NerdinOut Con: Interview with Ming Chen

 

 

Last weekend I had the opportunity to do media coverage at my 1st NerdinOut Con in Rochester, MN.

Ming Chen, from the hit AMC TV show Comic Book Men, greeted me with a huge hug and took time from his hectic schedule to discuss Funko Pops.

 

Minnesota Fan Fusion 2018

Minnesota Fan Fusion 2018
***Disclaimer: I received a complimentary media pass to cover this event. All opinions are my own and that of my kids***

Last month my two teenage boys and I had the opportunity to attend our first Minnesota Fan Fusion in St. Paul. We first heard about MNFF during Free Comic Book Day at Hot Comics and Collectables in Richfield this past May. The second my teens and I saw the celebrity line-up it was mutually decided we had to go.  

What is Minnesota Fan Fusion?

It is a convention & expo that celebrates Fandom of all genres. They focus on local creators and artists to showcase the finest talent in the Twin Cities area and welcome artists from around the country. 

In its sophomore year and previously named Minnesota Fan Fest, this comic book-themed convention offered well-known artist with a huge gallery of vendors. The actors in attendance held panels along with autograph and picture sessions.    

Social Media 

In preparation for our trip to St. Paul, my teens and I kept close tabs on social media for updates to make sure we were not going to miss our opportunity to check out the panels with our favorite actors. What was great about the days leading up to the event was the Facebook Live feed that gave attendees a behind the scenes preview of what they could expect at this event. 

Matt Solberg, who is the CEO and Founder of Square Egg Entertainment, discussed what made him decide to bring a comic book-themed event to Minnesota. In the second Facebook Live installment, we meet Sara Klick, Director of Talent Relations who shares how they chose and book guests for their event. The final FB live behind the scenes installment had the Directors of Operations, Director of Programming and Programming Manager, discuss various topics that covered the what to expect from the security when entering the building, how the wristbands are made to last for the duration of the event, and what content is planned to accommodate all ages.  

The line to get into Minnesota Fan Fusion on Sunday. We were 3rd, 4th & 5th in line to get into the event.

For anyone wanting to know who would be in attendance on a particular day(s) the best way to obtain that information would be to follow them on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook. Not on those social media sites?  Sign up for their newsletter, and you’ll receive emails about the event.  

Parking

Speaking of the Rivercentre, I must acknowledge how this venue was perfect for this particular sized event.  The parking situation was not even an issue. Knowing that construction is going on in the area, I went directly to the interactive map on their website. The best part was that I found a spot that was a few feet away from the entrance and only paid $10! 

Useful Information 

Once we made our way inside the building, the strategically placed signs for MNFF led us to the area we needed to get our passes. Since we arrived 45 minutes before the beginning of the day’s festivities, my boys and I were 3rd, 4th and 5th in line to enter the premises. I’ve covered events on a Sunday before, and each time there’d be a huge turnout. That’s precisely what happened on this day. 

Another great feature MNFF offers is an app where you can get a full schedule of their photo ops, panels, and events. I downloaded their app before arriving in St. Paul on Sunday. It was very user-friendly throughout my visit to the Rivercentre. 

While waiting in line my kids and I finalized our plans for the entire day with the use of both the program that the staff provided us when we picked up our wristbands and the app we downloaded beforehand. Minnesota Fan Fusion even had their website serve as a third source for finding the schedule of the three days festivities.  Talk about having all of your information basis covered! 

Vendors and Exhibitors

The moment my boys and I stepped foot into our first MNFF we were in awe of all the exhibitors.  There were two areas designated for these vendors to display their items. It took us a good 3 hours to look through each booth. My boys even went back to a few vendors that carried Legos and Original Funko Pops to make multiple purchases.  

Cosplay

There are never any shortages of Cosplayers when you attend a comic booked themed event. It amazes me how so many people dress up for the occasion and even act as if they are the actual character. MNFF also offered several scheduled events where people dressed in their costume attire could engage in. 

Panels

I had the chance to attend two panels on Sunday. The very first panel of that day was John Rhys-Davies. This man had the audience intrigued from the moment walked across the stage to the very second he had to leave for his autograph sessions. Mr. Rhys-Davies could be a one-person show. His ability to get into character and act out scenes made me wish he had more than an hour to entertain us. My teens enjoyed listening to John talk about his time on the set of The Lord of The Rings and Indiana Jones. 

Actor John Rhys-Davies entertains the crowd with his many talents during Sunday’s Minnesota Fan Fusion.

I loved hearing him get into Shakespearean Mode and reciting some of the lines. If you ever had the opportunity to attend a John Rhys-Davies panel, you must do it! I guarantee you will not be disappointed. 

The second panel I had the opportunity to attend was that of Firefly’s and The Sarah Conner Chronicles, Summer Glau. In her sweet, soft voice, Summer enjoyed answering questions from the crowd about each show she worked on. One of the questions was more of a personal one, about living with anxiety, that Summer did not hesitate to answer. 

