Saturday, 28 November 2015

"Vampire Ball 6" Review

Guests met and discussed in this review :-

• J. August Richards (Gunn from Angel and Deathlok from Agents of SHIELD)

• Charisma Carpenter (Cordelia from Buffy and Angel)
• George Hertzberg (Adam from Buffy)
• James Leary (Clem from Buffy)
• Keith Szarabajka (Daniel Holtz from Angel)
• Clare Kramer (Glory from Buffy)
• Georges Jeanty (Buffy season 8 & 9 comic artist)

Two quick notes before we get started...

1) If this is your first time on "Shangel's Reviews", I'm currently reviewing every single episode of "Buffy The Vampire Slayer" and "Angel" in depth. A list of all the reviews I've written so far can be located

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With that being said, let’s get started, shall we? 

Well, boys and girls, we’re back for my third consecutive review of Starfury’s “Vampire Ball”. After three days of funktasticness, fanboying, flailing, and fangs, your friendly neighbourhood Shangel is ready to share the festivities with you all. Now, historically, I have a habit of writing incredibly extensive convention reviews, ranging from 25-30 A4 pages. However, I’m going to try and keep this one a little briefer. Don’t fret, ‘briefer’ for me is still pretty frickin’ long, and all of the talk panels, guest encounters, autograph sessions, and parties will be covered in as much detail as possible. My last Buffyverse convention review (KLZ’s “Buffy Fanmeet”) garnered 100,000 unique readers, so it’d be very much appreciated if you’d tell a friend about this and share the review if you like it. I’d very much like to top that number...granted, that review had Eliza.

Before I get started, a few thank yous...firstly, thanks to my gorgeous girlfriend Robyn for attending the event with me and helping me remember some of the exchanges that took place at the drinks reception and guest encounters. Previously landing on my head for a living means that I sometimes forget a few things. Secondly, thank you to Becca Moriarty for allowing me to use some of her terrific photographs from the convention. Pretty much everything you see from the talk panels comes from her camera and it’s very much appreciated. Please go and check out her cosplay page on Facebook ( and her website (!

“Vampire Ball” is an annual convention ran by Starfury Events, centring on the works of Joss Whedon. Historically, television shows such as “True Blood” were also included, but the past couple of years have been Whedon-specific, which is a trend that will be continuing into the future. Incidentally, before I forget, a 7th “Vampire Ball” WILL be taking place. Here’s the link to the event page. While it’s still showing the details for “Vampire Ball 6” at present, it’ll soon be giving the information for the 7th. Support Sean and the Starfury team by grabbing a ticket once they’re available...grabbing politely, of course. Always ask permission before grabbing someone, regardless of what Robin Thicke tells you. If the prices remain the same, a regular entry ticket for the weekend will cost you £90, while a magical golden ticket will cost you £160. As my long time readers will know, I attended “Vampire Ball 4” two years ago and met Christian Kane and Georges Jeanty (among others), while last year’s “Vampire Ball” was the greatest convention experience of my life. Last year, I attended the event with Jeff Ricketts, known for being one of six trifecta actors that appeared in Joss’ “Buffy The Vampire Slayer”, “Angel”, and “Firefly”. One perk of this was that I spent three days in the green room with James Marsters, Emma Caulfield, George Hertzberg, Jonathan Woodward, and Dayne Johnson (read: Dayne, not Dwayne). Full details of that event are here. Obviously, coming into this event I knew that it would be impossible to live up to those lofty heights from a guest interaction standpoint, as last year I had the privilege of spending a lot of time with each of the guests away from the convention activities. Nevertheless, my expectations were very high coming into the event.

Over the coming weeks before the convention, it was struck with three prominent cancellations. The first of which was Julie Benz, which absolutely devastated me as she was my most sought after guest excluding the main man himself, J. August Richards. However, she was quickly replaced by Charisma Carpenter, who happened to be another guest I’d never met that was equally high on my “to meet” list...yes, this list physically exists. I have OCD, I’m a list guy. I’ve also got a list ranking each celebrity I’ve met from favourite to least favourite, with the criteria of how cool they were, how much time I spent with them, and how much it meant to me to meet them...where was I? I was distracted by delicious lists. The next cancellation was Reed Diamond, known for “Dollhouse”, “Much Ado About Nothing”, and “Agents of SHIELD” fame. Yet again, Reed was replaced by someone who I was equally excited to meet, Keith Szarabajka. A few days before the event, Fran Kranz had to cancel. This was the one that really hurt because there was no time for a replacement to be announced, and Fran was also someone I was desperate to meet as he plays my favourite “Dollhouse” character, Topher Brink. Alas, the line-up was still looking great, with two bonafide headliners, and a supporting cast consisting of five terrific names. Coming into this event, I’d met George Hertzberg the year before, Clare Kramer the year before at “Hallowhedon 6” (review here), and Georges Jeanty a couple of years before at “Vampire Ball 4” (review here). This left a lovely balance of three repeat guests that I’d already broken the ice with and four new guests that gifted the opportunity to explore new terrains. In convention terms, this is the perfect balance for me.

“Vampire Ball 6” took place at the Renaissance Hotel in Heathrow, London, just across the street from the Radisson Edwardian Blu that hosted “Hallowhedon 6” last year. I must admit, the Renaissance was a great location for a convention as it gave everyone ample room to do whatever they needed to do, while still being close enough to get to everything quickly. Certainly a step up from the Thistle Hotel, which was a staple of Starfury Events past. As much as I liked the hotel, I still think the Hilton in Birmingham is my favourite. That place is frickin’ gorgeous. Granted, some of the staff are thieves and their fire alarm policies are laughable, but at least you’ll have a spectacular view while burning alive with all your money gone.

Myself and Robyn departed Gloucestershire at around 3:15pm on Friday the 20th of November, which happened to be my mother’s birthday. That went down about as well as telling your partner you have Chlamydia...or so I’d imagine. It’s a matter of priorities, people! The two hour journey to London went about as smoothly as it possibly could during rush hour on a Friday evening, and we checked in to the hotel at just before 6pm, giving us an hour or so to register and buy some 8” x 10” photos before the opening ceremony. The room was perfectly acceptable for £85 per night, the registering process was simple, and the 8” x 10” collection was swift...if a little expensive. £10 per 8” x 10” is rather expensive if you ask me! I ended up buying seven and looked confusingly at the lovely Starfury staff member as she kept her hand out for more money. I thought she said £17, not £70. Yes, you read that correctly, SEVENTY POUNDS FOR SEVEN PHOTOS. In future, I’ll bring my own stuff to sign. Old friends were spotted, catching up commenced, and myself and Robyn drifted up to the bedroom briefly before the opening check the schedule, you filthy people! One thing I love to do before a weekend convention commences is to study the schedule and make sure I have everything clear in my head. I want to know exactly what I’m doing, what I’ll have to miss (as some photos/talks happen at the same time), and when I need to look pretty(ish) throughout the weekend. After all, once photos are over, you can look as shit as you want, right?

With the opening ceremony commencing at 8:30pm, we had an hour to kill before everything kicked off, giving us the opportunity to buy our studio photos for the weekend. Robyn was undecided on what to buy (she ended up buying hers on Sunday morning), but I’d planned mine out a few days before the convention...

·       1x J. August Richards studio photo (£20)
·       1x Charisma Carpenter studio photo (£20)
·       1x J. August Richards & Charisma Carpenter dual photo (£40)
·       1x George Hertzberg studio photo (£15)
·       1x James Leary studio photo (£15)
·       1x Georges Jeanty studio photo (£10)
·       1x Keith Szarabajka studio photo (£10)

The only person excluded was Clare Kramer, whom I didn’t need a photo with because I had two the previous year at “Hallowhedon 6”. Mercifully, all of my photos bar the dual shot were taking place on Saturday morning/early afternoon. This meant that I could get the most stressful part of the convention out of the way rather quickly. Ironically, I’m fine in the guest encounters and autograph tables. I rarely get starstruck, I usually always manage to keep a level head and have a great time, but those fucking photos are a nightmare for me. I get so worried that they’re going to turn out shit and I’ll have spent all that money for nothing. Thankfully, they all turned out varying levels of good at this convention. Oooh, also, the back of the event guide was a tribute to Andy Hallett, who’d attended many Starfury events before his tragic death in 2009. I thought this was a lovely gesture on Sean’s part, and I sent a picture of it to a family member of Andy’s. She absolutely adored it, so kudos to Sean.

“Starfury Time” struck for the first time during the opening ceremony, when it started at around 9pm instead of 8:30pm. Any regular convention attendee can tell you that things almost never start on time. Nothing. Amusingly, the pilot episode of “Game Of Thrones” was playing before the opening ceremony started, but it was cut off during the last three minutes. I’m assuming this was because of the Bran-goes-flying-out-a-window scene, which might be disturbing to attendees. However, the ‘Drogo rapes Daenerys’ scene was shown. Most ironic. Alas, the lights went down, the stage came alive, and Sean Harry stepped out to introduce the guests to the attendees one by one. I’ve gotta be honest, I’m not 100% sure of the order they came out in except the first person and the last two, so I’m going to guess the middle section and hope it’s right. That’s a good rule of thumb for this whole review, actually. 99% of what you read is entirely accurate. The other 1% is me trying to remember it accurately and getting a few of the details muddled up. One of the things I love about Sean’s events are the opening and closing ceremonies, simply because Sean speaks with such passion about the actors and the shows. Sean himself is a massive “Buffy The Vampire Slayer” and “Angel” fan. I don’t believe he runs any events for shows he doesn’t like personally. Sean gives all of his guests a warm introduction, filled with praise, admiration, and respect, which is something that’s missing from other weekend conventions sometimes.

Fuuuuuuuck! An hour later and I still have “Blurred Lines” stuck in my head. Knew I shouldn’t have referenced Robin Thicke...

