Beyond comics: Fanboy Expo to have film premiere, early book release, concert</header>
Knoxville’s Fanboy Expo will deliver a host of celebrity guests, comic book artists, local vendors and an intense costume contest to guests when it arrives on Friday, June 5, at the Knoxville Convention Center.
But the convention will offer even more to attendees with advance copies of a new book, a movie premiere and a concert at Scruffy City Hall.
Director, producer, actor and writer Ross Patterson will be a guest at the expo and show his new film “Helen Keller vs. Nightwolves” at 6 p.m. Saturday, June 6, at Scruffy City Hall. Admission is $20 or free for Fanboy VIP ticket holders and includes a mini poster signed by Patterson and Barry Bostwick, who stars in the film and will also be a guest at the expo and premiere.
“It’s about a town that gets terrorized by nightwolves,” said Patterson in an interview by phone. “Helen loses her eyesight and hearing, and then everybody else in the town is too afraid to do anything, so she is the female hero who goes and kills all these wolves and saves the village. ... The funny thing is that it’s the exactly opposite of what you’d expect. Helen’s a badass, and she’s making fun of everyone else in the film, which you’ve heard of Helen Keller jokes for years, now she flips them on everyone else, and she looks at everyone else like they’re just complete idiots, so it’s a really funny switch, and it’s never been done before.”
Barry Bostwick, famous for his roles in “Rocky Horror Picture Show,” “Spin City,” and more, stars in the film as a loner named Jonathan, and he helps Keller learn about her senses and kill the nightwolves.
“There’s some things in ‘Helen Keller’ that the audience will go, ‘What? Did he really just do that?’ And that’s what Ross does is he makes you say that as an audience going, ‘No. They didn’t do that. Did they?’ ” said Bostwick by phone.
Patterson also stars in “Helen Keller vs. Nightwolves” as Saint James Street James, a character that’s been in two of his other films: “Poolboy: Drowning Out the Fury” and “FDR: American Badass!”
“(‘Saint James Street James’) is kind of a mystery” Patterson said. “He has this weird personal assistant, but what you do know is that in the last 20 years, he’s made 200 of the worst films of all time. ... I wanted a character with that much bravado, but no substance, where you’re just like, ‘Wow, he’s got nothing to be bragging about right now, but he is.’ ”
Patterson and Bostwick also worked together in Patterson’s 2012 film “FDR: American Badass!,” with Bostwick playing the lead role and donning an epic wheelchair that fires bullets to combat Nazi werewolves. There will be a free screening of “FDR” at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday, June 7, at the Knoxville Convention Center.
“For a movie that’s that ridiculous, (Bostwick) took the hat home. He took the glasses home. He would roll around the production office in the wheelchair. He took the cigarette holder home. He really wanted to get a feel of who FDR is,” Patterson said. “He puts a lot of preparation and hard work into everything he does, and that what’s makes him so great. ... He doesn’t talk about the process of acting very much, but he is one of the best we have. I love working with him, and I try to put him in everything I write and direct.”
“(Ross) and I have the same sense of humor, which is so weird, obscure, crazy, stupid, and we clicked the first time we met, and when he cast me in FDR, not only was it a great script, but he’s a great actor. ... He has the best scene in the movie, and I’m the lead, and I’m saying that he has the best scene,” Bostwick said.
Patterson will also give away 100 advance copies of his new book “At Night She Cries, While He Rides His Steed” at the expo. The book, which will be released nationally on June 9, also features Saint James Street James, who will take on the American West in 1849, and Patterson says it’s “the first ever romance novel for dudes.”
“I think it’s time,” Patterson said. “It’s time we took our manhood back. You know, why do the girls get to have all the fun with romance novels? Why can’t dudes have it? And it’s written from a guy’s perspective of exactly how guys think, what they want, what they do ...”
Another Fanboy Expo celebrity guest will bring his music to the convention.
James Marsters, famous for his role as Spike in “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and “Angel” will perform a solo concert at 8:30 p.m. Saturday, June 6, at Scruffy City Hall. The cost is $25 or free for Fanboy VIP ticket holders. He also plays in the rock band Ghost of the Robot, but he said his solo songs are more bluesy and folksy.
“By high school, I was playing in bars,” said Marsters. “But I was playing only James Taylor. I was so deep into James Taylor, and I wanted to be James Taylor. And I’ve come to realize it’s because he was a such a good songwriter.”
“But I branched out,” he added with a laugh. “Now I just do my own songs.”
Marsters will also meet “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” fans while appearing at the expo. He said the show created a world that many wanted to dive into and return to, and its theme resonated across different age groups.
“I think I could reduce the theme of Buffy to three words. It’s taken me 10 years to get there, but I think I can finally do it. ‘Don’t give up,’ ” Marsters said. “Winston Churchill got England through World War II on those three words. ‘Don’t give up.’ Joss (Whedon) wrote smartly about adolescence. He wrote about the time in life when you wake up to realize that your parents don’t really know what they’re talking about. Your teachers barely understand the subject that they’re trying to give you. The world is infinitely messed up, and what do you do in the face of that knowledge? Do you give up on yourself, on the world?
“And it’s a profound time of life, and it’s a real crossroads for a lot of people, and a lot of great art has been devoted to that ... And so people that respond to that tend to be the kind of people who didn’t give up in adolescence. They are trying to pass that along to their children. They’ll share that message with their grandma, and so I get grandmas and teenagers coming in line and ... I have so many good interactions.”
What: Pop-culture convention featuring celebrity meet-and-greets, Q&A and panel discussions, contests, comics and collectibles vendors and more
When: Friday-Sunday, June 5-7
Where: Knoxville Convention Center
Tickets: $50-$15, available at www.fanboyexpo.com/knoxville/tickets/.