by Matthew Thompson
I had the opportunity to go to last weekend’s Atlantic City Boardwalk Con. My brother was able to get me a VIP pass because he was working at the event which gained me some extra access. This was the first time I’d ever been able to go to one of these types of conventions and I had a blast (I’ve included some random pictures I took at the event though the panel ones came out a little grainy!).
Looking through the schedule of events, I was most excited for a few television show panels. After watching and reading online about the ones at Comic-Cons over the years, I have always wanted to go to one. Unfortunately The Flash one was cancelled, but I was able to attend panels for Arrow and Once Upon a Time.
The Arrow panel had Manu Bennett who plays Slade Wilson and Deathstroke on the show and Willa Holland who plays Thea Queen plus a moderator who was dressed up like Slade. Both actors brought something unique to the panel. Manu was very intelligent and thoughtful. He seems really into his craft and it came through in his answers to questions and comments about the show. Seeing him was extra cool because not only is he my favorite Arrow character, I loved him on Spartacus too and he spent a good bit of time talking about that show and how it compared to Arrow. He also seemed every bit as cool as you’d expect if you’ve seen him on TV. Willa was much different. Very bubbly and animated. Both were really funny too. And I managed to get a seat in the front row right in the center which was awesome! At the bottom of this post I included a few stories and moments from the panels, so you can check them out. They do include some spoilers for Arrow (not future ones, just for stuff that has aired), so read at your own risk there.
I am not caught up on Once Upon a Time. I got a little bored in Season 2 and fell behind. I was bummed when I saw they were including Frozen this year as I really enjoyed that movie and Georgina Haig, who was cast as Elsa, from her time on Fringe. So I plan to catch up one day, but I decided to check out the panel anyway and it was a lot of fun. Along with Haig, it featured Elizabeth Lail (who played Anna from Frozen on the show), Rebecca Mader (the Wicked Witch), and Sean Maguire (Robin Hood). While Arrow was more enjoyable since I was more into the show, I must admit the Once Upon a Time panel was a bit more entertaining. For one, having more panel members made it livelier. There was more back and forth between them, more funny banter and more contrasting answers for the various questions. There were also some little kids asking questions which added an extra layer of cuteness to the affair. I was most interested in hearing from Georgina and Rebecca since I was familiar with them from other shows, but I have to say Maguire stole the show. Everyone was great, but he seemed in top form and was extra hilarious.
The highlight of my day was one I didn’t expect coming in. I am not really into the idea of paying for pictures with people. After wandering through the photo-op area, I noticed some of the celebrities didn’t really have anyone lined up. I guess because it was early on in the day. So I asked someone on the event staff if it was okay if I just went and talked with some of them and they said yes. This led to me having a five-minute or so conversation with Georgina Haig about Fringe! As many of you know, Fringe is my favorite show of all-time. Georgina wasn’t in it for too long, but she played a very significant role. She was very nice, funny and had that lovely Australian accent. Meeting and talking to her was just so damn cool!
The rest of my time was spent wandering around and just checking out what was there. This part would have definitely been more fun for a big comic fan. My comic knowledge is mostly limited to movies and TV shows. I did enjoy seeing some of the art kiosks a lot though. My favorite was the one for SuperEmoFriends by J. Salvador. You can see one for Link from The Legend of Zelda above. These were just too cute. A great artstyle that can be both hilarious and a little depressing. You can see some more of these at his website here. The ones for The Last of Us are particularly excellent.
There were also a lot of cosplayers. I saw a great Master Chief. There was a group of girls that went as ladies from the Arrow series (both Canaries, The Huntress and Speedy… maybe someone else). Plus some good Jon Snows and more Deadpools than I could count.
This was a great experience and something I hope to do again one day. Below I mention a few bits from both panels for people who are interested (with some bad paraphrasing by myself of course). Thanks for reading!
The Arrow panel:
- Willa Holland got really emotional over seeing the girl in the Speedy cosplay. She said it was the first time she had seen someone dressed up as her character (or perhaps that version of it at least).
- She was also kind of salty about the whole Suicide Squad movie seemingly messing up who they can include in the show.
- Somehow Ryan Reynolds playing Deadpool came up and Willa gave this hilarious face in response that was somewhere between disgust and “what a terrible idea” which was pretty funny.
- Someone asked about Moira’s death scene and they both talked about how emotional and draining it was. Willa mentioned how her, Stephen Amell and Susanna Thompson went back to a trailer to cry and drink whiskey. Then Manu exclaimed, “I wasn’t invited!”
The Once Upon a Time panel:
- Someone asked if those on the panel watched the show before they were cast in it and Sean Maguire told this great story about how he tried out for the pilot, didn’t get the part and then became a little angry about how big a deal the show had become since he missed out and wouldn’t watch it out of spite. He was obviously playing it up a bit, but this one part he told about his mom asking if he’d ever heard of the show and how it was now her favorite was really funny.
- A ten-year old (or about that) kid called out Sean for making a mistake when speaking about the show’s past characters. I don’t think he actually did, but it was really awkward. He played it off well though. I imagine the response might have been different if it was an adult.
- When asked what they do in their free time, Elizabeth Lail said she had been spending a lot of time with friends… Season 7. It was delivered pretty brilliantly.
- Georgina mentioned how the cast and crew just so happened to bring their kids around to meet OUAT’s Elsa and Anna when they were working.