For those of you unaware, the opening ceremony is always very brief. Each guest comes out, talks for 30-60 seconds, thanks everyone for coming, then disappears. Once every guest has been introduced, they all come out together on the stage for photo opportunities, then the opening ceremony comes to a close. Very simple. For that reason, most of the opening ceremony will be skipped over here. I’ll just briefly mention the highlights instead...

·       James referenced Hallowhedon 1 and seemed genuinely thankful and appreciative for the opportunity to come back to England and have some more sober fun. One thing I really admire about James is his open, honest nature. More on that later.
·       George Hertzberg’s hair was vastly shorter this year than last year. It looks more badass here. This is important information, people. George also saw me in the 2nd row, recognised me from the previous year, and pointed in my direction, smiling. So cool.
·       Keith wants to sample everyone’s DNA. Luckily, that’s not a euphemism. He means by touching us all...on the hand. I think.
·       Clare and Georges Jeanty are two regular Starfury attendees, having done at least 5 each by this point, I’m sure. This is instantly apparent because they’re so damn comfortable on that stage in front of the Starfury crowd. Half of the people in the room they’ve already met before or know.
·       In contrast, this was Charisma’s first Starfury convention. Ironically, when on stage alone, Charisma looked a little sheepish during the opening ceremony. However, in her talks the following day and the one after that she was anything but sheepish...more on that hilarious honesty later.
·       In the closing ceremony, Sean mentioned that J. was the behind the scenes leader that was rallying the troops all weekend long. I can instantly believe this is true after seeing J. take the stage during the opening ceremony. Rather than coming out and saying “hi”, J. swaggered onto the stage to Jay-Z and Rihanna’s “Run This Town”, sang along to some of it, and proceeded to tear the house down. In an ironic twist, J. was the one with all the charisma here.

As far as first impressions go, all seven guests received a tick in the check box. All seven came across as excited, humble, and ready to partake in a great weekend. Can’t ask for more than that during a brief opening ceremony. For us gold ticket holders, it was time to head to the other side of the hotel for the meet and greet with the guests. In essence, you sit down at a table with about 9 other people (roughly 15 tables in total), and the guests travel around the tables one by one and spend about 8-10 minutes with you. It’s the first chance of the weekend to really get to know the guests a little better. With a little help from Robyn and Becca, we managed to piece together the main points of what was said during each of the talks at our table...

Charisma Carpenter: Up first was our beloved Queen C. I will admit, much like James Leary, I’d heard many stories about Charisma before the event began. Unlike James, these weren’t stories of tomfoolery, hilarity, and drunken escapades, these were stories of standoffishness, indifference, and rudeness. For those reasons, I was really apprehensive to meet Charisma at first. Cordelia is one of my very favourite characters from the entire franchise, and as much as I try to differentiate the actor from the character, it’s simply not possible sometimes, especially if you’ve had a bad experience, so I was desperate for Charisma to prove the naysayers wrong. Thankfully, Charisma was absolutely fine. Granted, she was much nicer at the autograph table, but she was still perfectly acceptable here. There was a collection of maoam sweets (that’s ‘candy’ to my American friends) in the centre of our table, which turned out to be a great ice-breaker with pretty much every guest. It started conversations, it got people talking, and it even led to an impromptu food fight a little later on. The talk at the table was fairly standard here – dogs, hairstyles, maoam tasting like taffy, and what everyone was looking forward to for the weekend. Alas, I think I’ve put my finger on why some people may have found Charisma rude when they met her, and I’ll coin it the “Mark Sheppard syndrome”. Like Mark, Charisma has a very sarcastic, deadpan sense of humour at times. For example, when someone at our table mentioned something non-hair related during the hairstyles portion of the table, Charisma said “why bring it up then?”. Obviously, she was joking, but if I were a diehard fan that had waited years for this opportunity, I might feel a little blindsided by it. If you remember this personality quirk, you’re in for a great time because Charisma was a lot of fun.

James Leary: I’d interacted with James on various social media platforms numerous times before this event, but I’d never had the opportunity to meet him. Everyone from “Hallowhedon 1” has a James Leary story, so I was curious to meet the man behind so many classic convention moments. Yet, I knew that the James Leary of these stories was gone. From his social media pages and from his incredible articles on Geek Nation (which can be located here), I knew that James was in a much different place today. Seriously, if you want a fascinating read, go and check those articles out. So many people in Hollywood and in life in general are phony, hiding behind closed curtains and vanity, but not James Leary. This is a man who tells his story with brutal honesty, hiding nothing from his audience. I cannot tell you how much respect I have for someone who’s just so open about his past transgressions, channelling them into something creative and great. Many people at our table had read James’ articles, so they quickly became the focal point of our conversation. James mentioned that Clare Kramer and her husband Brian (who own Geek Nation) approached James and asked him if he’d be interested in writing some articles for them. “Confessions of a G-List Celebrity” was born from this. You’re only G-List in your eyes, James. James also mentioned that it took two hours or so to apply the Clem make-up. Thankfully, excluding “Older And Far Away”, James always completed his necessary scenes in one day, so at least he didn’t have to worry about day after day of extensive make-up and prosthetics. Later in the meet and greet when Georges Jeanty was at our table, Sophy and Georgia encouraged ‘Rack’ to show Georges her incredible drawing of Clem, which resulted in the unique catchphrase “show us your Clem” being used for the rest of the night. Dirty, dirty people.

Clare Kramer: As mentioned before, myself and Robyn had the opportunity to spend a lot of time with Clare at last year’s “Hallowhedon”. When Clare sat down at our table, she instantly recognised us and nodded towards us as she said that she’d met some of us before. I still get a kick out of Buffyverse actors remembering me. It gives me such a high. Let me tell you something about Clare, ladies and gentlemen...that woman can drink! After asking everyone where they were from and what they were looking forward to, Clare turned her attention to what everyone was drinking. Sophy happened to be drinking amaretto and coke. The next thing I know, Clare is downing a quarter of a bottle of amaretto and sharing the bottle around the table (with Sophy’s approval). There’s always some bastard that jokes about having an illness when sharing a drink with everyone else...I was that bastard. At one point after the bottle was shared, Becca told me that we’d basically all just kissed Clare Kramer, and I said, “yeah, but by that logic I’ve also just kissed Mark Duggan, so...”. Sorry Mark. Lying on our table was also Sophy’s selfie stick. Personally, I’ve never seen the appeal of one until that night. Now, I love them. Photos with the guests in the meet and greet room is strictly prohibited. However, Clare saw the selfie stick and said something along the lines of “you can’t leave that on the table and not take a group selfie!”, so an illegal group selfie was captured. Gotta love that woman.

J. August Richards: I know this is an unpopular opinion, but for many, many years Gunn was my favourite Buffyverse character. I started watching “Buffy The Vampire Slayer” at eight years old, and “Angel” at eleven years old. From eleven to twenty one, Gunn was the man to me. I found him so relatable and so compelling. As I grew older, Gunn started to share that distinction with other characters, but for the vast majority of my life Gunn has been number one. For that reason, J. has been high on my “to meet” list for some time now. This was the most nervous I’d been to meet someone since meeting Anthony Head for the first time many years ago. I’m happy to report, I did not squeal and fanboy externally. I kept my composure and played it cool. J. talked about his project “The Hypnotist”. After that, he was asked if he’d be returning to “Agents of SHIELD” over the coming season. J. said he couldn’t answer that (he’s contractually not allowed to), which we all immediately said was a ‘yes’ because he’d just say ‘no’ if he wasn’t. Furthermore, J. was also obsessed with the maoam sweeties that remained in the centre of the table. By this point, there weren’t many left. He ate one, got all excited, ate another, we warned him of the sugar high he’d experience and that he wouldn’t be able to sleep, he told us that he always has a sugar crash and then a second high anyway, we laughed, he ate another, and took another couple for later. One of my favourite moments from the meet and greet was J.’s story from earlier in the day. J. had decided to explore London and used the bus as his mode of transportation. During his journey, the button was pressed so that the bus driver would know to stop, but nobody got off the bus. A couple of seconds after the bus started up again the same thing happened – buzzer went off, bus stopped, nobody got off. After this happened for the 3rd time, J. thought to himself “man, someone is really fucking with that bus driver” (direct quote). J. looked down and saw that his arm had been resting on the button the whole time. He was the one causing the bus to stop. LOLs. Soon after, J. sheepishly got off the bus and apologised to the driver on his way through, explaining that it was all his fault and that it was an accident.

George Hertzberg: This was the most relaxed I’d ever been for a meet and greet guest. After the previous year in the green room, going out for a meal with George, etc., it felt more like greeting an old friend than meeting a celebrity. Plus, if you’ve met George, you’ll know that he doesn’t act like a celebrity at all. He’s a totally normal guy living a civilian life these days. Just after sitting down, George pointed over to a table I’m going to label the “Essex Table”, referenced how much alcohol they were drinking, and I asked him if he knew about Tammy’s (one of the Essex girls) studio photo with Jonathan Woodward from the year before. He did not, so I filled him in. Basically, Jonathan Woodward, in full vampire make-up, is pouring a bottle of whisky down Tammy’s mouth, which is flowing as the photo was taken. It looks totally badass, and you should check out my review of last year’s event because the picture makes an appearance there. George has basically retired from acting for the past 5 years in order to be a father. He has young sons at home, and he didn’t want to raise them in Los Angeles, so he moved to Texas, where he’s working as a Director of Operations. Much like Clem, it took George about 2.5 hours to apply the Adam make-up every day while filming “Buffy The Vampire Slayer”. This conversation quickly descended into chaos as George picked up a maoam and threw it at James, who was sitting at the table adjacent to ours. George and James are old friends, having met (so I believe) on the convention circuit many years before this. One of my favourite things about the entire convention actually was the antics of #TeamBromance. From bickering sessions, to James teaching George about social media, to their oh-so-hilarious selfies (more on that later), to bin banter (more on that later too), James and George’s interactions together were a delight and a real high point. Every year at “Vampire Ball”, a bromance seems to develop. Last year it was Jeff Ricketts and Jonathan Woodward. Perhaps the smell of nerds brings out the homoeroticism in people?

