Report on: Toronto Comic-Con 2013

With Wizard not having a show in Toronto this year, the spring comic book scene was open for Hobbystar to bring back the Toronto Comic-Con in full force March 9-10, 2013, at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. The con absorbed the March anime convention and welcomed fans of any kind of fiction. People call it Fan Expo Jr., because that’s really what it is.

Read the report on last year’s March Comic-Con here.

With Hobbystar having a spotty track record of poor volunteer co-ordination and turning away attendees, many people expected some kind of potential debacle once again. This year’s big issue was that people were being turned away as early as noon on Saturday as the facility had apparently hit fire code capacity. The occupants did include everyone who preregistered, so the only people waiting in line (by a construction site) for a considerable period of time to be let in were people who didn’t pay in advance. It wasn’t the best situation, but the alternative was for the organizers to turn away pre-registrants, which would mean refunding and tears. In the future, there might not even be on-site ticket sales for events.

Although the name was Comic-Con, really the big centrepiece and selling point of this particular showing was the assemblage of almost the entire principle cast of Star Trek: The Next Generation, which is often recognized as the jewel of the Star Trek brand. The starfleet thespians dominated the schedule with an array of panels all filled to capacity by fans trying to meet the dreamy LeVar Burton.

The drawback to the Trek-passion was that events for the comics and anime fans were few. There was, however, a handful of anime voice actors like Richard Cox signing autographs and hosting Q&A sessions which were more entertaining than most of the shows they’ve worked on (note to self: bring Earplugs to conventions in case I’m ever stuck next to loudspeakers again). The panel could have used a moderator to cut down on people asking questions better asked at an autograph line. There were a handful of sketch duels for the comic fans, and those more into fantasy than sci-fi could enjoy the presence of Sean Astin.

The rest of the convention’s program was filled up with many familiar professional comic artists regularly appearing in Toronto. One big surprise was Katie Cook, artist of IDW’s “My Little Pony” comic, who drew constant attention all weekend. Hopefully she has a long tenure on that title.

Between the comic artists and the facility entrance was a colossal combined dealer’s room and artist alley (much better spaced than the embarrassing cubicles of the last Fan Expo). There was a bit of a mish-mashed quality to the map, with web-project exhibitors and crafters and old fashioned illustrators all mixed in randomly, but the overall atmosphere was social instead of hurried. Stylin Online once again erected a Thunderdrome with thousands of T-shirts for sale.

Those who spent enough time navigating the floor would have eventually come across the TdotComics table run by our own Alice Quinn, where she socialized and hyped up the upcoming Quintessential Comix web-series and book club. And after greeting her, the next stop was the food court which had tasty and expensive catering.

One surprise was Square.ca, who were distributing credit card readers for cellphones – compact hardware that could be a major change in the way business at conventions works, especially in a world where ATMs are scarce and nobody likes to handle the newer glossy $20 bills.

The real reason you’re reading this: Cosplayers. Characters from anything and everything were representing, and there were people willing to spend a lot of time to become characters only a few people would recognize. Many people were hoping that their novelty would let them become the next Toronto Batman. There was a considerable number of Ghostbusters, and thankfully it seems the Homestucks are finally thinning out.

   

For over a hundred more photos, of crowds and cosplayers, check out our Facebook gallery where you can tag familiar faces.

The Comic-Con was a good surprise, with enough people to interact with and purchases to consider to fill two days. It wasn’t as overwhelming as Fan Expo, but it didn’t have the endless line-ups and suffocating crowds, either. There will always be people holding on to a grudge against Hobbystar – considering situations like exhibitors being charged for their lanyards, it’s clear they still aren’t the friendly face they could be. But it’s the people attending that really define a convention, and for better or worse, Hobbystar knows how to bring out crowds.

For more GTA events like this, check the the TdotComics calendar which is in the process of being filled with tons of fascinating events in 2013.

-Michael Ryan, March 15th 2013

So there’s no Joecon this year but apparently there might be a Pony convention in September

Related posts:

Fan Expo mini-blog, and expanding the TdotComics team
Report on D-TAC: Toronto Anime Convention 2011
Report on TFcon
March 2013 update, personal and professional