A group of cosplayers in their best ATTACK ON TITAN GEAR FanExpo St . Louis Mo 2022
photo credit :Nyquill
Welcome to St. Louis Mo and to the newly crowned FAN EXPO! The artist formerly known as WIZARD WORLD is here with a new look but classic feel. Through the former corridor of the St. Louis Rams (and currently Battlehawks) we have an assortment of booths filled with vendors, artists, gamers and of course cosplayers. Possibly the biggest attraction of FAN EXPO 2022 is the wealth of costumes ranging from video games to Mangas. While the star power may not be as big as it once was with Wizard World (remember when Laura from The Walking Dead needed an escort among rumors) there is still plenty to see.
From the first day you could tell that many artists and talent were getting reacquainted with convention scene. After speaking with a few vendors and artist I get the sense that they were just glad to be back out in public. "Starving artist" is way more of a real thing than some can imagine. So to see the smiles on their faces as people started to approached the tables means a lot. Names like Jason Mewes , Theo Rossi, Ron Perlman, William Shatner are some of the main attractions but the heaviest representation has to be the popular anime voice over characters. The great thing for fans is most of the talent works on more than one show. That lead to many shrieking moments from fans from the initial start off the panels.
Let's be honest. We know what everyone is here for. Sure the guy who is the voice of Mario is great but its all about the cosplay. One of the most interesting aspects of the convention is not only are their amateur cosplay but the amount of famous cosplay talent is undeniable. With the advent of social media it has provided an outlet for cosplay specialist to share their skills with the world. It clearly evident here as we see autographs and signed photos coming from their tables as well.
The panels at this years FAN EXPO range from an anime discussion to of course how to step up your cosplay game. SMALLVILLE and William Shatner were the big draws of the weekend but each panel brought it's own flair to the event.
Friday is usually a pretty quiet day for any convention outside of San Diego and Fan Expo was no exception. Not an issue as it gives the both the vendors and talent a day to settle in and get established. There were a few early panels with some of the voice talent from popular Anime shows like MY HERO ACADEMIA. I was privileged enough to sit in the panel for Monica Rial and got a chance to listen to her talk about her journey into the voice over life. As soon as the panel was over the floor was flooded with fans. Costumes and more were apparent and ready to be shown off. The red carpet was filled with manga, anime, sci fi, gamers, superheroes and villains. Plenty of villains! You can tell that it was brewing a nice Day 2 as the energy picked up as the first day ended. A few artists I had the chance to speak to talked about the excitement of showing their artwork. Believe me when I say there was some talent on display it was not a lie. One gentleman from Joliet, Il was just excited to attend his first post pandemic con which became a theme I heard repeatedly during the weekend.
SOA Panel FAN EXPO ST. LOUIS 2022
photo credit : Nyquill
From the moment I walked in Saturday (a little later than expected) FAN EXPO was alive and buzzing. A. mix of fans and even some St. Louis Cardinals jerseys were in full view. It was a blistering day outside so the cool air of the Dome was more than welcomed. My main goal of the day was to see as many panels as possible and interact with a few fans for pictures. Both deeds were accomplished without little effort and the autograph and photos lines were in their peak form. Even with most of the live action stars there for the day the lines for the anime voiceovers were still pretty solid. I made my way to the SOA panel which featured Theo Rossi and Ron Perlman. You could tell both actors were genuine about their time in St. Louis but unfortunately no news broke about possible follow ups to SOA or Hell Boy. I wanted to ask Rossi a few questions about ESCAPE THE FIELD but time ran out before my chance. Still you couldn't guess how inspiring it was to see people return from Friday wearing different costumes from the night before. The highlight of the night was of course the cosplay contest and it was well received. The Ferrea Theater was packed as we all cheered on each effort no matter how big or small. Winners included best hero which was a dazzling display by a young lady in a Cinderella costume. Not only did she have the look down she also had the twirl. Best villain went to a young man who wore an self made costume from FIVE NIGHTS AT FREDDIE's which is a terrifying mobile game that my son knows all too well. I'll be honest I had no idea who the group was that won best group but they looked fantastic and really dived into their costumes. I was slightly disappointed that the young ladies in the ATTACK ON TITAN (see photo above) didn't enter but oh well there is always next year. The St. Louis Nightlife provided the Day 2 afterparties and while I wanted to attend both In was exhausted from a previous long week so I stoped by THE START BAR on Spruce. Unfortunately it was pretty lackluster so after a few adult beverages and a couple conversations with FAN EXPO crew I called it a night.
The third and final day of a con can be pretty tricky as you are not always aware of who is left until you arrive. Still the floor had a nice amount of people picking up on some of the last second deals from vendors. Sunday's are such a giveaway that personally if I wanted to buy a bunch of stuff that would be the day for me. My main goal was to talk to some of the cosplay talent and artist and I was in luck. I was able to tie down an interview with cosplayer Jillea who is a small town girl from Canada. She has a great work ethic and during the pandemic the was able to amass tons of fans by staying busy, Artists like Ariel Diaz and Anthony Fowler Jr were such a treat to talk to. They all seemed to have good experiences throughout the convention and were pleased with how nice the fans of St. Louis took to their work. William Shatner is as spry as ever and gave a great panel in the morning. It seems as if guys like that could tell stories for hours so the allowed 45 mins is never enough. The voice of Mario Charles Martinet gave a great panel on how became the voice with no prior rehearsal. The voice of "Pinky" from PINKY OF THE BRAIN "Raphael" from TMNT Rob Paulsen also lead a great panel as it truly fascinating how these voice over actors have stayed in the game for so long. I was bummed that some of the panels were ticket only so press also had to pay but I'm sure they were loads of fun and I hope to hear them next year.
In conclusion for a first con back in St. Louis with a new name FAN EXPO was a glaring success. I'm truly looking forward to 2023 as I feel the star power will be reignited as more projects, films and anime flood screens everywhere. The pandemic made has slowed down the moment of the comic con but for sure did not end it. Until next year!