If you’re a fan of comics, sci-fi, anime, horror, video games or other gaming, Fan Expo is the ultimate Canadian convention to go to.
This was my third year attending Fan Expo and every year they have had amazing guests and I’ve had an amazing time. Fans come out dressed up in every kind of costume you could imagine, aspiring creators line the “artist’s alley”, studios fill other large sections and merchants with all kinds of toys, comics, games and memorabilia fill every spot that’s left.
There were many stars to see this year, including William Shatner, James Marsters (Spike of Buffy fame, and Brainiac from Smallville), Summer Glau from Firefly/Serenity, Michael Dorn, and many more.
But hey, you’re here on comicsbulletin so, like me, you’re biggest nerd love is for comics and that’s where Fan Expo shines brightest. Marvel, DC and Boom! studios all had booths setup highlighting their latest comics and dozens of major comic stars were ready and waiting to sign autographs or to make sketches (for a fee) for fans.
At Fan Expo this year one lucky room full of fans was able to watch a sketch duel as DC Batman artist Gary Frank took on Marvel’s top artist of Siege and Thor fame, Olivier Coipel as each artist had 50 minutes to draw a picture of a fan requested character, while simultaneously answering fan questions. In the end both artists produced incredible, inked pictures of X-man Nightcrawler and some lucky fans got to take each picture home. As fascinating as it was watching the artists work, perhaps even better was hearing their stories and advice as they answered questions. Particularly interesting was hearing Image co-founder Jim Valentino talk about the early days of Image Comics and the comic crash of the ’90s.
But the highlight of the event for me, and I’m sure for thousands of others, was the attendance of living legend Stan “The Man” Lee! Even at 87 years old Stan was full of energy and always happy to talk to fans, pose for pictures, and sign his autograph on any comic handed to him. For those guests who had managed to get their hands on the very limited VIP tickets, there was even a VIP reception party with Stan himself on Friday night. When I was able to talk to Stan briefly and asked him what he thought of Toronto so far he answered with a big smile on his face, “Toronto’s a fantastic city, just fantastic. Maybe one of the greatest in the world. The people are terrible, but the city’s fantastic”.
Describing the full experience at Fan Expo is kind of like trying to describe fireworks to someone who’s never seen them. You just kind of have to experience it to really get it. Needless to say, this humble reviewer had an amazing time. And, as Michael Dorn (Worf from Star Trek: The Next Generation) commented when I was able to ask him about his thoughts on the Fan Expo: “It’s fantastic. It’s one of the biggest and one of the most organized that I’ve ever been to”. Worf’s recommendation is more than good enough for me.