It wasn’t seriously a question that I wondered about, but when I attended the annual sci-fi/horror/anime/comic book convention now known as Fan Expo this year (at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre), I definitely felt my age. Not only was I surrounded by numerous anime kids, dressed to the nines as their favourite characters (virtually none of which I was familiar with), but even the fans of sci-fi shows like Star Trek or Battlestar Galactica seem to be on the young side these days. Of course, there were plenty of fans who were my age and older, plus it didn’t really matter because we all sort of felt that ageless communal vibe that is fandom.
When I was waiting with a bunch of youngish guys in line for the Smallville Q&A with Laura Vandervoort (aka Supergirl) and Michael Rosenbaum (aka Lex Luthor), it was interesting because as we chatted a little bit about the name of the actor who played Mr. Barclay on Star Trek: TNG, I wondered whether this college-age guy was even old enough to have seen the TNG episodes on TV. (I guess there was always life in reruns and DVD.) In any case, we all enjoyed the previous Q&A we’d attended with Kate Mulgrew (aka Captain Janeway of Voyager). She came across as a very elegant woman. She was charming and funny, and really nice to us fans. Of course the conversation touched on her role as the first female Star Trek captain. There was even quite a moving moment when a single mom shared how inspiring Captain Janeway had been to her and Mulgrew urged us all to show our admiration for the courage of this woman, who had raised her son alone at age 17, with a standing ovation.
The Smallville session had a different tone, with Rosenbaum and Vandervoort bantering a bit between themselves. Rosenbaum was very funny and came across as much more casual and friendly than his Smallville character (I can almost imagine it being stifling for him to play such a stiff and controlled character, being such a jokester himself.) The theme of age came up when Vandervoort (herself pretty young) made a point of missing some of the pop cultural references made by Rosenbaum. Their session ended with a charity auction for North York General Hospital where Vandenvoort had been cared for when she was seriously ill as an infant. One of Tom Welling’s red prop jackets (you known the one) went for a cool $2,000!
Pretty much all I did at the Fan Expo was attend these Q&A sessions. I didn’t spend much time (or money) in the exhibitors hall (though it was quite big and full of all kinds of retailers). Nor did I line up for autographs or photo ops. I didn’t feel the need to personally meet the celebs, but I was still interested in hearing them in person. On Sunday, I was planning to try to go for three back to back sessions. For some reason the organizers like to schedule them that way. Since there’s usually a line to get into the hall, when you get out of the first session you end up at the end of the line for the second — which means you might not get a good seat (or even get in).
That was the chance I took, because I was more interested in the first session of the day, which was Brent Spiner (aka Cmdr. Data of Star Trek TNG). He seemed like he would have been a very enjoyable speaker and he was (though he was surprisingly uptight about video making its way to YouTube — just like Marina Sirtis had been at the last Fan Expo I’d attended — must be a TNG thing). I find it weird that fan questions often get very obscure. People like to ask about really minor projects that the celebs are working on. I’m not sure if it’s because they want to show off how obsessive a fan they are, or if they want to spare the celeb and the audience from the cliche questions. I dunno, but sometimes, it’s just puzzling. Spiner had a humourous moment where he was actually promoting his own project — a musical CD.
When I got out of Spiner’s session, I immediately had to line up for the next, which was Edward James Olmos (aka Admiral Adama from Battlestar Galactica). But first I had to run down to the exhibit hall because the overly-strict volunteer guarding the entrance said that there was some rule that we had to have our passes punched first (which you only get when you go to the exhibit hall). Since the line didn’t look very long, I figured that I had time. Little did I realize that the line had snaked down a back hall, so it was deceptively long. I ended up getting in, but had to stand at the back for the entire 45 minute session. While Olmos was pretty serious most of the time, he wasn’t as grim as I had expected (given the kinds of characters he plays). He talked about the future of BSG and his involvement with the post series movie — another cool thing about going to the expo is that now I read in the media about some of the things mentioned in these sessions that I’d actually been in the room to hear. A surprise guest made an appearance as well during the session: Aaron Douglas (aka Chief Tyrol from BSG).
Finally, I re-lined-up one more time after Olmos and stuck around for Sean Astin (aka Samwise Gamgee from Lord of the Rings). Man, does this guy go on and on! (He even pointed it out himself, so I’m not just being critical.) He kind of got philosophical about the questions he was asked and gave very personal answers. He spoke about the catharsis of writing an autobiographical book, and about his own feelings of staying or leaving show business. He seemed like a very nice guy, though. There was even talk about a Goonies sequel, and how he thought it would be appropriate to have the kids of the original Goonies take over the mantle and the adventure — Goonies TNG — I think that would be pretty fun.
I didn’t really spend as much time soaking in the expo experience this time round, since I pretty much only attended Q&As, but for me that’s what the expo is mainly about, anyway. All in all, I enjoyed myself more at this expo than my previous foray and I’ll probably keep going for years to come, regardless of my age (… I wonder if there’s a seniors’ rate).