The last time Heroes & Villains FanFest/Walker Stalker stopped by Portland was June 2017. Fast forward to January 2018 and the FanFest was back in town! Several things changed in the short six months: The length of the line(s) to get in, the length of the lines to get food, the size of the convention floor, and the number of Negan (Walking Dead) cosplayers. There was more of everything!
There were so many Negan cosplayers. Initially, I thought it would be fun to photograph as many as I could but after a couple circuits of the convention hall I decided, to quote Negan, to “shut that sh*t down.” I just didn’t have the film or stamina to chase after so many Negans.
There is obviously a sufficient demand for ‘cons in the region as evidenced by the swell of crowds. I was impressed. Rose City Comic Con is growing by leaps and bounds every year and the FanFest is doing the same! Once in the main exhibit hall, it was immediately obvious that the show was occupying more space. Part of this was no doubt due to the panels stage having been moved into a corner of the main hall itself rather than being outside in one of the smaller meeting rooms. There was also a smaller stage for “FanFest Live” that was used periodically for smaller, one-on-one celebrity guest interviews.
It appeared that the entire cast of Arrow was in attendance. (While most actors seem to look different in “the real world,” Emily Bett Rickards AKA Felicity Smoak on Arrow looks just like she does on the TV show!) There was also a healthy contingent from The Walking Dead. The outliers were Ming-Na Wen (Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.), and Jon Bernthal and Ebon Moss-Bachrach (Frank Castle and Micro from Marvel’s The Punisher). I’m not really going to focus on those folks– I see them on TV all the time. I’m here for the hidden gems among the exhibitors. Those folks that labor in obscurity out of a love for their fandom and share amazing things with the rest of us. During my many circuits of the show floor, here are a few things that caught my eye:
Batman Climbs A Wall!
If you’re of a certain age (or perhaps had a parent that introduced you to that most singular incarnation of Batman that was Adam West) you’ll remember the scenes in almost every episode that featured the Caped Crusader and the Boy Wonder scaling the side of a Gotham skyscraper with apparent ease and not a drop of sweat.
John and Pam, cosplaying as Batman and Robin had set up a free photo op booth in which visitors could recreate their own “window cameo” with Batman. It was tremendously popular and I found myself having to wait until they took a break to get in a word with the Dynamic Duo…
Please tell me a little about yourself (and Robin!)
I’m (John) a software programmer, and Pam (Robin), is studying to get her Masters Degree in education in order to become a teacher.
How long have you been cosplaying as ’66 Batman (Fantastic costume by the way!) What got you into costuming? How many ‘cons have you attended as Batman? Do you cosplay as other characters?
We started doing Batman and Robin last January at Emerald City Comic-Con. Prior to that, we had attended Comic-Cons and had dressed up once as Star Trek characters just to give it a try. Around Christmas of 2016, Mattel was having a sale on a Batman 1966 Cowl and Utility Belt. I had to order them! Once I tried on the Cowl, I knew I had to do the rest of the costume!
So far we’ve stuck to Batman and Robin, although Pam wants to do Discovery Star Trek at ECCC this year. I started out with just Batman, but have added to it as I’ve been inspired by others doing Batman 1966. First I added the Bomb, then surfing Batman, and now the Batman wall for climbing.
As Batman and Robin, we’ve attended ECCC, H&V, Lilac City (Spokane), Rose City (Portland), Central City Comic-Con (Yakima) and one in Eugene Oregon. We’ve had a busy year!
Was this the first event for your wall climb attraction? Tell me a little about the creation of the attraction? What are your plans for the future? Any more 2018 ‘cons or events?
This (H&V 2018 Portland) was the debut of the wall climb. My friend Bruce and I finished it up about a week before H&V and contacted the cosplay coordinator to see if they had room for us, and they loved the idea and squeezed us in! It went really well!
I like to expand what I’m doing with Batman 1966, and I had done the Bomb and surfing Batman, and was trying to think of something else that was iconic from the Batman show that I could do. I thought about Batman climbing the wall, and how he did it practically every episode and how it was always fun when someone popped out of a window. So I started thinking about how I could make a wall where I could also do the window, and make it portable, and it took awhile but I finally figured it out! My friend and I started building it and went through several modifications to get to what you saw last week. And now, since we’ve used it in public, we have some more mods we’re going to make to it, including making the window itself larger, making it easier to get in and out of the “window”, making it easier for people to understand what we’re doing by creating a banner display showing how it works, and making it easier to extend Batman’s cape horizontally.
