The Dose: Fan Expo brings to light a bigger picture about nerd culture

The Dose: Fan Expo brings to light a bigger picture about nerd culture

Kayleigh Bywater | Senior Staff Writer

@kayleighbywater

The terms Spiderman, Star Wars and Stan Lee fail to bring about any special sense of nostalgia for some, but for about 50,000 fans this weekend, these pop culture terms meant more than just a hit movie or a famous celebrity. It meant a once-in-a-lifetime experience and lasting memories.

Dallas Fan Expo welcomed more than 50 celebrities and over 100 vendors to come celebrate nerd culture. Although the event is not nearly as large as San Diego or New York Comic Con, Fan Expo is like no other event that happens in Texas. From autograph sessions to rare collectibles, every genre was represented in many ways.

People waited anywhere from 10 minutes to three hours to get an autograph from their favorite celebrity. Kayleigh Bywater | Senior Staff Writer

People waited anywhere from 10 minutes to three hours to get an autograph from their favorite celebrity. Kayleigh Bywater | Senior Staff Writer

Want to take a selfie with Jack Gleeson, who, despite playing evil King Joffrey Baratheon in “Game of Thrones,” was more than happy to meet his fans? Go right ahead. Want to meet a 10-foot-tall realistic-looking Groot from “Guardians of the Galaxy?” Be my guest. Do you have the urge to go eat breakfast with Marvel comic creator Stan Lee? Of course you do. 

The con, which followed Dallas Fan Days that happened this past February, provided guests with photo opportunities, signing stations, Q&A panels and more to not only celebrate common interests, but to also provide a real experience that coincided with so many peoples’ passions.

Cosplay provides another outlet for expression at cons. Iron Man was one of the most popular cosplay outfits during Saturday of the con's weekend. Kayleigh Bywater | Senior Staff Writer

Cosplay provides another outlet for expression at cons. Iron Man was one of the most popular cosplay outfits during Saturday of the con’s weekend. Kayleigh Bywater | Senior Staff Writer

Let me tell you, I almost broke down in to tears when I walked up to Stan Lee to get a picture with him. I also could not contain my joy when I was able to have a conversation with Candice Patton, who plays Iris West on “The Flash.” And although my bank account was not very happy with me, I have all my Fan Expo merch on display proudly in my apartment.

There’s more to Fan Expo than what’s on the surface, however.

As you walk through the aisles of vendors and autograph sessions, it’s as if everyone knows everybody at the event. People laugh. They cry over fictional deaths. They fawn over favorite characters. They swap fan theories. It is like a big family reunion. But – let’s be honest – way better.

Fan expos and cons allow for all nerds to gather together to meet their childhood heroes and live out their bucket list desires, free of judgment, stereotypes or insecurities.

“Thank you so, so much for my childhood,” said one attendee in a Marvel comics shirt to Stan Lee.

“Thank you for teaching me that there really is magic out there,” said another to James and Oliver Phelps, who experienced magic themselves as the Weasley twins in the “Harry Potter” series.

“Even though you play mean characters, you’re actually really sweet,” said a little girl as “The Walking Dead” and “Daredevil” star Jon Bernthal reached down to hug her.

At their roots, cons are about being a part of something bigger. It is about knowing that even if you spend your free time reading comic books, scouring the Internet for collectible Pop! Funko figures or rewatch TV episodes 10 times to make sure you did not miss any Easter eggs, you are not alone, and you should not be ashamed of it. In fact, there are thousands of others who are doing the exact same thing.

Vendors from all over the metroplex brought their collections in for prospective buyers. Many booths had rare comics mixed in between the shelves. Kayleigh Bywater | Senior Staff Writer

Vendors from all over the metroplex brought their collections in for prospective buyers. Many booths had rare comics mixed in between the shelves. Kayleigh Bywater | Senior Staff Writer

So who cares if you spent $100 to take a picture with your hero? Why does it matter if you spend almost 10 hours a day soaking in all the nerdiness you can? The memories made at Fan Expo this weekend, for so many, are some that will never be forgotten. And it was right in our backyard.

Fan Expo was such a treat and, despite time hiccups and some celebrity cancellations, really provided an unforgettable weekend from people all the way from Dallas to New York and beyond. While SDCC is hopefully in my future, Dallas sure is lucky to call this Con “home.”

Featured Image: There were many large sculptures and artifacts surrounding the convention center, including Star Wars props, the Ghostbuster’s car and the Agents of Shield van. While it was free to pose with many of the objects, they took donations to distribute to charities around Dallas. Kayleigh Bywater | Senior Staff Photographer

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