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‘Don’t ever apologize for being a nerd’: the best of FandomFest in pictures

by Melissa Chipman

Waiting... there was a lot of that at Fandom Fest

Waiting… there was a lot of that at Fandom Fest

photography by Kyle Ware

They came from Chile, they came from Australia, they came from Argentina, they came from all over the States.

Fans of pop culture swarmed Louisville this past weekend to attend FandomFest at the Kentucky International Convention Center and the Galt House.

There were hundreds of vendors and dozens of celebrities. A film festival. A masquerade ball. Classes and seminars. A room full of teen girls dressed like French maids (don’t ask… we made that mistake). Photo ops. Autograph sessions. Tattoo artists. Celebrated authors and comic artists. Lots of people selling swords. And of course, tons of people in costumes.

No two ways about it, FandomFest has grown wildly popular thanks in part to the A-list pop culture celebrities it signed up this year.

If you’re not prepared for good luck, sometimes good luck comes and kicks you in the butt.

If you were anywhere on Louisville social media this week, you likely heard the row raised by some attending FandomFest. The Fest, which had an unexpected explosion in attendance (two times last year’s numbers, says organizer Ken Daniels), struggled to handle the crowds.

Volunteers, vendors and celebrities were frustrated, and attendees took to social media to gripe, to ask questions and to express their feelings.

The response from FandomFest’s social media? Crickets until Sunday and then only marginally helpful.

Today’s social media response from FandomFest is intermittently helpful and hostile.

We could recap the lack of signage, the temporary closing of the Fest to attendees, the number of people with pre-paid tickets who were turned away at the gate, the forgotten celebrities (they apparently left dear old “Doctor Who” Colin Baker in his hotel room for at least five episodes of CSI worth of time), the cancelled panels… you get the picture.

But blog posts and Reddit pages have been popping up like bunnies dealing with just these things.

But, intrepid photographer and Insider Louisville columnist Kyle Ware and I went for all three days and despite the myriad frustrations, still had quite a bit of fun.

So let’s remember the fun times, shall we?

The celebrities:

William Schatner regales the crowd with stories of life in Kentucky. He loves Louisville and loves his horse.

William Shatner regales the crowd with stories of life in Kentucky. He loves Louisville and loves his horses. He’ll be back in a few weeks for the Saddlebred Horse Show at the Kentucky State Fair.

 

Stan Lee

Comic icon Stan Lee. It’s indeed surreal to hear him say things like “When I was creating Spider-Man…” He. Created. Spider-Man.

John Barrowman

John Barrowman is an energetic fellow. If you could harness the “Doctor Who”/”Torchwood”/”Scandal” fan’s energy, you could’ve powered the whole Fest. He also wins Best Quote of FandomFest. When a fan began her question with, “I’m sorry for being such a nerd,” he interrupted her and said: “Don’t ever apologize for being a nerd. Not here and not on the outside. Don’t ever apologize for being a nerd because the non-nerds never apologize for being ****heads.”

 

An adoring fan references John Barrowman's recent marriage to his long-time  partner. "I was wondering if you were considering adopting. And if you are that if you'd adopt me." Barrowman's response: "Don't you already have parents?" She points to her parents. "Well, I don't know. You're dad's kind of hot."

An adoring fan references John Barrowman’s recent marriage to his long-time partner. “I was wondering if you were considering adopting. And if you are that if you’d adopt me.” Barrowman’s response: “Don’t you already have parents?” She points to her parents. “Well, I don’t know. Your dad’s kind of hot.”

 

Adam Baldwin, Jewel Staite and Alan Tudyk from Joss Whedon's "Firefly" and "Serenity." While on the panel, both Baldwin and Staite took a speakerphone phone call from castmate Nathan Fillion.

Adam Baldwin, Jewel Staite and Alan Tudyk from Joss Whedon’s “Firefly” and “Serenity.” While on the panel, both Baldwin and Staite took a speakerphone phone call from castmate Nathan Fillion.

 

Who would you think drew the biggest attendance at their Q&A? Schatner? Stan Lee? Gene Simmons? No. By far the biggest crowd was for the "Firefly" panel. Despite the fact that the show only aired for one season and was canceled a decade ago.

Who would you think drew the biggest attendance at their Q&A? Shatner? Stan Lee? Gene Simmons? No. By far the biggest crowd was for the “Firefly” panel. Despite the fact that the show only aired for one season and was canceled a decade ago.

The dear, departed Khal Drogo (spoiler alert!) from "Game of Thrones," Jason Momoa was incredibly "ordinary guy" and wandered the fest and caught up with other celebs.

The dear, departed Khal Drogo (spoiler alert!) from “Game of Thrones” and Conan the Barbarian Jason Momoa was incredibly “an ordinary guy” and wandered the fest and caught up with other celebs.

You don't get much more rock and roll than Gene Simons. Frontman for KISS. Reality TV royalty. He commanded an entire day of Q&A's, autographs and photo sessions on Sunday from noon-9 p.m.

You don’t get much more rock and roll than Gene Simons. Frontman for KISS. Reality TV royalty. He commanded an entire day of Q&A’s, autographs and photo sessions on Sunday from noon-9 p.m.

And got to meet his littlest fan.

And got to meet his littlest fan.

When one thinks of "The Walking Dead" one does not normally think "family entertainment." But here's a family that just loves them some Merle. The notorious racist from the gruesome zombie show seemed like the nicest guy in the world. And sci fi fans, he's just been cast in "Guardians of the Galaxy" as Y

When one thinks of “The Walking Dead” one does not normally think “family entertainment.” But here’s a family that just loves them some Merle. The notorious racist from the gruesome zombie show seemed like the nicest guy in the world. And sci fi fans, he’s just been cast in “Guardians of the Galaxy” as Yondu.

Comic art legend Neal Adams. Do you remember the iconic comic where Superman fights Muhammad Ali in the ring? That's his work.

Comic art legend Neal Adams. Do you remember the iconic comic where Superman fights Muhammad Ali in the ring? That’s his work.

The costumes:

Doctor Whovian though I am, I did a double take when I saw this vendor dressed up like "Singing Telegram Amy Pond." Very, very impressive. Note that on his photo site, Kyle Ware has this titled "The Best thing that happened to me all day."

Doctor Whovian though I am, I did a double take when I saw this vendor dressed up like “Singing Telegram Amy Pond.” Very, very impressive. Note that on his photo site, Kyle Ware has this titled “The best thing that happened to me all day.”

The only male TARDIS I've ever seen.

The only male TARDIS I’ve ever seen.

This sums up the very best part of Fandom Fest. Little Wolverine is so happy to be there.

This sums up the very best part of Fandom Fest. Little Wolverine is so happy to be there.

This guy was having a great Fest.

This guy was having a great Fest.

XXX, Venom, Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy

Comic worlds collide: Carnage, Venom, Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy

The most stylish monsters at the Fest.

The most stylish monsters at the Fest.

Deadpool was really, really annoying. I didn't realize he was just being Deadpool. With the Black Widow.

Deadpool was really, really annoying. I didn’t realize he was just being Deadpool. With the Black Widow.

Want to experience the Festival without any of the frustrations? Kyle Ware took around 300 more photos of the Fest.

Organizers have vowed to learn from this year. Daniels has suggested that he might break the festival in two. We hope amidst the complaints they’ve also heard the hope and offers of support and help from people who really want this convention to succeed.

We contacted Daniels for comment, but his email is still set on “auto reply” from before the Fest.

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