We Ship It: Fan2Sea On Why A Cruise Ship Is The Perfect Place For A Comic Con
Royal Caribbean's Brilliance Of The Seas is a ship so big you could call it "Stucky", and in late January it will play host to comics creators, media stars, and hundreds of comics fans for Fan2Sea, the first ever comic convention on a cruise. Departing from Tampa, Florida, on January 29 2017, and cruising down to Cozumel in Mexico, the cruise will give comics fans a chance to mingle with Marvel and DC pros, and actors from Guardians of the Galaxy, Walking Dead, and Stranger Things, in an all-inclusive four-day cruise. It's never been done before.
ComicsAlliance spoke to Fan2Sea creative director Stefan Lawrence to discover what the cruise has to offer, how it might differ from other conventions, and why the organizers decided to hold a comic-con at sea.
ComicsAlliance: This is the first ever comics convention to take place on a cruise. Where did that idea come from?
Stefan Lawrence: First of all, many of us on the team have been going to comic cons for many years. And each year, they get bigger and bigger. At the same time, we’ve been watching the proliferation of celebrity and music cruises, and seeing how they offer an intimate fan experience that just doesn’t happen anywhere else.
The thought occurred to us --- what if we could provide that intimate fan experience, but with the kind of talent that we’d be interested in seeing? What if we could scale down the comic con experience so that you get all the good stuff, but none of the lines and hassles? That was the genesis of the idea.
CA: You've got some big name guests at this convention, including Frank Miller, Scott Snyder, Gail Simone, Art Adams, Mark Waid, Laura Martin, and Amanda Conner. Does it take a special pitch to persuade them to get on a boat with all their fans, or does the lure of a few days cruising down to Mexico make it an easy sell?
SL: You’re absolutely right --- for many of our guests, they said yes the second “comic con cruise” came out of my mouth. There are definitely some people on board who’d be on a cruise anyway. Others, not so much. Especially with the comic book talent, though, many of them recognized this as an easier, more enjoyable convention experience. Most convention centers don’t come with a bar every 50 feet or so. Or a pool deck. Or, you know, Mexico.
CA: Is the format for this show going to be like other conventions? Panels, signings, cosplay, etc? Aside from the venue, what sets it apart?
SL: In many ways, the format is similar --- we have panels, classes, screenings, cosplay. One of the biggest differences with us is that the limited attendance means that everybody should be able to attend any panel they'd like to get into. We're holding the big panels out on the pool deck, so everybody will get a spot.
The other big difference is that our programming will naturally ease from daytime presentations into nighttime parties and entertainment. You don’t have to figure out what to do in the evenings, or see if your friend can get you into a party. All you have to do is show up and have a good time.
CA: ComicsAlliance will be lucky enough to be in attendance at this show. We've never been on a cruise before, so what should we expect from the experience?
SL: Royal Caribbean is a wonderful cruise line, so you should expect all the amenities --- 24/7 room service, great food, well-appointed spaces and great service. There’s one ship employee for every two guests on board, meaning that you’ll be well taken care of. And while you’re at it, you should probably get a massage and go snorkeling with some dolphins, for the full cruise experience.
CA: Are there any special concerns to take into consideration when it comes to conduct, harassment, and the safety of attendees?
SL: We don’t anticipate any cruise-specific concerns, but we take safety and harassment very, very seriously. We will have a zero-tolerance policy on harassment, and on-board ship security will be available at all times for guest safety.
CA: What are you most excited about seeing at the show?
SL: Personally, I’m a big fan of Marvel’s Star Wars comics, so I’m looking forward to Jennifer Heddle of Lucasfilm hosting that panel. Also, Bill Davis, art director for Stranger Things, will have an exclusive presentation on the look of the show, with never-before-seen behind-the-scenes materials, so I’m really excited about that. I also love Star Wars Minute --- those guys are great. Michael Rooker is always awesome. There’s a lot of stuff I’m looking forward to.
CA: I assume there are still tickets available, but for anyone who can't make it down to Florida this January, do you expect to make this an annual event?
SL: We do still have some cabins available, though we’re down to the last 15% now! If you’re interested in checking it out, I suggest you get your tickets as soon as possible.
We would love to do more of these in the future, and expand to more locations. We’ve had a lot of requests for a west coast version, so we’re going to look into that as well.
Fan2Sea takes place January 19-23, 2017, departing from Tampa, Florida. ComicsAlliance will be reporting live from Fan2Sea as an invited member of the press, with travel and accommodation provided in part by the convention.