The start of the new year is known for plenty of things. For many, it’s the commitment to new resolutions to do right, lose weight, etc. For some, it’s also the time to forget about those resolutions. To pop culture geeks in the New Orleans area, however, the new year means one thing. It’s the start of con season. That means it’s time for Fan Expo New Orleans.
In August 2021, Fan Expo took over six shows in cities formerly run by Wizard World. New Orleans was one of those shows. There was a lot of fanfare for what they could bring after multiple disappointing years from Wizard World. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 virus was not done causing havoc across the country. Right around the time the show was kicking off its inaugural event in the city, the Omicron variant of the virus took off. Cases started increasing again. As a result, guests and vendors cancelled. The show, however, went on even with a smaller size. Keeping the original January schedule, Fan Expo New Orleans kicked off its first show. The Comic Bin was happy to cover the event.
Things would be different for 2023. While COVID still exists in American society, it is not affecting the population as it did before. Fan Expo returned for its typical 3-day event beginning January 7th. The crowds returned as well. While Fan Expo has not made attendance figures available at time of print, visual observation from this year’s event outdid last year’s not only in participants (Fan Expo announced that over 30,000 fans attended last year), but also in the number of guests and vendors partaking in the show. Vendors representing all forms of pop culture including anime, comic books, video games and more were available for attendees to make purchases. Mario Russo of Mario’s Comics, an Atlanta-based dealer even noticed an increase in the number of competitors with booths this year.
“It’s a good thing, but it’s not a good thing,” he said with a smile.
Something for Everyone
Fan Expo is one of the promoters of pop culture conventions in the country. They put on 16 shows each year across including Fan Expo New Orleans. For New Orleans attendees, there was a mixture of comics, movies, TV, anime and more. Unlike last year’s show, which suffered due to the Omicron variant of the COVID-19 peaking, this year’s event had a full slew of guests including cast members of the Mandalorian, Stranger Things, and Star Trek: Strange New Worlds. Voice actors from animation, anime, and gaming also appeared. And for comic book enthusiast, what would a con be if not for comic book creators? Fan Expo New Orleans had something for everyone.
Fan Expo Remains a Safe Place for Comic Book Fans
Over the decades, conventions have garnered more and more variety in terms of what makes up their events. What once were shows consisting exclusively of comic book writers, artists, and publishers now find a slew of everything but. These days, conventions consist primarily of other areas of geek culture – anime, movies, and TV. At some conventions, one may not find any signs of the comic book industry at all. This isn’t the case at Fan Expo. Comic book collectors and enthusiasts will find a safe place at their events. This was the case this weekend in New Orleans. Legendary comic book artist Arthur Adams and former Marvel editor-in-chief Jim Shooter were featured guests. They appeared along with famed comic artists such as Mark Brooks, Joe Rubinstein, and Sweeney Boo, as well as writers Jim Krueger and Kami Garcia.
Those looking to buy comic books would have been pleased to find several vendors selling rare and not-so-rare comic books to purchase (side note: I was able to complete two runs from purchases I made). Other vendors not specifically selling comics had some in small boxes as well.
Local Groups Have a Place at Fan Expo
Local fan groups had a place to shine at this year’s event. They use events such as Fan Expo to highlight their groups in the hope of recruiting new members. Groups ranged from the paranormal, with a local Ghostbusters group posing for pictures with fans next to their Ecto-1. Anime lovers stood at the Macross group, learning more about what they had to offer. Dueling Star Trek clubs Starfleet International (SFI) and the Federation both had representation this year. Despite the competing issues between the two fan groups, intergalactic war was averted despite the two factions being placed directly behind each other.
Car aficionados also had an area to hang out at this year’s con. This year’s event had several custom cars on the show floor for fans to check out. Each vehicle had its own anime theme. they held several gaming tournaments as well. And as with every convention, Fan Expo hosted its cosplay contest with competitors sporting their best at a change to win prizes. Fan Expo left no stone unturned this year.
While it maintains its national footprint in the pop culture industry, Fan Expo is known for allowing smaller groups to promote their upcoming events throughout the weekend. Smaller events, such as Cyphacon, a Lake Charles-based convention, also had a booth at this year’s Fan Expo to spotlight their show, which takes place the weekend of March 31st at the Lake Charles Civic Center.
Fan Expo continues to thrive in bringing quality events every year, leaving no fan behind. And the promoter remains committed to its New Orleans event. Tickets to Fan Expo’s 2024 show went on sell January 9th.