One of the biggest comic conventions, C2E2, went down this past weekend in Chicago, hosting a whole slew of big names in the comics’ biz. But, it shouldn’t take all the glory. Wizard World held their annual Comic Con in Toronto over Saturday and Sunday this past weekend, featuring a bunch of special guests of their own. Despite the fact that C2E2 was going on, and FanExpo Toronto is only a few months away, the list of celebrities, the variety of booths, and the Q&A panels were more than worth the entrance price. As with most of the smaller cons, there wasn’t any groundbreaking news from publishing houses or production companies but there were still a fair share of highlights from the weekend. Check out the scoop on Wizard World Toronto below along with a huge image gallery.
To offer a brief history of Toronto Cons, there’s some bad blood to say the least. The most famous comic provider in Toronto, Silver Snail Comics, refuses to attend Wizard World events, and they exclusively set up at FanExpo. Not to mention the free two-day con that happened just a few months back, which did not help the turnout for this past weekend. For whatever reason, in an industry that needs as much partnership as it can get, the two Cons in Toronto have never seen eye to eye. This year’s Wizard World was one day shorter than past years, but it was packed with big names from across the geek culture board.
When the doors opened on Saturday morning, fans pushed through to make their way to the big celeb tables including the cast of Being Human, Paul Wesley and Torrey Devitto from The Vampire Diaries, the always lovely, Jeri Ryan from Star Trek: Voyager, plus a massive number of big name comic artists.
The benefit of bringing in such a wide range of celebrities is that there is something, or someone, for everyone. Whether you’re a Dr. Who fanatic, a Pokémon Card master, or just a plain old comic collector, at cons like this, there’s plenty to go around. Without having to wait hours in line to meet your favorite artist, or your TV idol, the smaller crowd afforded the opportunity for fans to have longer discussions with the guests. For those at the Con to hunt for their own comic collection, unlike most cons, people actually had time to sift through the bins to find a new prized possession.
As with most cons, other than the bag full of goodies that you leave with, the most popular activities of the weekend were the various panels and Q&A sessions. Dedicated fans lined up for intimate sessions with their favorite stars, artists, and writers.
Michael Golden was a big deal back the 70s, introducing characters like Rogue to the X-Men universe, while defining other heroes like Dr. Strange and Batman. After over 35 years in the industry, it’s safe to say the man knows how to tell a story. Michael Golden is of the most humble men you could imagine. Comics may not offer the same fame and glory as the film or TV industry, but his panel was more like a conversation with your father, offering advice on how to succeed in life.
Golden is still hard at work today, and he shows no signs of slowing down. While he may not be as big of a deal as Neal Adams or Jack Kirby, he offered some sound advice to aspiring comic writers. If there was anything to take away from the panel on how to tell a story it was keep it simple and answer the six questions of who, what, why, where, when, and how. If you do that, then you’ll capture an audience in no time.
Vampire Lore and Other Urban Legends with Dr. Rebecca Housel
Dr. Housel is a popular culture fanatic as well as a professor who specializes in the sociology, philosophy, and history surrounding our most infamous monsters. She’s got a soft spot in her heart for all things related to vampires and lycanthropes, and she’s not afraid to talk about them in relation to contemporary society. In an industry so dominated by men, it was a pleasure to see her speak about monsters and lore with such passion.
During her panel she glossed over the history of vampire lore stretching all the way back to Adam and Eve and bringing it up to speed with the Twilight Craze. It was also nice to see that she seemed to have a little contempt for current vampire trends. Unfortunately, however, at one point she did mention that the 9-11 attacks were responsible for societies move toward the vampire/zombie trend, without any real explanation. Other than that, the crowd loved her. She has written several books about the philosophy of pop culture and they’re worth a gander.
Being Human Panel
Being Human is one of those shows that, though it is not well know by the masses, breeds a huge, dedicated fan base who love it more than anything in the world. The three stars of the show, Sam Huntington, Sam Witwer, and Meaghan Rath were all present to discuss their double lives in the show. The revealed a load of shenanigans that happened behind the scenes and were more than happy to answer any questions from their fans. The lineup for their panel was one of the biggest of the show, with people waiting for about an hour to get in on the action.
Breaking Into Comics: International Invasion with John McCrea, Jock, and Javi Fernandez
The three biggest artists at the con held a panel about breaking into comics. Though, as these things tend to go, it turned into stories about their personal trials and tribulations and their quest to break into the industry. The two veterans, Jock (Detective Comics), John McCrea (Hitman) teamed up on the newbie, Javi Fernandez (Captain America), for some fun while giving their advice on how to be a comic artist.
All three artists are international discussed the difficulty of working with deadlines, working in North America, and how social media has made their lives so much easier. These three are killing it in the industry right now, and you should keep your eye on them if you haven’t been already.
Jeri Ryan Q&A
The lovely Seven of Nine was bar none the biggest attraction of the weekend, but what would you expect with the blonde bombshell strutting her stuff in a room full of geeks? Regardless Jeri Ryan seemed to love it just as much as the fans. She’s an avid Tweeter and she fully submerges herself in the culture. It’s always a pleasure to see celebs genuinely interacting with admirers.
Comic Scene Preview 2012 with Ken Lashley, Marcus To, and Marco Rudy
Of the comic panels, this one was by far the funniest. Marcus To (Red Robin) with Marco Rudy (Swamp Thing), and the big, bad, and hilarious Ken Lashley (Star Wars) were a dream team. Lashley and To had stories for just about everything, from their best memories, to their strangest con moments, while Marco on the other hand, could barely stop laughing long enough to get in his own tales of the trade.
If I learned one thing this weekend it’s that artists get very, very strange requests for commission artwork. Lashely spoke of a “gentleman” who asked for a Janet Jackson version of Kitty Pride…posing naked. It’s safe to assume he didn’t end up doing it.
Tyler Kirkham (Green Lantern Corps, The Darkness), and Mike Del Mundo (Venom, The Amazing Spiderman) teamed up for a panel all about superheroes. Though all the panels were full of great personal stories, this one stood out because it proved that people who work in comics are just the kindest people out there. Del Muno and Kikham were unbelievably modest and they loved talking to their fans.
Mike Del Mundo spoke about the tough aspects of the job: staying up late hours, having only one day to do a last minute cover, and having to keep up with current hero costumes. Tyler Kirkham spoke about the difficulty of coming up with new designs in the New 52, and the need to work through self-criticism in the comics industry. Tyler spoke of a horror project he’s got coming up in the next few months, so stay tuned for more news on that.
This is only a short list of attractions at the con this year, for more information you check out the website here. On top of the guests mentioned above, were a whole crop of enthusiastic artists and writers so stay tuned for some reviews and interviews coming up in the near future. And of course, there were an insane amount of comics to browse where I picked up a decent bag of comics from all eras for dirt-cheap prices (yes you should be jealous). Although this was not the biggest con in the world, nor the best attended, but for those who did attend, they left with a lot more than they came with.
All photo credits: Lonnie S. Nadler (Lonmonster)