Keith Szarabajka: Keith seemed totally at ease. He was so chilled, so friendly, so energetic, and seemed to want to make a genuine connection with the group in front of him. He talked about sampling everyone’s DNA again (“blurrrrrred liiiiiines!”), before filling us in on what it’s like to record voiceovers for video games and audio books, which Keith has been doing an abundance of lately. Keith also filled us in on “Watching O.J.”, a theatre piece he’d recently directed surrounding O.J. Simpson. As someone who’d followed the project on Keith’s social media accounts, it was great to hear some first-hand stories from the productions.

Georges Jeanty: Show us your Clem! Someone at our table asked Georges if he’d take a group selfie with us. Georges explained that he really wasn’t supposed to...but then someone mentioned that Clare had. Georges said “oh, if Clare has done it...”, before proceeding to take one with us too. Another cool moment captured forever. Georges filled us in on how he came to be the artist for the Buffy season 8 and 9 comics, as well as the “Serenity” mini-series “Leaves On The Wind”. As he explained it in much more detail during a panel, I’ll give you the facts there. Georges also announced that a new series of “Serenity” comics, centred after “Leaves On The Winds”, will be coming in 2016, so look out for those! Georges is a very well known dancer at these conventions and he assured us that he’d be down later in the night (and all weekend) to boogie with us. He also mentioned that he can tell a lot about someone based on their favourite Buffyverse season and character(s). Intriguing...

You know I said I’d try to make this less detailed than my previous reviews...yeah, not going so well at present, is it? However, one of the more recurring pieces of praise I receive is that my reviews are so detailed that it makes you feel as though you’re there, so perhaps it’s better that I leave everything in.

Even though the meet and greet was scheduled to end after an hour, it actually ran for about two. With this in mind, myself and Robyn mingled at the party for about an hour before returning to our hotel room to order room service and watching a little “Doctor Who” season three (Robyn’s first time watching it!), ready for the talk panels, photo shoots, and autographs tables that the following day would bring. I slept shit, but the bed was comfy. Frickin’ insomnia. The next morning, I was awake and moving by 5:00am, but the Robyntini didn’t emerge until around 7:30am. We headed down to breakfast, chilled out, and waited for the festivities to begin at 9:00am, starting with my photos with James, George, and Georges. Honestly, there’s not much to say about photo shoots. You wait in a queue, you get to the front, you say “hi”, the photo is taken, you say “thank you”, and you leave. At Starfury events, the photos take a couple of hours to be developed, giving you plenty of time to collect them and take them to the autograph session later in the afternoon if required. However, this photo session did contain a few memorable moments. Firstly, when George and Georges were partaking in their sessions, James was walking up and down the queue interacting with people and making quips about George. This was great because it gave everyone something to do other than fret about their hair looking perfect. Furthermore, Immy was in front of me in the photo shoot for George, and she went for the Adam-having-his-heart-ripped-out pose from “Primeval”. As she was leaving, George asked her if his chest felt like she imagined it would. When it was my turn, I said to George “I will not be touching your chest on this occasion”, to which George said “and so our friendship will remain great”. Fun little moment! Finally, during my photo with Georges, he went for a half-hug, half-handshake pose. However, it came out a little blurry or something because Marco (the cameraman) asked if we’d retake it. Georges turned to me and said “good, because I hated that weird pose and face I just pulled”, which left me giggling as the actual photo was taken. Good times. Next on the list was my Charisma photo at 10:30am, which actually ended up starting at 11:00am. No matter, nothing started in the main hall until 11:30am, so I had time to kill anyway. Charisma (and Clare) came in, the photo was taken, and myself and Robyn were on our merry way.

First up in the main hall was Georges Jeanty’s solo talk. Here are the highlights :-

·       Georges started working on “Buffy The Vampire Slayer” in 2006/07. This was during the time that Joss was working on the first Avengers movie, and Georges used to talk on the phone with Joss a lot while Joss was driving to set. For those of you unaware, Joss personally wrote the first four issues of season 8, “The Long Way Home”, so he was particularly interested in working extensively with Georges during this period. Furthermore, Georges said that if Buffy was to return as a movie, etc., the first four issues of season 8 would have been what Joss had in store.
·       Joss was never involved in the Buffy comics pre-season 8. This is why almost all of them aren’t considered canon. It was Joss’ decision to make season 8 officially ‘canon’, meaning that the stories that are told in those comics is officially what happened next to the characters.
·       After seeing Georges work on “American Way”, Joss personally asked Dark Horse if Georges Jeanty could do the illustrations. Georges had never seen an episode of “Buffy The Vampire Slayer” before, but was familiar with Joss’ work through “Firefly”, which he had seen and was a fan of. Georges thought that Scott Allie was just name-dropping Joss as a way to get Georges to take the project, so Georges decided to call Scott’s bluff and told Scott that if Joss wanted Georges to work on the comics, he should get Joss to call him. Joss emailed Georges an hour later to say that it was true. How badass is that?! Getting the seal of approval from the man himself.
·       Dark Horse sent Georges seasons 5-7 of “Buffy The Vampire Slayer” as a way to prepare for the project. Georges instantly became a fan and watched all 3 seasons in 3 weeks. Having met Georges a couple of times now, I can honestly say that Georges is a massive fan of the shows. He knows the episode names, he knows the seasons, and he’ll happily sit there and fanboy with you about the shows for hours.
·       Georges said that season eight was Joss’ love letter to Buffy Summers and the universe he created. He desperately missed the show and wanted a way to bring back those characters and emotions that he’d spent so many years with before.
·       Georges left the Buffy franchise after season nine because Joss’ involvement decreased greatly due to the overwhelming task of writing and directing the Avengers sequel, “Age of Ultron”. Without Joss, Georges was less interested in doing the illustration work for the comics.
·       Soon thereafter, Georges was offered the six-issue “Serenity” mini-series, “Leaves On The Wind”, which he snatched up. *spoilers for people who haven’t read those six issues*. “Leaves On The Wind” was the first time anything “Serenity” related had taken place after the events of the “Serenity” film, which was something fans had been clamouring for. The mini-series is set nine months after the “Serenity” movie, which is a very precise timeframe, as Zoe is pregnant with a baby Wash. She has a girl called “Emma”. Georges said “I’m happy to report that Zoe gave birth to a healthy baby girl called ‘Emma’”. He said this with such love and sincerity, it was as though he was announcing the birth of an actual child. Also, Inara is now dating Mal and is no longer a companion. Since the events of the “Serenity” movie, everyone now knows who Mal and his crew are.
·       Georges said he finds it harder to draw females than males because you can’t use as many lines on their faces. Apparently it’s common practise to use more lines for men. He also found Andrew challenging because Tom Lenk is always moving and changing his facial expressions, like a small child with A.D.H.D. Speaking of Tom Lenk, Joss informed Georges that Tom had bought the season eight comics and was walking around his house reading out Andrew’s lines out loud. How cool is that? Someone needs to record that.
·        Inara’s three-piece jacket from the “Leaves On The Wind” comics was Georges creation, and he’s damn proud of it. It can be used in a variety of ways because of the three-piece setup.
·       Georges described the Joss-20th Century Fox relationship as a High School romance. However, as many years go by, you begin to resent each other and wonder why you’re there at all, so you break up. After a while, you miss the ex-girlfriend and decide to give it one last go (“Dollhouse”), before remembering why you broke up with that person in the first place.
·       Ashley asked Georges if he will be putting a Starfury cameo in the new “Serenity” comics, like he did in Buffy season 8. During the “Time Of Your Life” arc, Buffy is transported into the future to meet Fray, the first Slayer called in a hundred years. Buffy ends up driving a car there with the license plate “STARFURY”, which was a direct nod to Sean’s convention company. Time will tell if Georges does something similar in the new “Serenity” comics.
·       Jane Espenson, while writing about Oz’s new wife in Buffy season eight, always envisioned Dichen Lachman as encapsulating her appearance. Georges used this as inspiration for his illustrations of her.  

Honestly, this panel was fascinating, and kudos to Georges for pulling it off solo. Almost every panel at this event was with two people, yet Georges managed to maintain an interesting, diverse panel by himself. Sadly, we had to miss almost the entirety of James and George’s panel because it clashed with my photos with J. and Keith. By all accounts it was the funniest panel of the convention due to the creation of the bin = vagina dualism. However, James filled everyone in on it the next day, so I’ll talk about it more there. If anyone reading this was in that panel, please share the details in the comments section below!

