So this weekend, I decided to check out the 2013 FanExpo. Why, you ask? Because I am a nerd? Well, yes, there’s that, but also because even though I am not exactly a groupie, I thought I’d come out of my shell and head out to meet a couple of people, one of whom I might not get a chance to see again, perhaps ever, but more on that later.
I was originally going on my own, as most of my friends aren’t interested in horror or live out-of-town, when I found out that my good friend Nicole’s brother-in-law Henry Shel had a booth there and was promoting his books. She wanted to go and lend her support, so I ended up having company, and since she gets a kick out of anything against the norm, away we went!
Let me first say that I wished I had eaten a high calorie breakfast of eggs, waffles, pancakes, whipped cream, and syrup, because the amount of walking we did was insane. We walked a couple of blocks from the subway to be ushered into a tunnel, (reminiscent of some sort of disaster movie where we line up to enter a bomb shelter) and waited in a four person deep line to buy tickets. It moved fairly quickly and once inside, we meandered past cosplay enthusiasts, fellow nerds, and giant strollers filled with costumed babies. Bumping into Henry Shel, we headed to his booth where he was promoting his books Space, Love, Superheros: The Chronicles of My Secret Identity Crisis on Infinite Earths and Operation: DREAMGIRL (The Reluctant Diary of a Lovesick Average Joe). pretty cool guy and definitely worth taking a look: www.lulu.com/henryshel Click on either of the 2 books to see a 10 page preview, or just buy em’!
Since we were in the artist section, where there were scads of talented artists signing and selling their work, I realized that Steve Niles was in the area. I am a big fan of his and he was one of the two people I really wanted to meet. 30 Days of Night is an incredibly crafted story, and was my introduction to his talent. I have since followed his work, the latest being Breath of Bones: A Tale of the Golem (which I plan to devour this Labour Day weekend as a treat), and was really jazzed to meet him and get him to sign a copy of my 30 Days of Nights graphic novel. I would just like to add that I had a Starbucks coffee that morning. For most, this is not an issue, but for this pixie, it’s a problem. I just needed a boost, see? To get me through a long day of walking around. So I was kind of, um, supercharged. When I found his booth, I was ecstatic! Steve Niles! Creator of the best vampire story around! Eek! Well, I really nerded out, spouting coffee fueled babble about the film adaptation of 30 Days, my 30 Days of Night manicure, Danny Huston as the best vampire ever, and turtles, but he was just lovely! He signed my copy, and took a picture with me. Worth the sore feet for sure, and who knows if I will ever get the chance to chat with him in person again! http://www.steveniles.com/
Other highlights included seeing Luis the Suspect Guy from Suspect Video, some of the cast of Bitten and the hosts from InnerSpace, and ridiculous cackling over complete nonsense Nicole and I were prone to as we dodged the crowds. We also stopped to check out a unique comic called The Black Bastard. I was familiar with this one because I had met the creator, Matthew Mohammed, a few years ago at a previous FanExpo. He was cool then and is still just as cool with his satirical take on racial stereotypes. That site is currently under construction, so check your local comic book store for copies.
On to the “stars” as we kept putting it. Where were they? Way over in the North building. Which meant around 5 escalator rides combined with a fair bit of walking to the main exhibition area. Just before that was a walkway above the action. It was here we could look down and see the tables where celebrities were signing autographs and posing for pictures. However, we were promptly told to move as we were obstructing the flow of traffic, which was moving quite smoothly past us. Whatever. As we made our way down, I felt this side of the expo had a weird vibe. We walked past different booths selling their wares, huge models of Daleks, K.I.T.T. the car from Knight Rider and then past the autograph areas. Michael Rooker (Merle of The Walking Dead), Ron Perleman (Clay of The Sons of Anarchy and star of freakin’ Hellboy!), Dean Cain (Lois and Clark), Shawn Ashmore of X-Men fame, Laurie Holden (Andrea of The Walking Dead), George Takei (Sulu of Star Trek), and Linda Hamilton of Terminator fame were all graciously signing autographs that you basically had to pay for. I don’t know the ins and outs of this fan expo business, and I’m aware everyone has to make a buck and bills have to be paid, but a lot of the costs for pictures and autographs were a bit steep. I would have liked to have seen Norman Reedus (Darryl of The Walking Dead) but a) he was on a 30 minute break, and b) my sixty dollar photo fee did not include a foot massage from him. Because for sixty of my hard-earned dollars, that’s what I would have wanted, if not more. I also couldn’t be bothered to do any stealth photos liked I planned. My contacts were drying out and the vibe was like a party that hadn’t quite taken off yet, with people milling around awkwardly watching the celebrities.
Anyhoo, after some lunch and a great bevvy, we returned to the fun South Building so I could meet Adam Lopez, founder and director of the Toronto After Dark Film Festival. I’ve corresponded with him via Facebook and email, so it was finally time to meet face to face. Greeted with a lovely and warm welcome, Adam told me about some of the exciting sneak peeks coming up in the next few weeks. He was super nice and super excited about the Spotlight Screening Nights-films being shown before the actual festival to get fans revved up for October. Check out this link for show times and info. The cost for tickets are really reasonable, and it’s obvious that Adam and his crew put a lot of effort into this event every year. Because the festival is being held at the Scotiabank Theatre for the first time, it should be an awesome venue to pack in rabid horror fans. I can’t wait!!
There were plenty of seminars on writing, gaming, larping, cosplay and screenings which we unfortunately missed, along with a David “The Hoff” Hasslehoff sighting, but all in all, this pixie had a great time. FanExpo is a place where all the weird and woolly folk can go to express themselves as their favourite characters, buy all kinds of weird stuff, see their favourite stars, and feel like they belong. Hope to attend next year!