Summer Glau answers questions during Sunday’s Minnesota Fan Fusion panel.

I truly admire her courage to speak openly about the struggles she faced as someone living with this disorder. I’ve always loved Summer as an actress but left loving this devoted mother of two even more after learning how her family is everything and refuses to take on a role unless they can join her on the set. 

Photo Ops and Autographs

In between panels one of my teens had John Rhys-Davies’ sign his The Lord of the Rings Gimli Funko Pop. The cost of John’s autograph was under $50. The smile across my son’s face after getting his collectible signed was priceless.

For any person wanting an autograph or picture op with one of the guest celebrity, the prices are listed on the MNFF app, program guide and online. You can buy those ahead of time, something I strongly advise because it could cut your wait time in the line down, or you can also purchase those items once you arrive. 

Comic book artist Dan Jurgens signs the comic book my teen brought from his personal collection.

My kid also brought along some of his comic books that writer and artist Dan Jurgens was happy to sign for him. There was no charge for Dan’s autograph, but there was an option to leave a donation in any dollar amount which my teen was more than glad to do.

Food and Beverages

The food options accommodated anyone with gluten, vegan, and other dietary requirements.  I have one very picky eater that was pleased with his slice of cheese pizza. The other kid had a brat while I indulged in a turkey sandwich. The cost for three drinks, three bags of chips and our food were around $35. Not too bad considering we were full afterward. 

Special Accommodations for Medical Purposes

One thing I always have to check on in advance is the setup for people with specific disabilities, and the type of restrictions are in place for bringing in my emergency medical items for the various health issues I live with (chronic migraine, fibromyalgia, and rheumatoid arthritis). 

There are times I need to take short breaks and get away from the crowd activities. The bright lights, loud sounds, even the smell of certain odors will cause me to become unexpectedly ill. Even walking around for a few hours will cause my fibromyalgia or rheumatoid arthritis to flare-up. When any of these situations arise, I need an area to rest and in most cases allow my medications a chance to kick in. 

A few of my items that could cause some security issues is a Cryohelmet or scarf which has frozen gel-packs that require proper storing in an insulated case. The other is my Boost Oxygen which is a handheld canister containing 95% and 5% air. 

The Rivercentre had multiple areas throughout the venus for any patron to sit and get away from the dense traffic areas plus their security did not give me any issues with carrying in anything I needed for medical purposes. Wheelchair accessibility was sufficient for the attendees. There are also plenty of volunteers on hand that are more than happy to accommodate anyone needing assistance.

What are my final thoughts after attending my first time to Minnesota Fan Fusion?

I loved how easy it was to find the panels and events with the help of the complimentary MNFF program guide and app. The celebrity line-up was a perfect blend of well-known actors that were incredibly friendly during their signings, photo ops and panels. There was plenty of places throughout the exhibit hall to sit down, relax, and charge your electronic devices. And most importantly, the volunteers and staff were very knowledgeable and courteous when I stopped to ask various questions about the day’s activities.

My 15-year-old’s favorite part of MNFF was the panels and having another one of his collectibles signed. My 13-year-old loved the selection of vendors and being able to go inside the replica Doctor Who Tardis. 

The 4 1/2 hour drive to attend our first Minnesota Fan Fusion was well worth making the trip into the Twin Cities. Our family loved everything about MNFF that we’ve officially added this to our must-attend annual events. 

Wizard World Comic Con Chicago

I’m thrilled to announce that I received a media pass to cover Wizard World Comic Con in Chicago on Thursday, August 23rd through Sunday the 26th.

I can’t even begin to explain how pumped I am about being in the same place as my Smallville Superman, Tom Welling.  I’ll gladly be his Lois Lane anyday!

I’m going to make sure I get in line at least an hour in advance for the X-Files’ panel. I loved that show and can’t wait to finally see David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson (Mulder and Scully) in person.

My kids are excited, but I’m sure it’s nowhere as much as I am.

If you are in the Chicago area, make it a point to check out the amazing celebrity line-up Wizard World Comic Con has to offer.

https://www.tixr.com/groups/wizardworld/events/wizard-world-chicago-8610

 

 

Minnesota Fan Fusion 2018

I’m excited to announce that I’ll be covering Minnesota Fan Fusion in Minnesota on August 4th and 5th at the St. Paul Rivercentre.

