A local perspective
By Brittney MacDonald, Life & Style Editor
I have been attending Fan Expo Vancouver since its inception. As an avid convention fan, I take whatever chance I can get to attend these events. I work hard on a costume, plan meet-ups with friends—some of whom are from out of town—and spend my hard-earned dollars to have a good time. When a local one rolls through Vancouver, I become extra excited because that means I can enjoy all of this without having to book hotels or travel. Unfortunately, the fact that Fan Expo Vancouver is physically set in our city is the only local thing about it.
Over the years I have noticed a definite shift in the quality of the con. When compared to Fan Expo Canada—Fan Expo Vancouver’s established older sibling that takes place in Toronto—there is a marked divide. I have also noticed that the convention itself denies local talent, which was very apparent this year.
Normally I do a series of articles detailing the Fan Expo Vancouver guest list. I split it up into categories: actors, writers, artists, et cetera. This year, I decided to forgo highlighting the celebrity cosplayers because I grew tired of repeating myself. It’s not that the guests themselves are repetitive—well, beyond Evilyn13, who has been a “celebrity cosplay guest” for at least the past three years. The problem is that I have the same issues with their announced cosplayers ever single year.
Issue one, they aren’t really known for cosplay. Last year seems to be the exception to this with names like Monika Lee, Riki “Riddle” Lecotey, and Leeanna Vamp, who are all very well-known cosplayers in terms of appearing on television shows like Heroes of Cosplay and Cosplay Melee. However, they usually tend to be fetish or lingerie models mainly who might do some cosplay stuff on the side—Evilyn13 falls into this category as well. Now, I don’t have any problem with women in that profession but call them what they are: They are models, not cosplay celebrity guests!
Issue two, they aren’t local talent. We had some reprieve from this last year with Lecotey, who is Canadian, but otherwise the “celebrity cosplay guest” category is usually cast with Americans, generally from Los Angeles for some reason. As a Canadian attending a Canadian convention, constantly seeing this is a little disheartening, especially when the people they bring in as guests are often not well known.
That brings me to my next point—why is Fan Expo Vancouver bringing in these models with smaller fanbases than some of our local Vancouver-based cosplayers, forcing local cosplay celebrities to pay for their own tickets and Artist Alley tables? Andi “Sinastri” Lott, a local Vancouverite, boasts an impressive over 76,000 followers on Instagram and has been a cosplay guest at events like the North American League Championship Series Finals for videogame League of Legends. On the other hand, 2018 Fan Expo Vancouver celebrity cosplay guest Raychul Moore has around 57,000. This just seems like bad business to me—to pay more to import people when you could support locally and get the same level of attention, if not more, for cheaper. However, if you’re worried about only having locals that are available all year round, Toronto and the East Coast also have a huge cosplay community that could be sourced from and it would probably go over far better to have fellow Canadians as guests.
This year, being as I had more free time, I was able to attend some panels. I found that the panels suffered from a similar affliction as the cosplay guests. The emcee responsible for hosting the panels and Q&A sessions, whose name isn’t even listed on any of schedule material or online, was an American who repeatedly referred to American release dates, holidays, and streaming services that are unavailable here in Canada. This happened so much that the audience was yelling out corrections to him. Even if Vancouver wasn’t such a large, media-based city—which is not the case—and it would be impossible to find someone local to host and hold interviews alongside these celebrities, not having at least a basic knowledge of even the country you are working in is unacceptable.
The weekend ended with the announcement that the next Fan Expo Vancouver will be held in March, a mere four months away. Here’s hoping that they can correct their mistakes with such short notice. Though I’ll be crossing my fingers, I doubt any improvement will be made. Which is why I’ll probably be forgoing any Fan Expo 2019 coverage, but the optimist in me wants to be pleasantly surprised.