Canada’s largest comic-con Fan Expo broke some records this year, with well over 100,000 attendees and 900 retailers, artists and exhibitors descending upon Toronto’s Metro Convention Centre. Roughly about the same size of New York Comic Con this year it occupied both buildings for the first time.
The significance of the Canadian market was not lost on American publishers like Valiant and Dark Horse who had booths, as well as the Big Two – Marvel and DC, who ran portfolio reviews and a series of panels. Nor was it lost on the long list of celebrity guests headlined the show. Firefly’s Nathan Fillion and Gina Torres, and the many cast members of the breakout hit The Walking Dead were huge hits. On the comic talent side, Mike Mignola, Tony Daniel, Mark Brooks, Steve Epting and many others flew in from the US to join Canadian names like Steve McNiven, David Finch, and Yanick Paquette.
The four day event drew fans from hundreds of miles away – a good mix that skewed to a younger crowd. The cosplay was wildly inventive, covering a wide spectrum of movie, superhero, anime, and steampunk genres. Like at other conventions, among the younger set Homestuck, Adventure Time and Minecraft were very popular costumes. And there were also many first time con goers in regular street clothes who were there just to gawk and absorb.
There were hiccups, of course. Crowd control was an issue at times, especially at the end of the day and for the Walking Dead panel, but nowhere near the dangerous levels at New York Comic Con last year. Many retail establishments like the chain Tim Horton’s were caught by surprise and ran out of donuts, something you would never see in San Diego Comic Con where local businesses do their best to capitalize on the show.
Now the big question for the future is the sale of the Fan Expo, along with its sister events FanExpo Vancouver and Toronto ComiCon, by long time organizer Hobbystar Marketing to the international corporation Informa. The $3B conglomerate is known for their trade shows and business publications but not for running popular consumer events.
For more con coverage and photos visit my blog nerdygal.com or twitter @amychu.