So, let me tell you about my experience at Fan Expo Canada 2014.
Let’s begin with my attempt to get Press Accreditation.
I administrate a website called the DC Database. It’s the largest source of encyclopedic information about DC Comics on the internet. For realzies. And while anyone can edit on it, the administrators are a more like volunteer staff than they are anything else.
So, my buddy Jamie Hari, the founder of that website (and the Marvel Database too) put in a request for some press passes for he and I, and we were turned down, because we don’t do much news coverage. Obviously. Because we’re an encyclopedia. We do also run a podcast called Comic Book Showcase on Youtube (which has a surprisingly big following, considering we’re just four losers shooting the shit about comics). We also live-tweeted much of our time at NYCC last October, and write editorials and blogs on the website.
So, Jamie, being a persistent fellow, called them up and argued with them until they agreed to give us passes for Thursday and Sunday - the two cruddiest days of any convention. By some miracle, he also snagged day passes for Saturday and Friday.
I attended Saturday and Sunday - and it was a world of difference between the two, lemme tell ya.
But before I get to that, there’s even more preamble. I am sick right now. All the week leading up to the convention, I had a sinus infection. Fortunately, the worst of it migrated to my chest, and some cough-suppressant helped keep me from hacking away all day.
But I was not ready for Saturday.
That place was packed.
One of the important things to note about Fan Expo Canada is that despite likely having broken its own attendance record and become the second largest convention in North America (behind SDCC and before NYCC) - it is not a comic convention per se. It is a fandom convention.
There were numerous cosplayers, but the vast majority of them were dressed as Doctor Who characters. There’s never a shortage of shitty Harley Quinn cosplay at any convention, but DC’s representation was abysmal. Hardly anyone was repping DC in the costume department.
So, having brought my fo’real camera this time, after slumming it with an iphone at NYCC last year, I had practically no good opportunities to whip it out and snap some cosplay photos. In fact, the only time I did whip out the camera was to take the above shitty photo of the life-size Batmobile as it will appear in Batman: Arkham Knight (and it does look pretty bad-ass). But as I was saying, I was not prepared for Saturday, and the crowds and the heat gave my sick head the woozies, so the best I could muster was an awkward photo of a stationary object.
I had also intended to visit the DC panel for Batman’s 75th Anniversary, but because I had attended the Marvel All Access panel in the same room right before that, I thought I could just stay in the room (like they do at virtually every other convention), but instead we were kicked out, and sent to the back of the line - which of course meant that if you attended one panel, there was no way you could attend the other. So, my bad, but also Fan Expo’s bad.
Previous posts about my visits to convention have gone into detail about my failure to talk to strangers effectively, but I did okay this time. I stopped by Chrissie Zullo's booth, remembering her name from both her stint on a Fables spin-off starring Cinderella and from following her on deviantART. I knew I wanted a print or two, but I wanted to keep a budget and see what else was there, so I briefly mentioned that I was following her on deviantArt and awkwardly wandered away (the only way to leave a booth when you haven’t bought something). But I made mental notes of the prints I liked best.
Eventually, I saw everything I could stand to see, and got sick of being around so many people, and went home to hack up as much chest and sinus goop I could before the next morning.
I slept in a bit on Sunday morning, and arrived just in time to catch one of my favourite panels, DC’s Master Class: Art History, where they get three of their artists to just draw crap for the audience while they talk about their work and their methods.
It was pretty great. No spoileriffic bombs were dropped. Nobody cheered or screamed orgiastically. It was just a lot of interesting information and some cool art made by some cool people. This time, the panel included Yanick Paquette, Francis Manapul, and Jill Thompson. I’d seen Yanick do the same kind of panel in New York, but he kept things fresh, by comparing drawing to composing music - which is something I can actually relate to, since that’s one of my hobbies. (I’m far less good at drawing).
Afterward, Jamie and I caught up for lunch and then I rushed back to Artist Alley in the hopes of picking up some of the prints I had liked. I had been eyeing some of Jill Thompson's prints the day before, but she wasn't around at the time. When I stopped by on Sunday, she was in an involved discussion with another fan about the pitfalls of using kickstarter to fund a project (this one?). So, I had a look through her book of original art for sale, and by golly I was blown away by her art for Delirium’s Party: A Little Endless Storybook. It was beautiful, and I told her so, and purchased a little print of Delirium for myself.
I then returned to Chrissie Zullo, and got into a nice little exchange about being a freelance artist. I mentioned my friend Ashleigh Popplewell again, but didn’t drop her name, because last time I did that, Cat Staggs seemed so disappointed that Ashleigh wasn’t actually at the con that I felt bad for mentioning it. I picked up two prints, and got a third for free (pretty cool, guys). Then I hurried through the comic stacks (which were way overpriced, by the way) and snagged a first edition copy of Doom Patrol: Crawling From the Wreckage by Grant Morrison (that version is out of print now).
After that, I stopped by a trivia game that was all DC questions, and didn’t get a chance to compete, but I knew all of the answers, and would have owned everyone else. Alas!
Finally, I got home, and took the requisite instagram of all the crap I bought, and wrote up a review/editorial about the DC Master Class panel I went to (and you can read that here, if you want!) in the hopes that Fan Expo would realize that we do actually cover conventions, when we go to them.
All in all, my experience on Sunday made me forget just how trying and unpleasant Saturday was, but I’m still disappointed at just how little presence I felt from fans of DC this year.