We do have plans to contact other cons, including Cherry City, Rose City, Central City, and Lilac City. We’ll be happy to bring the wall
along with us if they’ll have us!! One thing we do have booked is to bring the wall to the next Adam West Day in Walla Walla.
I was only able to attend Saturday but your booth seemed quite popular and everyone seemed to be having fun. About how many people would you estimate got a photo in your booth? Any cool stories about the event?
Yes we did get quite busy on Saturday!! I would guess between 40-50 people got their photos taken. Kids really seemed to enjoy it, and there were plenty of adults who were thrilled as well! One of my favorite photos was with Spider-man, where Spider-man appeared to be sticking to the side of the wall while Batman was climbing it! We have a whole bunch of pictures on my FB group page.
Finally… who’s the best Batman? Michael Keaton? Val Kilmer? …Adam West??
Adam West is The Best Batman!!!
Moving on, good citizens…
I have to say that after The Walking Dead‘s Negan, my least favorite character (or type of character, or thing or whatever) is clowns. It took me several passes to muster the intestinal fortitude to approach this particular clown.
Plunging into the breach, so to speak, I eventually stopped Amber (Pennywise) and Jonathan (Georgie) for a photo.
Sewing, crafting and face painting are hobbies of mine (Amber). Jonathan enjoys comics, gaming, and movies. When we started dating 2 years ago, we dived into couples cosplaying with mutual enthusiasm. Since then, we have attended several cons and look forward to many more in the future!
Tell me a little about your costume– how did you decide on the interpretation? (Compared to just recreating a visually “verbatim” Pennywise. *shudder*)
After we saw the 2017 movie in October, I wanted to dress up as Pennywise for Halloween. With a less than a week to design the costume, I looked in my closet and pulled out all the white clothes in there. Putting together a white petticoat, leggings, corset and turtleneck added a unique and girlish flair to the costume. The telltale red pompoms and facepaint of Pennywise pulled the costume together and was topped off with an orange painted hairpiece to add a maniacal elegance. George’s costume rain slicker was purchased and designed the night before the con. His bloody arm stump was made out of a plastic cylinder container with red yarn and red painted paper towels hot glued to the ripped arm of the yellow rain slicker.
How long did it take you to create?
Pennywise needed a few hours to put the outfit together and make yarn pompoms. George’s costume took about 2 hours to put together.
Are there any notable features or design elements in your costume?
The face paint and Georgie’s bloody arm stump. (I’d have to agree– the facepaint is perfect!)
What sorts of reactions did you get from attendees?
Since Georgie was over six feet tall, other con-goers would see him first, and then have a bit of a shock when Pennywise came into view. The typical response was “OMG, so-and-so hates clowns and I need to send them a picture of you!” (Yeah. I can see that. Clowns…)
Oh, look… more Negans. So many Negans. Hey look, is that…
I’m a fan of the ’90’s Batman The Animated Series and Bruce Timm’s character designs so when I saw this particular interpretation of Mr. Freeze I immediately thought of that show. Turns out I was right on the nose and had to snap a photo!
I am definitely not someone who’s a career costumer although it would certianly be delightful if I was! I think it sort of started for me sometime before high school I became very obsessed with the beautiful costumes in the Lord Of The Rings movies I couldn’t get enough of the behind the scenes features with the designers I guess it peaked my interest in the process of it. I wouldn’t say I attend too many cons but I try to go to the ones in the northwest as I’m from Washington so I’ll be attending both ECCC this year all four days and Rose City CC all three.
Tell me a little about your costume– how did you decide on the interpretation? How long did it take you to create?
