[FEATURE] Montreal ComicCon 2011!

This past weekend kicked off Montreal Comiccon (that’s in Canada), and it was without a doubt the biggest and best in it’s brief six-year history. Though the convention is fairly new, the 15,000 attendees, the massive list of celebrities (including Mr. Stan Lee himself), and the stunning exhibitions speak volumes. Though the event is no Sand Diego ComicCon, it continues to progress towards new heights each year, and deserves some attention. As with most Cons, there was not much groundbreaking news revealed however, there were some incredible highlights from the weekend including panels from Gail Simone, Adam West, the legendary Neal Adams, and many more that you can check out after the jump. Read on for the skinny…

montrealcomicon Six years ago Montreal Comiccon could have been mistaken for a low budget post-apocalyptic film set about the last comic convention on earth. I doubt that anyone present that day imagined that it would become the success it is today. Every year the folks in Montreal outdo themselves. Bringing in guests and fans from around the world, Montreal Comiccon had something for everyone. Whether you’re into silver age comics, WWE wrestilng, or Magic the Gathering, there was something to float everyone’s boat.

Gail Simone

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Gail Simone is indisputably the most progressive female writer in comics today. In a medium that is almost entirely dominated by men, Simone has not only found a way into the industry, but found a way to flourish. Gail Simone has almost single handedly raised popular female characters from a position of degradation into a position of high esteem. Without her, we would not have the many strong and pertinent female characters we have today. Simone lets us see something other than Superman’s bulging junk. Her work attracts female readers, and gives them strong heroes to look up to.

I had the chance to sit in on Gail’s panel this weekend and she is every bit as great a person as she is a writer. Gail told the story of how she broke into comics, and it’s likely not one you’ve heard before. Gail owned a salon where she worked as a hairdresser. However, after several years she felt she needed another creative outlet and she decided to return to her childhood love for writing. In an age where comics were overrun with powerful male characters, Gail started a little site called ‘Women in Refrigerators’. On the site she would write short opinion pieces, fan fiction, and rants with a feminist spice about the current comic book culture. Eventually someone noticed her and offered her a job writing ‘The Simpsons’ comics. It has been nearly ten years since that time, and she remains one of the leading writers over at DC. Look out for her newest series ‘Batgirl’ and ‘Firestorm’ as part of The New 52.

Neal Adams

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Perhaps the most legendary comic book artist of all time, Neal Adams is a man to behold. Every bit as rough and tough as the characters he creates, Adams could easily be mistaken for Hal Jordan, or as he said in his panel Hal’s father. Neal Adams helped to re-create all of the infamous heroes we love, including ‘Green Lantern’, ‘Superman’, ‘Batman’, ‘The X-Men’, and ‘Deadman’. Without this man’s work, comic art would not nearly be at the aesthetic height it finds itself at today.

Adams not only illustrates, but he’s also a collaborative creator who never fails to bring new ideas to the drawing board. Fighting for characters like John Stewart, the first black Green Lantern, and an advocate of human rights, Adams is steadfast in his progressive thinking and his ability to care for others. It is hard to describe this man, but he is full of stories, jokes, and smiles yet you still get the feeling that he’d knock you out if you uttered the wrong words.

Neal is 70 years old, but shows no signs of slowing down any time soon, still holding an active role at DC and Marvel. Neal revealed some news about an upcoming project at Marvel, but he threatened us and I fear for my life so, I’ll unfortunately have to save it for later…but I promise it’s worth the wait!

Anthony Del Col and Conor McCreery (Kill Shakespeare Co-Creators)

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Perhaps you’ve heard of a little project over at IDW called ‘Kill Shakespeare’. Anthony Del Col and Conor McCreery act as business partners and co-writers of the epic adventure, alongside Andy Belanger as the wonderful artist. The concept for the book is quite simple, take all of Shakespeare’s greatest heroes like Hamlet and Romeo, stack them up against Shakespeare’s greatest foes like Richard III and Lady Macbeth, toss them all into one world together and see what mayhem ensues.

I was fortunate enough to sit in on a two panels with the vibrant, young, and open-minded creators to hear their thoughts about breaking into the comics industry. Unlike most big comic writers out there, these two had never written comics before. However, when the came up for the idea for Kill Bill Shakespeare they knew they were sitting on something big. In an effort to sell the project to publishers while maintaining the rights to the work, Anthony and Conor laid out an impressive business plan, pitched to investors, and made their way into the comics industry.

The co-creators gave some incredible advice for young folks looking to break into comics. They stressed that you must put equal effort, if not more, into the business aspect of your idea as you do into the artistic aspect. Though it may not be fun to sit and do budgets and business models, it is a necessary step to take if you plan to endeavor into the comics industry today. The two often give seminars to high-school students, and are some of the most fun and most business savvy creators out there.

Stay tuned for a full series review of Kill Shakespeare and interview with the Anthony and Conor in the next few weeks.

Stan Lee

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The man, the legend, the notorious, Mr. Stan Lee needs no introduction. Lee was the guest of honor at this year’s Montreal ComicCon and boy did he attract a crowd. If any of you have been to a convention that was fortunate enough to have Stan Lee, you know how crazy things can get. Seriously, Stan Lee makes middle-aged men scream like 12-year-old girls scream for Justin Bieber. I barely even got a chance to see the man because of the massive crowds of people lined up for photo ops. Thousands of fans not only waited in line for hours but paid fifty bucks a pop for his autograph.

The 1966 Batmobile, Adam West, and Burt Ward

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Long before Christian Bale and Christopher Nolan, there was a little show called ‘Batman’ starring Adam West and Burt Ward. The original Batman and Robin were “kicking butt” on prime time TV showing a much more light-hearted side of Gotham. Though the men are past their prime, they are forever cultural icons responsible for wondrous childhood memories. Plus the Batmobile still looks wicked.

Doug Bradley

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For you horror fanatics out there, the terrifying horror personality, Pinhead was in attendance at the con. His portrayal in the original Hellraiser film left audiences in tears with haunting lines such as, “I will tear your soul apart.”

Heroes of the North

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Chances are that most of you, if not all, have never seen or heard of the show ‘Heroes of the North’. It’s an Internet mini-series about superheroes and villains in the wonderful country that is Canada. Yes, the show is low budget, yes it is host to devastating acting, but it guarantee that if you watch one of the five minute episodes, you’ll be hooked. I’m not sure what’s so appealing about the show (see image below), but for some reason it’s becoming a huge cult classic in Canada. You can watch all the episodes online for free right here.

James Marsters

Now we’ve got Twilight, but before the days of sparkling vamps, there was Buffy, the amazing supernatural horror-comedy. Somewhat responsible for bringing vampires into wide popularity, Buffy lasted for seven full seasons, excluding the spin off show, Angel. Buffy is still very much so alive with the comics and paraphernalia all over novelty shops. James Marsters played the bleached blond punk-inspired vampire, Spike on the hit show. Montreal Comiccon was host to several more of the show’s actors, such as Mercedes McNab and Clare Kramer.

Sgt Slaughter (WWE)

I must admit that I’ve always been a sucker for WWE. I don’t know if it’s the hilarity of the organization, the awesomeness of the costumes, or simply because it evokes a sense of nostalgia for my childhood with The Ultimate Warrior and Macho Man Randy Savage, but I love it. I don’t watch it anymore, but you better bet your ass that if Sgt. Slaughter is in town I’m going to see him. I don’t think this man understands that he’s no longer a wrestler because not for one moment was he out of character, pumping out classic lines and choke slamming fans at the autograph table.

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 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). Hope to see you there next year!