My First Convention
by Francesca Benevento (@ZiaFranny)
When I found out that Heroes and Villains Fan Fest was in San Jose, California, I immediately contacted Once Upon A Fan and Teresa Martin, Editor–In-Chief, assigned me to represent them. I was definitely excited to go since Lana Parrilla was going to be there.
As I walked up the steps to the convention I felt like I was a kid again. I think the difference between children and adults is that we simply grow taller, and at a time like this I did feel a bit awkward and out of my element. This was my very first convention and, not knowing what to expect, I just thought I would wing it.
This whole entire year has been an experience of firsts: my first twitter and instagram account. Trying to navigate through social media and being part of a fandom was another first. This is not like the days when I grew up when if you liked a celebrity, you wrote a fan letter, mailed it and waited for days in anticipation of something. Maybe a signed photo, anything that acknowledged your letter was received. Now in the present day, you are able to buy a ticket for admission to any of these conventions and for a smaller price stand in line, get an autograph and meet your favorite celebrity. For a much larger fee you can get your photo taken with them.
As I was line waiting for the doors to open, I befriended two young ladies who were definitely experts on where to get the best seats with general admission tickets. They were also there to see Lana and Rebecca so I was in good company.
I was trying to live tweet, but the questions and answers came too fast for my fingers. But I was able to get a few in. Also, my camera was not capable of getting clear and in-focus photos, so again my new friend tooks some clear candid shots of our Once Celebrities and I was able to tweet those out as well.
And now came the time to rush over with the crowd and line up to get Lana Parrilla's autograph. I stood in line for about an hour, holding my signed posters that I brought with me to give to Lana. Finally it got to the point where money was exchanged and I was able to choose between six photos of the Evil Queen. When it was my turn to meet Lana, I gave her my posters and thanked her for always supporting all of us artists. She immediately remembered my artwork and mentioned that Gabe “Sneezy” gave her one of my posters. She had signed one for me, and Gabe will be sending it. She was very sweet and said that I was talented. Her handsome husband was there as well. It was brief, but memorable.
After this, I started to proceed throughout the convention. meeting some great artists who were selling their art. Not all of them have to be Official Licensees. You need that only if you are drawing License Disney of which OUAT is a part.
There were many great OUAT cosplayers, and I was able to meet some great fans. All in all it was a great experience and for me I have come full circle. I started drawing the OUAT characters in my spare time when my workload was slow. I never imagined that I would become part of a fandom. But every now and then something touches you and brings you back to that time when you were a kid. That was what the show brought for me as I remember my Mom reading those classic fairy tales. I guess you are never too old to become a fan.
Zia Franny is a Creative Director/Illustrator and regular contributor to OUAF. Her website is ziafranny.com. For more on Heroes and Villains Fanfest go to their website and Twitter HeroesFanFest.com (@heroesfanfest). Special thanks to Jenny Chang (@jentang06) for sharing her pictures.