My photos with J. and Keith went very smoothly, however they started late. Instead of 1:00pm, they started at 1:15pm. Ordinarily, this wouldn’t have been a problem, but myself and Robyn had a guest encounter at 1:30pm. This was something new for “Vampire Ball”, and it’s something similar to what “Hallowhedon” and Rogue Events do. This wasn’t announced, it wasn’t part of the ticket description, yet it was added in as a bonus. I’m not sure if it was because of Fran’s late cancellation, but either way it was greatly appreciated. In essence, 10-15 people get 30 minutes with a random guest. You didn’t know who you were getting until they arrived in the room (or I didn’t at least). This was totally badass, especially as it was unexpected. J. recognised me from the night before and said it was great to see me again before our photo was taken. Another inner fanboy moment. Luckily, the guest encounter area was right next to the photo area, so it was a brisk 10 seconds walk, before spending half an hour with George Hertzberg! Here are the highlights :-

·       George asked us all what television shows he should be watching. I recommended “Game Of Thrones”, as it’s my duty to do so. George said he started watching the first episode and got confused by all the characters and sets, but he loves the visuals and the fires. I told him to stick with it, the characters and sets will all sink in, and when they do he’ll fall in love with the show. I think he’s gonna try it, people!
·       Someone mentioned that George should audition for “Nashville”. George said he can’t sing at all, but he’d love to live in Nashville. I kinda wanna hear George sing now as evidence.
·       George said he left Los Angeles for two reasons...firstly, almost everyone is rude and obnoxious, and he didn’t want to raise his sons in that environment. Secondly, George said he was in an audition and the three remaining people were him (in the prime of his life and a very imposing figure), an elderly veteran, and someone who’d just moved to Hollywood and been there for a couple of weeks. The newbie was chosen, and George could see the writing on the wall and where the industry was going. He could see the type of roles he’d be getting in the future and decided that a move away from Los Angeles was for him. Once his sons are older he does intend to start doing theatre work and television work around Dallas. Perhaps a return to Los Angeles could happen one day.
·       George said that the photo shoot sessions are a weird experience for the guests as well as the fans. He’s naturally inclined to make small talk and get to know people, but the photo experience is very brief and you only get about 10 seconds with each person. He wishes that he could have that little bit more time with everyone in the photo session, to make the experience a little more warm.
·       George made a point of trying to involve everyone throughout the guest encounter, and he encouraged the quieter members of the group to join in more. This was a great tactic, as it meant that everyone left having said something to him, making them feel as though they got their money’s worth.
·       George was infatuated with a girl’s phone. It had this rippley, swishy pond thingy on the back of her phone case, and George kept getting distracted by it and absentmindedly playing with it.
·       George showed us a picture he and James had taken by a pond the previous day. It totally looked like a romantic couple’s photo. James was nestled into George’s shoulder, there were trees and a pond in the background...all that was missing was some snow. George joked that they were going to go furniture shopping together the next day. This conversation prompted James to join in too, as he was at the other guest encounter session on the table over from us. George decided that he needed some more social media presence to stay in contact with us all, so he asked James if James could teach him how to use Instagram and create a Facebook fan page, etc. James was yelling such gold across the room as “send out a twat” and “I’ll teach you later”. Another example of #TeamBromance stealing the show.

 (Bromance at its finest! Pictures used with permission from Missy and James)

Our excellent guest encounter session (which became ‘two for the price of one’ for both groups, with James and George interacting with both) ended just as Charisma and Clare’s joint panel was about to begin, so myself and Robyn headed back upstairs to the talk hall. The talk hall and the meet and greet room were upstairs on the main floor, while the photo area, the guest encounters area, and the autograph session area were all downstairs (the autograph session room doubled for the guest encounter/photo area). Highlights from Charisma and Clare’s talk included :-

·       Clare mentioned that most rewarding part about working on “Buffy The Vampire Slayer” came after the event itself – the convention scene. Getting reunions with the cast, getting to interact with the fans, getting to host panels, and travel the world. That’s the most special part of Clare’s career.
·       Clare joked that she misses the Thistle hotel, which as I mentioned before was a recurring Starfury venue historically. That place was a shithole. Granted, that was part of its charm.
·       Charisma doesn’t approach a role with the assumptions that a character is ‘good’ or ‘bad’, she more looks at the justifications for the characters themselves. Every character, even villains, think that what they’re doing is the right thing to do, so that’s how the role should be approached.
·       During the 2nd season of “Buffy The Vampire Slayer”, Charisma wondered if Cordelia was a slut. Charisma ended up over-identifying with Cordelia and wanted Cordy to be a role model. Eventually, she became one.
·       Charisma once asked Joss and the writing team why Cordy had to always be the stupid one (this was after Cordy proposed using a spatula against enemies in season three’s “Homecoming”). Their response was “that’s why America loves you!”. Soon after this, someone approached the microphone which people gravitate towards to ask questions, and said “I never considered Cordelia stupid (Charisma smiled)...annoying perhaps (Charisma pouted)”.
·       Charisma agreed to return for Angel’s 100th episode (“You’re Welcome”) under one condition: that Cordelia was not killed off. Soon after this, the decision was made to kill Cordelia off. Ouch.
·       Clare still remembers all of the cheerleading routines from “Bring It On”. She will not perform them, however...unless you ply her with alcohol. Someone needs to do this and film it.
·       Charisma’s favourite season was three (of Angel), and her favourite episodes were “Birthday” and “Waiting In The Wings”.
·       Charisma joked about all the places Cordy and Xander kissed in season two (parked car, basement, broom closet...), and referenced how much she loved working with Nicky Brendon (more on this later, she gives a passionate speech about him).
·       Charisma is terrified of snakes. Therefore, while filming season two’s “I Only Have Eyes For You”, she refused to go on set for most of the scene where the cafeteria of Sunnydale High is filled with snakes. A little later, Sarah Michelle Gellar played a joke on Charisma by throwing a rubber snake over her, not knowing just how terrified she was of snakes. Charisma flew off her chair, the chair went flying, Charisma freaked out, and Sarah felt bad.
·       This led to Clare telling a snake story of her own. During season five’s “Shadow”, where Buffy and Glory are fighting in the zoo set, there were many snakes in tanks in the room. After one take, someone noticed that the massive ten-foot cobra had somehow gotten out of its tank. Sarah and Clare freaked out and both stood on chairs while the crew were looking for the snake. Eventually, the snake was found hiding in a little gap between the set walls and it took ages to get the snake out of the gap and back into its cage.
·       Clare said that Quentin Tarantino writes all his script drafts in red and black sharpies. That old school, rogue! Also, he’s trying to buy all the film tape rolls still available because he doesn’t want to convert to digital. Gotta love an old school man.
·       A Scottish gentleman approached the microphone to ask a question, and Charisma remarked that she loved his accent. She then quoted Fat Bastard from the Austin Powers movies and randomly yelled “GET IN MY BELLY!”. It was amazing.
·       Clare gave an impassioned speech about feminism and sexism in Hollywood, and stated that the way forwards is for females to create their own path. To write their own projects, direct their own movies, and build from the ground up. Her speech was received with thunderous applause from the audience, as it should be.
·       The speech on double standards and sexism in Hollywood led to Charisma talking about plastic surgery and people trying to stay young. This is where Charisma really shines through, as she’s so honest and open about everything. There’s no falsehoods, pretence, or bullshit...she’s a lot like Cordelia in that way. Charisma openly and proudly admitted to receiving botox and fillers. While she’s against the idea of cutting her face at present, she’s not completely ruled it out for the future.
·       A lady approached the microphone to ask a question, and Clare and Charisma told her that they loved her dress. The lady said “thank you, Primark, £5”, which everybody laughed at. I would love for someone to say that on a red carpet one day.
·       Charisma told a story about working with James Marsters on “Supernatural”. They didn’t work together very much on “Buffy The Vampire Slayer” or “Angel”, and James always assumed that Charisma was a bitch. A typical cheerleader type (his words). However, while filming “Supernatural” together, they got to know each other well for the first time, and James told Charisma about his preconceived notions of her, apologised, and told her that she’s a really awesome person. I’ve heard James tell this story too.
·       Charisma studied accounting at college because her brother was an accountant, but she soon realised that it wasn’t for her. After that, she studied to become an English teacher, but eventually discovered that this wasn’t for her either.

Before this talk, I already knew that Clare was an incredible woman. Seriously, ladies, if you’re looking for a role model and inspiration, look no further. Four young children, working actress, runs her own business, hands-on mother...that woman is a superhero. However, I didn’t know just how cool and honest Charisma was until this talk. It was this point in the weekend where I really started to warm up to Charisma. Straight after Clare and Charisma’s talk, it was time for J. August Richards and Keith Szarabajka to take the stage together, which made for a compelling dynamic. Two entirely different people from entirely different backgrounds, who ended up having stupendous chemistry. Highlights! :-

