Walking The Floor at Toronto ComiCon
Diana McCallum writes for Bleeding Cool.
Pull on your boot covers and grab your spandex because winter is over, con season is upon us and I'm here to paint you a word picture about my journey around Toronto ComiCon this weekend.
First of all, don't let the name fool you, Toronto ComiCon is in no way affiliated with that little show in San Diego (they use a hyphen, it's totally not infringement guys!), it's actually organized by Fan Expo Canada, the huge con that takes place in Toronto in August/September. I generally refer to Toronto ComiCon as Mini-Con or the Half-Con as it's about half the size of Fan Expo.
But the Half-Con felt more like a Quarter-Con this year, and not just because Rue Morgue recently announced they will no longer be appearing at Fan Expo shows, but because they took up physically less space. In past years ticket purchases and press sign-in took place on the upper levels as you enter the building, this year the booths were all on the bottom floor with the rest of the con in rooms that usually hold panels. In fact, in order to buy your ticket you pass by the Community Tables and all of the panel rooms, which you could presumably just enter as the only place security seemed to be looking for wristbands was people going into the dealer room.
Please don't take me saying that the con is smaller than usual as necessarily a bad thing though because generally I like it. Whereas Fan Expo can get crowded and panicked with people desperately trying to squeeze fun into their last weekend of the summer, Toronto ComiCon is a gentle easing into the con year like dipping your toes in a warm pool of fandom. It's still pretty chilly up here in Toronto so not nearly as many people choose to cosplay in March, possibly due to spandex not being the best insulator. I love cosplayers but with fewer of them around it's noticeably easier to roam the dealer room floor and not get held up by impromptu photo ops happening in the already crowded aisles. This is great if you're there to shop, less great if you're there to see badass costumes.
Seeing as BC mostly covers American cons, I took a walk around and talked to a few of the most Canadian folks that caught my eye.
One of the first stops was Hope Nicholson's table for Brok Windsor, a Golden Age comic book hero so manly he could make Ron Swanson cry. Hope runs a self-publishing company that focuses on reprinting Golden Age Canadian superheroes, like Nelvana of the Northern Lights (available now from IDW). You may have seen Hope's very successful Kickstarter campaign for Brok last year and if you've been waiting to see those deposits show a return, the wait is over, she'll have copies of the Brok Windsor Collection at Emerald City Comicon next week, so track her down in Seattle and ask her for one (and by "ask" I mean offer her money in exchange for goods). Hope's a sweetheart who offered me a cardboard Brok Windsor cut-out and some unnaturally spicy Ruffles chips. I accepted both.
My next stop was to see The Pitiful Human-Lizard, the star of a really fantastic comic book series set in Toronto about a struggling superhero. The book's creator, Jason Loo, has received a great reception to the book which definitely resonates with its all-Canadian vibe. With almost every other comic book hero being based in New York, it's fun to see someone battling monsters near the CN Tower or riding on top of TTC Streetcars. There are three issues of the Pitiful Human-Lizard out right now, with issue #4 premiering at TCAF (The Toronto Comic Arts Festival) on May 9th. Jason gave me a free Pitiful Human-Lizard sticker while we chatted (so much free swag guys) and told me the only downside to having a table for his comic this year is that he normally cosplays with the X-Men of Toronto charity group and has the best Multiple Man costume I've ever seen. If only he were the REAL Multiple Man (Men?), he could work all the booths.
For my last stop I went more personal than Canadian as I caught artist Marco Rudy just as he was sitting down at his table. Marco does the crazy cool artwork for Bucky Barnes: The Winter Soldier, one of my favorite characters and a super trippy space book. Marco's a laid back, friendly guy who seems to know everyone around and was happy to chat. I asked if Marvel told them what was being planned for Agents of SHIELD when they decided to use Daisy "Quake" Johnson as a supporting character in the Winter Soldier book and was told Marvel didn't tell them anything. "They let us do whatever we want, they gave us leeway and we're having fun."
Unfortunately the fun will be ending soon though. Bucky Barnes: The Winter Soldier isn't one of the 33 titles Marvel will be cancelling in June, but it is slotted for a limited run due to Secret Wars with issue 11 being the last in the story.
I'll wrap up this lengthy report with a recommendation, if you want to hit up a more relaxed con for the purpose of finding great merchandise of every nerdy nature and talk to cool indie and mainstream artists, Toronto ComiCon is the con for you. All the big vendors are on the dealer room floor but it's not overcrowded and Artist's Alley is pretty accessible as well. If you like cons for the celebrity guests and extreme cosplays however, you're better off waiting for Fan Expo in September as ComiCon doesn't seem to have the same draw.