Toronto March Comic-con 2012

Hobby Star’s last Comic-con was a fun event because I found some issues I’ve been needing. And their last anime convention in December was fun because of all the friends I saw there. But if I didn’t have missing issues to buy and friends to see I can see myself getting bored quickly. Their conventions had become ordinary weekend filler. They needed to step it up. So that’s exactly what they did when they combined their spring Comic and Anime conventions.

Preceding the convention was the G33KPRON Dance party. Held a frosty mile away from the convention centre at the Tattoo Rock Parlour, a whole lot of cosplayers and loyal convention-goers interacted, danced and drank in the night club. The loud music made it tricky to have any conversation longer than a drink order and the crowd was at capacity, even in the lower level but it was a vibrant party with a buzz usually missing from conventions. In one corner of the club, artist Bowman commemorated the night by channelling the energy of the party into a painting.

One highlight of the night was when everything was paused as The Nerdy Stripper seized the crowd’s attention as she gradually reduced her Tank Girl outfit and gyrated on a fixed pole, although the crowd around her cut down on the visibility. I had to leave early to catch the last train home but after her performance but I was glad I came out.

As is Hobbystar tradition the convention was in the Metro Toronto Convention Center, but heading down the stairs it’s evident that this event is ten times bigger than their typical conventions. And as a new idea, instead of putting all the action in the dealer’s room, the hallways were now used for exhibitors like the 501st, and Tights & Fights and Tdotcomic’s own ever-socializing Alice Quin. Inside the the dealer’s room were all the vendors and autograph lines.

Although one old behavioural quirk- anime fans tend to stay outside of the dealer’s room and keep to the halls where they have more room to move around in their costumes. So the otaku-oriented vendors are missed by their target audience who only look into the dealer room deep enough to see the comic dudes. So there’s still maybe some room for refinement  in the layouts for the modern combined convention.

Cosplayers came out in full force, although the Homestucks gathered in the skyway outside of the convention and the Pony fans had their meet-up north in the Eaton Centre. This might be because the groups know they don’t need to pay admission to just congregate with each other, but that’s ok – people shouldn’t need to rely on the convention organizers to plan a gathering if they don’t need it.

The western wall of the dealer’s room were the Autograph lines. A lot of Star Trek alumni and Star Warriors. Yet the big hot guest was Wayne’s World mega-babe Tia Carrere, who is totally a fox. Since Wayne’s World was one of the defining experiences of my childhood, I paid for a signature on the Dream Weaver album. Excellent. During her Q&A panel she spoke on her career and came off as a super genuine person who doesn’t take her lifestyle for granted.

The next most interesting guest was Bruce Boxleitner, and while Tron isn’t as cool as Wayne’s World, his voice is just as good listening as Tia’s so his panel was a fun experience. I think I’ll have to pick up some of the Books on Tape he recorded. Christian Potenza, you would be cool to see but I saw you less than a month ago at Con-G.

In terms of the comic guests (who usually sign for free) the big guest was the legendary George Perez. Typically people you need to line up for limit signatures to 2 items but he was cool with 10 because he is an undying powerhouse who was very friendly to interact with. Also filling up the artists alley were all the regulars to the Toronto convention scene such as Yanick Paquette, Jim Zubkavich, Leonard Kirk, and Scott Chantler. A surprisingly large display was assembled by newcomer Alternate History Comics, who Tdotcomics will be keeping an eye on.

If you had a VIP ticket from Fanexpo, you could use it to get into this convention for free for one day. Try and get in again on Sunday and you’d have to buy a day pass. But Sunday was the day to go, since dealers began to lower prices and the crowds were thinner. This is a shout-out to Red Rain who had a booth set up in the convention and were giving out enough samples to keep attendees awake during the convention.

Overall the convention was no Fan Expo. But it provided  enough to do for the two days spent there and some alternative activities like card gaming. There were plenty of friends and potential business contacts had a much better experience than I expected – much more than just the last Comic-Con and “DTAC” combined. This is Fan Expo Jr. This is Fan Expo’s sidekick. And sidekicks are a lot like their respective mentors in terms of skill and expertise, but a lot of time they have more fun.

The next event of note on the Tdotcomics calendar is the Burlington Toy & Collectible Show. After that He-Con & the 80s Toy Expo will lead us into April.

 

-Michael Ryan. March 15 2012

I miss being able to explore conventions without constantly considering “how will I later convert this experience into prose?”

 

Related posts:

Fan Appreciation Wrap-Up
My Anime North 2010 experience
Burlington Toy Show
Report on Anime North 2012