Heroes and Villains Fan Fest: A Review


By: Haylee Fisher (@haylee_fisher)

Recently, I had the privilege of attending Heroes and Villains Fan Fest in Atlanta. Billed as “not your dad’s comic con…it’s your fan fest,” Heroes and Villains was indeed different from other cons I’ve been to. It boasted only one panel running at a time, an intimate facility, and a small guest list designed to give fans more time to interact with their favorite actors, but did it subvert expectations as set by the tagline? Here are my thoughts on the weekend:

The Panels

The first thing that surprised me about HVFF was that because the entire con was contained in one room, there were never two panels running at the same time and there were only a handful of panels per day.

My friend Kelly came to town so we could go together and we only went to three panels per day, which, compared to other cons I’ve been to, is unheard of.

Opening the weekend was an Arrow panel featuring David Ramsey, Katie Cassidy, Willa Holland, Paul Blackthorne, and Charlotte Ross. As always, I live-tweeted the panel and here are some highlights:



The next panel of the day was John Barrowman’s solo panel. He never has a moderator and you never know what is going to come out of that man’s mouth!


The last panel Kelly and I went to on Saturday was a Guardians of the Galaxy panel with Gregg Henry, Sean Gunn, Dave Bautista, and Michael Rooker in attendance. (Look for my one-on-one interview with Michael Rooker coming soon!).


Sunday morning opened up with a Stephen Amell solo panel. Unlike John Barrowman, Stephen had a moderator, and while it seemed like Stephen would have liked it to just be him up there interacting with fans, the moderator came in handy when a few fans asked more than their share of questions.

Next up were the former and current supporting cast of Arrow: Amy Gumenick, Bex Taylor-Klaus, Echo Kellum, and Neal McDonough.


Because Jason Momoa cancelled his panel, the last one we went to was a Heroes panel. I didn’t tweet much about it since it’s no longer on the air, but I did mention the following and now having seen the Gilmore Girls revival, I’m glad my ears were perked up enough to catch this tidbit as it was something to look forward to!

The Pros

There were many stand-out qualities to HVFF as compared to other, maybe bigger cons.

One thing that was especially great was line management. Going in to a con, the expectation is to wait in lines upon lines upon lines and to make line buddies to pass the time. Not at HVFF. We only waited in two lines – one for a panel and one for a photo op – and both lasted about 15 minutes. Part of the reason for a lack of lines is because of the ticketing hierarchy system. There were platinum members, gold members, VIP members, and regular members and each stood in their own line for panels, photo ops, and autographs and had assigned seating during the panels. Because of that, if felt like the con ran more efficiently and eliminated a lot of the “hurry up and wait” feelings that plague other cons.

Another plus was that you could mostly see and hear the panel that was running at any given time as the whole con was contained in one room. Granted, it was difficult at the far corners of the room, but if you were in the autograph area or lining up for the next panel, you didn’t feel like you were missing out on what was happening on the main stage.

Finally, though there weren’t a lot of them, every vendor I encountered was very nice. From booths selling arts and crafts, to t-shirts, to art, to Funko Pops, every vendor was personable and never made me feel pressured into buying anything, which was greatly appreciated. Kelly and I even got some Christmas shopping done!

The Cons

Even though it was good the con was in one room for audio and visual reasons, what wasn’t so great was the price tag for the scale. I’ll put it this way: a Stephen Amell VIP ticket cost more than what I paid for a San Diego Comic Con ticket, and SDCC is double the amount of time. Special lines, an autograph, and a photo op are great, but if I had spent that, I don’t know if I would have thought it was worth the money.

And perhaps what was the most annoying and maybe the most asinine thing I’ve ever heard at a con, we weren’t allowed to bring food. As a veteran con-goer, I know to bring sandwiches and snacks to sustain me throughout the day because what is offered at cons is generally unhealthy and overpriced, but at HVFF, their policy was to make us throw it away. What about fans who have dietary restrictions? The pizza, hot dogs, and barbecue offered certainly were not on their meal plans. If I had one piece of advice to give to those in charge of HVFF, it would be to let patrons bring in food. It will make for much happier attendees.

The Huhs?

In two panels we attended – Guardians of the Galaxy and the Sunday Arrow supporting cast – fans asked questions not related to GOTG or Arrow and both times, the actors said they were not at HVFF to discuss those projects, but instead what they were on the panel for. The first time it happened, we thought it was weird, but the second time, we knew something was up. Were the actors told to redirect questions? If I were one of those fans and I came to the con specifically because I was a fan of an actor from a project of theirs that was not the subject of the panel, I would have been upset and confused that I couldn’t express my excitement or curiosity regarding something else on which they appeared. I really am genuinely curious as to why this was the policy, so if someone has any insight, please leave a comment and let me know.

The “Whyyy is this Happening”s?

You never know what to expect with fan Q&As. Not to toot our own horn, but I feel like Nerd HQ has some of the most respectful fans and they are never entitled when it comes to asking questions of the actors who take time out of their busy schedules to meet their fans. However, it seemed like some of the fans at HVFF used their time at the mic to jump on a soapbox, especially when it came to their favorite ship. There is a time and a place to broadcast your platform, but at a Q&A when there is a line of people behind you who also have questions and then may not get to ask them because you took up to much time is not it. It gives other fans second-hand embarrassment, but beyond that, entitlement is just not a good look.

Despite some hiccups, Heroes and Villains was still a fun weekend. It is still a young con and as such, there are still some kinks that need to be worked out. However, I’m looking forward to seeing it grow and will definitely attend again if it’s ever back in Atlanta.

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