This past August was my fifth trip to attend Toronto Fan Expo. Having gone so many times and watched as every year it grows and gets bigger and better this year I felt like I needed to tell people who might not yet have gone yet why you should attend this awesome event. The list below will give you some idea as to why you should come and experience it for yourself. And maybe next year I'll see you there, because even after 5 times I'm still looking forward to going again.
Third biggest convention in the world
This August Fan Expo Canada had yet another increase in attendance, this year having over 100,000 attendees! According to Forbes, in 2012 the greatest of the Cons, San Diego Comic Con, had an attendance of about 125,000. New York Comic Con had about 116,000 in the same year. That leaves Fan Expo's 100,000+ in third place in the world as far as my research could find. With that many fans comes tons of floor space, top notch stars and attractions
For Canadians, no need to cross the border
Unlike San Diego or New York, this one is right in Toronto, Ontario, Canada making it central to millions of nerdy Canucks and within easy reach of Northern US fans. A world class event that we can get to without as much travel and located right at the base of the CN Tower.
Lots of Free Fun
Comic conventions can be real wallet busters. Of course the ticket price to get in is unavoidable, as is gas and parking costs if travelling from a distance, but once inside there's a lot of fun that can be had without any further charge. Getting a picture with or signature from a celebrity will cost some money, but there are all kinds of attractions and fun to be had. This year there was the Batmobile from Tim Burton's 1989 film, KITT from Knight Rider, There are many comic writers and artists who will be signing for free, board and card game sections, the huge video game section and tons more.
One-On-One With World-Class Comic Creators
Let's be realistic. Most people that come are comic book fans, and Fan Expo is comic fan heaven. When the comic writers, artists and executives aren't taking part in one of the panels that talk about comics' biggest events and stories and or in the awesome sketch duels most of them spend their time on the convention floor and are more than happy to meet and talk with fans. There are mega stars like Todd MacFarlane whom you'll have to wait in a long line up for but even top talent like David Finch or Steve McNiven can be found most of the time just sitting in their sections and are more than willing to talk and sign comics. If you ask early enough you can pay for a commission, or in some rare and lucky cases you get artists like Mark Brooks (X-Men, Spider-Man) who decided to do some sketches on the spot and give them away for free!
Sketch Duels – Your favorite artists, head-to-head
Top tier artists from Marvel and DC draw against each other in front of a room of fans. Their art is projected onto a large screen so you can see as they draw and the artists are asked questions as they go. To top it off both artists' drawings are given away by random drawing to fans in the room. I've been to many of these and these aren't sloppy sketches you get, it's top-notch art like it's ready for print.
Insane Amounts of Memorobilia
No matter what comics, TV shows, movies or games or anything you might like they probably have it at Fan Expo to sell. There's an incredible number of vendors with a huge assortment of products. It may take some searching to find what you want at the price you want it but there's something there for everyone.
Something for everyone
If you've never been to a convention before you might be under the misconception that you'll only be interested if you love comics. While that certainly doesn't hurt there is something at Fan Expo for everyone. There's a section entirely devoted to video games, an entire section for board games, and this year they added a large, new floor section for sports. This year the guests of honor included hockey legend Bobby Orr and the former world champion of every wrestling league ever, the Immortal Hulk Hogan
Meet celebrities (autographs/photos/more)
Speaking of Hulk Hogan, this year I got to meet my childhood hero himself, the Hulkster. I got to talk with him for a while as well as get a picture making it a day I'll never forget.
Fan Expo has been getting more celebrity guests every year with some tremendous stars coming out. This year they had stars of the incredibly popular Walking Dead series as well as Nathan Fillion, Stan Lee, and a variety of other celebs from TV and movies from a variety of genres as well as comic stars.
To get up close and personal for an autograph or photo with them will usually cost you extra but for what might be a once in a lifetime opportunity for many fans it's worth it.
Experience New Things First
Like the other big comic conventions Fan Expo has some great new things to try. At last year's Fan Expo I and many other fans were able to try Halo 4 weeks before it's public release and this year there were
other pre-release games to be played. The comic panels always talk about the newest events and often make share news from the big publishers for the first time. If you're looking for the biggest press releases of course there's nothing bigger than San Diego Comic Con, but Fan Expo will still give you some good stories to tell and news to share with your friends.
Get to see fellow geeks being proud (costumes)
There's something special about seeing tens of thousands of people being proud about their geeky interests. The first thing I saw upon entering the Expo this year was a set of storm troopers walk by with a moving and beeping droid in front of them. Awesome. This along with numerous Spider-Men, Wolverines, Batmen, and men and women dressed as tons of other characters make these kinds of conventions really special. And yes, terribly geeky. But in a great way.