Heroes and Villains invaded San Jose for another year of adventuring!

10 Dec

For our 3rd year, we ventured over the hill from the Central Valley to hang out with some heroes and villains, and zombies too!, in San Jose. This was sort of a last minute venture due to availability issues with minions, but in the end we made plans and set out to see what there was to see.

As I write up the event and my thoughts, I am starting to think there should be classes on convention etiquette because there were several moments that were frustrating. However, there were also a lot of really good things. Did it balance out? I’m not sure… let’s talk about some of the highlights and issues and see.

Originally when we started thinking about attending this event, Stephen Amell was listed as not being able to attend. But he finagled changes in his schedule and made it to appear for Saturday only. Of course, as stated above our own presence was debatable, and we had a late start over the hills, so we just made it for the second half of his panel. Can’t tell you if any secrets about the upcoming “Elseworlds” crossover were given (google it, he apparently said a few things and others captured them), but I can tell you that a) Stephen is not likely to win in a fight and protect those of us in the audience (though he would try valiantly), but he can shoot a bow, b) he recommends youtubing Melissa falling asleep during the filming of last years crossover and Oliver dropping Laurel back in season 1. Pretty sure I’ve seen the latter but I don’t recall the former.

Barbara is my minion adventurer this weekend. Prior to coming, I had explained that this convention is more about the fan experience, in comparison to our recent trek to Los Angeles Comic Con. The difference is that though there are some vendors, there are a helluva lot less, and the main focus is panels, autographs, and photo ops- opportunities for fans to interact with the stars of their shows. Of course, there is a huge showing of Walking Dead and Fear the Walking Dead stars, as this was a combo with Walker Stalker Con (To be honest, that aspect alone almost kept us from coming entirely because I had heard from a friend who attended the combo in Chicago not too long ago and was miserable). Sadly, neither of us are really interested in those zombies- but the makeup of some of the zombies walking around was awesome- but for those who are, there were plenty available. Sadly, we missed The Flash panel as it was the opening event at 11am, and we were still in the Central Valley then. But as I stated earlier, we did make it for part of Amell’s panel. A nice end piece of the panel was the presentation of a Magic Wheelchair for a guest of panel/convention. Then it was off to wander the event hall for us.

Picked up the photo op tickets for Sunday (I refuse to do them on Saturday because you just don’t know if/when we’ll arrive, and I don’t want to be that stressed! Smart thinking for this trip because we hit horrible rain in Gilroy) and the only frustration there was that I’m guessing there was a staffing issue since they sent me multiple emails the day before to be sure I got in the correct line and once we arrived they funneled everyone into the sales line instead. Annoying but not that bad (until some asshat decided he didn’t need to get into line and instead got into an argument with the staff and demanded he be helped right then. Rude).

Crowds are a bit better at paying attention to wheelchairs here, and walking through aisles instead of randomly stopping in the middle, but not by much. I really hate constantly harping on this but kids in kindergarten understand how to walk a hallway, so it troubles me that adults seem to learn this skill. But I digress… See, this is part of that convention etiquette I was talking about.

After wandering around and seeing who was there and what was available, the idea of stopping and chatting with Colton Haynes came up. I mentioned to Barbara that I wanted to thank him for speaking up about mental health issues because there are still so few men who do so. And seeing as how I work with men in the prison system, I collect articles and information about men who do speak up- specifically celebrity men. Barbara suggested doing it, but when we meandered back to his table he had disappeared to photo ops. We ended up wandering again, dodging people who don’t look where they are going and smiling at those who do, and hunted for the Nocking Point booth in order to see about tickets to the party. We were able to score some- more on that later. And then it was off to waiting for Colton to return. The idea was in my head now… I was going to follow through with it.

Eventually he returned and the line attendees helped us get through without having to navigate the twists. Got an autograph for me, chatted briefly and thanked him for sharing his story and how important it is for men to do so because it helps others recognize issues, too. Barbara asked if he’d sign a photo to my guys (they are watching season 2 of Arrow right now) and he did- I was actually mortified that she asked, but secretly thrilled because I would love to get a collection of autographs that are sent to my inmates (it helps them to know that someone outside of family, and people who are paid to pay attention to them, was thinking of them- even if only for a moment). And then we got a selfie (which was actually three because we couldn’t tell if it had taken. I mortified Barbara by pointing out that Barrowman is the master of those selfies, he got my cleavage to look awesome. Then we stopped over to see Brandon Routh because I wanted to thank him for signing a photo to my guys last year. They still talk about the photo (it’s up in my office) all the time. And we got caught up talking about issues in prisons for a minute.

Unlike many other conventions, there is no evening programming available. However, often if Stephen Amell is in attendance, there is a semi-affiliated party hosted by his company, Nocking Point. If you like wine and music, this is generally a fun experience. I have attended two parties and both had their merits- though, to be 100% honest, I liked the first one (2016) better. This year, the party took place in the panel room and had a cover band, Jukebox AF, performing. At the previous party, I was introduced to the music of Brother Sal and the Devil May Care and while they played a couple covers, they also played numerous originals and really put on a show. The band this time had a lot of potential but were also overly loud- and that’s said from someone who spent most of the party in the back of the room just so we could hear ourselves think. I liked the energy of this band though… would love to see some originals from them. There was something about the singers (both) voices that really struck me as interesting.

My other comment about the party is that apparently the mics were being squirrelly and thus during the announcements and Q&A portion of the main party, Amell opted not to use his and this led to Drew and Cassandra dropping their mics, too. Unfortunately, this meant that no one could be heard in the back of the room and moving forward wasn’t a help because intoxicated folks don’t recognize inside voices or that others might be trying to hear. Sadly, we could only hear about every third thing said. I know they announced that the New Year brings new collaborations, starting with Tom Welling and Michael Rosenbaum, and “Pure Evil”. And apparently, no one will guess who the April collaboration will be (but it won’t be Jensen Ackles because there are some funky rules in Texas. Or something… I mentioned it was hard to hear, right?)

