And it’s Toronto ComiCon once more so of course I am in attendance.
In terms of comic guests this year, the line-up was pretty light on Bronze Age artists for my liking. With representation only from Neal Adams, Larry Hama and the charming Michael Golden from that era, the rest of the comic guests were an assortment of artists who mostly could be described as talented yet early in their career. Michael Golden’s work on the last Fantastic Four issue is spectacular.
Of course, that’s mostly. Established artists who have been around for a bit longer like the amazingly talented Leonard Kirk, Ray Fawkes or Ken Lashley were also present. While there wasn’t the same degree of history in the room, there was definitely a lot of talent. If you’ve ever seen Jim Zub’s Wayward, or Southern Cross written by Becky Cloonan and Andy Belanger, then you have an idea of the incredible talent at this conference.
What’s really of note is to pay a close look at is the artwork of Anthony Marques. With a new comic coming out from Dark Horse Comics, this is a guy that you need to keep an eye on. Former assistant editor at DC Comics on Superman, this guy landed a sweet deal and you need to see his artwork. Ground level stuff is happening here at Toronto Comic-Con and I’m just glad to see it firsthand.
I’m excited that Chris Sprouse is here. Sprouse worked with Alan Moore in creating the fantastic comic, Tom Strong from America’s Best Comics. I have an original sketch by Chris from a few years back and every time I talk with this guy, I get the impression of someone who is decent, hardworking and committed to his art. Just a real pleasure to talk to, especially the way he regards his colleagues. Sprouse is currently doing some work on DC’s Multiversity. Fantastic talent and the type of artist you want to talk to at a comic con.
Ty Templeton is always a blast too. Loved his work on Spider-Man and Justice League International, but what’s really cool about this guy is listening to him share his experience in comics in his comic workshops. This guy’s got a lot of knowledge and hearing him talk about it to a room of wannabe comic writers/sketchers is really entertaining.
But more than the comic offerings, there were the celebrities. Headlining the event was Karen Gillan from Doctor Who fame. Christopher Judge from Stargate SG-1, Terry Farrell from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine was on hand as was most of the cast from Defiance. Chad Coleman from The Walking Dead also made an appearance and J. August Richards, recently of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. was also present among others.
Morena Baccarin was scheduled to make an appearance but was forced to cancel her appearance a week or so in advance. Karen Gillan was also almost a no-show because of shooting schedule demands, but the convention organizers were able to arrange a last-minute fix and chartered a flight for her to show up for late Saturday and Sunday.
While it could be considered a light talent line-up, what really stood out was the sense of genuine enthusiasm the celebrities showed their fans. Whether it was in the autograph sessions or in the panels, the celebs responded to their fans fully and comfortably. If the celebrities were happy, then that must have reflected the way that the con was run. In fact, in my interview with her (to be posted here soon), Terry Farrell recounted how much she loved Toronto and how happy she was to be here. If this city can instill that degree of gusto in visiting celebrities, then Toronto needs more cons.
With respect to other attractions, the 501st Legion Canadian Garrison is a regular and welcome addition to any con. But it has to be said for these guys that they really put their all into their appearances. Their appearances mean some charity is the recipient of a mega amount of fundraising efforts. If it’s either volunteering to show up at an AHL Hockey game, like the one on Friday night co-sponsored by Fan Expo, or simply setting up a stormtrooper target shoot for the Make-a-Wish Foundation, the 501st will be there.
Spock Vegas was also a fun yet fitting addition to the other attractions. With the death of Leonard Nimoy a few weeks back, to see this uncanny impersonator render his performance of Commander Spock was both an entertaining and touching homage to Star Trek’s Vulcan science officer.
There was a fairly good selection of venders this year, but the ones I spoke to felt that business was a little slow. Despite the fact that there were 30,000 guests expected, many guests were apparently reluctant to part with their money. However, not for me. I picked up a few books to fill in the holes of my collection along with some art from Larry Hama and a print from Michael Golden. So, at the very least I feel like I contributed to the economic success of the convention somewhat.
In short, Toronto ComiCon was small, but well-organized and emanating a good sense of morale. It might have been light, but I like to think of the March ComiCon as a bit of an amuse-bouche in preparation for the big Fan Expo event at the end of the summer.
Of course, I’ll be in attendance at that too.