Sitting back for a moment and really considering this past weekend’s event, it’s difficult to be particularly upset with Hobbystar’s event planning. Despite a Toronto Star report citing the displeasure of several thousand fans who waited in line until 3 p.m. Aug. 25 before discovering single day tickets had sold out two hours prior, in addition to the one convention-goer who had bought a Deluxe Pass and was denied entry, the organizers did as good a job as they could in controlling the crowd and flow of traffic. With that said, the event hit capacity Aug. 25.

I can speak to the over-crowding in the ticket lines, as due to Comic Book Daily being denied media access for Saturday along with other small press outlets, I was technically counted among the “pedestrian attendees” who lined up Saturday morning and waited for about 90 minutes as we slowly moved down the spiraling parking garage entrance and eventually to the bottom of the south building’s parking garage.

This picture was taken at 10:56 a.m., about 20-30 minutes after lining up in the south building’s parking garage.

After nearly an hour, the ticket booth was finally in sight. This picture was taken at 11:32 a.m.

Taken from the bottom of the “line,” I waited with other convention-goers near the barricade separating the mass of people and the actual lineups for tickets. This picture was taken at 11:41 a.m., nearly 15 minutes before I would eventually make it into the convention.

Granted, part of the line moved quite quickly, as the organizers opted to open seven “cash only” booths to increase flow, while there were only two booths that accepted debit. This was frustrating as no notice was given to those in line prior to reaching the bottom, fans only learning of the booth set-up from the security guard stationed opposite the barricade holding the crowd back as they reached the bottom. Once inside on Saturday, the volume of people increased dramatically over the next few hours, making it very difficult to move around despite organizers holding the convention in the largest room possible. Regardless, this didn’t prevent overcrowding, resulting in fans being prevented from coming down to the convention floor from the sixth level, a trend I was all-too-familiar with having attended Fan Expo 2010. Over-crowding had escalated in a matter of hours to the point where if you wanted to leave, you had to understand that you probably weren’t going to be allowed back in. Couple this with the inability to call, BBM, email or tweet anything out (texting seemed to work, strangely), the people inside the convention were effectively cut off from the outside world for as along as they chose to remain in the convention centre.

The front cover to “Skullkickers” Treasure Trove Vol. 1.

The traffic did dissuade me from doing a lot of perusing, although I did manage to get a couple of things. Continuing my quest to collect Gambit titles, I picked up issues 15 and 16 of the 1999 series. These issues feature Rogue prominently, so it was nice to find those for a decent price. I’m only four issues away from completing the series, needing only issue 0.5, 18, 24 and the 2000 annual. I also picked up the Storm and Gambit one-shot set during the Curse of the Mutants story. Also, in addition to my Gambit purchases, I got a number of books from small-press comic creators. I picked up the first issue of Jim Zub‘s Pathfinder series for Dynamite, as well as volume one of the Skullkickers treasure trove which collects issues one through 11 of the series. Jim, who’s from Toronto,  was a really great guy to talk to, so keep an eye out for the forthcoming feature article on him that I’ll be writing later this week. I also chatted with Gibson Quarter, another local artist, and picked up an issue of Undertow he worked on for 7th Wave Comics, as well as a very cool Deadpool print. Finally, I stopped by Fred Kennedy’s table and picked up volume two of Teuton, as well as Son of Gothra, a special preview issue featuring the first chapter to the forthcoming graphic novel. I’m really looking forward to reading through these, additionally adding them to my growing pile of indie comics I plan to feature on Comic Book Daily.

The Serenity RPG book I bought about two-and-a-half years ago.

Unlike past Cons, I didn’t buy anything major. I had, however, been looking for a DC Universe Kyle Rayner action figure for a very long time. As chance would have it, I found it sitting on a vendor’s table. After quickly inquiring about its price, I moved on as I had no cash on me. By the time I returned, it was gone. Obviously. I also wanted to get  a cool looking Legend of Zelda t-shirt with the triforce in the centre, but when I went to buy one, they were all sold out in my size. Naturally.

The silver lining of my convention experience however was the continuation of another fandom quest I’ve undertaken. The pictured book is the Serenity Role-Playing Game book, a game which works much like any other Dungeons and Dragons type game. I purchased the book in March 2010 before Wizard World Toronto, and since then I’ve gradually added more signatures from members of the show/film’s cast.

At this point I’ve collected four autographs belonging to the core nine members of the cast, including Jewel Staite, Summer Glau Sean Maher and now Alan Tudyk, best known for his role as “Wash” in the series and film. Near the end of the day on Saturday I finally got around to meeting him. He was a really easy person to chat with and was very gracious when I thanked him for his work on Serenity, one of my favourite movies ever, and on Dollhouse. I subsequently went home happy.

Although I’m disappointed that I missed out on meeting Stan Lee (again), and that I didn’t have time to stop and chat with some of my convention friends in and around Artist Alley, I enjoyed the weekend for the most part. I wouldn’t have minded the Zelda shirt or the Rayner figure, but it’s not the end of the world. Hobbystar put on a good show, albeit with some hiccups that they’re going to have to address prior to next year’s’ event. Regardless, as both a fan and member of the media, I had a good show. Stay tuned to Comic Book Daily throughout the week for my indie creator features, as well as post-Con thoughts from the rest of the CBD staff.