By the way, if you like wines, I do recommend Nocking Point. I prefer fruitier, lighter wines over reds, but they have a couple of sparklings that I adore.

And that I partook of throughout the evening.

(Incidentally, I guess things were better during the VIP hour of the party but I had so much fun last time without having to get VIP, that we assumed it would be the same this time.)

Sunday was a lot of the same- a few changes in guests in attendance, but otherwise plenty of opportunities to get an autograph or a photo op (or selfie in the booth, if you wanted). The crowds, I felt, were lighter on Sunday and therefore we actually took the opportunity to stop and really look in some of the booths. There was one that I am kicking myself for forgetting the name of as soon as we left, but they had semi-taxidermy items (insects, etc, in resin). They were very interesting and I think I would’ve liked having one in my collection of oddities, but I couldn’t figure out how to hang it on my wall. I also wandered some of the Funko booths and finally found the two they I’ve had on my list- lounging Ian Malcolm from Jurassic Park and Arrow’s Diggle in the green arrow suit. I’ve been hunting Diggle for years to complete the collection, but when I find him I always feel too poor or no one has him available. Needless to say, I bought them both.

Barbara is probably shaking her head, ashamed of me- she does not approve, but she didn’t stop me either. I feel like she was actually silently encouraging me.

In our wandering on Sunday, we found where Val Kilmer was hidden. I still don’t know why he was there and the fact that he was hidden away behind curtains (thus you could not see him unless you paid for an autograph) was just weird. I would’ve really enjoyed a panel from him, if only to explain his presence at the convention. It was just weird.

Speaking of panels… I’ve already mentioned that we made it for half of Amell’s panel on Saturday, but Sunday we were able to see all of the panel with David Ramsey and Colton Haynes. I can now say I’ve met both and they are delightful, but together… they are even more so. I’ve noticed through the panels that the Arrow people have a real enjoyment and love for each other. That was clear here, as well. And that they weren’t above taking a few digs at each other. The typical spoilery questions were asked, none were truly answered (thank goodness), though we did learn that in the “Elseworlds” crossover event we’ll learn something big about Diggle’s future. And I think it was sorta said that Roy will meet up with OTA in the present, not just the flash forwards. Poor Colton, was sad to hear that Roy is not OTA- hate to break it to you kid, but Roy was in season 1 & 2, but he wasn’t really a member of the team til the Marikuru was out of his system. Oh, and don’t waste your time asking Colton comic characters, just skip right to pokemon if you want a real answer…

I had hoped to see the Tyler Hoechlin panel at the end of the day on Sunday but timing got off earlier in the day for this weary pair and we ended up halfway home by that time. But that brought up an issue with this weekend’s convention schedule that I wanted to touch on.

I did not like how the panels were scheduled.

There were too many Walking Dead related events, not nearly enough Heroes & Villains. There were a ton of guests I wanted to see panels from but they didn’t have one at all. Not even on a different stage. So I think that if it continues to be a combo Heroes & Villains Fan Fest with Walker Stalker, than there needs to be two panel rooms (not just a smaller second stage- which had no panels at all this year). I have always enjoyed the panels at this event and this year… There were four I was interested in, 3 that were possible for me to see, and 2 that I was actually able to make it to. And those panels were on weird times… if it absolutely must 1 panel room, with both events, than there needs to be more back and forth on the planning, i.e. 1 Walking Dead, 1 Arrow, 1 Fear the Walking Dead, 1 Flash, etc.

Especially if the family fun zone is going to be as limited. There was a zombie shooting gallery, and something else to do with zombies, plus a photo spot for Stranger Things. Previously, there has been inflatable things (I think it was a zip line one year) and even a bull riding thing. It wasn’t interesting enough to us to even go near the zone to really look- previously we’ve hung around to watch and have fun with the crowds. So that was a little disappointing.

Alright, I admit it- I splurged on photo ops this year. But… I have particular standards. First of all, I have to like the person. Meaning they have to be in a show I like, play a character I like, and be someone that I like as a person. Then I try to narrow it down to getting someone that I may not see at an event. Back in 2004, my best friend DeeDee and I snagged photo ops with Alexis Denisof and Anthony Stewart Head from Buffy and Angel. Neither one has done many conventions in the US since. So that was a good snag. I also snagged Peter Wingfield (most notably from Highlander) in 2009 when he stepped in at an event after John Barrowman broke his ankle- Peter has since retired from acting and conventions and finished medical school. So… what I’m saying is that those guys are hard to get. Also, they are pretty meaningful to me. I finished OTA last year at Heroes and Villains, having snagged Amell in 2016 (when I actually got my brother to step into his first photo op). This year, I opted for a bit of Teen Wolf/DCTV crossover, with Colton Haynes and Tyler Hoechlin (You might’ve noticed both mentioned earlier in this post… I won’t go to a Teen Wolf convention, so having them appear here was pretty sweet). Of course, it wasn’t until much much later that the adorableness of the photo with Colton was forever ruined for me by the placement of the Tiger on his sweater, but I can laugh at myself and the ridiculousness. I may have squee’d after the pics- they are both so pretty.

All in all, I had a good weekend though I am not sure there was enough vendors for Barbara- especially since her interest in the panels available was so low. However, I feel like Heroes and Villains continues to do a good show, with a few minor issues this year.

Please visit the Facebook album to see photos from this convention.

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