·       A recurring theme of this panel was that Keith was trying to tie everything in Hollywood back to race relations – how everything we see on television or in film is somehow connected to race relations. J. rejected this notion, but somehow race kept coming up again and again. At one point, J. said “man, you really wanna talk about race, don’t you?”. This was all said in jest, I have to add. Keith was trying to have an intellectual, stimulating conversation about race, while J. was trying to have fun. It was hilarious.
·       J. occasionally catches an episode of “Angel” on television early in the morning, and he said that it’s so funny watching the show now because he can finally see things that he couldn’t before. For example, J. recently saw “First Impressions” and finally realised that the episode was all about first impressions being deceiving – Gunn was more caring than he appeared, the scared snitch was Deevak (the villain), etc. He said that it’s hard to find the meanings of episodes when you’re filming them, so it’s nice to go back occasionally now and discover new things.
·       J. loved the idea of Gunn (temporarily) becoming a vampire in the “Angel” season six comic continuation, as he’s a big fan of the notion that you become what you hate. Gunn’s largest disdain in life has always been vampires, so it was awesome to see Gunn become one. J. supposedly requested for Gunn to become a vampire while the show was still on the air because he wanted to act those conflicts out.
·       Both J. and Keith are huge “Game of Thrones” fans. Keith in particular is an obsessive fan, and happened to wear a “Game of Thrones” t-shirt into the photo shoot on Saturday. Both said they’d love to appear on the show.
·       Keith gave Peter Dinklage (Game of Thrones’ Tyrion Lannister) a massive burn during the panel. When Keith said he wanted to be in “Game of Thrones”, the conversation moved to accents, as pretty much every accent in “Game of Thrones” is an English variation. We know that Keith can do a great English accent because Holtz has one on “Angel”, but Keith wants to do a northern English accent if he were to appear on the show. J. asked if anyone from “Game of Thrones” has an American accent on the show, and Keith blurted out “PETER DINKLAGE!”. Obviously, Tyrion’s accent is supposed to be English, so Keith was ragging on how unconvincing it is. So, so funny.
·       The table that was positioned between the two guests in the talks was wobbly. Not the legs, the top. One of the screws connecting the glass to the wood was fallen out, so whenever Keith rested his elbow on the table, the other end of the glass flipped up. Keith ended up using this to his advantage and started making the table talk using the glass flipping up as the mouth.
·       Keith thoroughly enjoyed working on “Batman: The Dark Knight”, and he enjoys the residual cheques it provides to this day. He also loved working with Heath Ledger, and still seems upset to talk about him.
·       Someone asked Keith and J. what upgrade they’d like to give their body (like J.’s character in “Agents of SHIELD”, Deathlok, receives), and J. said he’s pretty happy with his so wouldn’t change anything. Keith said that J. was the peak of human evolution, at which J. laughed. Keith said he’d like a penis upgrade.
·       Even though he worked on much of “Angel” season three, Keith didn’t meet Joss until the Writers Guild of America strike in 2007, where Joss bumped into him at a picket line. With the exception of “Waiting In The Wings” (which Keith wasn’t in), Joss was around for little of “Angel” season three because he was working on “Firefly”.
·       Someone asked Keith and J. what’s the worst lie they’ve ever told. Keith immediately responded with, “that I’m having fun talking to you right now”. He was clearly kidding, and it was one of the funniest moments I’ve ever heard at a convention. Gut-busting stuff. J. turned to him and said “damn, you really are Holtz”. J. told a story from when he was in school, where he told all his friends that he knew Michael Jackson, and that he spent his birthday with him.
·       J. mentioned that he never talks about his income, to which Keith said “especially the I.R.S.”.
·       J. had many parallels to Gunn throughout his time on the show, and J. feels as though he and Gunn matured and grew together as people. His favourite relationship for Gunn on the show was the bromance between Wesley and Gunn. Gotta say I agree with him there.
·       The panel ended with Keith promising to sample our DNA once more. J. was horrified (he thought it was a sexual thing), and said “no, no, everybody let’s keep our DNA to ourselves”. Such a great way to end.

By the end of J. and Keith’s panel, it was just after 4:00pm, which meant that the autograph session for gold ticket holders was next on the agenda. Myself and Robyn queued downstairs for about half an hour before it was our time to enter the autograph hall. I spent this half an hour thinking of what I wanted to say to all of the guests. Like with all my previous conventions, I shall be assigning the guests a category. It’s a system I designed myself based on many experiences with celebrities at conventions, and the criteria is as follows...

·       The Responder: This type of guest is often polite and friendly. If you ask them a question, they’ll happily answer. If you comment on something, they’ll respond or smile gratefully. However, they won’t carry the conversation forward, you have to. These are the most common type of guest, and this is what you expect when meeting someone at a convention. This is a great category to be a part of.

·       The Groucho/Big Guest: There are two aspects to this category. Firstly, you have the groucho. The groucho is there for monetary purposes or is generally just having a bad day, or is a bit of an ass. If you meet enough people, one of them is bound to be an ass! The grouchos aren’t interested in conversations above a few words. They’ll say ‘hi’ (sometimes they don’t bother with that), sign, say ‘bye’ (sometimes), and you’re on your merry way. Of course, in certain situations this is relevant and expected, which brings me to the second part of this category, the big guest. Some guests are going to be insanely popular. Such as Stan Lee at LFCC ‘14, who had an entire building to himself basically. When you get a huge queue like that, the guest can’t take a lot of time with everyone. If they did, many people would go home disappointed at not getting to meet them at all. Therefore, the convention company and the guest want to get through as many people as possible. You cannot have a huge guest and expect to get above a minute with them, which is perfectly fair.

·       The Conversationalist: This is easily my favourite type of guest. They’ll answer your questions with a smile, ask you questions in return, and are happy to chat for an extended period of time (extended = above 2-3 minutes), regardless of where the conversation leads or how long you’ve been talking. Obviously, there has to be some cut-off point if there is a queue behind you, but you leave the experience feeling euphoric and like you gained a lot more than just the autograph you queued for.

Obviously, as this was a smaller convention, the “big guest” category can be ignored, leaving responders, grouchos, or conversationalists. I’m happy to report that nobody was a groucho. First up was Charisma Carpenter.

Charisma Carpenter: For some reason, both myself and Robyn were more nervous about this one than anything else. Perhaps it’s because of the bad experiences we’ve heard other people have had, perhaps it’s because Charisma can sometimes appear a little distant in a one-on-one setting, but whatever the reason, we were nervous, which is rare for me. Robyn was in front of me, and she talked to Charisma about Cordelia and how Cordy was her favourite character on “Angel”, and how she grew into something of a role model for her. During this conversation, Robyn stumbled over her words just a little. This was understandable as during the talk, out of nowhere, Charisma stared into Robyn’s eyes, said they were beautiful, and said that she could get lost in them. I told Charisma that I’m constantly doing that too (brownie points!), and we proceeded to talk about Cordy too. I also told Charisma how proud I was of her for having the strength to talk about her past on “Surviving Evil”. However, I also tripped over my words. I’m sure it wasn’t as bad as it sounded in my head (Charisma understood everything fine), but to me it basically sounded like “I was wanted to say how asgfnjsdajklgnskjgnseapgneaps Evil.” Truly a facepalm moment for me, but nobody else, including Charisma, seemed to notice, so it wasn’t that bad. Charisma seemed genuinely appreciative towards our comments, and thanked us sincerely. Naww! Guest type: Responder.

Clare Kramer: I was totally chilled about this one because we’d spoken to Clare so much the previous year. After the meet and greet on Friday, Clare asked if I could send her the group selfie we took at the table, so I asked her for details on where to send this to, etc., before talking about how the convention was going and what she thought of “Game of Thrones” season five, which had aired in the year between our meetings. Clare is always chatty, friendly, and approachable. Guest type: Conversationalist. This is easily the best category.

J. August Richards: Oh, crap. Here we go. My first one-on-one interaction with the man, the myth, the legend himself, J. August Richards. One thought was repeating on a loop inside my head...“don’t say something stupid, don’t embarrass yourself, don’t say something stupid, don’t embarrass yourself”...earlier, during J. and Keith’s talk, J. mentioned that he took head and body scans for a Gunn action figure, but that one was never released. He had no idea what happened to it. Luckily, I had the answer! One figure was created as a prototype before the line was cancelled, just after Buffy and Angel had finished on television. I happened to have a picture of the prototype on my phone! Boom! Instant ice-breaker and unique conversation piece. J. seemed genuinely astounded, as he had no idea that one existed. He was curious as to where the figure currently resided, and we had a little talk about Gunn and the convention. As I was about to leave, I spontaneously decided to take my moment. I looked at Sarah, his Starfury assistant, and decided to go for it, regardless of how cheesy it sounded in my head. Ordinarily, I avoid the fanboy moments that are so prevalent at conventions, but I couldn’t help myself on this occasion. I told J. that he’d been one of my biggest heroes since I was eleven years old, and that I’d waited almost 16 years for this moment. Bless him, J. looked genuinely touched at my words, and gave me a heartfelt ‘thank you’. Guest type: Conversationalist.

James Leary: I can breathe again. Glorious. With my head swimming a little and manly hearts dancing in front of my eyes, I approached James. Even though I’d never spoken to James before in a one-on-one setting face-to-face, I felt completely relaxed with him from the second I approached his table. He just has the most disarming presence! Everyone should keep a pocket-sized James Leary with them at all time to talk to when they’re feeling stressed. I told James how much I was loving his articles on Geek Nation, and that I really appreciated the honesty and openness he brought to them. It takes a lot of balls to openly talk about your insecurities, your battles with depression, and how you coped by sleeping with fans at conventions. Seriously, so few people would have the courage and guts to say that. It’s totally admirable! I also told James that it was a totally unique story on the Hollywood way of life. Almost every Hollywood story you read, it’s from the Will Smith or Tom Cruise type of people, and the stories are almost always identical. Wanted to be an actor, went through adversity, overcame it, now a millionaire (big laugh from James at that comment). It’s so refreshing to see another perspective on the business. James signed my 8” x 10”, and asked if we’d met before because I looked familiar. I told him that we had not met before, but we’d talked on social media many times before. That’s 4-0 on good experiences at the autograph table thus far, people! Guest type: Conversationalist.

Keith Szarabajka: Keith reminded me a lot of Tom Lenk. Alive and energetic on stage, engaging and the centre of attention in the meet and greet, but a little more shy and reserved in the one-on-one setting. Nevertheless, he was still totally friendly, and joined me in a discussion about Holtz, and how Holtz was such a unique villain because he wasn’t a villain! Holtz wanted revenge on the bastard that murdered his family! Granted, he does some villainous things along the way, but wouldn’t we all under those circumstances? Wouldn’t we all want revenge at any cost? After Keith signed the 8” x 10”, he drew a little picture of Holtz before the signature, which was a great little addition, which certainly made me chuckle. Guest type: Responder.

Georges Jeanty: Finally – in the autograph hall at least – we arrived at Georges Jeanty, which was one of the more memorable conversations I’ve had at an autograph table. We started off by talking about the new “Firefly” comic series and his work on “Buffy The Vampire Slayer”, before Robyn asked Georges if he ever wanted to be anything else other than an artist. Georges said he’d always wanted to be an artist and that he feels as though the profession chose him rather than the other way around. He said that he wasn’t really good at anything else. I told him that he was wrong, he’s also a great dancer. The three of us then had a discussion about how he could have combined those two talents...being a stripper that paints while stripping. After leaving the autograph table, myself and Robyn came up with the perfect name for that profession...a striptistadore! Someone copyright that sumbitch. Guest Type: Conversationalist.

Because George had to leave after his photos and panel the next day (missing the autograph session and closing ceremony), he was in a separate room to the other guests, as he had to get through all the gold ticket holders and regular ticket holders in one day...his hand must have been killing him by the end! Myself and Robyn left the autograph hall grinning from ear-to-ear, and headed upstairs to George Hertzberg’s autograph area.

George Hertzberg: Behind his autograph table, George had a map of the United Kingdom, hand-drawn. In the top left-hand corner it said “not to scale”. I have to say I agree. I’m fairly certain he’s never seen a map of Scotland before. As people approached his autograph table, he asked where they were from and added their location to the map. I’m assuming he took the map home with him as a keepsake. Speaking to George is simple. He’s the everyman. Just a straight-up, humble, ordinary human being that happens to be 6’7” or so. He’s insanely tall. J. August Richards is no slouch either, he must be about 6’3”. I asked George what he does for a living now. I know bits and pieces about his job, but I had no idea what he actually did. George told us he’s a Director of Operations for a company in Dallas. I won’t say who/what/where, as internet stalkers like myself might be reading...what? I told George that he absolutely must get some form of social media. Last year, after the closing ceremony, myself, Jeff Ricketts, Jonathan Woodward, George Hertzberg, Starfury crew members Simon and Toni, and a handful of other people went out for an Indian meal together. Jonathan and George ended up leaving a little earlier than everyone else, and by the time I returned to the hotel they were gone, meaning I had no chance to say goodbye and thank them for coming. I was able to message Jonathan, but George is virtually untraceable online for the most part. He has a private Facebook, but that felt intrusive, and he has a Twitter account he’s barely used for years. So, I thanked him in person for coming the previous year and this year because I knew I wouldn’t get the time to do so again over the weekend. Talking to George is always a pleasure. Guest type: Conversationalist.

Still awake? Good. Somehow, while trying to be as brief as possible, I’ve hit 17 pages already, excluding pictures.

With the autographs, photos, and panels over for the day, it was time to chill for a couple of hours before the costume competition began at 8:00pm. Alas, 8:00pm turned into 9:15pm, leaving some people annoyed, but most people knew it was to be expected and just chatted with other attendees. Thankfully, at weekend events like these, everyone seems to know everyone, so making friends or finding people to talk to is very, very simple. If you’re ever in a situation where you want to go to a convention, but don’t want to go alone, do it! You won’t be alone for long. The costume competition, like every year, was awesome. There were some really excellent costumes across the board, but the winners were my personal favourite – the Dollhouse group. I also loved Simon’s Castiel costume (from “Supernatural”). So much passion and energy, and attention to detail go into these costumes, and I think that everyone should be commended for taking part. It takes a certain level of confidence to walk into a hall filled with people – including people you admire – and model a costume. The seven guests acted as the judges and chose the winners and runners-up. One of the costume competitors was a young boy. Seeing Charisma interact with him was a nice little moment, and it helped me see that she’s really a great person.

 (Photo(s) credit to GG Photography. Please check out his Facebook page)

After the competition drew to a close and the winners were announced, it was time for the party to begin. The theme of the evening: the Vampire Ball. Not overly surprising, right? All of the guests stayed downstairs to party with us for a while. Whether it was chatting to attendees, busting some moves on the dance floor, or goofing around, all 7 guests took the time to join in, which isn’t something that happens at every convention, so kudos to the guests for that. Charisma danced, we saw Keith busting some moves with a female attendee, J. came out and danced for a few songs (he requested the songs he wanted to dance to with the DJ’s), George danced for a while and talked with attendees too, Clare was downstairs talking, James was downstairs talking, but the standout was Georges Jeanty, who has a reputation amongst Starfury regulars as being an awesome guest for the parties. On Friday night, Georges was downstairs dancing until 2am. On Saturday night, Georges was downstairs dancing until 2am or 3am once again. He’s the life of the party, and the attendees love him for that. Myself and Robyn headed upstairs in the wee hours of the night, ready to tackle the last day of the convention – how was it the last day already?! It felt like it had only just started! Who’s up for a week-long convention?

Mercifully, my one remaining photo (and Robyn’s only photo) was taking place at 11:30am – the J. and Charisma dual shot. With the main hall activities also not starting until 11:30am, myself and Robyn had the rare opportunity of a convention lie-in. We headed down to breakfast at 9:30am, then headed over to the sales area so that I could buy two badger passes and Robyn could buy her photo ticket. In essence, a badger pass is one extra autograph with any guest, and they all cost £10, which is pretty damn cheap. I bought an extra autograph with Charisma and J., and was told that I’d be able to attend the autograph session later in the day at the end after the regular ticket holders had been through. Fine by me! Also, our second guest encounter was taking place at midday. Sadly, this meant that myself and Robyn missed almost the entirety of Clare and George’s talk, so if anyone was there and wants to give details, please do so in the comments section below!

The photo session with J. and Charisma went smoothly. Just before mine was taken, J. looked up, smiled at me, said it was great to see me again, the photo was taken, and he patted me on the shoulder and rubbed my back as I was leaving. A second bromance was forming. From there, we headed over to the other side of the room (which was partitioned off) for our guest encounter with Keith Szarabajka! Highlights include :-

·       We started the session with Robyn mentioning to Keith that we saw him busting some terrific dance moves the night before. Keith seemed pleased and mentioned that he can’t perform all his dance moves these days because if he bends down on his knees too much, he might not be able to get back up again.
·       Stephen asked Keith what it was like to work with Heath Ledger, and Keith shared some stories from set, and talked about Heath’s mental state a little bit while filming “The Dark Knight”. Bless him, you can tell that he’s still a little troubled by Heath’s death.
·       Keith told us that he has two sons, who’re both big gamers. Keith has done voiceover work for many video games, and a few weeks ago Keith walked past his son’s bedroom and heard his son loudly (and proudly) disclaim, “I JUST KILLED DAD!”. Poor Keith.
·       Many projects that Keith has worked on – “The Dark Knight”, various video games – come with a fake project name of the script. For example, “The Dark Knight” was called “Rory’s First Kiss”. Keith naturally assumed that he’d been sent the wrong script. This led to a very funny conversation about “Sinister Flamingo”, which Keith joked (I think it was a joke...) was the codename for a video game he worked on. Keith said “who’d want that?!”, to which Stephen said “who wouldn’t want a sinister flamingo?!”. Good times.
·       Keith preferred theatre work to movie work in his teens and young adult life, but nowadays he’s more prevalent to stage fright, so liked to work in television shows and movies more. Keith referenced that Laurence Olivier used to vomit before each performance. During an interview, Laurence said all he needed before a performance was “a good whack down the toilet”. I thought he was talking about something much different than vomit at first...
·       Keith recalled recording a scene for a movie where he was part of a charging cavalry. He was on horseback and had the most skittish, mean-tempered horse in the world. During one take where Keith had to slash some people down, the horse got frightened, reared up, and Keith went flying off. Hilariously, the horse trainer blamed Keith for making the horse nervous.
·       Keith loved the Shakespearian style language of Holtz, and he even threw out a quote or two.

Another awesome, unexpected guest encounter. As we arrived back in the talk hall, George and Clare’s panel was just coming to a close. George was just saying that he’d like to play Spike if he had to play someone other than Adam, which Clare agreed to (and also said she’d like to play Faith too). Evidently, during the filming of the season seven opener, “Lessons”, where the First Evil transforms into every previous ‘Big Bad’, all the actors were together recording it. George and Clare remembered how excited everyone was to be back, especially Juliet Landau (Drusilla), who was ecstatic. George wanted to be an actor because the male side of his family are all incredibly funny. His mother asked him if he was going to be an engineer like his father, and he realised that he didn’t want to be. He turned to acting and the rest is history. With George and Clare leaving the stage, it was time for James Leary and Georges Jeanty to partake in a panel together. Once again, this was a situation where unlikely duos created scintillating chemistry. Highlights from the panel included :-

·       James has a deep man-crush on Stephen Amell (from “Arrow”). He admires Amell’s social media activities, his dedication to charity work, and his passion for the fandom he’s a part of. Unlike some bitter people James has met historically, Amell has totally embraced the fandom and seems perfectly happy to be a part of it. Earlier this year at Dragon Con, James had the opportunity to meet Stephen in a photo shoot that he snuck in to. James has had drinks with Billy Joel in Las Vegas, he’s met many celebrities before, yet turned into a fanboying mess when presented with Stephen Amell. When he got to the front of the queue, he said the following very quickly, “Hi, I’m James Leary, I was on “Buffy The Vampire Slayer”, and I’m a big, big fan!” (or something to that effect). Stephen looked at him, said “okay...”, and the photo was taken. Please bear in mind that James acted this whole thing out on stage. So, so, so funny. I love that he’s a massive fanboy just like us.
·       James mentioned that Stephen Amell was signing with John Barrowman at Dragon Con, which instantly got half the crowd chuckling. We all know that Barrowman is nuts at conventions. As Georges and James were discussing this, James randomly blurted out, “Barrowman tweaked my nipple once...”. So lucky! Evidently, Barrowman loves the “Swinging Richards” club in Atlanta, where Dragon  Con  takes place. I’ll leave it up to your imaginations what type of club that is.
·       James was one half of the first openly gay couple on Spanish television. Just after he’d finished explaining that awesome piece of trivia, a picture of John Barrowman popped up on the two big screens either side of the stage. John was dressed as a woman and the caption read “yes...this is John Barrowman”. Even the tech guys were joining in the fun, which was great.
·       Immy had also missed the George-James (A.K.A. #Team Bromance) talk the previous day, so asked James to fill us in on the bins story, which James was more than happy to oblige. Basically, James and George were talking about naked pictures that people send to each other these days. In the United States, these are known as ‘junk pics’, as a slang name for the penis is ‘junk’. ‘Junk’ in the United Kingdom, however, means ‘trash’. This led to a conversation about junk in bins, where ‘bins’ became a euphemism for vaginas. Anarchy soon followed in James and Georges’ talk. Bin decoration, limp rubbish needing removing, infected rubbish, recycling, rubbish liking other rubbish (Georges: “I’m trying to get that visual actually...”), and rubbish in the sewer were all topics covered. That ‘rubbish in the sewer’ joke from James received a loud “eww!” from the crowd, and James exclaimed, “really? That’s the line?!”. God, I’ve never laughed so hard at a panel. It reminded me of one of the old “Torchwood” panels. That entire cast are pure filth.

