It’s no secret I am totally obsessed…er, I mean inspired with Jack Kiby’s work. As such, an ode to his creations (minus Beta Ray Bill created by Walt Simonson) is fit for a three page splash. My friend Ryan Parent did the colours for me.
Well, it’s been a while in between postings, with a new job and being to too tired to draw as much as I want to, I thought attending Fan Expo in Toronto would re-invigorate my drive. It did….and it didn’t.
I’ll be completely honest when I say that my prime directive for the show was a signature from the man him self, Stan Lee. Stan is a legend in the world of comics, hell, my Mom even knows who he is, so getting to meet my all time hero was exciting enough. As long as I got Stan to sign my favorite issues of Journey in Mystery (issues 103, 109, 112) I would be a happy man…or so I thought.
This years show had a lot of people I wanted to meet, mostly artists, but I didn’t bring a shit ton of comics to get signed, I made that mistake last year, lugging around that much weight all day gets tiring. Streamlined and prepared, I made may way down to Toronto fairly early. I arrived outside the Convention building around 9 a.m expecting to breeze through the gates with my pre-purchased deluxe pass… when will I learn. I do this to myself every year, I am convinced I’ll hit the line up before it gets too big, and every year it gets bigger and bigger, so I am left scanning the line for the one group of people that wouldn’t confront me when I bud in. I locate my opening and slide right in, the death stares are easy to deal with when they are coming from some of the most socially awkward people you will ever meet. I probably could of done it closer to the front of the line, but security seemed to be on the ball, so far.
The line, for those of us who have our tickets, finally starts moving around 12:30 pm, that’s right, 3 hours to get in, and the line behind me was at least another hour and a half wait. We are herd, like geeky cattle, in to the ticket area to receive our wrist bands, eventually I make my way to the main floor.
It seems cramped, it’s in the smaller building this year but it felt like even the major exhibitors planned for this. DC’s booth looked like some one threw it together 10 mins before the door opened, but the huge Green Lantern was cool.
Marvels booth is the same as every year, which is great, but would have been nice to see something new. The signing areas were scaled down for the comic professionals, and more focused on the TV and screen stars this year. G4’s booth was nice, open to everyone, so I made my way and introduced myself to Victor and Fubar. Victor was super nice, as was Fubar, but you could tell they really just wanted to walk around and check everything out. I wasn’t going to bother with any Star signatures this year, my first trip was to Stan Lee’s signing area to make sure I don’t miss out.
Stan was signing today but the line up already consisted of the hundreds of people who made it in first, so I planned on the Saturday signing. The crowd this year seemed ruder, due to the large amount of “normal” people. I noticed a lot of people walking around with their nose in the air, elitist boyfriends/girlfriends who were being dragged along and making sure us geeks knew we were in the presence of “cool” people, if you don’t want to be there, don’t come. Yes, some of us are fully functioning normal people, we just love our comics, games and movies more openly then those who crave acceptance and follow the crowd. I wandered along and began my hunt for missing issues of Journey into Mystery to fill the gaping holes in my collection. Prices for Silver age comics were surprisingly cheap this year! I found some lower grade books for 30-50% off guide prices, and obtained some newer books I had missed out on. I love Thor, old and new, Coipel was at the show as well, his art on the new Thor book really breathed life into Straczynski’s refreshing take on the characters, so making sure I meet him was priority two.
Usually Fridays are not as heavily attended as the Saturday or Sunday show, but this year showed a glaring increase in bodies. The venue was beginning to show it’s lack of square footage, and would only get worse on Saturday. I never had to push my way through the crowd on Fridays, my game plan changed to fit in more workshops then I intended, there was just too many people on the convention floor. I waited in Marvels line to meet Steve McNiven..again. This guys art blows me away, if you haven’t read the OLD MAN LOGAN run in Wolverine, you should poke yourself in the eye..go read it. I ran in to my friend Pete from ComicBookDaily, he was there reporting for the site, and we spoke briefly, and made plans to meet on Saturday. I made my way to the table, and got to talk with Steve for a pretty long time. Ian Churchill was signing beside him and everyone was crowded on his side of the table (don’t ask me why), so I had time to ask a lot of questions. He recognized me from the previous year and asked how my art was coming along…I was flabbergasted. I was so impressed and honored he remembered one guy out of thousands, or it could have been a shot in the dark, I mean most of his fans are artists and E Bay signature trollers anyways. After a lengthy conversation, I stopped annoying him and pushed myself down the escalator to eat some street meat. If you are going to eat at the show, DO NOT buy inside the building, their prices are ridiculous and there is no where to sit anyways. When I opened the doors to the Front street, I was greeted with a wall of people still trying to get in, the show closes at 9pm and there was people lined up at 7pm… I became a little worried at this point. I was hungry and took my chances that I may not make it back inside.
