by Ellen Case
Walking into the annual Dallas Fan Expo can be overwhelming. Hundreds of visitors streamed through the doors of the halls of the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center. The smell from the food stands mixed with the smell of sweat from hurried cosplayers wafted through the air with the constant humdrum of conversations as people complimented others on their costumes.
Almost every guest wore some type of pop-culture reference: T-shirts emblazoned with T-rexes, lightsabers and video game slogans pop up everywhere while some wear pins and hats to display their passions.
The true showstoppers, however, were the cosplay costumes. Multiple Wonder Women and Elevens strode through the halls while Darth Vaders and Stormtroopers posed for pictures. Some guests were inspired by a character from a popular show such as “Game of Thrones,” while others dressed as lesser-known characters.
Mahayla Bohl wore a “Matt the Technician” outfit from the Adam Driver SNL skit. She said she wanted to be Kylo Ren but decided on something different due to her height.
Dallas Fan Expo is the largest fan convention in Texas. Thousands descended on downtown Dallas. People came to see visiting icons while some enjoyed the endless shopping.
For Jillian Rayes and her friends, the event was a consolation gift after they were unable to attend the famous San Diego Comic Con. They all came dressed as their favorite Avenger and discussed their costumes as they waited in line to hear Jeff Goldblum (The Grandmaster) speak.
Most of the event was based around celebrity guests. The guests ranged from local cosplayers and artists to Hollywood royalty. Some of this year’s biggest stars were Ben Affleck, Val Kilmer and Jeff Goldblum.
Booths stretched across the hall, with posters identifying those sitting beneath them. Gotham stars and couple Ben McKenzie and Morena Baccarin sat beside each other while across the hall, legend Chuck Norris was stationed besides Daredevil’s Charlie Cox. Fans waited in long lines, clenching cash and photographs in their hands, hoping to get a selfie or autograph.
Occasionally, the loudspeaker and cheers could be heard as the celebrity sat for a panel.
The crowd for Goldblum’s panel rose to their feet as the iconic actor walkedon stage. He answered a moderator’s questions with a smile. He made jokes, displaying exactly how to charm a crowd.
Part of the event was shopping. One of the halls featured the massive layout with booths selling posters, famous jackets, Funko Pop dolls, collectible figures and more. People bustled through, apologizing as their lizard tails and Back to the Future hoverboards knocked into each other. They waited in line to get tattoos or buy a pre-signed picture.
Another section was set up with famous set pieces for pictures. The Delorean was set up against a backdrop of the clock tower to raise money for Michael J. Fox’s foundation.
As the day wore on, visitors were spotted struggling to walk in their heavy outfits or weighed down by their weapon and poster purchases, but almost everyone wore a smile. This was a place for many to create their own art and share it with others. It was an event for them to come together.