Passes are still available on their website.

https://memberships.square-egg.com/e/minnesota_fan_fusion_2018?utm_source=MN+Fan+Fusion+Newsletter+Subscribers&utm_campaign=a8bc5e0997-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2018_03_23_COPY_01&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_361e161219-a8bc5e0997-49502585

Walker Stalker Con and Heroes & Villains Fan Fest 2018: Chicago, Illinois

Recently, my teens and I attended our 1st Walker Stalker Con and Heroes & Villains Fan Fest in Chicago. In my latest article for Medium, I share my experience from that Saturday’s festivities. To read about which celebrities I had a chance to see up close and personal, click on the link provided below.

https://medium.com/@JPSummers/walker-stalker-con-and-heroes-villains-fan-fest-chicago-2018-927d95cd7777

Free Comic Book Day 2018

This will be my 4th year reporting from Free Comic Book Day. It was my kids love for reading that first introduced me to this annual event that is celebrated every first Saturday in May. If you’ve never been to FCBD now would be a great time to do so.

To learn all about Free Comic Book Day, check out the latest article I wrote on Geeks.media

https://geeks.media/free-comic-book-day-2018

 

 

 

Lego® Batman Build Event


My kiddos and I could not be any more excited about the release of The LEGO® Batman Movie.

My youngest already has 3 of the LEGO® sets from the movie and still wants to get the whole series!

My 13 year old is mostly looking forward to the characters that will be making an appearance in the movie.

And I am psyched about getting spending quality time with my family while relaxing in the Marcus theater’s dream loungers.

Since we have to wait two more weeks to see Batman in action, we are going to head out to Barnes & Noble this Saturday for their LEGO® Batman Build Event.

Starting Saturday January 28th and continuing February 25th and March 11th, celebrate the release of the LEGO® Batman Movie. At each event, kids can collect two limited edition trading cards (while supplies last) featuring characters from the movie. The cards collected at all three events will unveil a special scene. Enjoy giveaways, make and play themed moments with LEGO® bricks and blocks plus much more.

Let me tell you, when Barnes & Noble does giveaways, their prizes are awesome!

Both of my boys have won prizes from different events. You’d think they hit the lottery! The Doctor Who prize pack and the Batman VS. Superman: Dawn of Justice movie posters fit perfectly with the other superhero decor in their bedrooms.

For more details about the LEGO® Build Event and to find our what locations are participating, check out Barnes & Noble’s website.

 

Toys R Us Events Your Kids Won’t Want to Miss

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This weekend Toys R Us is having not one, but two events that your kiddos will not want to miss out on.

Join Toys R Us for their LEGO® Star Wars™ event that takes place this Saturday, November 19th from 12-2PM. The kids can go on a scavenger hunt & get a FREE LEGO Star Wars Minifigure!

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Then return back on Sunday, November 20th from 2-4PM for the Toys R Us Pokémon trade and collect event. There will be FREE giveaways & more! Plus, Sun & Moon video games are here!

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For more information or to locate the Toys R Us nearest you check out their website: http://www.toysrus.com/shop/index.jsp?categoryId=2255956

Also, follow them on Twitter or like them on Facebook to find out about other upcoming events.

https://twitter.com/ToysRUs

https://www.facebook.com/toysrus

***This was not a paid ad. I just have kids that LOVE Toys R Us and we always go to their events because they are so much fun!***

Halloween ComicFest 2016

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What could be better than candy this Halloween Weekend?

How about FREE comic books!!!

Saturday, October 29th is Halloween ComicFest 2016.

Halloween ComicFest Official logo
Halloween ComicFest Official logo

What is HalloweenFest?

It’s a one-of-a-kind event held at local comic shops. It gives a chance for pop-culture fans and comic book enthusiasts alike to enjoy the free comics and HCF Mini-Comic Polypacks and participate in the Greatest Halloween Costume Contest.

According to the Halloween ComicFest website, there are 32 titles—19 full-sized comics and 13 mini-comics—available, including select titles from Marvel Comics (Darth Vader: Doctor Aphra #1, Spidey #1, Unbeatable Squirrel Girl: You Choose the Story #1, and The Haunted Mansion #1), DC Comics (DC Superhero Girls #1 and Scooby Apocalypse/Hanna-Barbera Sampler), Dark Horse Comics (Harrow County #1), and IDW Publishing (My Little Pony: The Haunted Dungeon) among other spooktacular tales.

Last year my kids and I attended our first HalloweenFest at Powers Comics in Green Bay. We had such a blast! Not only did we each get to pick 3 free comic books there was also an assortment of free bookmarks, stickers and candy. Powers Comics was lucky enough to have New York Times bestselling author, John Jackson Miller, signing his own comic books for anyone that purchased his work.

To find out if your local comic book store will be participating click on this link: http://www.halloweencomicfest.com/StoreLocator

There is also a contest going on where you can enter The Greatest Halloween Contest Ever!

Costume contest photo submissions can be submitted starting October 6, 2016 and close Monday November 7th, 2016 at 11:59PM.

Contest voting will run from Tuesday, November 1st until voting closes on Monday, November 7th at 11:59PM.

Winners will be announced on Friday, November 11th.

For more details visit the HCE website.

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My youngest kiddo sporting his Star Wars costume last year at Powers Comics during Halloween ComicFest 2015