The Cosplay, Panels, And Comics Of Toronto Comicon

by Koom Kankesan

The Toronto Comicon was held this year between March 16th – 18th at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. It was packed! As usual, cosplay was rife with many people simply milling around on the upper floors, taking photos as well as posing and socializing. You descended a couple of floors and there seemed to be a little something for everyone there. Here are some of my favourite costumes that I saw on attendees:

     

This convention is one of a couple of smaller cons throughout the year (the big one is Fan Expo on Labour Day Weekend, and alternately TCAF in spring if you’re more into the literary/indie/alt scene) and it didn’t have as many panels as Fan Expo but it had some interesting programming.

The panel I found the most interesting was the ‘Legends of Comics’ panel featuring from left to right: John McCrea, Howard Mackie, and Dave Dorman. The ‘legends’ told stories from their storied careers and joked about not feeling like legends. John McCrea is originally from Belfast and grew up during the Troubles there. He loved comics so much that he opened up a small comic nook in somebody else’s music store (since there were no venues for comics in Belfast at the time). It was there that he met Garth Ennis (a customer) and the rest, as they say, is history.

McCrea stressed this anecdote as an example of making your own luck. Mackie drifted into the editorial department of Marvel Comics during the early 80’s (what might seem like a dream job to us today) because he had a friend who worked there and was prompted to apply by his friend after his friend got sick of hearing Mackie complain about his job. Mackie eventually switched over to writing comics for Marvel and he’s perhaps most famous for a long run on, and the invention of, the 90’s Ghost Rider: Danny Ketch. Dorman is greatly praised for his painted covers, many of them featuring Star Wars and Aliens-themed subjects. He talked about attending art school, then dropping out to become a self-taught artist who tried to get illustration work before landing gigs that led to Dark Horse.

(this gentleman claims to not be dressing up as George Lucas, but I don’t believe him)

I also attended a couple of other panels that featured cosplayers talking about the business of cosplay (left) and creating special effects for The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones, and other hit movies and TV shows (right):

               

Other things I did at the con involved two of my favourite things. One was gazing longingly at old comics. I sold most of my comic collection for next to nothing a few years ago when I moved. I was never really a Silver Age collector because I grew up after the Silver Age and could never really afford those issues, but there’s something about the colour and images on silver age covers (their brightness, their pop-y-ness, their cheery confidence) that I’ve always found comforting. Slabbing has become the fashion among collectors and I’ve always detested the aesthetics of this practice (which simply sees the comic as an object of value rather as something to be read or flipped through or handled), so seeing old unslabbed comics is rather comforting to me:

    

The other thing I’m drawn to is original art. I find this even more interesting to look at than older comics because there is evidence of production – the yellowing of paper, white out or correction fluid where things have been changed, paste-ups or production notes, that indicate that comics come from a very practical world that was leagues apart from that of fine art. There’s not usually a lot of original art on display at the cons in Toronto (most original art is bought and sold online) so I’m always glad when I see pages, regardless of artist or vintage. There’s a Kirby page (for $3000!) in one of the photos below:

     

And finally, this con was a treat because I got to meet up with an acquaintance whom I had only known as an internet presence before this weekend – Jim Thompson of the Comic Book Historians Group and CBH Podcast. Jim was walking around with his five year old son, Willoughby, who really knew how to mug for the camera: