With Star Wars still fresh in our memory, Captain America 3: Civil War coming out soon, Daredevil season 2 on Netflix, and Free Comic Book Day coming up, and Walking Dead season finale approaching, it’s the perfect time for comic fans to come together and share the hype and enthusiasm, March 18-20th was the perfect time for the Toronto ComiCon. And the anime fans used it as the first big chance to test out their new costumes, the parents brought their kids, and I brought my dad.
With Star Wars being the biggest movie of the winter, the 501st Canadian Garrison had their Storm Troopers and Ewoks wandering around, interacting with the tons of children dressed as adorable Troopers, adorable Reys and adorable BB-8s and adorable Darth Vader. Guardians Of The Galaxy is passe this year. The new Ghostbusters film this year prompted the Toronto Ghostbusters to keep the area clean of any paranormal apparitions. Every other regular Toronto cosplayer was dressed up, many hanging out on the 700 level to do photoshoots away from the crowd of the Dealer’s Room. There was surprisingly sparse Undertale cosplay.
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The 800 level held the real action: hundreds and hundreds of merchandise vendors, artists selling prints, comic professionals signing things and doing sketches, and a signing area where the guests like always entertaining Jonathan Frakes meet with their fans. While Will Friedle might be known to the world as Eric From Boy Meets World, to the Comic-Con crowd, he’s either A Batman Beyond or Ron Stoppable. While Informa’s other big comic-book event, FanExpo, feels like it now has a lot of guests from television that might not appeal to the convention community (Tyler Posey?) , the March ComiCon keeps it’s focus on the fandom and hasn’t lost it’s spirit to cater to mainstream audiences and corporate presence – the most corporate entity there was a fairly modest display from Warner Brothers hyping Batman v Superman.
- German art supply company “Lyra” had a wall covered with artwork made by kids.
- Toronto Public Library showing off a cool 3D printer
- “High Comedic Value” a webcomic with rather low artistic value but still chuckles.
- Comic book “Neon Black” by Kevin Briones.
One special treat was Scott Kolins, a talented comic artist who has done legendary runs on DC’s Flash and Marvel’s Thor, in Toronto for his first time and with barely any line-up. he signed plenty of autographs, discussed his work, and hinted at an upcoming project which hasn’t been announced yet. A few tables down, comics legend John Ostrander also had an upcoming project he wasn’t allowed to share details on but. These teases fuel speculation that some great books are on the horizon past the DC Comics “Rebirth” event. Rob Liefeld was another notable guest and lived up to the legend that he’s exceptionally friendly.
Inspired by the movie “The Big Year“, I was compelled to bring my dad to the convention to share my world with him, and to test my theory that even to somebody outside of the target demographic, the scale and sensation of the convention would entertain him. The Toronto ComiCon is large but not intimidating so it was good pick for my dad’s first fandom convention. He snapped pictures of costumes he didn’t know but appreciated the craftsmanship, he was astonished by the number of artists and exhibitors, and he didn’t buy any souvenir. Then we left early to go get chicken wings. He says he enjoyed the experience enough that while he’s not going to become a regular of the scene, he now has a better understanding of why convention people chose the lifestyle and he would come back in a year or so.
The staff were friendly, the largest problem this year was Ernie Hudson was a bit late, but otherwise the Toronto ComiCon was a solid show. Now it is larger than FanExpo used to be, although still a child compared to how big FanExpo is. It’s an economical balance between big and small and a handful of events like sketch duels keep things moving. The people of Toronto should be grateful we have different scale events to chose from – and because they’re months apart, we can enjoy both.
-Michael S Ryan
March 23, 2016