And we’re back! Hopefully this post marks the end of Sequential’s “Summer Postin'” schedule and the return of regular content here.
Some links and thoughts about the recent Fan Expo event which took place a few weeks back in Toronto.
Item! The show’s placement at the end of the summer con season and it’s status as THE big Canadian show in the country’s largest media market, and the difficulty the larger U.S. comics publishing companies have in breaking publishing news at the San Diego con, means that there are occasional news tidbits that are saved up for Toronto and there were a few, but for the most part what we get are big photodumps of cosplay costumes and tv celebrities.
Item! The big news from the show was the show itself. It was announced on Thursday that Hobbystar Marketing, the owners of Fan Expo, has been sold to Informa, a 3-billion-dollar multinational trade show and business information company. Originally based in the UK but now a registered Swiss company, and the publisher of Lloyd’s List, Informa PLC has its fingers in many pies. In 2012 Informa bought MMPI Canada, owner of over 40 trade shows and events including Art Toronto, the One of a Kind Shows, and the Interior Design Shows, for $53 million. Now Informa Canada has added the Fan Expo brand, including the separate Fan Expo pop culture and sports events, keeping the Hobbystar management intact to run the shows. Bleeding Cool has a copy of the press release handed out at the show. No word yet on how much Informa paid for Arman Gupta’s company.
Item! One of the more interesting events at the show was a panel called Canadian Superhero Renaissance, featuring a large group of creators and fans talking about the revival of interest in nationalist-themed comics. The big news was the announcement that a long-stewing reprint of Adrian Dingle’s 1940s Nelvana stories, featuring the first female Canadian superhero will be going forward with a crowdsourced publication. Film producer Hope Nicholson and comics blogger Rachel Richey have taken up the task of bringing Nelvana back to print, with designer Ramon K. Perez. Great news, especially since such a collection is the dream project of erstwhile Sequential contributor and animation writer Robert Pincombe. So far there is only a Facebook page for the book, but we will hopefully have something more about this on Sequential when the campaign begins in earnest in October. Jay Stephens, a contributor to the True Patriot superhero anthology, mentioned to me how the crowd at Fan Expo seemed super-excited and super-curious about Canadian superheroes –a new development in our experience! Retailer Kevin Boyd also had some follow-up thoughts on nationalism vs quality.
Item! The Toronto Star reported that Jeff Lemire will write a series of comic books for DC about the Justice League characters relocating to Canada: “Much of the action will take place in Toronto, Lemire says, but the actual team will be based around James Bay and Moosonee. “I do want to create a cool, rural Northern Ontario headquarters for Justice League Canada, and I don’t want to spoil it yet. “And it’s not a hockey rink, I promise. Although, of course, it did cross my mind,” he says with a laugh.[…]“It’s not really like Alpha Flight, as we’re not creating a bunch of very Canadian characters,” Lemire says. “Like those characters are all almost clichéd Canadian archetypes. This is still very much set in the regular Justice League universe and the team will still have some of the bigger named superheroes, but they will actually be located in Canada now, and there will be a couple of new members who are Canadian. Am I alone in hoping for Flying Fox?
Item! Christopher Bird has a long-ish report for Torontoist, including the important news that “this year’s favoured costume was Daenerys Targaryen from Game of Thrones, most likely because it’s really a very simple costume to execute: wear a nice, simple dress, have blonde hair or a blonde wig, and carry around a toy dragon.” Also of note: “The Sports Expo portion of the convention, for example, was struggling. At 2 p.m. on Saturday—basically the absolute peak for convention attendance—the Sports Expo grounds were, more or less, getting skipped by most attendees. Understand that the Sports Expo subsection was located in the northern half of the convention centre, at the very front of the convention, which everyone had to pass.” A good article!
Item! The show organizers reported that this year’s Expo broke previous attendance records, with over 100,000 attendees.
Item! Amy Chu covered the show for The Beat and had this to say: “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.”
Item! While I heard scuttlebutt that severaL U.S. and Canadian comics creators had near panic attacks due to the large, windowless space, only a few reports made note of the increased size and hard-to-traverse nature of the show. Here’s Robin Careless for TheBulletin.ca: “The other thing that I feel probably contributed to the different vibe was the overall size of the con this year. Where in the past they have used one of the buildings of the convention center (usually the south building, as the only time they used the north building was when they were locking people out, which as you can imagine didn’t go over swimmingly) this year they had both buildings, which was both a blessing and a curse for both visitors and exhibitors alike.”
Item! Kerry Dixon compares Toronto and San Diego, one-on-one, for the SDCC blog: “Fan Expo may be the third largest con in North America, but in a lot of ways, it felt like the smaller step-sister of the monster that SDCC is. However, Fan Expo does a lot of things right, that Comic-Con International could still use some pointers in. Their staff is obviously more prepped beforehand in how to handle and direct the massive crowds (though we don’t foresee escalator-control happening at Comic-Con without a full-on riot), and by offering more than one autograph or photo-op session with guests throughout the week allowed fans a chance to make more things work with their schedule.”
Item! Comic Book Daily’s Anthony Falcone has a Retailer Recap, based on his stint with Hamilton’s Big B comics: “I sold a few copies of Saga #1. I knew that this was going to be a hit series and a quality read, but I wouldn’t have expected that 13 issues in Saga #1 would be a $150 book.”
Item! Best report: Thor cosplaying G.I.Joe fan gets in a war of words with Hasbro rep.
Item! Leigh Hart covers the Women in Comics panel for Comic Book Daily: “I was personally surprised to see so many males in the room. The industry needs to stop thinking of itself as a man’s world, there is nothing inherently male about comics, so why is it so hard to believe that a large part of it’s readership is female.[…] One message that came across loud and strong was if you want to see a specific type of character, be that a woman, someone who is gay, lesbian, bi or transgendered or a specific race, then get some people together and create a comic with this ideal character in mind. If there is something in comics that you don’t agree with speak up about it, or change it yourself.”
Item! Michael Ryan reports for TDotComics: “Last year’s FanExpo was followed by attendees complaining about volunteers being unprepared and disorganized, and then volunteers coming fourth to echo their sentiments. This year the early reports are mostly positive. There were no tickets sold to people who couldn’t get inside and advance ticket pick-up helped do its job. Some people will never let themselves enjoy a Hobbystar event again because they can’t drop a grudge…”