(Legendary editing by Ashley Mansfield)

·       James mentioned that in many ways he prefers European fans to United States fans, simply because European fans act a little less entitled. He reiterated that he adores American fans too, by the way!
·       Georges said he has a kinship with other Joss Whedon fans, and he finds that he instantly likes and trusts someone he meets who’s a fan of Joss’ work. He also talked about the unique atmosphere at Starfury’s events. He’s been to conventions all over the world, but none of them compare to Starfury in his eyes. He sees Sean’s events as a holiday for him as opposed to work. He gets to have fun, chat with people, and dance the night away! He mentioned that he’d been talking to Charisma earlier in the day, and Charisma said how easy it was to work at Starfury’s events  (it was her first one).
·       Georges favourite “Buffy The Vampire Slayer” season was six. He knows that many people find it too dark and suffocating, but that’s what he loves about the season. James said it really picks up from episode five onwards (once Clem is introduced). James favourite season is two because he loves the Angelus arc. His favourite episode is “Hush”. Georges mentioned that Joss told him that the ‘hand motion’ Buffy uses in “Hush” was censored from television during its initial airing, but the hand motion Anya uses was not. James referred to Buffy’s hand motion as taking your own rubbish out. Oh, the LOLs.
·       The scene in “Becoming Part II”, where Buffy stabs Angel into Acathla and sends him to Hell, is a direct reference to Frank Miller’s “Ronan”.
·       When illustrating the Buffy season 8 comics, Georges didn’t know whether to include Sarah’s lower back tattoo or not, as it’s appeared in some shots of the television show before. Joss told him that the tattoo was more of a Sarah thing than a Buffy thing and he didn’t think that Buffy would have a tattoo, so it was omitted from the comics.
·       Someone approached the microphone and told a story of how his DVD player (and his girlfriend’s DVD player) always skipped over the Willow-Kennedy sexy scene in season seven’s “Touched”, and he believed that it was done on purpose by the manufacturers. James said that perhaps it was just a prudish DVD player that didn’t like sexy scenes. The gentleman said, “oh, it definitely does”, which received a massive reaction from the crowd. Clearly, someone watches porn on that DVD player.
·       Joss’ favourite comic book character growing up was Kitty Pryde from the X-Men series. Buffy’s identity and personality were loosely based on Kitty.
·       James Leary did a hilarious impression of James Marsters, showing that James uses the same two poses in every photo at conventions (Shangel note: except Rosie’s photos. Rosie has many, many photos with James, and there’s a lot of variation there) – the hand-in-pocket tricep pose, and the thumbs-in-pockets pouty pose. I’ve got 4 photos with James, and he’s pulling two of each in them. I laughed so hard as James was stood there performing the two poses. Georges came into the audience while James performed these so that he could see it from our point of view.

(The tricep pose tribute - this was actually taken by Becca during Saturday's panel)

·       James also did a great Matthew McConaughey impression and a terrific Christopher Walken impression, where he said about two words every five seconds. Both very funny and accurate.
·       When Reed Diamond had to cancel on “Vampire Ball 6”, James Leary came into the Facebook group and said he’d do a Reed Diamond impression to make up for it. He was bluffing. He doesn’t have a Reed impression. Hilariously, Georges had no idea who Reed was, even when prompted with many roles he’s played by James and the crowd. Never fret though, gentle readers, he got there in the end!
·       Georges referenced that if Spike were a real person, nobody would be Facebook friends with him. He’s a mass murderer! Georges said that one thing he appreciated about Xander was that he was the only character to never forget what Spike was capable of. He was the only one to remember Spike’s past. This was both a blessing and a pain in the ass of course.

Another panel down, and easily the funniest of the weekend that I got to see. I’m sure many other attendees would say James-George was the funniest, but we weren’t there for that one. Either way, James was the M.V.P. of the stage over the “Vampire Ball” weekend without a doubt. After James and Georges’ panel, there was a thirty minute break before Keith’s solo panel. Robyn wanted to write a letter to give to Charisma at the autograph table later, so we decided to head out of the talk hall and go chill in the lounge area. It was during this time that somebody showed me a beautiful video that J. had recorded. I won’t go into detail as it’s not my business to share, but a mutual friend of mine and the person who showed me was recently diagnosed with bad cancer. This is someone that J. previously met at a convention. When J. was asked if he’d record a little video for her, J. jumped at the opportunity and stayed behind after a guest encounter to record a video, letting her know that he was thinking of her, praying for her, that we missed her at the convention, etc. It was absolutely lovely and a really wonderful thing to do on J.’s part. After she received the video and shared it, J. commented on the video saying that it was his pleasure to record it. Moments like that show me what type of man J. is far more than words could. J. is a special type of celebrity. One who genuinely cares, who uses his fame for the bettering of the world. He’s unselfish, honourable, and filled with integrity. I wish more celebrities were like J. August Richards.

Robyn still needed time to finish her Charisma letter, so we decided to skip Keith’s panel as we’d just spent a lovely 30 minutes with him in a guest encounter. We arrived back in the talk hall just as Keith’s talk was coming to a close. Keith was asked if he’d like to appear in “Doctor Who” and Keith explained he’s never really seen it. Someone told him that Mark Sheppard had been in it and Keith loudly proclaimed, “that bastard’s in everything!”. Keith then read a chapter from one of his pieces, and towards the end of the piece it referenced race relations...just as J. was entering the hall for his panel with Charisma. That was some perfect timing, right there. Highlights from J. and Charisma’s panel :-

·       J. instantly said “man, he’s desperate to have a conversation about race relations, isn’t he?”. He filled Charisma in on some of the fun from the previous day, and then finished it with, “And then we walk in on Keith giving a race relations dissertation”. Oh, the laughter we shared.
·       J. and Charisma are always bumping into each other in Los Angeles while they’re running errands. They used to live a few blocks away from each other for fifteen years.
·       The Friday night of “Vampire Ball”, they were up until 3am catching up with each other. I love that. I get such a kick out of knowing the cast are friends in real life.
·       J. mentioned that Joss set him up well for life after “Angel”, by giving Gunn the lawyer knowledge in his head. Straight after “Angel” finished, J. booked four roles as a lawyer.
·       Charisma mentioned that Gunn used to wear a lot of red and also a lot of blue. J. joked that Gunn was a confused thug and couldn’t choose between the Bloods and the Crips.
·       Charisma’s favourite “Angel” set was the first office that Angel Investigations had and also Angel’s apartment set below that office. J.’s was the Hyperion Hotel lobby set.
·       J. KNOWS THE EPISODE NAMES! My OCD-riddled brain loves this so much. Someone asked J. a question and referred to the episode where Cordy and Gunn are working together. J. instantly said “First Impressions”. Yes, yes, yes!
·       When “Angel” was still on the air, J. and Charisma would teach each other dance moves late at night. J. would teach Charisma hip hop, while Charisma would teach J. ballet and cheerleading routines.
·       Charisma still calls J. for male advice about relationships. If she wants to know something from the male perspective, J. is the first person she calls. How cute is that? Charisma said this is because J. is borderline metrosexual, and he gives good ‘girl talk’, whereas most men are like “FEED ME”, “SEX TIME”...yes, Charisma said these things in a gruff male voice. It was wonderful.
·       J. talked about the incredible speech he gives at the end of the pilot episode of “Agents of SHIELD”, which was by far the greatest moment of the pilot. J. mentioned how great directors – like Joss, who wrote and directed this episode – are able to give you little cues that make you better. After recording the scene, Joss went up to J. and said “I think Mike has more pride than that”, and after that J. played the scene completely differently.
·       J. kept Gunn’s hubcap axe from “Angel”. It was given to him as a gift after the show wrapped, which was rare.
·       Charisma talked about working with Nicky Brendon during Buffy’s second and third seasons. She absolutely gushed about Nicky, and called him the fire to her air. In his presence she was able to stay in the moment while filming instead of being in her head too much. She talked about what a wonderful, deep person he is, and how scenes with him were her favourite on “Buffy The Vampire Slayer”. D’aww! I just hope she tells Nicky that soon.
·       Charisma talked about how episodes that Joss personally directed were a little different because she’d want to get everything perfect to please Joss. She said a smile from Joss was sometimes a tough thing to get when he was in director mode, and that’s what she always strived for.
·       J. and Charisma both talked about how everyone got the giggles when filming “Spin The Bottle”. I strongly advise you to listen to the DVD audio commentary for that episode for full details. It’s simply brilliant. You can also find a bunch of bloopers from that episode on the internet and DVDs.
·       If J. wasn’t Gunn, he’d want to play Wesley. Charisma said “better you than me...all that exposition. I don’t know how Alexis did it”, and J. added “and did it so well!”. Charisma, however, doesn’t want to give Cordy up, which is ironic as she originally auditioned for the role of Buffy, not Cordy, but she did say that she’d play Angel because he doesn’t say much and gets to wear a “rad” coat.
·       When auditioning for the role of Cordelia, Charisma was caught in traffic and ended up being 90 minutes late to the audition. Her agent called her to say that Joss and the casting directors were hungry and were going to go for lunch (thus cancelling the audition). Charisma turned full Cordelia mode and told her agent to tell Joss and the rest to order a damn pizza and she’d be there soon. Later, she found it humorous just how similar to Cordelia it was to say that to Joss and the casting directors.
·       Charisma talked about her disdain of auditioning when you’re asked to learn a thirteen-page scene (which she had to do for a Guy Ritchie movie), only to arrive and be told it’s been reduced to two pages (yep, that happened to her). “I could have been doing other things and drinking wine if I’d known it was only two pages!”.
·       The character of Gunn was originally called Day. Thankfully, it was changed.
·       J.’s audition process for “Angel” was just as amusing. At the time, Dennis Rodman was popular, so to apply for the street thug role of Gunn, J. decided to dye his hair red and look as brutish as possible, after hearing that he was “too clean cut” to play Gunn. Driving to the audition, J. called his agent and said he didn’t want to do it. He had no idea how to play the role and he simply didn’t understand why this character was constantly telling a vampire to get away from him – “why didn’t he just leave the vampire?”. Then he remembered something that Meryl Streep said once, which was to examine the opposite of what a character is really saying to find their truth, so that’s what J. did. During the first couple of seasons of the show, regardless of what was coming out of Gunn’s mouth, whenever Gunn was talking to Angel, J. tried to use facial expressions that said “please take me”. Of course, he meant to say “please accept me, please make me one of you”, but the phrase “please take me” brought on raucous laughter from the audience. After finishing his audition for Gunn, Joss sat there silently for 20 seconds or so, looked at J.’s hair and said, “so, is that a spray? My wife’s hair’s that colour.”
·       Charisma’s only regret from “Buffy The Vampire Slayer” or “Angel” is the Cordelia-Connor relationship. Granted, Cordy was possessed at the time, but still. She still considers them the best shows she’s ever worked on and the high point of her career thus far.
·       J. said that season three of “Angel” is his favourite, and Charisma set my OCD heart aflutter by ordering the seasons from favourite to least favourite – 3, 1, 2, a big gap, 4 (she omitted 5 because she was only in one episode).
·       The conversation steered to Andy Hallett, and both J. and Charisma shared a memory of Andy that made them smile. J. talked about attending a convention with Andy and Mark Lutz (Groosalugg), and how he’d never laughed so hard in his life, while Charisma talked about her 30th birthday, where Andy showed up at her house with a pair of shoes and said “I saw these and just had to buy them for you”. Charisma still has and adores the shoes to this day. Charisma also mentioned that she barely remembered what Andy looked like at first, because all of the time she spent with him on set, he was wearing Lorne’s green make-up. He also used to sing everything, including “hello”. J. said that Andy – for reasons that were never revealed to anyone, including J. – used to call him ‘Jay Ergustein’ whenever he saw him.
·       When  the show was still on the air, J. signed “Angel” merchandise for Jaden Smith. Jaden’s mother, Jada, is a huge fan of both shows, and Jaden can often be seen wandering around wearing Buffy t-shirts. I also saw him on Graham Norton a year ago, where he said he’d usually end a date by going home alone and watching Buffy. Yes, Jaden, yes!
·       Towards the end, J. started talking about “First Impressions” again, which led to a tangent about Cordelia and Gunn’s relationship in the episode. Just as he finished talking, he paused, then swiftly realised what he’d done and tried to back-pedal. He surmised that Keith is right and everything really does come down to race relations. That’s right, as the weekend was coming to a close, J. finally joined Keith on the dark to speak. The race relations conversation Keith had been desperate for all week came out during the last panel of the event. It’s was an oddly full-circle moment.

