I don’t remember exactly when or how I stumbled onto the Portland Fan Fest page but once I did I knew that we would probably need to go there. Heroes and villains are to my home what, well, have you ever been to the house of someone who is obsessed with a thing. Maybe it’s music and records fill shelves that line the walls, or it’s a specific team and the furniture and decor are in the colors of that team. Where the thing that is loved is evident with just a glance. Here, in my home, it feels like every surface is piled with comic books, graphic novels, action figures and my kids’ drawings of something comic/epic/fantastical. So, I clicked through the website and eventually found the press page and decided to fill out the form. I work for a magazine and website so why not apply for press passes and bring the kids, give the old family review.
Fan Fest has a few different things going on. First, it is both a Heroes & Villains fest and a Walker Stalker Con. Cosplay spans the full range of character possibilities under those two titles (and probably beyond, really). There are places to line up and meet the stars from popular tv shows and movies like Arrow, Gotham, Flash, Walking Dead, Guardians of the Galaxy and more. For a fee, you can get an autograph and photo taken with them. There are also panels taking place both Saturday (today) to Sunday that are mostly geared towards fans getting to ask their favorite stars questions.
We walked around, first doing a perimeter walk, sticking to the outskirts and getting a feel for the space. Neither my husband and I are crowd people, we both tend to get overwhelmed and to feel like our ability to hear, see and concentrate on anything quickly fades to the point of feeling immobilized in crowded areas. Fan Fest feels pretty similar to events like Crafty Wonderland in ways. There were vendor booths filling the central space, with comic book artists selling their images and comics. It was really cool to be able to look at the different takes and styles of different artists depicting a lot of the same characters. We stopped at one table and my son was looking at some of the art and I explained to him that the man sitting behind the table was the artist who made the covers and comics we were seeing. Alvah’s eyes got really big and he looked at the guy and said something along the lines of “You should be really proud. These are very good.” The man was suprised by both the sincerity and, maybe confidence of Alvah’s compliment. His face softened and he thanked Alvah. That to me was quite magical. There are also tables with toys and books, t-shirts, contacts that change your eye color and a whole space dedicated to getting tattooed.
One thing that was quite lovely was that Star Wars Oregon was there, in costume with both an R2D2 droid and another droid (whom I could not identify). They had a whole area where you could pose (for free, donations requested) with all the characters. You could also run into the droids cruising through the event hall and take a picture with them. I tell you what, even as an adult, being next to an R2 unit was really exciting. There were also some fabulous artists making art on site, a painter and a few chalk artist. You could watch the artist as they worked and there was a chalk board for visitors to draw on. Overall it was pretty exciting. I didn’t take the kids to any panels because I didn’t think they’d sit through them, though I’m sure there were plenty of kids who can. I’ll find out tomorrow, actually, as I’ll be moderating a panel at 2:30 pm with Milo Ventimiglia.
Overall, my kids both had a lot of fun. They were super excited to see all the people in costumes and to see the comic artists in person. My 7 year old had a hard time not being able to buy a bunch of things. I’d say bring cash if you are planning on buying stuff. There are snacks and food onsite as well as some activities that cost a few bucks. Oh, and remember to ask before you take pictures, thats important. See you tomorrow!