Fan Expo Heads West: An Interview With Fan Expo Vancouver’s James Armstrong

For many of Biff Bam Pop’s contributors and friends, August is a big time for us, since Fan Expo Canada touches down in Toronto, full of comic book creators, sci-fi and horror celebs and lots and lots of merchandise to be had. A highlight for JP Fallavollita and myself was the chance to meet Stan Lee a few years back – an awesome experience.

Now, the folks at Hobby Star Marketing have set their sights west, with Fan Expo Vancouver, running April 21-22 at the Vancouver Convention Centre. Event Co-ordinator James Armstrong was kind enough to answer some questions via email about the new iteration of the biggest fan experience in Canada.

Andy Burns: Why is 2012 the right time for Fan Expo to head west?

James Armstrong: Our team had several hurdles to deal with in expanding our schedule to include an event in Vancouver. One, is our flagship event, Fan Expo Canada is in August and has grown to one of the largest shows of its kind in the world. It takes about 18 months of planning and hundreds of moving pieces to make FEC happen, so we had to budget our time to make another event happen and that time is best for us at the beginning of the year. As far away from FEC as possible. Secondly, we wanted the Vancouver event to be at the Vancouver Convention Centre, and no where else. It turns out that is the same idea a lot of other events have because it was difficult for us to book space in the facility due to how busy they are with other events! And thirdly, we did not want to conflict with another event out West, especially with our friends at the Calgary Expo. Finally, early this year, all of these factors came together and we are excited to launch April 21-22.

Andy Burns: What have the logistics been like working in Toronto on a show in Vancouver? Easier or harder than you expected?

James Armstrong: It is more expensive, but the service level seems to be very good and we are comfortable with all the new folks we are working with. It is more difficult a process than something you work with year to year, but everyone has been very professional and straight forward, so it is not too much difficulty at all. I would say it has been smoother than expected.

Andy Burns: How did you decide what venue would host Fan Expo Vancouver?

James Armstrong: The venue is very important to the success of an event like FEV. It must be very central to the downtown area. It must be a well known facility that almost everyone knows how to get to. And it must be very accessible by public transit. The interior facilities are usually pretty standard, so anything we may need as far as special equipment, we usually bring in to the facility ourselves.

Andy Burns: Are there any particular guests coming to Fan Expo Vancouver that you’re personally exciting about seeing?

James Armstrong: Personally, I have never met Billy Campbell, so to meet The Rocketeer, that is pretty cool. I also haven’t seen Nicholas Brendan from Buffy The Vampire Slayer for almost 10 years, so it will be good to see him again. I also excited to see the people that gave us Reise again – they are assembling the entire cast of Death Do Us Part at FEV. I also love David Hayter and the hosts of InnerSpace, Ajay Fry, Cynthia Loyst and Teddy Wilson.

Thanks to Fan Expo Vancouver’s James Armstrong for talking to Biff Bam Pop and to Ashley at Mediatronic for helping make it happen. For more details on Fan Expo Vancouver, including an entire list of guests, click here

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