One of the things I missed the most during the COVID shutdown and aftermath was attending conventions. Normally, I’m an avid con-goer. I try and attend at least one or two per year — I love the atmosphere, I love the chaos, the creativity, all of it. Unfortunately, the crowds and people are a bit prohibitive when there is a worldwide pandemic going on, but with things looking up, I headed out to this year’s Boston Fan Expo to jump back into the convention circuit.
One of the best parts of the expo was the top-tier guest list. Not only were Elijah Wood, Sean Astin, Billy Boyd, and Dominic Monaghan, aka the four Hobbits, reuniting for the first time in years, but so were Christy Carlson Romano and Will Friedle, aka Kim Possible and Ron Stoppable. The show also featured appearances from Matthew Lewis, Giancarlo Esposito, Jason Mewes, and David Tennant, as well as Smallville’s own Tom Welling, Michael Rosenbaum, and Kristin Kreuk. Of course, the biggest guest, and my personal favorite, was Ewan McGregor — fresh off an amazing run as Obi-Wan Kenobi in the titular Disney+ series.
As with most conventions, the floor was where I spent most of my time. After such a long absence, being able to go out and browse and see so much amazing artwork, so many cool cosplays, and rifle through booths of comics, action figures, and random squishy miscellanea was just amazing. Seriously, I do not remember there being so many plush things at past cons, but perhaps my recollection is a bit faulty. Cosplayers turned up in droves, from a stunning Princess Tiana with a light-up ballgown to more Eddie Munsons and Obi-Wan Kenobis than you could shake a porg at. There was always someone cool to see when you turned a corner. Though it should be noted that corner-turning was a very slow activity due to the insane amount of lines and slow walkers, but that, at least, was just like I remembered, which is oddly comforting.
What I found the most disappointing about the expo was the panels, or lack thereof. I’m used to cons that have several panels running simultaneously at all times, and there was a distinct lack of that happening. Some of the biggest panels, like the Hobbit reunion, also included a cover charge which definitely put a dampener on things. For that reason, I ended up spending 2 hours waiting in line, sitting on a cold concrete floor and surrounded by people who were way too close for my personal comfort, just to see Ewan McGregor. And it was absolutely 100% worth it.
The panel was the last thing I saw on Sunday before I left, and what a way to end a con! For those wondering, yes, McGregor is absolutely charming in person, and the entire experience was a complete delight. He told stories about a wide range of his projects, not just Star Wars, but also American Pastoral, Trainspotting, and Moulin Rouge. He shared anecdotes of visiting Boston and how his uncle, aka Wedge Antilles, advised him against taking the role of Obi-Wan way back in the 90s when the prequels were being made. We also were privy to hints being dropped that his character of Jiminy Cricket will have a musical number in Guillermo Del Toro’s upcoming Pinocchio film, set to release in November 2022.
On a more serious note, it was incredibly special to finally be attending a con again in a relatively safe atmosphere, and really makes you think about what we’ve missed these past few years. It’s always amazing to be in spaces where it’s safe to be as big of a geek as you want to be, around people who are encouraging you to be as weird as you want. Boston Fan Expo was a blast, and I can’t wait to go back next year.