the North side where the panel was. Needless to say, I missed it so I went roaming around the exhibit hall instead. I’m not one to buy a lot of things at Cons, unless something catches my eye, and honestly, I’m really all about the free swag. There actually wasn’t that much in swag but I ended up picking a couple posters from E1 and some Orphan Black (my newest obsession) buttons from the Space booth. Again, I know it’s terrible to go to these Cons and say I’m not really into comics, but I’m not. I made an exception though, picking up the early Fringe comic/graphic novel and one issue of Beyond the Fringe, the one that Joshua Jackson co-wrote.

Stephen Amell's panel

Stephen Amell’s panel

The first of two panels I ended up seeing was Stephen Amell’s panel. I know I saw him as part of the Arrow panel at SDCC and that I got to meet him earlier that day, but I couldn’t miss the chance to see him again and just hear him talk about stuff. Besides being ridiculously handsome, if you’ve seen him do interviews, he comes off as a genuinely nice and cool guy, and it’s probably partially due to the fact that he’s Canadian. During his panel, there was obviously talk about season 2 of Arrow, which for the most part I had heard already at SDCC, but he added in some on-set/off-screen stories, which I as a TV fan always appreciate, as well as personal anecdotes. One of the highlights of the panel was when Stephen was asked about Ben Affleck’s casting as Batman, the possibility of a Justice League movie, and if the TV and film worlds of the DC universe would intertwine like how Marvel now has S.H.I.E.L.D on TV. I’ll tell you this, I was a little taken aback by how honest and candid he was with his answers. With regards to Affleck as Batman, he just stated that DC (or even Marvel for that matter) and producers don’t just hand out iconic roles like that, so we simply just have to have faith in Affleck’s portrayal of the caped crusader. With regards to possibly taking his Green Arrow/Oliver Queen to the big screen if a JLA movie does happen, he says he wants to just take things as they come but revealed that casting decisions (once again) don’t just get handed out and have to go through many levels of approval by DC and goes up so far as Christopher Nolan. It was that tidbit of information that surprised me. I knew Nolan was one of the producers of the latest Superman film, Man of Steel, but I didn’t realize the clout that Nolan has on the DC/Warner Brothers superhero universe, in essence making him the equivalent to Joss Whedon’s role in the Marvel film universe.  The hour panel with Stephen went by quickly, and before we knew it, the moderators were saying that we needed to wrap it up and let Stephen go back to signing autographs. For proof of just how great a guy Stephen is, when asked if there was any final words he wanted to say to us fans, he said he wanted to answer 3 more questions and then he ended up answering 4. Like I said, cool guy.

Unlike at SDCC where you can camp out in a room all day, at Fan Expo they clear out after each panel. They also leave some time between panels so that if you happen to want to check out back-to-back panels in the same room, you can still get yourself in line for the next one. That’s exactly what ended up happening for me because after Stephen Amell was the Covert Affairs panel. Now funny story while I was waiting in line for Covert Affairs – Stephen Amell walked passed all of us in line. The girls in front of me who were talking and gushing about him, barely even noticed that he was walking past, and then there’s me who saw him and said “Hi” to him like it was no big deal. (I tell you, my awkwardness can act in a very weird ways.) Another thing that’s cool about Fan Expo is that for the shows that do get brought in from the networks (like Covert Affairs, in this case, being brought in by Showcase), there’s a lottery/raffle to get into the line for the free autograph session as you head into the panel. They put 2 different coloured raffle tickets into a bag, you pick one as you go inside, before the panel starts they tell you which colour gets the autograph. Simple, and no need to wait in an extra line.

Covert Affairs panel with Piper Perabo, Kari Matchett, and Peter Gallagher. Christopher Gorham & Hill Harper were unable to make it due to filming.

Covert Affairs panel with Piper Perabo, Kari Matchett, and Peter Gallagher. Christopher Gorham & Hill Harper were unable to make it due to filming.

I have to admit it was a little weird sitting in the panel hearing Piper Perabo, Kari Matchett, and Peter Gallagher talk about season 4 in a non-spoilery way because the new season hadn’t premiered in Canada yet, but I’ve been watching online so I know what’s been going on unless it’s later on in the season. As always, the real gems of all these panels are the behind-the-scenes stories. Hints/spoilers on what’s coming up are cool, anecdotes and random tangents are cooler (and funnier). Take for instance Piper recounting the time they were in Venice and they’re filming a scene where she’s in a foot chase because some guy stole from her. Now when they film on the street in Toronto, the area gets blocked off with security stopping people from entering a scene. When they’re filming abroad though, that doesn’t happen, so it’s sort of a free-for-all. So Piper’s filming this scene and these local guys don’t know/realize that there’s filming going on, so they would go after Piper and try to help her catch this thief; the crew kept on having to stop filming to let these locals know that it’s all fake and go back to whatever they were doing. Another fun moment was getting Peter Gallagher to sing, which for the record, didn’t take much work to convince him.

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About that autograph lottery earlier, I was not one of the lucky people to get the “winning” raffle ticket. I will tell you this though, sometimes (and by that I mean VERY RARELY) it pays to be a fan of a less popular show. Not enough people drew the winning colour so Showcase still had spots for the autograph signing. After the panel, I quickly made my way to the Showcase booth and tried to see if I could get one of those spots and all I had to do when I got there was answer the question they posted on Twitter. Needless to say, I got into the autograph signing! Surprisingly, when I came up to Peter, I managed to say that I was a big fan of Center Stage and The O.C., which is infinitely more than I was able to say to either Stephen or Gina earlier, and he mentioned how he just had dinner a couple weeks ago with Melinda Clarke (who’s obviously been in town filming Nikita). My day was made.

Covert Affairs autograph signing

Covert Affairs autograph signing

After the autograph signing, I made another run through of the exhibit hall and then called it a day. I had a lot more fun at Fan Expo this year than last, that’s for sure. I know I keep comparing FE & SDCC, but they are two different beasts. The general feeling at both events are similar but very different at the same time. Obviously in terms of meeting celebs, I was way more successful in my one day at FE than I was the entire 4 days at SDCC, but I was afforded a lot more opportunity to make those meets happen. Will I be back to FE next year? As long as they continue to bring celebs/shows that I’m a fan of, most definitely.