(Photo credit: Howard Crowe. Please check out his Picasa albums)

This was probably my favourite panel of the week, so it was nice that it was the last one. With J. and Charisma’s panel over, there was just time left for the 2nd autograph session of the weekend before the closing ceremony at 7pm.

Charisma Carpenter: Myself and Robyn were right near the end of the autograph session, which meant that all of the guests were trying to get everything done as quickly as possible in order to get ready for the closing ceremony. Due to this, my time with Charisma at the autograph table was very brief. However, it did give Robyn the time to hand over the letter to Charisma, who seemed legitimately happy about it. She looked us both in the eye and thanked us both for the letter and for coming. The phrase “you’re so sweet, you guys!” was used and appreciated.

J. August Richards: When I say that everyone was trying to get everything done as quickly as possible, I mean everyone except J. August Richards. Charisma and Clare were both gone, while J.’s queue was still snaking around the room because he was taking his time with everyone. I love that. When I got to the table, I handed over my Deathlok 8” x 10” and said that it was nice to see that the rest of the world had caught up with the “Angel” fans a decade later: J. August Richards is a superhero. Boom, good start. Get the compliment in early. We talked about the speech from the pilot episode of “Agents of SHIELD”, and I told him how incredible it was. I told him that myself and Robyn attended “Hallowhedon 5” with Alexis Denisof just after the pilot premiered in England, and when the episode was brought up, Alexis said, “J. stole the show in that first episode, didn’t he?”. J. was so pleased that Alexis (and we) complimented his work. I thanked him immensely for coming, and said what an honour it was to get to know him over the weekend. He couldn’t have been nicer. Asking Robyn where she was from, asking if we were staying after the closing ceremony, told us he’d see us soon, etc. Honestly, it might have been my favourite moment of the weekend. All that genuine appreciation and love, all that eye contact and was badass. We also talked about how that speech from the pilot of “Agents of SHIELD” mirrored his real life at the time. During that speech, Mike (Deathlok) says, “I could, you know? Be a hero”, and that’s exactly how J. was feeling too. J. couldn’t land a job for six months before he received the role of Deathlok. His self-esteem was shot, he was losing money, and he was in a very dark place. He knew that if he were given the opportunity, he could knock it out the park, but he just wasn’t getting anything. I told him it’s so nice to see his career going from strength to strength now.

As myself and Robyn were leaving  the autograph hall, we headed back upstairs and bumped into Georges Jeanty on the stairs. With so little time remaining before the closing ceremony, and with myself and Robyn leaving straight after it, I knew this was my last opportunity to say “thank you for coming”, so I took it. I told Georges that although I’d met him before, this was the first time I really got to spend some time with him properly. I thanked him for coming and asked him to please come back soon because we still have lots to discuss. He was totally positive and enthusiastic about the exchange, shook my hand, shook Robyn’s hand, and said he’d absolutely come back soon. He was such a highlight of this convention for us both.

Like always, the closing ceremony started late. This has happened at every weekend con I’ve ever been to. Perhaps I’m a jinx. Sean introduced the guests one by one and built them up as he was doing so. Sean’s impassionate speeches about each of the guests is always a highlight for me because I know Sean won’t say it if it isn’t true. So, for example, when he said Charisma was a dream to work with behind the scenes, I believe him, which makes me happy because it implies she’s not a drama queen. When Sean says that J. is like an American James Bond and the leader of the group behind the scenes, I believe him. Highlights from the closing ceremony included :-

·       James once again referenced “Hallowhedon 1” during his closing speech. He said it was nice to see some people again, nice to meet new people, and thanked the people that had to remind him they’d met before (ahh, good ol’ alcohol).
·       J. referenced the friend of ours that is battling cancer during the closing ceremony too. He said that some people weren’t there that should have been, and that he hoped they know they’re in his thoughts and our collective thoughts. That was another classy moment. I’ve also got to mention that, like in the opening ceremony, J. sang. This time it wasn’t Jay-Z and Beyonce, it was the Golden Girls theme (thanks for the heads up on that one, Ashley!), which is basically a song dedicated to friendship and being thankful to have each other. J. put it best when he said that they’re the excuse we use to see each other every year and have an amazing weekend.

With our eyes shimmering with happiness and our hearts heavy over the fact the convention had finished, myself and Robyn drove the two hours back to Gloucestershire, and spent the rest of the night talking about the convention and perusing our various autographs and photos. The most important question after any convention is simply “would I go again?”, which in the case of “Vampire Ball” is a definitive ‘yes!’ for the third year in a row. However, the convention scene in the United Kingdom is oversaturated. There’s no other way to put it. Somewhere in the United Kingdom there’s a convention...or two...or three...pretty much every weekend of the year. Obviously, the money available for luxuries such as these is limited, so whether or not I attend next year is simply down to the line-up. I’m already confirmed for Rogue Events’ “Prophecy” next year, as they announced Alyson Hannigan just before the opening ceremony of “Vampire Ball”, which I don’t think was a coincidence. If Sean brings the guests, I’ll bring myself. Can’t say fairer than that.

If you’ve enjoyed this review, if you were there and want to share your own experiences, if you’ve met a member of the cast before and want to give your thoughts, or if you just feel like commenting, please do so below. I read all of them and appreciate them immensely. Thank you for surviving the 26 pages (excluding pictures!), and I’ll be back with another convention review early next week, as this Sunday is “Wales Comic Con”.



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  2. Great review as always! See you soon at Prophecy! :)

  3. Hey shangel!

    Awesome review as always! Fantastic work :D Hope it will get a lot of readers too, but as you said the KLZ one had ELiza ;)
    Sad to hear that Julie Benz was announced and canelled the con :/ unfortunatelly that happens a lot... busy woman ^^
    I loved the passage about the photo sessions... "After all, once photos are over, you can look as shit as you want, right?" - Totally right :'D.
    AAAWW I am sooo glad you wrote those words about Charisma <3 Sadly I won't meet her soon as she cancelled the con I'll go soon but I'd love to meet her very much and also was worried because of some stories I've heard. Good to know that she is cool :D. Thank you too for the facts from the panels and the conversations. It is really interesting. I like especially the stories about Charisma and Clare. F.e. SMG throwing a rubber snake over Charisma or where the snake has gotten out of the tank while filming Buffy and Clare and SMG freaked out.. Very cool to know.
    What you wrote about Clare is really amazing. Thanks to you I can't wait to meet her even more! <3
    To sum my thought up - Just an awesome review ^_^ looking forward to read more!

    All the best,