This past weekend marked the return of the first full FanExpo experience since 2019. 2021 saw a limited pandemic return but this year’s event utilized the full convention center and had many massive guests. Stranger Things cast members, Lord of the Rings’ four hobbits, The Boys cast, and Kids in the Hall were big draws. With Stranger Things having the busiest photo ops and panels, and many cosplayers. The video game Genshin Impact was also popular with cosplayers and handed out free posters and bags which were everywhere. On the comic book front Greg Capullo, Tom King, Jason Fabok, Ryan Stegman, and James Tyrion IV seemed the most popular. This year also had the most comic creators ever as the artist alley was extended so there were plenty others to choose from.
Canadian creators I enjoyed seeing were as follows. First and foremost was the reliable RAID studio group including Ramón Pérez and Gabe Sapienza who we are featuring in issue 12 of Sequential Magazine! Lyndon Radchenka and Steven Kaul’s Infinite Studios were in from Winnipeg showing off their latest books The Laundrymen and Dead Work. Follow for their Kickstarter in the fall. Credible Threat Press’ Luke Henderson and Michael Derrah are returning with another issue of Our War soon. Allison Danger and Benjamin Tiesma were some fresh faces to FanExpo with their books The Best of Us and Dead Body Road (Image Comcis) respectively. Brenda Hickey brought her and Troy Little’s latest self-published book Butterfly House from PEI. Interestingly it had each half of the story be read from one end of the book by flipping it so a front cover is on both sides. Ricky Lima announced that his Undergrowth series with artist Daniele Aquilani will be published by Top Shelf so he had a special foil covered colour version of issue 1 available. Chris Sanagan and Jason Lapidus had the new issue 8 of their Peregrines series. Ally Rom Colthoff had print copies of her Wychwood webcomic. Usual GTA favourites Jim Zub, Jason Loo, Michael Cho, Mike Rooth, Paris Alleyne, Jahnoy Lindsay, Kalman Andrasofszky, and Shawn Daley were as excellent as ever. Yanick Paquette, Sweeney Boo and Andy Belanger lead me in from Montreal. Sweeney has a new book Over My Dead Body releasing in a few days and Andy will have a third Kickstarter for his Lethal Comics’ flagship Mother Trucker comic. Lev Gleason (formerly ChapterHouse) returned with a new Captain Canuck issue which continues on the original continuity and creator Richard Comely signed.
From the feedback I did hear from creators sales were good but not amazing considering the size of the show. This depends on what they were selling but for some they’d had better shows before. It is a general convention with so many types of fans so I was curious what they’d say. There is just such a large number of visitors but would they even consider indie comics booths to make the high table price worth it. And it seemed so but it is competitive. Also there was some disorganization of the application process this year. One creator only found out he was rejected the week before the show but since he’d gone previously it was unexpected. The final table placements were also very last minute. So on the organization front they have some improvements to make but the first full show back after the pandemic and the expansion of the number of shows the company runs seems to have caused some issues to work out for next time.
Experience wise it was as big and crazy as it gets. Previous attendees would remember Saturday being the busiest, which it still was, but the higher attendance this year meant that Friday was as busy as previous Saturdays and Saturday was so crowded the show floor was difficult to peruse. I only tolerate them by having specific things to do so I’m not floating aimlessly in a crowd of people. It would seem that they are reaching the practical limit of the space on Saturday now. I heard there were long entry lines on Saturday in the mid day which has happened before. Lines are certainly part of the experience. An organizer said during a CBC interview that they still had room to grow which is possible on the other days but not much more on Saturday. Car drivers were trapped for hours in the parking garage which included many exhibitors who must drive to transport their goods. Blue Jays game schedule didn’t help but there might have been also other traffic issues in the city Saturday night. That’s out of the convention’s control but only drive there if you absolutely have to. Parking somewhere else and taking the subway would be faster with the downtown traffic. Hotel prices were also extremely high possibly from the simultaneous events so booking really early or staying far away but still transit accessible may be only way around that.
In terms of comic related panels there were the usual sketch duels where artists draw live and answer audience questions. There were also official DC comics panels as a show sponsor which just discussed what the creators present were up to. The standard Breaking Into Comics and Writing for Comics panels were on Thursday so I wasn’t able to see those. Also on Thursday was Ladies Power Hour Exploring the Fandom from femme gaming. While not strictly about comics I heard it was great. So FanExpo does a good job at highlighting its guests, I would personally enjoy more variety in comics topics being discussed so it’s not just all self absorbed. Having some themed panels on the industry or genres would have more varied discussions than just everyone saying how they got into the industry by perseverance or luck.
I was on the fence about going this year due to doing several other conventions this year and preferring the comics focused ones. But overall, I was satisfied and the joy of catching up with creators and even some fellow magazine contributors does keep me coming back.
Sequential Magazine Editor in Chief
I also went it check out the Silver Snail’s new location for their midnight madness sale Saturday night. The aforementioned transit and traffic made it difficult so a long walk from the convention center was the best option. After a nice dinner at one of the many nearby restaurants I was ready to see the new diggs. It seems like a same sized store but it is longer than the Yonge St location. So it’s one long aisle instead of two in a circle. They’ve cleverly put the new releases in the back so regulars have to walk past all other offerings before picking up the latest books not on their pull list. So, with the items being brought in being same as before it’s really only the convenience of the location that will effect your experience. Or also the lack of a coffee shop as well. For visitors though who may be staying more centrally downtown it is less convenient than Yonge street but anyone living west of downtown then it’s better. It was not too crowded at their sale so hopefully they can rebuild their customer base at the new location.