Con Report Thursday

Ah, the first day of Fan Expo 2011. It was busy, but not too busy (which was nice). I do, however, think that things are just going to get busier from here on out.

Before I begin, I should probably do the obligatory “suggestions for con-goers” such as: be sure to wear uber-comfy shoes (I wore just comfy shoes and my feet are killing me), arrive early, bring your own food (seriously, a can of Diet Coke and a boiled hotdog was, like, $10), try not to act like an asshat (in fact, go with the assumption that you already are one and dial it back from there). Also, washing with soap, using deodorant, and brushing your teeth would also be appreciated (I’m aware it’s summer but there are small things you can do to make this experience more pleasurable for everyone around you; you’re precluded from this request if you have a valid medical condition that prevents you from doing all or some of these things). Oh, this only happened once today but if your cat pees on you or some of your clothing, don’t wear it, mmmkay?

I’ve heard it from a couple of sources, so I feel comfortable confirming this here (even if they don’t want me to publish their names): apparently, this is the first year that Fan Expo has capped ticket sales (I would have thought that capping ticket sales would have been common sense but it proves the old adage “common sense isn’t actually all that common”). During the epic failure that unfolded last year (especially on the Saturday), I had my suspicions that they were just selling as many tickets as they could, so it’s nice to have confirmation that it was just a cash grab and that they really didn’t take fire codes, attendee safety, and a bunch of pissed off con-goers (who had been locked out of the building for a significant amount of time) into consideration.

That being said, I have to hand it to the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, its security firm, and Hobbystar. The chaos seemed controlled. There are Safety Officers  (I think they’re called Safety Ambassadors) on-hand (hired by the same firm that provides the security guards) to ensure that the people entering the building was well within fire code allowances and just to keep crowd control. The Toronto Police Service also made a brief appearance (from what I can tell, they were just surveying the crowd and weren’t actually called in to make an arrest or anything like that). The larger space definitely helps give the illusion that there are less people than there actually are, which means that it’s not so bloody claustrophobic as it was last year. The only downside to capped ticket sales is the fact that press/media passes were limited for Saturday (I don’t have confirmation on this but I’d hazard a guess that exhibitor passes and supplemental guest passes (e.g., for a personal assistant or a buddy to accompany the guest/help out/etc.) were also tightly controlled). That being said, Comic Book Daily is one of the few media outlets that managed to get a pass for all four days, so never fear, True Believers, we’ve got you covered.

Tonight, I attended a “Breaking into Comics the Marvel Way” panel, which was live blogged by Marvel Comics. It’s similar advice as previous years’ (I think they have a panel like this every year): you need to publish (even if its self publishing or web comics content), you need to network, and it’s better if you have interests/experiences beyond comics to recommend you (most of the panel speakers were working in different industries when they broke into comics). Underscoring all of this is, of course, is the reason why most people want to get into the industry: they love comics. However, like most things, you need more than that to succeed.

The first day was pretty chill. I picked up some 2nd edition Dungeons and Dragons books (Monstrous Manual and the DM Guide) and ordered two sketched from the most awesome Agnes Garbowska.  I’m happy to report that there are some pretty good deals to be had (I saw more than one Exhibitor with pretty decent trades and hardcovers on for 50% off – one was even 50% off of US Cover). I’m mostly eying purchases in artist’s alley (so many crafty persons!). Not much to report on in terms of costumes or panels. Things will get ramped up tomorrow and Saturday.

Speaking of panels, I have a boatload to go to so I hope to be able to deliver some news. I’m also overseeing a sketching duel (Women of Comics: Fan Expo Edition with Jill Thompson and Agnes Garbowska, 5:30pm in Room 716) and co-moderating a panel with Brent Chittenden (The Four Colour Marriage: Couples in Comics, 4pm in Room 714). Sadly, this means I’ll miss the “Remembering Frightenstein” panel (5pm in Room 715B) but I think it’s a good tradeoff.

Sadly, Ethan Van Sciver will not be able to make it to Fan Expo 2011. I was looking forward to meting and (possibly) interviewing him if he had the time. Chris Claremont was apparently waylaid on his way to the con (I heard mention that he was stuck at an airport) so hopefully he’ll be there tomorrow.

Shelley Smarz is a comic book scholar and a business researcher. She went “Squeeish!” more than a couple of times during the day but has a budget and is going to stick with it (what this actually means is that she’s not going to spend money until the last day of con and then just go bananas).

Shelley Smarz
Shelley Smarz
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