I’m a huge Batman The Animated Series fan and my all time favorite episode is Heart of Ice. Since I was doing a female version of the costume and I really wanted something that would stand out and make you feel cold when you look at I decided to deepen the colors and go with a suit that was of my own design (roughly based on a mix of animated series and the Batman Arkham city game suits) plus I wanted to lose the sealing dome lid so I could be more comfortable at the con. I got the frozen fogging neck piece idea from the Gotham version of the suit which made getting rid of the lid easy I just wanted to make sure I didn’t lose the effect of the suit keeping me alive so I added snow effects to the edges and snow in the hair to really bring it together.
This cosplay took me several months of work to put together I’d say about four! Even with all that work not all of the electronics work the way I would like them to I actually broke one of my fog machines right before the con it was supposed to be a much better effect originally. Lol so is life with crafts!
Are there any notable features or design elements in your costume? (How did you rig that vapor effect??)
Ahhh yes the fogger, I love and hate the two fog machines me and my husband made for this cosplay it is an amazing effect which I love but it is such a pain to keep from breaking or running out of juice! We made them out of two Kanger T3 vape tanks, a 3volt air pump, and an on and off switch hidden in my fog gun. I found a great way to hide the machines in the neck piece, it’s made of very thick material as you may have noticed but the best part is the thick material is EVA foam which allowed me to easily carve a safe and perfectly fitted hiding place for the vape foggers then place a plastic cover over that that is held with Velcro!
What sorts of reactions did you get from attendees?
This particular costume seems to freak out little kids about 70% of the time and DC fans seem to like my design pretty well. It makes it completely worth it when I meet fellow mega fans of the character!
Do you have a funny cosplay experience from the weekend? Any cases of mistaken identity?
Probably the funniest thing that happened at the con was I had went back to my hotel to shower and change back into my street clothes when I had gotten back to the con a young man had asked me for a photo with me and told me I “look so cool can I have a picture with you!?” I didn’t think anything of it because in the back of my mind I’m still Ms.Freeze then I was laughing so much to myself because I really didn’t look cool and I wasn’t in costume at all it made me feel really cool for some reason lol.
I work my way through another gaggle of Negans (so many Negans) and head down the aisle towards…
Capes and Crowns Foundation
Probably one of the coolest booths we saw belonged to the Capes and Crowns Foundation. They are a non-profit organization that provides themed professional photography services at no cost to children and their families battling serious illnesses or dealing with a painful time in their life.
Their mission is “to bring joy and light into the darkness that can shadow over a child’s life. Regardless of what a child’s battles may be, we celebrate their strength as they are real superheroes.”
Hi Kylie! Can you please give me a little background about yourself?
I am a wife and mom of 4 boys, photographer, entrepreneur, and former teacher. All of my experiences, education, and careers have led to the creation of the Capes & Crowns Foundation.
How did you come to found Capes and Crowns? Is it something you’d been planning for a while? Was it a proverbial “lightning bolt” of inspiration? Was there a moment when you realized that “This is what I need to do”?
Capes & Crowns actually started as a birthday party business where I would bring costumes and props and take photos of the kid
dos dressed as their favorite characters! In order get my website up and running, I set up a model call for superhero photos. A family of 4 boys responded and they were the perfect “Avengers.” Little did I know that one of their sons had been battling Ewings Sarcoma specifically located in his foot. A photo of this little boy changed everything. He was dressed as Thor looking and feeling as strong as could be with rays of light streaming on to his foot that had been partially amputated. This photo completely changed his perspective of himself. He felt strong. He looked strong. He was strong. This shoot changed everything. I knew these photos and this experience was so powerful and could be used for so much good! It was on the way to the first Heroes & Villains Fan Fest that the non-profit was born and everything else soon fell into place.
How long have you been operating? Have you attended many ‘cons
We are currently in our 3rd year of operations. This is only our 2nd con having a booth.
What sort of reaction have you gotten from ‘con visitors?
The reactions from con-goers are incredibly positive! We’ve met so many amazing people with incredible stories. It’s neat to see people relate to our services, especially when they see a shoot inspired by their fandom!
Tell me a little about the types of services you provide.
Our 2 main services are Inspire sessions and Embrace sessions. The Inspire sessions are designed around each child’s greatest inspiration whether that be superheroes, Princesses, Jedis, Zombies, or mermaids! Once the kiddo and their family decide which theme they’d like, we provide all the costumes, props, hair and makeup styling and professional photography, all at no cost for qualifying families. Our embrace sessions are meant to help find the beauty within life’s current circumstances with lifestyle photography capturing a baby’s time in the NICU or children’s hospice care and memorial service coverage.
