Report on: FanExpo 2013

FanExpo is a predominant vertex of the Canadian convention scene, drawing thousands upon thousands to what’s roughly the scene’s big end to the summer. FanExpo is the size all conventions aspire to be, and while the organizers do not have a perfect record, it’s still a must-go for any GTA comic fan who can’t afford San Diego. This year’s FanExpo took place August 22nd to 25th at the Metro Toronto Convention Center. Like always, it was one incredible weekend where Geek is Good.

For reports on previous years’ FanExpos: 2011 | 2012

For all images in this article and many, many more, check out TdotComics’ Facebook Album for the event, where you can tag photos of yourself and your friends.

The biggest change-up to FanExpo this year was the addition of sports to the usual programming of comics, horror, anime, sci-fi, and gaming (and generally anything in between). The additional finger was necessary to make the convention big enough to fill the North Building after last year pushed the South Building to capacity. Also in the north building were celebrity functions for Alice Cooper, raw crowd draws like dreamy Nathan Fillion and George Takei, and some of the larger exhibitor displays including the always capacious Dalek herd.

And Hulk Hogan fought Rob Ford.

But the North Building’s energy never matched that of the South Building, which was free to indulge in nerdy celebration without designating space for mainstream attractions. The dealers’ room represented a perfect gradient of culture to corporate, with one side hosting hundreds of tightly packed creators trying to sell their wares and promote their projects to advance their careers while the other side housed major vendors and exhibitors like Hasbro, Lego, and Dr. Pepper. What felt like a mile away from the food court, there were corporate displays for videogames, movies, cars, and companies like Sony who would buy the entire floor if it meant more exposure. Beside one booth where a crowd eagerly and mindlessly cheered to win free T-shirts, there was also an out-of-place, modest display for independent developer Love Conquers All Games.

There weren’t many comic book vendors this year, and Marvel and DC didn’t have huge displays, but every exhibitor with access to a comic book license was showing it off. For example, Upper Deck Trading Cards and Teletoon were flaunting their connection to the comics community, and a surprisingly large truck was trying to convince people that we should use Norton software because of Superman. However, there was floor space for comic publisher Valiant, where it was confirmed that a Magnus: Robot Fighter comic relaunch was legally impossible, and the Archie Comics presence psyched people up for a new story set in their New Crusaders universe by comic maestro Mark Waid. Lion Forge Comics, soon to launch Saved By The Bell: The Comic is currently a surreal wild card. In the panels, Marvel didn’t have much to announce; it was another year without Alpha Flight. Later that day, DC won over maple hearts with the announcement of Justice League Canada and a Superman/Wonder Woman team-up book.

While each day of the convention had moments of congestion, on Saturday the whole place became a hazard for anyone with an aversion to crowds. Although the convention didn’t surpass fire code capacity, every inch of the building was occupied by eager fans swimming around each other, with sudden photo shoots constantly interrupting the flow. With three other days of convention open, next year’s attendees might want to consider skipping Saturday and instead using the day to enjoy other Toronto events like the Nerd Noise Night party or BuskerFest or the CNE. Fans should also be aware that the March Comic-Con is now everything that FanExpo used to be before Avengers and The Dark Knight made it an orgy of overlapping lines.

The concept of a fan convention is synonymous with cosplayers. There were hundreds of Deadpools, Harley Quinns, Misty from Pokemon clones, and Adventure Time characters, and at least one of anything else you can imagine. Entire families dressed together, and a few teenage girls pushed the limits of decency. Some people had spent months on their outfits; others tossed their costumes together in four minutes on Wednesday night (cough). When attending FanExpo, always be prepared to be suddenly caught in casual conversation with Galactus and a Candy Princess.

  

  

Last year’s FanExpo was followed by attendees complaining about volunteers being unprepared and disorganized, and then volunteers coming fourth to echo their sentiments. This year the early reports are mostly positive. There were no tickets sold to people who couldn’t get inside and advance ticket pick-up helped do its job. Some people will never let themselves enjoy a Hobbystar event again because they can’t drop a grudge, but that’s a moot point since this year Hobbystar was absorbed by the Informa events group. In my experience with their acquisition of the Artist Project Toronto, the takeover shouldn’t bring a detrimental change to a convention that’s finally getting it right.

- Michael Ryan, August 27, 2014

Oh my glob you guys Ben Affleck is playing Batman.

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