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Sun City SciFi Expo—small convention, big smiles

“I came to see Billy West,” junior English & American major Stephanie Amerena said at the Sun City SciFi Fan Expo on October 5. “I’m a huge fan.”

Amerena, who was cosplaying as Happy the blue, flying cat from Fairy Tail, was one of hundreds of excited fans at the expo. The weekend event located at the El Paso Convention Center featured dozens of vendors and guest appearances from celebrities such as voice actor Billy West, most known for his roles in Futurama and The Ren & Stimpy Show, Tim Rose, who played the role of Admiral Ackbar in Star Wars, and Barbara Goodson, who is best known for her role of Rite Repulsa of the Power Rangers franchise.

“My kids were my reason for coming to the expo,” Cesar Ramirez said as he watched his daughter play a game on a Gamecube set up in the expo’s gaming corner. “It’s everything I thought it would be and I’ll definitely be coming to future Sun City SciFi expos.”

The somewhat small expo ran from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 4, and from 11-5 a.m on Sunday, Oct. 5. Vendors were lined up in several rows across a large room in the Abraham Chavez convention center, most of whom were selling their wares for prices high enough to make a poor collector shed a few tears. Between $15 anime coffee mugs to autographed posters costing hundreds of dollars, the expo was not for those with empty wallets.

“(The expo is) a little smaller than I thought it would be, but it’s really fun. I plan on attending future Sun City SciFi expos, especially if they keep bringing people who voice Futurama characters,” Amerena said.

The guest appearances would take turns appearing on a stage set up for their panels, where they would tell about their personal experiences of how they became a part of the works that had made them famous, mostly tying into a moral for their audiences, and answering questions afterward. Each panel ran for up to an hour and a half and made up the ‘main attraction’ of the expo. Each celebrity brought their own humor and creativity to the stage and was ready for any potential question.

“I was a weird kid; I was a freak,” West said during his panel. “I was always suppressed, it was like communism. It served me well to stay true to myself. I wanted to keep silly things alive with me.”

West, who has made a name for himself through the wacky characters he portrays, kept his audience laughing the entire time. He’s a very funny, friendly, and inspirational man, but even he played a strong contribution to making the experience a very pricy one. Excited young children would run up to West’s table with the biggest smiles on their faces, their hearts racing with anticipation to get an autograph from their biggest idol only for those smiles to die upon seeing the sign on West’s table saying “Autographs: $20, Photos with Billy: $10.”

The most devoted of fans didn’t mind the high cost of a name on a piece of paper. One woman happily handed over three, crisp $20 bills for West to sign her Futurama-themed Monopoly board game and two posters.

“I had always wanted to work with Matt Groening,” West said. “When I had auditioned for Futurama, I was a bit worried, but you’ve gotta be worried in order to excel. I’ll keep doing (voice acting) ’till I kick, I guess.”

Despite the expo’s costliness, there were some alternatives for fans who aren’t directly related to Conrad Hilton or Bill Gates. The expo’s gaming corner featured several video game consoles set up and free to use for all attendees, with games such as Super Smash Bros Melee and Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. Emmanuel Alfaro, founder of the Y.O.U.N.G. (Youth Organization Uncovering a New Generation) Ghostbusters became a vendor in search of young volunteers, rather than money.

“We want to put our name out there,” Alfaro said. “We try to do good for the community. We clean up El Paso and teach kids about anti-drugs and anti-bullying. We’re trying to set up a team to clean up the Concordia Cemetery and have fun doing it.”

The Sun City SciFi fan expo was a very enjoyable experience for those who attended. With entry tickets costing $10 per day and nothing inside the expo being free, a person may expect a little more for the price they had paid, but nonetheless, the future brought fun times to the Sun City.

Joseph may be reached at [email protected].

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Sun City SciFi Expo—small convention, big smiles