This is an opinion piece by Brendan Montgomery with the intention of sharing my experience for those who did not attend FanExpo last weekend but are curious about a comic con in Canada with COVID-19 restrictions.
This past weekend was the first major Toronto convention since the pandemic started. Fan Expo Canada returned with a “Limited Edition” which was an appropriate title as all the usual aspects of the convention were limited with a larger event than the Toronto Comic con that usually occurs in March but not as large as the usual fan expo.
First off the attendance was more limited and several ticket types sold out. So similarly the use of the convention centre was smaller (partly because of another event using a portion) The south hall was not fully used and only the North hall main area (no ballrooms below). This there were less vendors to peruse and no gaming section or EB games booth.
However I am happy to report that the artist Ashley and comic section was just as excellent as usual. I can’t be certain but it was nearly all Canadian creators and artisans, so plenty of Canadian made comics to choose from.
Unique this year was the comics panels were held on a stage right next to Artist alley. This added noise to nearby tables but allowed for more discoverability of creators by passers by while before you had to specifically decide to go see a comics panel.
Major celebrity panels were also held in the main floor but in the North hall where they also did autographs and photo ops. All panel areas had no seating to seemingly meet local health rules (except by request if you self identified as differently abled). This was the worst aspect of the health rules.
Showing proof of vaccination and wearing a mask bag little effect on the experience. But standing for hours or sitting in a concrete floor to see panels was not great and hopefully will not return.
Entry line to pick up badges was slowed by the vaccine check but entry once you had your pass was much quicker than usual. The overall crowdedness was much better due to the limited tickets and wider walkways between booths.
Food was only allowed to be eaten in the designated area which had a decent line to enter but worked well enough. I usually try to eat while in line for panels but with the open layout of panels there was no fear about not being able to get into a panel room ( VIP ticket holders had no advantage in panel spaces) as you could always stand in the back if necessary.
Generally there was less time waiting in line (even autographs were not as bad) but less to see and do. I didn’t fully use my 3 day pass as I normally would have.
But overall it was still a great experience and happy to get to see comic creators and pick up some books and art and autographs. If you were only interested in celebrities or shopping there was less to enjoy but the overall experience and especially comics were good.