So Christmas is great. Halloween is greater. And Comic Con might just be the best of them all.
And unlike Christmas and Halloween, I haven’t experienced Comic Con in almost three years.
My love for it started back in Australia when I went to the Sydney Supanova 2011. I’d never been to a Con before, but hearing about the ever-mounting fame of the San Diego one combined with my raging geekdom meant I couldn’t pass it up.
Fun fact: Supanova was the reason Andrea came to visit me in Wollongong, and that international hang out time is what spawned our joint ambitions to travel and by extension start this blog. So never let anyone tell you being a geek is a bad thing.
After that, we tried out the Montreal Comic Con.
It was desperately small, set up in what looked like a high school gymnasium.
(We still got to take photos with a cool photographer though).
All the same, it was quaint and loveable, and we had hope that it would gain popularity.
Year by year, it indeed ended up growing. Now it’s among the biggest Cons in Canada, if not North America.
But before I get ahead of myself, what is a Comic Con?
When I tell some people about it, their general understanding seems to be, “That thing where people dress up like Trekkies and they sell a bunch of comic books, right?”
Technically that’s not wrong, but it’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Yes, you get a bunch of people dressing like Trekkies – including the Martandrea, as we traditionally wear our Original Series outfits on at least one of the days we attend.
And yes, there are a butt ton of comic books available if you want to purchase – or sell – any.
But holy mother is there a whole lot of other stuff.
First of all, the costumes are incredibly varied.
It ranges from the more traditional…
…to the obscure
…to the imaginative.
You even get professional cosplayers who go there just to show off their amazing skills.
And comics are definitely for sale in abundance, but they are far from all merchandise offered. In fact, I’ve heard Comic Con be described as a place where geeks literally just take out a wad of cash and yell “SHUT UP AND TAKE MY MONEY!!”
Considering the ATMs in the surrounding vicinity are empty by the end of the second day (out of three total), this isn’t a totally inaccurate statement.
There are action figures, plush toys, collectables, novelty everything, theme jewelry (I myself have a TARDIS belly ring), games, so many T-shirts, and even real life swords (“a bargain: 2 for $300!”).
Then there’s the panels you can attend: actors, directors, writers, creators, and artists talk about their latest work and answer questions directly from their fans.
And not just panels, but there are autographs you can buy from your favourite actors (this year Andrea got the English Sailor Moon and Tuxedo Mask voice actors to sign a print she made for her cousin’s wedding gift).
And if autographs aren’t good enough for you, you can also pay to get a photo of you with the famous person of your choice. I might have done just that with William Shatner a few years ago…
And Andrea and I might have also indulged in one with Sean Astin just before we left for Korea…
They also usually have a bunch of props from movies. Cars are usually a big one, as are Daleks from Doctor Who and a plethora of Star Wars robots (there was a parade of cosplayers led by an animatronic R2D2 walking around).
What’s great about these is that you can usually pay a small (or large, depending) fee to pose with the prop of your choice – $5 for the Jurassic Park jeep, or $15 to sit inside the DeLorean.
And the vendors. There are so many vendors.
Not just the run-of-the-mill multi-million-dollar companies either, but tons of startups, local businesses, and artisans.
This year I was really lucky. A friend of mine from university, Christopher Olson (ironically who I first met at Comic Con) was running his stall and said he had an extra ticket.
It was mine, he told me, if I wouldn’t mind watching his “Tremendous Tales” table every once in a while whilst he went on food runs and bathroom breaks.
Ecstatic, I took him up on the offer. I didn’t mind in the least as I was genuinely excited to be the one behind the scenes after so many years as a spectator.
Especially since his merchandise was something I was glad to show off to the curious participants wandering past the stall.
Honestly his stuff is so cool. It’s all original artwork and the postcards/prints have one sentence microfiction on the back (think Gary Larson meets Isaac Asimov).
Perhaps inspired/encouraged by the fact that I was there sitting behind a stall myself, I made it a point this year to go around and meet all the artisans. Most have fascinating stories to tell, and their work is more often than not jawdropping.
Everyone, especially artists, should go to Comic Con just to be able to see what is essentially a large-scale, geek-themed vernissage. Had I the money, I would have bought something from everyone, but even choosing one of each of the fairly priced posters and prints would have had me well over $500 by the end of the weekend. I compromised by hoarding all the business cards I could get my hands on.
Instead of dropping a butt ton of cash, I amused myself by taking part in activities I had previously been a bit shy about. Specifically, demoing games.
I mentioned in a previous post how into Role Playing Games (RPGs) I’ve been getting, like D&D and Pathfinder, so I was keen to see if I could find a demo of one of those going on to get me on the right track to running my own game as a GM (Game Master).
Well, I didn’t find either of those games, but instead an entirely new one: Fate of the Norns: Ragnarok.
Based on meticulously researched Norse mythology, this game has been put together by a dedicated team of gamers after a successful Kickstarter campaign.
I was drawn in by the artwork and the authentic Thor hammer they challenged people to lift, and seeing my interest they were all too happy to offer Andrea and I a play through.
It was the coolest thing ever.
So much so I’m still yearning to continue from where we left off in that all-too-short run. Well, short being still 90 minutes long. (RPGs are a definite time investment).
I have to say, that book was the one thing I sorely regret not buying from that weekend. Aside from the discount, I could have gotten it signed by the creators.
Other than that, Andrea and I wanted to check out the tabletop game room. I was hoping it had more RPGs, or at least some cool board games like Snake Oil, but it was a little on the disappointing side.
Andrea and I did play a riveting game of springboard checkers or something though? No idea what it was but we had a blast.
Although the Con is three days long, we only went for two of them. Before going, I questioned whether or not I really even needed to go both days. When it started to close up shop Sunday night though, we both agreed that two days was far too short.
Neither of us had even gone to any panels, yet we still didn’t have enough time to even feel like we’d done justice to the main floor.
There was just so much amazing stuff to see; every time you walked around, there was something new to behold.
The costumes alone kept you busy all day.
Speaking of, probably my favourite thing from the Con was the second day when I dressed up as Fionna from Adventure Time and found two matching kids in costumes.
In all, it was a highly successful weekend and one of the best times I’ve had in a while. I don’t think I’ve felt so giddy since…well, probably the last time I was at Comic Con back in 2013 meeting Sean Astin!
So for anyone doubting how much fun these conventions are, I hope I have dissipated such thoughts for good. For anyone who already loves it, I hope it has helped relive the good, good times.
Until the next Con!
Have any of you guys been – either to Montreal or another Comic Con of worthy note? I’d love to hear your experiences and if you like cosplaying too!