My Thoughts of Atlanta’s First Heroes and Villains Fan Fest

So I like going to conventions.  Been wanting to write about this for a bit, but due to some dramatic occurrences in my personal and family life, I’m just getting to it now.  None the less, I hope you enjoy…..


Sci-fi cons can be traced back as far as the 1930’s. The first recorded comic book convention took place in the 1960’s in New York City.  They called it the Tri-State Con and it was held July 24, 1964.  The con was a one-day convention at it’s start. Official guests included Steve Ditko, Flo Steinberg, and Tom Gill. Over 100 people attended.  Still an annual occurrence, it is now known as the New York Comicon, which this past year had over 180,000 people in attendance.

Atlanta is known for the south’s largest convention, DragonCon, which pulls in over 80,000 people over the Labor Day weekend.  This year, William Shatner attended, along with celebrities from Torchwood, Gotham, Firefly, and many other films and tv shows.  It’s an awesome weekend and I love it.  Have my pass and hotel for this year and can’t wait.

The creators of Walker Stalker Con, which celebrates everything zombie – the main pull being celebs from The Walking Dead – came up with a new convention concept, the Heroes and Villains Fan Fest.  Their slogan is “for fans, by fans.”  They hold these events all over the world from Chicago to London, and in 2016, for the very first time, Atlanta.

So the weekend before Thanksgiving, Heroes and Villains came to town.  One of my best friends had never been to a convention, and I wanted her to go to DragonCon with me, so I asked her to go.  I thought this would be a good emersion into the crazy cosplay convention world, and it was.

Celebs attending the convention included John Barrowman, Milo Ventimiglia, Stephen Amell, Robin Lord Taylor, Jason Momoa, and many many more.  My friend specifically attended for Jason Momoa. I was more there for Barrowman and Milo.  Barrowman never disappoints and I’ve been a team Jess/Peter Petrelli fan from way back.

So day one, Saturday, we both Uberd to the Georgia World Congress Center, where the fan fest was being held.  I wasn’t really sure what to expect with crowds.  I figured it wasn’t going to be anything like DragonCon, but I have to say that it was a lot less crowded than I ever thought it would be.  Probably not great for the convention, but awesome for us.  We could walk around without getting poked in the ribs with swords, or in the face with wings.  Novel concept I know.  It was held in one large room in building C.  The room was divided into sections – vendors, celeb signing and photo ops, and a panel area.  The first panel I was interested in wasn’t until 12:45 with John Barrowman, so we decided to check out the vendors first.  As expected, there were tons of Funko Pops, t-shirts, swords, corsets, and artists.  Can’t say I was really looking for anything, so I just enjoyed window shopping.

screen-shot-2017-02-13-at-3-06-35-pmI was in the mood to see beautiful people, so I suggested we move on to the celeb area.  First I saw John Barrowman and his husband.  Both are beautiful men.  We kept walking and and there before us was Jason Momoa.  You could stand in line, pay $40 and get a signed photo of him, but he wasn’t allowing anyone to take a picture with him – which is strange.  Usually you can pay to take a selfie with the guests, but not Khal Drogo.  So I held my phone up to take a
picture of the warrior leader of the tribe of horseman in Essos, and his handler told us that we could not take his photo.  Whatevs, still did.

screen-shot-2017-02-13-at-3-06-47-pmMoving on, we saw Milo.  Right then for me, the $30 entrance fee was worth it.  Though I love the celebs, I’m not the type to pay for their signature.  So we just gazed at all the beautiful people and went and stood in line for the Barrowman panel.

screen-shot-2017-02-13-at-3-06-55-pmOne awesome perk of the fan fest was that if you waited in line, you actually got in and
seated at the panel.  For anyone who has been to DragonCon, you know that is not always the case at the larger conventions.  So we stood in line and got a seat fairly close to the stage.  My friend had never seen John Barroman in anything, but I promised her that she would be entertained, and oh how I did not lie.  John Barrowman is famous for Torchwood, Dr. Who, and Arrow, but you go see him purely for his stage presence.   You never know what is going to come out of his mouth – he is a born performer and it’s impossible not to fall in love with him.  He spoke for an hour, answered all sorts of audience questions, and ended the panel singing Your Song to a sweet young girl in a wheelchair.  He made a life long fan out of my friend.

The next day, Sunday, was the Jason Momoa panel and the Heroes panel.  So the whole reason my friend was excited for the convention had arrived.  One problem – Jason Momoa turned out to be a complete douche.  He decided to leave the convention and skip his panel – and he was a headliner of the con.  So instead of keeping fans of his mediocre success, he ticked everyone off.  A stupid move on a celeb’s part.  The cast of The Walking Dead did the same thing at DragonCon, and are no longer allowed to attend.

screen-shot-2017-02-13-at-3-07-02-pmThough disappointing, the fest was still fun.  The Heroes panel was later that day, which
meant Milo.  My friend had never seen Heroes, but she did watch Gilmore Girls, so she was interested.  I ended up getting a front seat at the panel and it was glorious.
The panel consisted of Milo, Jack Coleman (Noah Bennet), and Robbie Kay from Heroes Reborn.  All three men had great personalities and were extremely entertaining.  The three shared stories from Heroes, their current shows such as Once Upon a Time, and This is Us, and cool personal insights.

As I sat there in the front row, I understood how the girl screen-shot-2017-02-13-at-3-07-10-pmin Raiders of the Lost Ark felt sitting in Professor Jones class. Milo was about five feet in front of me and I was totally fan-girling out.  He spoke on Heroes, Gilmore Girls a Year in the Life, Gotham, and This is Us.  He and Jack worked so well together on stage.  Made sense why Heroes was such a great show the four short seasons that it was on.  screen-shot-2017-02-13-at-3-07-17-pmInterestingly enough, they spoke on why Heroes ended.
I had always assumed that it died due to the writer’s strike, but actually the creators decided to end the show.   A shame, because it was one of my favorites.

 

The Heroes panel was one of the final parts of the convention.  My friend and I made one more round in the venders area, stood and watched John Barrowman and his husband Scott pack up their booth, and just soaked up the final minutes of the con.

screen-shot-2017-02-13-at-3-07-27-pm

 

 

Overall, Heroes and Villains Fan Fest was a success.  It’s a more intimate setting than other cons.  Much more enjoyable, the celebs seem to be more at ease, and definitely much less stressful than DragonCon.  They’re already adding celebs to this year’s con, so I’m sure I will attend.  It will give me more opportunities to fangirl out and hang with those that have a like minded inner geek.


Rebecca Bozarth is an artist who lives in Atlanta.  A graduate from SCAD Atlanta, she runs her own freelance business, Fotografia Film & Design, specializing in photography, film, social media, programing, and graphic and web design.

In her free time, you can find her exploring the city, at the park, reading, or playing on her PS4.  She loves classic film, concerts, and geek culture, especially Star Wars, Nightmare Before Christmas, Marvel, TWD, and recently has fallen in love with the art of cosplay.

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