Welcome to the rebellion. The Toronto Fan Expo Sci-Fi /Horror/Anime/Gaming and Comicon started yesterday. Here are few things that stood out to me:
10. The 501st Canadian Legion.
The Canadian garrison of the self-proclaimed "world's premier Imperial Star Wars costuming fan club", made their presence felt with a table right outside the entrance to the hall. You may or may not know that the 501st Legion is comprised of people who make and ear their own stormtrooper and related Star Wars costumes and uniforms. They do appearances, help raise money for charity and share their passion for cos-play with each other.
For those who aren't sure what cosplay is, good old Winkepedia defines it as follows: "Cosplay... short for "costume play", is a type of performance art whose participants outfit themselves, with often elaborate costumes and accessories, as a specific character."
Members of the 501st roamed the convention posing for pictures and spreading the Star Wars love but I do wish the people at the table were more enthusiastic. When I checked them out they seemed tired already and it was only a couple of hours into the day. It's possible they're just shy. It's much easier to interact with strangers from behind a helmet.
Rather than chat me up while he had me in person, the out of uniform "Commanding Officer" handed me his card and suggested I check out the website. And this is right after I told him I had seen the website and was curious about them. If this ass-backwards approach is a common denominator in all stormtrooper business, then it goes pretty far in helping me realize why stormtroopers are such bad blaster shots.
A new social networking site for science fiction and fantasy geeks with one of the best names ever. It looks like Jonathan Lire, formerly of Space: The Imagination Station in Canada, is one of the people behind the idea. They were just inside the main entrance offering a chance to win a Smart Car for joining... IF they happen to get 10, 000 new members to sign over the course of the Fan Expo weekend.
Sure the odds of that car coming into play aren't good, but rather than declare the promotion a bait and switch, they prefer to think of it as optimistic. It';s good encouragement for people to join and to invite others to give it a try. Why not try out a site where you know in advance people won't thumb their noses at your geek credentials?
I took the invite from my friend Casey, who was proudly earing her home-made Battlestar Galactica jacket. Casey is an actress as well as a stunt fight performer. I started to calculate the odds of the car contest getting activated, but then realized you simply don't quote the numbers to a woman who can kick your ass! :)
I wish www.hardcorenerdity.com all the best for it's beta launch.
8. Rue Morgue's dead body.
Rue Morgue the awesome Canadian horror magazine, placed a realistic murder victim on the floor outside their booth and many a passerby were laying down next it to pose for those hard to get "suicide pact" shots that really make your vacation slide shows sing.
7. Rob Walton's gorgeous prints aping Marvel Comic's Secret Invasion Skrull covers.
Cartoonist Walton whipped up a Betty and Veronica cover featuring them as Skrull teens discussing subjugating the boys and a terrific Skrullified version of Mary Jane Watson's first appearance as drawn by John Romita. "Face it tiger, you've hit the jackpot!" Check out more of this brilliant under-used talent at his blog.
Do yourself a favour and check out Rob's collected Ragmop trade paperback. You can find details here.
6. Henry Winkler is super-friendly, focused guy.
With a hilarious run in Arrested Development,very down to earth advice given to Scott Baio over the phone in Scott Baio is Thirty-Nine and Single, and all the excitement over the Bronze Fonz unveiled in Milwaukie, where not a single frame of Happy Days was shot to my recollection). Henry Winkler's popularity has been on a much-deserved upswing.
Rather than stand behind his table, The former Fonz greeted people with a warm, two-handed handshake and walked them to his table. He's big on eye contact and often kept holding their hand or put a hand on their arm as people shared how welcome he was in their home over the years. But his line moved extremely fast. Winkler had given each person some one-on-one time without wasting a minute down to a science. Everyone walked away with a special moment... except me of course.
I was next to shake his hand but then realized two things; I didn't have money for a copy of one of his kid's books or a picture and signature, and I was late for the Hoverboy panel! So I smiled at him, pretending I was with the Father and Son he 'd just greeted and slinked away!
In retrospect, the only thing that would have made his table complete would have been a shark for people to jump over as they approached.
Check out Mr. Winkler's series of Hank Zipper books, about the world's greatest, dyslexic underachiever.
5. Artists' Alley.
I got a bunch of great sketches from this year's bad ass crop of comic scribblers and I hate to say it but the young bucks kicked the older artist's asses this time around. They really went all out and once you get one really hot sketch in your sketchbook, the next guy's got to top it!