I was lucky…or smart, after I ate, I sat outside one of the exit doors and waited for my time to pounce. I snuck my way back in through the exit, back to the ground floor. It was packed. I didn’t bother to wait to go back upstairs so I sat in line for Bob Layton’s artist workshop starting at 8PM. Layton was the definitive artist for Iron Man in the seventies and eighties, so getting some much needed anatomy tips from a long time pro was a real treat.
He arrived on time and was funny as hell. He hasn’t drawn comics for a while, but has been working in the film industry, most recently a consultant on Iron Man 2. He had some funny stories about Robert Downey, and seemed a little bitter towards working in comics. He informed all off us who wanted to work in comics, not to. I was a little surprised, but I hear this a lot from working artists, it takes it’s toll on you I’m sure, the countless hours spent hunched over the drawing table, and tight deadlines. Even still, if I ever have the chance to work in the industry, I’ll take the bad back and the dark circles under my eyes…I know, there is something wrong with me.
Bob pointed out the basics to body structure, but really got into establishing shots and light/dark- balance/focus. He makes a funny presenter, and didn’t mind swearing like a sailor.
I was still pretty tired from Friday and waiting in another line was not fun. IF you bought a Deluxe or better pass to FanExpo it should be easier to get in the next day( due to the fact you pre bought), but I arrived to a line as long as the line to purchase tickets. It was nothing but confusion. The security guards were never on the same page, people would ask, “What is this line for?”, and the answer would be different every time. I witnessed people make it to the front of the re-entry line only to find out they were told to go to the wrong line. I sensed distaste for the way we were being treated from people around me. Would there be a geek revolution? No. We sat there, and quietly waited our turn.
2 hours. Yes, I waited 2 hours after the doors had opened to get in the re-entry gate. Whatever. I bolted to Stan Lee’s autographing area, but since I waited so long to get in, the line was already backed up. I wouldn’t dare bud in at a Stan Lee line, hey, just ’cause a guy reads some comics, doesn’t mean he can’t start some shit!
2 hours. Another hurry up and wait scenario, but it was worth it for Stan. When he walked in the room, people lit up. There was a smile on everyone’s face. You could feel the electricity this mans presence causes, I was in fan boy heaven. My section of the line was directly behind the signing desk, I kept poking my head through the drapes, and security was telling me over an over not to look through them. Yeah right. Tons of people just plain ignored security when they were telling us not to take pictures of Stan, we were already fed up for waiting basically 5 hours to get here, back up, just mind ya business, just mind ya business.
It was great. He was great. I had been waiting to meet this guy my whole life. I had so many things I wanted to ask him, I was trying to boil it down to one or two questions, due to the short time I would get with him. I paid my $40 a signature, I got three, and was next in line. I shut down. All I could get out was ,”How are you Sir?”, and, “You’re the MAN Stan!!”. Oh well. I got to meet the pioneer of modern mythology.
After I finished geeking out, I made my way to artists alley, and finally met Andy Belanger. He has web comics on Transmisson X and DC ( check out Bottle of Awsome on Comixology ). He was such a great guy, very down to earth and real. I spoke briefly with him regarding my failed attempt with Zuda, and what I was working on now. He was very encouraging, and gave me his email to send along some samples he would forward to the right people…which I have yet to do. I am so busy lately.
I bought some comics, checked out the Tron booth, and The Alien Special Edition set. It was still packed. I was stupid again and went outside to eat. I won’t even get in to how pissed I was waiting to get back in, I have already vented in my letter to them. I made it back in for The Steve McNiven Q&A/workshop. He was of course very informative, and gave some good tips. The crowd was full of fanboys and girls with so many people had questions, Steve was still answering them (mine included) a half hour after the workshop was done. Good guy that Steve McNiven.
I met up with friends at a bar near by, and we all vented on each other on how badly run the show was this year. We all had our horror stories as did everyone on the unofficial hash tag for FanExpo on Twitter. We all laughed at the posts through out the day, and drowned our sorrows in a couple of pints, well, I did anyways.
Sunday, well, was…I wouldn’t know. I didn’t go. I was holding a grudge. I was very disappointed in the show this year and chose not to involve myself in the clusterfu@k that was waiting for me on Sunday. I got everything I needed, Stan Lee’s signature. I will forever be able to tell people I met Stan the Man. So I didn’t go the last day, even though I paid for it. I hope they fix their issues for next year.
Check out some random pics from the show.
See ya next year….maybe.