Fan Expo is Almost Upon Us

Slash and Mummy Guitar Jam Fan Expo

And so my friends, we find ourselves a week away from the largest of the Canadian comic conventions, Fan Expo. Cosplayers are furiously working on their costumes, collectors are going over their lists, store owners are packing up product, and legions of fans are getting ready to descend upon the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. This year looks like it will be the convention’s biggest yet with the action not in one, but both of the buildings.

The last couple of years have seen the South Building packed to capacity, so it is refreshing that both the North and South structures will be used this year. This will bring its own challenges I’m sure, but with the crowd moving between both areas I feel like we all have a fighting chance not to be crushed by a wall of humanity. It is also my hope that if you want to leave at some point and grab lunch you’ll no longer be locked out by the Fire Marshall because there will be plenty of space.

Fan Expo released its schedule and floor plan today and it looks like the South Building will be mostly unchanged and will contain artist’s alley, comic book dealers, publishers, and video game companies. The North Building will house sports dealers and all the Hollywood and Sports Stars for photographs and signing areas.

I’ve attended only one other event that uses both buildings: The Canadian International Autoshow. Using both buildings works pretty well but there is a bit of a bottle neck going up the escalator from the South Building to get to the North Building. So if you have any plans to attend panels and get autographs you might want to give yourself plenty of time for travel.

I am interested to see how the Sports Section will work out.  The guest list has some very big names and it is a total myth that comic book or video game nerds aren’t also sports nerds. There is huge crossover appeal. And really, who doesn’t want to see Hulk Hogan (well, besides the Iron Sheik, who would yell and threaten to make him humble).

The schedule shows a tonne of interesting panels but I would encourage you to check out the panels on The Canadian Superhero Renaissance, The Golden Age of Canadian Comics, the Captain Canuck World Premiere, and the Q&A with the members of the Royal Academy of Illustration and Design (the RAID studio). Fan Expo provides us with a venue to celebrate our geeky Canadian Heritage proudly, so don’t miss out.

All of us here at the Comic Book Daily offices get pretty excited about Fan Expo and are looking forward to this year’s extravaganza. Scott, Stanley, Leigh, Ed, Walt and I will all be there so if you see us around be sure to say hello; we love to hear about your passion for all things comic book.

Anthony Falcone
Anthony Falcone

Anthony Falcone is a freelance writer living in Toronto and he is the Ayatollah of Rocknrolla. You should definitely follow him on Twitter.

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10 years ago

Nice article. I love hearing and reading about the excitement from fans at this time of year. Although, I really don’t want to diminish the experience for people, and I’m not a cynic, or a hipster douche or want to come off as the guy who’s talking smack for the sake of appearing different, but is anyone else getting tired of the bullsh!t that is Fan Expo?

Bear with me for a second because I saw something this year that was a deal breaker for me and history has shown me that it will not get better as time goes on.

I’ve noticed a decline in my enjoyment of Fan Expo over the years which is why I enjoy reading other people’s opinions and articles about how much they’re looking forward to going. I don’t want to sound like the old man in the room but I do remember when I had a lot of fun with Fan Expo. What’s really done it for me is how comic books have taken a backseat at Fan Expo in favour of pop culture in general. There seems to be fewer and fewer actual comic retailers there and the ones that do show up, frankly, go out of their way to gouge people. Even if I were to haggle prices down, they’re so overpriced that I doubt I’d be getting any sort of deal – at least not any deal that I couldn’t find cheaper on e-bay. I also noticed something else, finding a specific toy is becoming difficult as well. I only noticed this because the past few years I’ve been trying to complete my Marvel Legends collection, and they’ve become scarce – I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing. Last year and this spring, I went with the full intention of picking up missing GI Joes from the Pursuit of Cobra line – nothing rare, just figures I missed. I think I saw two retailers selling Joes, and I had all of the ones they were selling. Also, I wanted to pick up a Luke Cage Marvel Universe figure. Again, fewer people selling Marvel Universe figures and no one had the figures I wanted or needed (it was at a retailer that I found out that apparently Luke Cage had distribution errors causing some locations to have numerous figures delivered while other locations had very few).

I was incredibly disappointed with the Marvel and DC booths last year. They were both so unbelievably lacklustre. I had heard about Marvel giving out free Avengers ID cards and other cool swag at the New York Comiccon and I was hoping to get my hands on one. I really liked those cards but no they didn’t have them. I don’t think they gave out anything.

They only thing I picked up was a Before Watchmen poster and a few buttons at the DC booth. Other than that there was nothing. It’s like Marvel and DC just showed up to make an appearance, nothing more, but I digress.

I came to realize the connection between the high comic prices and general lack of figures for sale. I used to rag on the retailers for their prices. I used to get pissed – real pissed at a) what they didn’t have and b) the cost, until I saw how much THEY pay for a booth.

Wow. Just WOW.

$896 (each) for 1 -2 booths!
$800 (each) if you get 3 or more! What savings!