Have you created any strategic partnerships with other area non-profits/foundations that engage in charitable activities by way of pop culture? (I’m thinking of the Star Wars costume group “501st Legion.”)
We have! There are so many like-minded people and organizations that love to work together to make a difference! We have our big fundraising gala in April which will feature an appearance by the 501st Legion. We’ve also worked with the Portland Superhero Coalition in the past.
Anything else you’d like to add?
If you know a family that would benefit from one of our services, please nominate them on our website!
What is the best way for interested readers to support your mission?
Follow our blog (www.capesandcrowns.org), like us on social media, join our mailing list, and come to our nerd-centric fundraising gala on April 28th!
Wow just fantastic…nerds using their superpowers for good! By this time my feet are starting to complain a little and I think I’ve covered a few of the high-points of the convention. As I plan my exit for the day I decide to swing wide and stop at an artist booth or two and peruse their offerings. Earlier in the day I spotted the Third Rail Design Lab booth and decided to stop by and catch up with Thom Chiaramonte, proprietor.
The H&V show definitely seems larger this year with loads more people. How was the show for you this outing compared to last June?
We prepared for HVFF this year a bit more armed with knowledge than our first show with this organizer in 2017. I do this show, as with most on my limited schedule, with Kris Mclanahan of Deeply Dapper. It took us awhile to assess the new layout, as the floor plan was quite a bit different this time around. There’s always this tension in the weeks leading up to a show, about your table placement optimization. Some vendors pay for prominent placement, and others are just buried in the rows of Artist Alley tables. In our case, both years, we bought two corner tables, so that we could bridge them with an extra table and make sort of End Cap of Awesome, which works well as we do shows together and can assist each other as needed. We were initially concerned about our placement: while we had the corner tables we paid for, we were off in the corner of the AA area facing the food court. We felt it could help or hurt us. In the end, I think it was a little bit of both.
Kris and his wife drove out from Idaho for the show, and I flew in from San Francisco. I’ll tell you: it was probably the last local-ish venue to which I will fly. I had three boxes of art prints and books in my checked luggage, as well as all my overweight carry-on stuff and display materials, and the total duration of travel was only a few hours faster than had I driven to Portland from the Bay Area. Driving can be annoying, but quite a bit cheaper, and as I anticipate quite a bit more product in the fall, having more flexibility with cargo will be beneficial. For this show, I had about 60 more 11×17 art prints available, topping out at over 400 at this point, as well as a number of smaller 5×7 prints. That’s a lot of paper!
The crowd was different this year. For the first show, in 2017, we saw fairly distinct divisions in terms of customer fandom: Walker fans and Arrowverse fans, neither of which necessarily might be general fandom or comic art fans beyond those specific areas of interest. That’s something fairly unique about this show’s set-up. This year, however, we both felt like there was more diversity in the customer interest and more crossover, right down to hybrid cosplay, like zombie superheroes and the like. We both had many returning customers who knew us from last year or are used to finding us at Rose City in the fall. Overall, I felt like there was more interest in my work this year. One difference was tale set-up: last year I used three large binders on elevated viewing stands, which struggled to stay together with all the page weight and constant flipping, whereas by the fall of last year, I began offering my prints in vertical bins, which evokes the longbow hunt or the record store deep dive that I always loved growing up. I think that definitely helped.
Overall, it was one of my best shows, and we had a blast! We recorded our podcast in the evenings over pizza and beer, and overall were wiped out at night because both of us stand on our feet the entire day interacting with fans and customers, so that’s exhausting stuff. But for all the right reasons. We can’t wait for next year. Kris will be back for WizardWorld Portland and we will both be in town for Rose City as well!
Thanks, Thom! We’ll see you next time you visit the Portland ‘con scene! I picked up a few prints and a comic from another vendor and then headed for the exit, closing the door on another Heroes and Villians FanFest/Walker Stalker Con.
Wait! A few more images from my instant camera: