Toronto Comicon 2014

March 16, 2014 at 8:59 pm (Uncategorized) ()

Toronto Comicon is the smaller, less popular brother of Fan Expo. Comicon usually arrives in March, and has more recently expanded to three days. I didn’t go last year, but I thought, hey why not this time?

I took the boy down on the Sunday as the convention was wrapping up.  We  arrived about thirty minutes before opening and immediate knew something was up – we could see the start of the line. Things proceeded pretty quickly thereafter and we were inside three minutes after the scheduled start.

It’s quite nice to be able to go to a comic convention and actually look at stuff without having to elbow people out-of-the-way or have to line up for an hour in advance (we stood in line for over an hour to see an Adventure Time screening last year). But for a more civilized experience, you pay a price.

There’s a lot less free stuff. Oh, sure if you applied yourself, you can find things, but there’s no Marvel, DC or Dark Horse. No EB Games with free bags or even Dr. Pepper handing out refreshing beverages. Just a lot of people selling things.

Fewer celebrities too. While it’s true Smallville’s Alison Mack did walk past me, and I could see Eliza Dushku from across the room (I almost never line up for celebrity autographs), there weren’t a tremendous number around. (Though, I did have to turn away from the sight of internet model Vera Baby’s backside – that’s a little too up close and personal).

And the panels? Pretty slim pickings on that last day. I did consider going to the Continuum screening (any show that’s been described as right and left-wing should be worth a look, but since I’ve never seen an episode…) and also the Bitten panel (again, never seen it), but those were at the end of the day. I did chat with various artists and retailers, including the Kill Shakespeare people and, yes, I did lay my money down, but I think next year I’ll wait for the bigger events.

However, all of this raises a larger question. not so long ago,  if I had told people I was in my forties and not only still read comics, but attended comic conventions (No I don’t dress up), people would have cut a wide circle around me. Now, I’m a few months away from being 50, and instead, when you fess up, people say “cool” (OK, some people say cool, but a lot more than a few years back).

So what happened? A popular theory is that SF/fantasy like many genres has a core base; in this case the geek nerds who couldn’t talk to girls and overwhelmingly supported fantasy stories where they could imagine themselves as the centre of the universe. The argument goes that the expansion beyond that it’s simply the SF/fantasy’s turn. Just as western and war movies were once popular, now it’s the turn of the superhero. After all, the basic plot, the man on a white horse,  is still there.

The thing that seems different from previous fads is the pervasiveness of the fantasy genre. Right now there are at least four TV shows dedicated to the proposition that fairy tales are real. In addition both Marvel and DC have versions of their characters on TV.  The new Captain America, Spider-Man and even the Guardians of the Galaxy movie are widely anticipated. And young adult lit…the Hunger Games, Harry Potter, Divergence, Artimus Fowl, Percy Jackson, the list seems endless. Even at their peak did other forms of genre fiction inspire more than 100,000 people trek down to the Convention Centre for Fan Expo, a significant number in costume?

Or perhaps it’s that the world we live in, an increasingly barbaric one fueled by technology, potentially alienating technology drives us to seek connections with increasingly fantastic and exaggerated behaviours? While there are many fantasy programs on TV, “reality” TV almost exclusively features exaggerated and outlandish behaviour (the worse the better). Why couldn’t we be, as Bowie suggested, heroes, even if for just one day?

And yeah, I’m still looking for that Lying Cat t-shirt.

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