The Return of Fandom to San Francisco

It has been almost five years since San Francisco hosted a major fan convention. While the city has hosted numerous tech expos and industry conventions, the last fan convention was San Francisco Comic Con back in 2017. Thus it came with great joy when Fan Expo organized such an event during the Thanksgiving weekend.

Fan Expo San Francisco 2022 was an event that brought together pop-culture icons, acclaimed performers along with famed comic book artists and writers. Hosted at the Moscone West; fans from all over the Bay Area gathered for an eventful weekend. 2022 has been a year in which the community has had the chance to congregate for the first time since late 2019 / early 2020. Fan Expo was a celebration of a new event that we could all add to our calendar.

Dealers and Artists 

The exhibition hall is where guests could find all the vendors, displays, artists, and more. Here anyone could learn about their local comic book shop or purchase collectible merchandise, the works of local authors, or amazing fan art. Even if you had no shopping agenda, it’s still fun to look through all the cool stuff and meet the many artists and vendors.

Sour Cherry is a San Francisco based comic book store. They are known for selling unique comics / graphic novels and providing a creative space for comic writers and artists of different backgrounds. They were present to highlight their work and reach out to their fans. Also present during the weekend was Jessica Fong, an illustrator who is best known for the covers of the new Poison Ivy.

Punch It! Graphics recreated iconic posters or reimagined iconic posters in the style from the 1950’s to the 1970’s. Fans could browse through their collection of retro-inspired posters printed on cardboard paper. From posters based on Fallout New Vegas to the MCU, there was plenty to see. 

Dope Cat Comics is a comic series that is created and independently published by Mike Boheem. It’s about a cat that smokes dope and experiences mind-blowing adventures. Fans of this cult series could meet its creator, pick up some issues or buy some merch.

Fan Clubs and Other Events

Among the Star Wars fan clubs present were the Wolves of Mandalore along with the Golden Gate Garrison. Golden Gate Garrison is the Bay Area branch of the 501st Legion, dedicated to accurately recreating the uniforms and armor of the Galactic Empire along with the First Order and the Clone Troopers. Wolves of Mandalore is the Bay Area branch of the Mandalorian Mercs Costume Club, dedicated to helping fans create their own custom Mandalorian cosplay, complete with a unique artistic style and the background of their character.

Cartoon Art Museum is dedicated to the history and preservation of cartoons of all kinds. Staff and associates were present to bring greater awareness to the museum and showcase some of their ongoing work. 

Panel Highlights 

Conventions are also an opportunity to gain some insight into one’s favorite work or the industry. Fan Expo organized a series of panels that discussed a variety of topics given by special guests, industry insiders, or local fan clubs.

These are some of the panels I got to check out during the weekend:

So You Want to be a Comic Book Retailer…? was an inside look into the challenges of operating and magaging a comic book store. Audiences got a first hand lesson by some of the most respected comic book stores in the Bay Area. The panel featured Leef Smith of Mission: Comics and Art, Leah Morett of Sour Cherry Comics, Anna Warren Cebrian of Illusive Comics and Games, and Eitan Manoff of Cape and Cowl Comics in a panel moderated by Brian Hibbs of Comix Experience. 

It’s a Me: Charles Martinet was a chance for gamers to learn about one of the most iconic voice actors in the industry. Fans got to learn some interesting facts along with some behind-the-scenes stories about what it’s like to voice Mario.

Total Concentration Breathing! The Demon Slayer Voice Actors Q&A allowed audiences to learn more about the hit series from the main stars. The event featured Zach Aguilar (the voice of Tanjiro Kamado) and Abby Trott (the voice of Nezuko Kamado) answering questions asked by the fans. The topics range from favorite moments to their career highlights.  

Let’s Talk Todoroki with David Matranga was a chance for fans to learn more about My Hero Academia from one of the stars. David Matranga (who plays Shoto Todoroki) answered a variety of questions from the fans. At the same time, the audience got to learn more about the hit series and the character.   

Things to Do at Fan Expo

The weekend was not just about panels and shopping but also about having fun with friends. From tabletop games to cosplay gatherings and more, there was no shortage of activities. Here are some of the activities one could stumble upon:

Fan Expo organized several Cosplay Gatherings during the weekend based on the most popular franchises. Those wanting to participate could meet at one of three spots for a photo shoot while networking with other fans. There were also a few unofficial gatherings, these were meetups organized by fans. 

Game Stations was the place to be for gamers who wanted to kick it old school. Guests could enjoy the numerous classical games either solo or with a friend. There was also a few eSport events organized during the weekend. 

While not organized by Fan Expo, there were random moments in which guests would gather for a game of Pokemon Go. With several gyms around the convention center, there were moments when guests would gather to participate in raids. Others would take a break and catch any Pokemon within their area. 

Did you get a chance to check out Fan Expo SF 2022? If so then share your story in the comment section below.

Disclaimer: Fan Expo provided me with a pass for the weekend.

8Bit/Digi is an independent media outlet that provides an insight into the gamer community of the San Francisco Bay Area.

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