Fan Expo and Nerd Culture Round Up – Summer 2016

September 11, 2016 at 6:44 pm (Uncategorized)

Of course the other thing about Labour Day in Toronto is that it means that Fan Expo has just finished.

The four-day extravaganza of nerd culture featuring comic books, science fiction, games, horror  and everything associated with all of those genres. Celebrities, cosplayers, workshops, games, cool free stuff and more draw over 130,000 people down to the Toronto Convention Centre. My son and I have been going for years; this year was no exception. But before we do that, I thought it worth writing a few worlds about some of the stuff that’s gone on recently


I saw the original Ghostbusters the day it came out, and loved it. I still love it, although some of the effects are dated. The controversy over the new female reboot is, well, really a non-issue. Boo hoo, if casting women in your favourite movie has ruined your life/childhood/ whatever. It couldn’t have been much of a life to begin with, could it? Yeah, yeah, I love SF, but it’s a movie.  And even the greatest movie of all time (and Ghostbusters certainly isn’t) is just a movie. Now, I read reviews that suggested this was the funniest movie of the summer, and others that thought it was a piece of shit. It falls between, although closer to the former than the latter. The principles acquit themselves with honour, some clever cameos and nods to the original, and there are genuinely hilarious moments (although my favourite is still Andy Garcia’s reaction to being compared to the Mayor from Jaws. To be honest, I’m not a big fan of Melissa McCarthy, but Kristen Weig is always worth watching, and Leslie Jones was very funny too (Haters STFU). But for me, the real genius was Kate McKinnon.

Suicide Squad

Another weird one. The opening buzz about the film was very good, but perhaps this was based on a stunning trailer revolving around Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody.” As the release date drew closer, little negative murmurings could be heard, and when Rotten Tomatoes published negative reviews, things went crazy. Again, the “fan” community overreacting to…a movie they hadn’t seen either. It’s a fun movie with some funny moments, but the pace does feel rushed, the use of music is clumsy, and overall the story doesn’t make a lot of sense.  Did I like it, yeah, but again, it’s just a movie.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

OK, I do have mixed feelings about re-unions. I know everyone wants a Firefly reunion, but it’s never going to happen and maybe that’s a good thing. No reunion means we get to keep our pristine show. It’s always better to leave people wanting more, not less (Simpsons, are you listening? It’s too late now anyway) So, with a new Harry Potter book, I wondered would it add, detract or merely be another chapter. Those who care about the book have already read it, and formed their own opinions, so mine doesn’t really matter, but for what it’s worth, I was quite happy with the story. We all wondered what would happen to the characters after Voldemort’s fall, and here’s a partial. The dialogue was good, and the themes consistent with Potter canon. However, at times the plot seemed to reply too heavily on earlier works, and the evolution of Draco Malfoy seems too speedy within the context of the story. OK, OK, I do want to see it when it invariably tours.

So, onto Fan Expo.

For the last couple of years, I’ve been buying Premium tickets which has the added virtue of allowing you to enter through a side door and avoiding some lines. OK, not the VIP which are $500, but still nice enough. There’s also a premium lounge where you can chill far from the madding, and they are that, crowd.

Thursday: It’s a walk around. We cruise the floor, get books signed (thank you Jason Loo, Fred Kennedy, and Klaus Jansen), and buy stuff. Fan Expo opens at 4PM, but if you buy a deluxe or higher pass, you get in at 2. It’s worth noting though, that if you haven’t picked up  you wristband before, you’ll still be waiting outside come  2 o’clock – a painful memory I can tell you. The Boy nad I picked up our stuff earlier in the week and so we got to walk onto the convention floor at 2. It’s really quite lovely. You have space to walk around, and you actually get to try somethings without having to wait too long. The Boy played a Lego Star Wars game, and we got our pictures taken by Canada Post for a Star Trek promo. Nice! There’s not much in the way of forums or celebrity stuff on the first day, so you’re pretty much free to wander without distraction. Bought an anti-matter t-shirt, and my dog is now the proud wearer of a Firefly collar 

Friday: I was unable to attend, and missed Jewel Staite from Firefly. Oh well.

Saturday: The busiest day of the con. We arrived around 11, and just wandered for a bit. Part of the Fan Expo experience means that depending on which line you were in for one thing  you might not be able to get into something else. The Boy and I had two plans. The first was a photo-op with Morena Baccarin (I know, I know). Photo-ops are a bit crazy, and depending on the celebrity and when you booked, it can be a bit of a meat grinder. We got to say hi, click, and we were out the door. I was pretty happy with the picture though, so what the hell? Now, the Boy had wanted to see Hayley Atwell from TV’s Agent Carter, but that wasn’t until 4PM, meaning we had a few hours to kill. So we headed down to the biggest hall in the building to see John Barrowman of Dr. Who, Torchwood and Arrow fame. Tip here, if you don’t care about sitting near the back, wait until the start of the forum to arrive. There’s always space.

John Barrowman had no host with him. He was the host, and for over an hour, he refused to stop talking. He ran about, he told very R-rated stories, and he entertained. The Boy, who didn’t understand  half of what he heard, said he enjoyed Barrowman the most of any he saw. We pulled the same show up late trick for Hayley Atwell, and she drew a smaller crowd. Atwell, who will be appearing in a new TV show Conviction with an American accent, was funny and charming, but not as animated as Barrowman.

Sunday: This was Stan Lee’s last appearance in Canada, and we decided not to go. Instead we wandered some, got our pictures taken on a Star Wars set, and then went to see Ben Mackenzie. Mackenzie is currently starring as a young Jim Gordon on Gotham, but it seemed a good number of attendees were there to hear about his days on The O.C. Our last panel was for Morena Baccarin (again) who has appeared in many beloved SF shows such as Serenity, Stargate, V (the remake), and is currently on Gotham. Oh, yeah, she was in a little movie called Deadpool too.

Why do people go to the Q and A’s? To ask questions, but mostly to see people whose characters they love in in the hope of learning a little more about the show. Some piece of trivia, some funny joke. To take home a little piece. Why do people dress up in costumes? Because it’s fun – for the record, I did not wear a costume, but Deadpool and Harley Quinn were the number one choices.

Comic-cons have been around for decades. Once upon a time (do you see what I did there?), they were small affairs. Now, hundreds of thousands of people and millions of dollars are involved. Will the market become saturated or tastes change? (I’ve tried to explain westerns to my son, but I don’t think he fully gets it) But for now…


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