Another year, another Fan Expo. Like most of this decade, I hummed and hawed about going. In the end I decided it was worth the trip as my nine-year old son John hadn’t been before; he’s been to all the other shows in Ontario but not “the big one”. We planned for the Friday as it was a full day but wouldn’t be crazy. Friday price: $35 for adults, $10 for children. $20 for parking close by, gas and lunch additional.
I should preface my interest and level of interaction for “comic” shows first off: I don’t read current Marvel or DC comics and have mostly stopped collecting original art, so there’s no need for me to attend panels or line up in Artist’s Alley. I’m there to wander around the floor, look for unique books or great deals, and chat with friends.
Since John was coming along I asked him what he was interested in; nothing in particular. When I started taking him to shows he was extremely excited to get to Artist’s Alley; I asked him why and he said he wanted to meet Hergé. When I told him he was dead he didn’t care about meeting any artists: tough crowd. He came with a $40 budget of saved allowance money and was hesitant to spend frivolously.
John likes to come to the shows but inevitably winds up bored as I stop and talk to various people for 30-60 minutes each. At smaller shows I let him wander close to me but Fan Expo is so busy I was concerned about letting him out of my sight, so he languished beside me as I chatted with Anthony Falcone and George Zotti at the RAID Studio booth, then with Michael Cho.
Michael Cho is my favourite Canadian artist and I try to get something from him whenever I can, but he’s become so popular his covers are out of my reach. I was able to get this amazing Spirit piece based on Wally Wood’s space story.
We decided to approach the show methodically; go aisle by aisle through each section. We started with the corporate section, working through publishers, toy manufacturers and then the giant video games portion. We waited in line to get into the toy manufacturer’s pop-up stores and saw lots of convention exclusives but no deals. There were giant lines at every video game booth so we skipped those and John did get a chance to play some games at one of the PC manufacturer’s booths.
Then we worked our way through artist’s alley and the comic aisles. Many, many big names attended this Fan Expo and I was really shocked how much original art was going for from the artists. I guess it was good I got out when I did.
The RAID Studio has launched their anthology title RAID.One at Fan Expo so I was anxious to pick up a copy and get it signed by everyone there; managed to get nine signatures. It’s available from their website if you can’t get one at a show. I also found a booth selling books at buy one get one free so I picked up four Jason books from Fantagraphics I didn’t have and my first Artist’s Edition portfolio for $7.50; at that price I figured why not. Further wandering let me to some nice Treasury Editions, and I snagged a beautiful copy of #15. Also managed to get a copy of the latest Illustrated Press book, Reynold Brown; full cover converted to Canadian, but it’s generally not available in Canada.
At this point John was grumbling about lunch so we checked out what was available: seemed to be a Pizza Pizza monopoly. John wanted Five Guys since we were in the big city so he had to wait until we were done the show floor. To this point many things had caught his eye but none worth spending his savings on.
As we wandered through the toy section we came across someone with piles of Star Wars figures for sale: some $5, some three for $30, some more. He picked through everything but didn’t commit until we saw a seven figure set of Episode 7 stormtroopers for $40, and all at once his money was gone.
On our way out we stopped at another booth and I negotiated a $5 deal for an Episode 1 vehicle with figure, John’s allowance now also gone. At this point John has spent all his money and was ready to leave; why hang around if you can’t buy?
Driving home I interrogated John about the show and its worth. Would he want to come back? Probably not; he can find things he likes for less money at the other shows we go to.
I stopped bringing my kids to shows because they touch and want everything, and are bored by the things that interest me, so I can relate.
I’m hearing lots of negative criticism of the show this year but this is nothing new. There’s always a group of people who’ll see the glass half empty… or glass half full and overstate how great it was. However, considering that many people will be away during Labour Day weekend, or attend one of the many other festivities around the city instead, or not attend at all since families will need to prep for school the following Tuesday, logically speaking, overall attendance should be lower compared to pre-Labour Day weekend schedule. However, every year they seem to claim record turn out. I suppose it’s possible… but unlikely:
Also, if Labour Day weekend is their new schedule, perhaps the show dates should be shifted to Fri to Mon instead. I don’t see the point of a slow half day Thursday when a full Monday is possible.
Charlie that attendance chart looks like something out of Overstreet – it never goes down^-^!
I really enjoyed this post Scott. It took me back to when I first introduced my daughter to Fan Expo. Much smaller back then. Pretty good haul too!