Time to share a short report of two conventions that I attended the past weeks: Antwerpcon and FedCon. The first is a small expo that focuses on popular culture; the second a large science fiction convention with plenty of actors. Let’s go!
This small convention in Belgium was held for the third time. The convention is more like an expo really – or “beurs” in Dutch –since it specializes in its dealer room. For those who have never been there, but are familiar with the Belgium FACTS,that’s Antwerpcon in a nut shell. The set-up is similar to FACTS and you’ll spot some of your favourite vendours at Antwerpcon too. In fact, the cosplay competition is hosted by the same guy as from FACTS. The resemblances are striking. What was different , perhaps, is that Antwerpcon also had a lecture room with an interesting program and offered quite a lot of nice things, like a game space and a decent stage with plenty of space to sit amongst others. The actors – including the guy that plays Loras from Game of Thrones – and authors boosted the event as well. I got a book (Hex) signed from a Dutch fantasy author and look forward to reading that some time soon.
The affordable entry and the enthusiastic crowd make Antwerpcon a nice add to your list. I drove somewhat over an hour to get there, accompanied by my sister and two friends. This was just about the amount of time that I would want to drive for an event like this and I would definitely recommend it to everyone that lives nearby.
In terms of fandom, the amount of Homestuck cosplayers stood out. I met another Harley from Arkham City and took a picture of a very nice Willy Wonka cosplayer. She really made a spot on impression and her face perfectly resembled his. Her attitude was wonderful – constantly in character not by actually being in character but by striking the correct pose and awkwardness. I really enjoyed seeing that and couldn’t really put my finger on why it was that good other than her performance. This girl made a perfect Depp, which made my day.
The cosplay competition was a wild mix of slap stick with Batman characters, many performative anime acts on music and, to top things off, a Jedi singing a power metal song live. There was little spoken theater but I enjoyed this short and casual competition very much. It was spontaneous and not overly regulated. One father also tried to get his little kid to enter but he freaked out, which was pretty cute but also sad. Anyway, that situation was telling in terms of the demography at Antwerpcon which was pretty inclusive. For many people, I think this was a great Sunday with their family and friends. This was my first Antwerpcon and I wouldn’t mind going there again.
This was my second time at FedCon in Dusseldorf but I have to say, I like this convention a lot for what it has to offer. It’s very different from most conventions that I tend to frequent, which are anime and fantasy conventions that are fan-driven. FedCon is not driven by fan practices but more by its actors. Though there was ample attention for steampunk this year and, as always, for fan films, most of FedCon’s primary events are those that centre around sci-fi stars. They give panels together and by themselves with ample room for questions from the audience. Autograph signing was particularly dominant in the program this year.
Though I was in doubt about whether to go – I’m not all that fond of actors, they’re only people – I decided to go on Friday anyway to meet up with some friends and attend the Star Trek Voyager panels. Since this was my favourite Star Trek series, I love reliving it and seeing its actors to renew my intimacy and attention for the show. I was in doubt for a long time whether I didn’t want to attend two or three days but when the Battlestar Galactica actors cancelled, I really didn’t see the point. When I arrived, I also found out that Roxanne Dawson (Torres) was also not there and was pretty duped.
Then again, I got to see Ethan Philips (Neelix) and Robert Beltran (Chakotay) live and they were excellent people. Ethan told lots of stories about Kes, the friendship among the characters and actual crew. He also provided his thoughts of Neelix cooking and the actual food on the set, which was even more gross apparently. I was really taken by him and moved to the edge of my seat when he mentioned one of my favourite episodes from Voyager, Mortal Coil, as the best Neelix episode and the episode that demanded most from him as an actor. You may recall that this was the story in which he died and got his positive spirit and religion tested. He decided to ‘keep on living for his family and friends,’ Ethan stressed. This was a profound moment of character development.
While Ethan did his panel together with the host Garrett Wang (Harry Kim), Ethan joined as a host for Robert’s panel. Both were very comical together though it was sad that Robert hardly remembered anything from Voyager. Specifically when a girl asked him about Chakotay and the Maquis, he really didn’t know what to answer, nor when another fan asked him about spirituality and Indian beliefs. Both of these questions were general, and really easy to answer, but Robert didn’t really bother. He seemed nice but not all that interested in the world of Star Trek and its characters. (Ethan and Garrett were still really good at providing some thoughts and stories, even though it was years ago). At points, Ethan also stepped in for Robert, which really helped.
Since the Thursday was the opening day of FedCon, we pretty much structured the day around these panels. We saw brief bits of a few other actors from Farscape and The Next Generation and inspected the dealer room. I didn’t score much, but was happy with two gorgeous cast photos from Once Upon A Time. It was nice to see that, as always, they also had a small expo for fan art/crafts. I appreciate that a lot as a way to put fan practices out there and motivate them.
I liked FedCon a lot and can recommend this to any fan who is not aware of the event yet. It is one of the biggest science fiction events in Europe but don’t go there expecting a huge dealer room or lots of lectures. The festival is particularly interesting if you enjoy shaking hands with actors, hearing insider thoughts and scoring some autographs. During the opening – which was grotesque with lots of lasers and movies – they also did a flag call in which everyone applauded to his or her country. Lots of nationalities were apparently present at FedCon, which was pretty damn neat. It also helped that Into Darkness was premiering in the evening, so everyone was in high spirits and ready to get excited over the new title.
Shot of the main stage
From the fan art/crafting expo