FanX 2017: Making the Most of It

The short of it is, two weeks ago I went to FanX and I had an amazing time, and I’ve only just gotten around to writing about it. If you want the long story, read on.

A Personal Aside:

It feels like every time a convention rolls around that I’m just not ready. That I just don’t want to go and put up with three days of nonstop geeking followed by an undignified crash the following week. And when I do finally muster up the courage to get my costumes and supplies together, I feel like I’m scaling back, like I’m not performing at the level I was planning at the first of the year. And when I’m there, it’s the same thing: next time I’ll do this, in September I’ll do that, wait for the next con. There’s always the stress of so much going on at a convention but never enough time to get to it all and everything you want to do is happening at the same time.

My issues (a collective reference to OCD, depression, anxiety, and stress) were particularly bad this winter and I felt like I couldn’t take a whole three days. In recovery, though, I ended up feeling like it had been a three-day con.

Black Widow and Agent 13–aka me and my friend Carly

I felt like I wasn’t the only person at FanX 2017 who was feeling the pinch, especially since the con was scaled back from three days to two. Especially with the fact that there weren’t as many breakout panels to choose from and it turned out I didn’t go to any. I wasn’t entirely mad about the con only being two days, though.

So, that’s all the really bad stuff. I actually had an amazing time at FanX.  Every convention, we get opportunities to do amazing stuff, meet awesome stars, show off our cosplays, meet with geeks we haven’t met before and hang out with old friends. Make memories. Just enjoy the things that make life great.

Photo Downgrades, Experience Upgrades

So for those of you who haven’t heard, I got a new phone for Christmas/my birthday, a Microsoft Lumia 640. This was my first con with the new phone. Did having a real smartphone like everybody else make the con much more enjoyable? To be frank, the difference was negligible for the actual photos (but the camera on this phone isn’t supposed to be that great so I’m not going to vent that much). I still have shaky hands and I get really stressed at cons, so some of those spur-of-the-moment photos did turn out blurry. And for part of the day Friday I had the flash on and that totally washed out the image. Embarrassing.  Also, me being an Ambitious Slytherin, I tried to take short video clips to make my own video. The problem with video on this phone is they take up a lot of memory. It was kind of awkward because people didn’t know exactly what to do when I’d ask them to show off for the camera. But I think I have enough for a video. A short one.

There were huge perks with the device that I didn’t see with my last phone. When I’d ask people to take pictures for me they actually knew how to use it. When I had down time, I was able to go through and delete stuff easily and free up storage space

I’d use Facebook messenger to get a hold of people that I didn’t have phone numbers for. I could also post my photos directly to Facebook and Instagram.

I’m thinking I want to have a different phone case to take to cons. My Marauders’ phone case gets all the compliments, true, but you have to hold away the cover if you want to take photos. And maybe I’d like to store my valuables separate.

I am able to look back on FanX17 and say I had a good experience because I was able to spend time with friends, enjoy the con atmosphere, and have plenty of photos and merch to show for it by the end. I did buy the limited-edition Princess Leia/Carrie Fisher poster. It is beautiful! Both sides!

For my own cosplays, I was able to pull off three cosplays in two days. Friday I was Jyn Erso. Saturday I was the referee from the bot fight club in Big Hero 6 as part of a group for the first part of the day. The rest of the day, I was Agent 13.

I loved being Jyn Erso. The costume is easy and she has a gun. There were a lot of details I wasn’t quite able to get together for FanX, but it was great to show off what I have. AND I bought a crystal necklace–just ordinary quartz, but it’s easy to pretend that it’s kyber.

And I LOVED seeing all the other Jyns.

I wore the fight club girl with a group of Big Hero 6 characters that included Tracy Schroder as Aunt Cass and Benji Seekins as Fred. We also had Tadashi, Hiro, Baymax, and Yokai. The group made their way out to the hallway of the convention center but we weren’t really able to get that much farther. Every two seconds we would be stopped for pictures, and as soon as one person had their camera out there was a mob of ten other people with theirs. After about an hour we were able to retreat to the east foyer for a final group photo and we called it good.

I also loved being Sharon Carter. I love being able to represent this character. It was great to spend quality time with Captain America. And there were other Marvel characters I ran into as well. It was nice to have an easier costume for Saturday afternoon when I was already exhausted.

Surviving and Thriving at Con

The number-one perk about my costumes for Jyn and Sharon? Both of the outfits include VESTS WITH POCKETS! It’s the best thing ever if you have a phone you’re constantly grabbing to get pictures with.

Image may contain: 5 people, people sitting, people standing and beard

Big Hero 6 and Friends (Jason Hsu/Facebook)

For FanX, I got a medium-sized over-the-shoulder bag. I usually have a drawstring backpack, but the shoulder bag was easier to slip on and off and better for grabbing things when I needed them. It also provided ample storage space on Saturday for my extra cosplay items. The main drawback was anything else inside of the bag could get smushed, especially food. So on Saturday I packed the more fragile food items in a tupperware container. I brought my camp stool, but I barely used it, and the carrying case also disintegrated. For Con in September I might get a slightly bigger bag.

The week leading up to and during con, I drank lots of orange juice to see if I could stave off the con crud. While that has worked at previous cons I wasn’t so lucky this time, but orange juice is always good for your well-being. I also took a shower on Friday night, and that helped me to feel very refreshed for the next day.

Celebrity Critique

I missed the Princess Bride panel on Saturday because that was while I was with the Big Hero 6 group. But Cary Elwes has been to Salt Lake events before and he will very likely come back, so it’s not a huge deal.

Friday afternoon I went to two celebrity panels, Wallace Shawn and John Rhys-Davies. Wallace Shawn has actually gotten really old. He still has his wits, but he’s a lot slower and feeling his age.

And then John Rhys-Davies. Whoa. He LOVES to talk. People would ask him questions and he would end up going off on tangents. But it was fascinating to hear him talk. He has a very commanding presence, and he is very knowledgable and knows how to REALLY tell stories. He might have been a better fit for a fireside chat with a smaller group of fans than in front of an audience of hyper geeks.

If I was on the fence about getting his autograph before that point, the panel sealed the deal for me. But the autograph line right after his panel was super crowded. Crowded to the point that we were taking over the line space of the celebrity next to him (sorry, dude). And the wait was excruciating because Rhys-Davies liked to take one or two minutes with each of the fans and talk to them, but I told myself early on, that if I got a few minutes with him I wouldn’t complain about anyone else. And unlike when I was waiting for Carrie Fisher, it was Day 1 of con instead of day 3 and I wasn’t dying of the crud yet. I passed most of the time talking to people in line, checking Instagram, deleting photos, and getting the guy standing in front of me to read some of my previous TGM posts. If you want to read about my experience meeting John Rhys-Davies, check out my personal blog.

Cosplay and the Costume Contest

Ask me what my favorite part of con is, and I’ll most likely tell you it’s walking around just SEEING everything.

 

It’s always fun to watch for people who dress as characters from the movies that just came out. Predictably, there were a lot of Jyn Ersos besides me both days.

I took a photo and then the Jyns wanted a photo and then more showed up. Someone asked if it was Attack of the Clones happening instead of Rogue One. The girl second from left has had her Jyn since September.

There were a handful of Doctor Strange cosplays, of course.

My friend Matt Janovsky as the Master of Magic

Tracy Schroder as the Ancient One–yes, she shaved her head!

I also saw a handful of Moanas. But more exciting were the supporting characters from Moana, Grandma Tala and the goddess Te’Fiti.

Definitely my favorite village crazy lady

This is such a clever group idea

The  Beauty and the Beast remake (review coming next week) came out literally the night before FanX. The people who I asked had seen it said it was amazing. And there were already a couple of girls doing the new version of Belle.

There were a few Newt Scamanders.

But the best Fantastic Beasts cosplay I saw was the Niffler.

Caught red-handed!

Saturday afternoon I ran into Benji, and we ended up walking the con floor together for a couple of hours. That was the most fun I had. No pressure from being an in-demand character. No dashing off to panels or appointments. Just enjoying browsing the merch and looking at other people’s cosplays.

Extinction doesn’t stop Fred from giving hugs to marshmallow t-rexes

We bought Girl Scout cookies just for kicks. We ran into more of our friends as we walked the floor. And we both had moments where we ran into characters that made us wish we were in different costumes so we could do a group photo.

Saturday evening I got to help guard the perimeter for the Wasatch Saber Club performance, so I didn’t actually see it. And then I went to the cosplay contest. I had never been before. It was really a great way to end FanX.

Image may contain: 3 people, people smiling, people standing

Mandi Ham/Facebook

The cosplay contest had several categories: retro (kind of a vague category), Anime, Sci-fi, comic book, fantasy, and ensemble. I had seen some of the participants earlier in the day on the floor. The retro category was for costumes based off of period clothing and/or old-time TV shows, it wasn’t very well defined and there were only three participants anyway. The Fantasy category was mostly Disney costumes. During the waits between parts of the show, we were entertained by Eric Hall and Marial Clark from Heroic, and they also played trailers for Ghost in the Shell, Alien: Covenant, and a couple of other big action films coming out soon. You would think they would show trailers for stuff like Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 but that’s just me.

There were  gorgeous and spectacular costumes in all categories, even if they were from things I haven’t seen. The judges’ choice award went to a female Doctor Strange, who had brought a guy in a black shadow suit on the stage with her to move create a portal for her to walk through with a plastic hoop and play with her Cloak of Levitation.

The Best in Show was for an Elsa whose coronation gown unfolded to reveal her ice gown underneath.

A very ordinary-looking Queen Elsa of Arendelle in her coronation gown

My friends Mandi Ham and Cassidy Beihn both placed in their category for their Carlotta and Eliza Schuyler costumes, respectively.

Right Cassidy Beihn as Eliza Schuyler Hamilton. Left: Kaelyn Leonard as Alexander Hamilton #Work

And did I mention that they called in a special guest to be on the judges panel? (again, see my personal blog). The cosplay contest was fun to watch and I would definitely go again—or maybe even compete!

Looking back on FanX, I had a great time and it was worth going. The moments that were stressful or when I was just super tired don’t seem so bad now, and the happy moments are all the better. Anticipating something can sometimes create more anxiety than the thing itself. So I don’t have to be afraid to do something like this again. And I’m definitely looking forward to September.

Lizy Cole

Lizy Cole is originally from San Antonio, Texas but also has strong ties to Arizona. She graduated from Brigham Young University with a bachelor’s degree in English. She enjoys reading, writing, and being a fangirl. Her current big fandoms are Harry Potter, The Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, and the Marvel Cinematic Universe.


Leave a Reply