No wonder I’m seeing fewer and fewer figures. No wonder I’m seeing key comics that are triple list price. Retailers can’t afford to have low ticket items or items that likely won’t sell and that’s a serious problem because I (and my friends) go to Fan Expo looking for deals. Sadly those days are long gone (and I do remember them).

And that’s too bad because there’s so much that I do enjoy. The poorly thought out costumes, the fantastic (and they are all great) seminars, all the fans, the joy on people’s (especially kids) faces, the crowds (and I hate people), artist alley, the comic guests, the celebrities, the (few) exclusives. All of it.

Well, almost all of it. The one thing I won’t miss is the price of admission. I’m going to start off by saying that the concept of paying money to go some place to spend money has always irked me. I’ve always had a problem with conventions and tradeshows. I’m not ignorant to the costs that have to be paid but can you imagine if shopping malls followed this philosophy? It was a major reason why my wife and I stopped going to Costco – that and we got tired of spending $400 every time we went. But I can’t spend money on admission and not spend money at Fan Expo. That would be a complete waste. The problem is that it’s been getting easier every year to say ‘no thanks’ because of lack of stuff to buy (really how many more t-shirts and hoodies does one need?), and I think this will be the year I can but won’t go.

I mentioned earlier that I saw something that was a deal breaker. It’s borderline insidious and I don’t like it. It’s this shit. It’s admission to see Hulk Hogan. Bear in mind this does not include cost of admission to Fan Expo.

Friday, August 23 $59.00 FIRST PRIORITY SEATING
Friday, August 23 $39.00 PRIORITY SEATING
Friday, August 23 $29.00 GENERAL ADMISSION

$30 to see Hogan speak. Wow that’s a little pricey, but okay. It pisses me off enough that if you spend $10 more you can get ahead of the line but for fuck’s sakes (I’m so sorry for the language but this really bothers me) if I spend $20 more I can get ahead of people with priority seating? Really? Really?

I get the gouging. It sucks but it’s expected when there’s a high volume of people, but it’s the nickel and diming that’s added on top of the gouging that gets me. And to top it off the Hogan show isn’t the only place we see this. Apparently if you buy the (sold out) VIP pass for $499 you get VIP entrance and “first on the floor” VIP. I find this very interesting because my friend has always purchased Premium/Deluxe passes and they’ve always offered 2pm access on Thursday (as opposed to 4pm). I don’t think he’s ever been on the convention floor at 2pm, and he’s always been at the front of the line.

I’ve seen this crap a few times before. Taste it, roll it around in your mouth, savour it, because, and mark my words – It WILL get worse! It will get to the point where the Premium/Deluxe package will be the standard/cheapest ticket. That line up will be the standard line, and if you want to get ahead of that line, you’ll have to shell out an extra $20 – $50 for the “VIP Premium line-up”. They may still sell single day tickets but I wouldn’t be surprised if they phase them out completely and judging by the lines of people who bought the Premium/Deluxe package, I think it’ll happen sooner than later. It really irritates me how some people just associate ‘hobby’ with ‘gouge’.

This doesn’t surprise me and to be perfectly blunt, based off of what I’ve heard from many different people, this is par for the course for Hobby Star. Now I’ve heard that the real issue is Aman Gupta, the CEO. I’ve heard a few retailers say that he’s a flat out asshole who only cares about money – if anyone’s heard different – please correct me, I only bring this up based on the amount of similar accounts from completely different people I’ve heard.

But I’m putting forth the question: Is anyone else getting fed up with Fan Expo? Does this sort of thing happen in San Diego or Chicago or New York? It seems that as Canadians we’re just expected to pay more for things without complaining.

/rant off.
For those going, I hope you guys enjoy yourselves and it’s everything you hope it is. For me, I just don’t think I can do this anymore.

Michael Webb
Michael Webb
10 years ago
Reply to  Nelson

I’ve been collecting comics since I was 9 years old (now 38) and this will be only my 2nd comic convention. I live in a small town and ebay is how I buy comics, but I do expect my will to break and to overpay on some comics I need for my collection. But for those new to conferences, the whole thing is a giant buzz, plus the amount of quality art/prints from independent artists makes it cool. I understand the point about gouging…I paid 1.5 money for a FN/VF copy of Amazing Spider-Man 9 at Ottawa ComicCon, and realize they price outrageously because rubes like me will do it. But I’m still hugely excited for the Fan Expo next week. I’m almost going in willing to be ripped off because it will be awesome just to be there.

10 years ago

Hope you have fun Michael. I REALLY recommend the seminars. They were great.
Last year we used an app called ‘guide book’ that had the entire Fan Expo itinerary on it. It was a life saver. I’ve noticed that this year’s schedule isn’t available yet for the app, so maybe it won’t be available this year.

Ed Campbell
10 years ago
Reply to  Nelson

Nelson… (sidenote) If you are looking for G.I. Joe Pursuit of Cobra and 30th wave stuff, check out Mike just got in a bunch of MOC PoC and 30th stuff.