By JP Rocha
The first panel I attended at FAN EXPO Chicago 2023 was a Klaus Janson discussion panel. It was great to hear Klaus start off his story with Superman’s role in how he became interested in art and design. He stated that Superman kicked off that interest, and that he would cut out images of Superman to make him kiss Lois because “they didn’t show that in the comics”.
I also attended an Alan Brunett panel where he was asked about his contribution to “Superman: The Animated Series”. While he admitted Superman is not his favorite character, he stated that it was his idea to make Brainiac be part of Krypton’s history.
Anthony Marques is a brilliant artist as well as instructor at The Joe Kubert School of Cartoon and Graphic Art. He just finished up a seven issue run on “Batman: The Audio Adventures,” the trade paperback is due out on September 19th. I was looking forward to receiving a sketch from Anthony based on the art in that book. I was even more excited to get that sketch after he stated Superman is his favorite character and is the only character he has ever dreamed about working on. He may have also mentioned some upcoming DC work on Superman and Power Girl.
Besides that sketch, I also bought an excellent print which Anthony signed and gave a side profile marker sketch of Superman. My friend, who also went to FAN EXPO, decided to start a Superman Family sketch book. Anthony and his fellow Kubert School colleague JP Buzio, completed the first two commissions in the book, Supergirl and Superboy (Conner Kent) respectively.
Evan “Doc” Shaner was another artist I was hoping to get a sketch from. It is well known that Doc is a huge Superman fan. I did receive a sketch, but the real story is how flattered Doc was to be the artist to do Superman in my friend’s Superman Family sketchbook. My friend also received a Krypto sketch with watercolor paints by Agnes Garbowska and finally got his Anthony Marques sketch colored by Jeff Balke.
The big event that I was interested in at FAN EXPO was “A super conversation with Tyler Hoechlin and Bitsie Tulloch”. As the result of strikes going on in Hollywood, the event went from a “Superman & Lois” panel to a getting to know the actors panel, which was still great fun. They talked about Chicago, Scotland, con experiences, and Tyler being traumatized by “The Exorcist” as a child.
They also shared about things they collected and have had passions for. For Bitsie it was Barbie, My Little Pony, G.I. Joe, She-Ra, and Thundercats. For Tyler it was sports, Indiana Jones, Power Rangers, Monsters in my Pocket, and Pokemon cards.
The panel stressed the importance of going to events like FAN EXPO, which for Bitsie is to get a sounding board or a real feel for what is working or what is not working for fans. Collectively they agreed that cons are a great opportunity to meet fans and hear their stories.
To wrap things up, they talked about being a young actor, with Tyler starting when he was 9 years old, in comparison with being an adult actor. The panel touched on chemistry dynamics and bonding opportunities while acting. Bitsie revealed that she was cast after Tyler so there was no co-casting reading or initial bonding opportunities. They also played a game of “This or That” which revealed that the actors are all opposites, often picking the opposite of each other. In this humorous game Bitsie revealed that she believes that eyebrows are facial hair.
All-in-all, FAN EXPO Chicago was a great experience!