The secret? Try to group your sketches each year around artists who know each other. They'll instantly get competitive. At another recent convention, I got a super sketch from Kalman Andrasofszky because he got to draw a tuxedo! It was a character Kalman had never done before and it turns he just plain digs drawing tuxedos!
When I pitched another bizarre character, Kalman laughed and basically dared me to get Butternut Squash, Kukuburi and DC artist Ramon Pérez to draw it. "He loves that crazy stuff!" How could Ramon say no to that? And his sketch kicked so much ass that everyone after him had to bring their "A" game! Seriously, it dripped so much manly machismo I had to shake the sketchbook before letting anyone draw in it again. And damned if Deadend 56 artist Andy Belanger didn't top it! (Don't worry, I'll post sketches online sometime in the next few months)
The one drag? Some of the artists I had hoped to get sketches from weren't drawing this time out. Adam Hughes injured his hand, Stuart Immonen stopped drawing at conventions a while ago and even published a book collecting his webcomic about it, 50 Reasons to Stop Sketching at Conventions. But Stuart and Kathryn were terrific to talk to and had lots of stuff for sale. And I got to pass on a hello a mutual friend asked me to send about four years ago!
Check out their weekly webcomic, Moving Pictures.
It was also great to run into talented artists like Agnes Garbowska and the way cool Laurie Breitkreuz, who bring girl power and serious magic with their flashing pens. They also bring the entertaining bonus of watching fanboys develop little crushes on them as they chatted.
So for now the number one thing at Fan Expo?
4. Super Moms.
I ran into a few uber-cool Moms taking their kids to the convention. They also actually speak to people as they wait in line.
I wish I remembered the name of the delightful mother in line with me to meet Brent Spiner (Yeah, I said it... in line to meet Commander Data. Wanna make something of it?). She has embraced her teenage interests and believe me, that family take that convention with a carefully orchestrated and timed plan of attack!
She gave me the straight goods on Jeremy Bulloch (charming, full of stories and appeared in no less than three Bond films), Henry Winkler (she's the one who convinced me to line up for him) and Kate Mulgrew (Too many restrictions and not very available).
Her sons recoiled when she threatened to wear a costume if she could decide who to be next year. I suggested Wilma Dearing as portrayed by Erin Grey in the Buck Rogers TV series. After several people in line around us agreed that Erin Gray was the reason spandex was invented, I think she's delighted enough with the idea to do it!
3. Sushi. Seriously.
The food court lines for the pizza kiosk and hot dog vendor were endless. Not so for the sushi. People were wary of trusting it I guess. I stuck to the vegetarian wraps and sandwiches they offered and was fed and out of there before people who arrived at the same time even got to the pizza counter.
After walking on concrete for several hours I found myself at a game demo I was uninterested in simply so I could stand on their cushy swatch of carpeting. i Is it too much to ask for carpeted aisles? Yes, I suppose it is.
1. Drumroll please. Our number one thing about Fan Expo this year is...
Yup, Hoverboy is number one with a bucket!
Not only is Hoverboy the greatest comic super-hero of all time (who didn't grow up wanting to wear a bucket on their head and float several inches off the kitchen floor to get to that hard to reach cookie cupboard?), he's also the worst super-hero of all time, all rolled into one! Marcus Moore's obsession has never failed to inspire others to jump on his bucket bandwagon. The premiere, one-shot issue of Mr. Comic's Hoverboy is garnering terrific fan reaction.
I got into Hoverboy through my sister, Stephanie, who starred in the Hoverboy musical for kids, "I Will Not Pail" at her school. She would play that album over and over as she danced in her Hoverboy flammable jammies and made hovershawls on her Hoverboy Loom set.
The day she got her hair caught in the loom may have been a dark one for her follicles but not for her little brub brub. After losing all her hair she gave me her entire Hoverboy collection and punked out. Score!
Anyhow, creator Marcus Moore, along with Ty Templeton and Rick Green (Of Prisoners of Gravity fame) are having a blast rebuilding the franchise. You can spend an afternoon looking through the extensive Hoverboy site here. (It's almost as good as my own Imperial News! (Okay, okay. It's better. The bastards.)
Do yourself a favour and check out the Hoverboy cartoons that started this madness. They truly rock.
It's the greatest in-joke comic of all because it's not an in-joke at all. Check out their wonderful site and buy a copy of the comic. You'll be glad you joined the bucket brigade.
"It's time for fists!"