I stood there feeling lost and intimidated. My guide to Fan Expo Canada had left me on my own and for a few minutes I didn’t know where I wanted to go, what I wanted to do, or even what I wanted to see. This was crazy. I was crazy. There were so many people, and so many exhibits. The Metro Toronto Convention Centre exhibitor’s hall was full out sensory overload. What was I thinking? Why did I want to come here?
I’m not that much of a sci-fi fan; I’m not a gamer; I don’t read comic books; I definitely am not a fan of the horror genre, in movies, games, or comics; and I don’t even really know what animé is. I was here as this [going to Fan Expo] was a birthday gift for our son Eric. I also thought it might generate some work for me–writing about the people I’d meet, the games and gamers, or other features from the show.
The birthday idea was fine. The writing idea now seemed a little daunting, to say the least, because I couldn’t even figure out where to begin. I was feeling a little less lost as I took a deep breath and left the big hall for a quieter area upstairs. The ride on the escalator gave me a few minutes to organize my thoughts and relax. I decided to go to the Q&A panel with the cast of Flashpoint, one of my favourite television shows. For now, I’d be a fan; later I’d be the journalist. I’d be fine. This would all work out.
It worked out better than I expected. I learned more about some of these genres, and why they are so popular. I was prepared a little for that, but there was so much more.
What I wasn’t prepared for was to become so engaged with people who make their living, and celebrate artistic expression, in these genres. I also wasn’t prepared to find so many connections between their work and mine. For example I met a graphic comic writer and artist and we talked about the pros and cons of self-publishing. I talked about writing for video games with a successful writer in that market. That’s not something I’d considered, but might in the future.
It was also neat to see so many folks in costumes. It was amazing to see the lengths that some had gone to dress up.
Did you know that some folks who come to these shows and other events in sci-fi or game costumes actually do it to raise money for charity—and they spend hours making sure they get the costume right? Shown below are two local members of the 501st Legion. The Legion has members in 35 countries, with 106 members in Canada. The costumes are made to “movie specs”, and more than $8,000,000 has been raised for charities by public appearances.
Of course the celebrities also fascinated me. Yes, they are actors, and they got paid to be there, but their enthusiasm seemed genuine. (More about them in another post.)
As I said, I really didn’t know what to expect apart from the crowds and the sensory overload, which at times were overwhelming. I wasn’t a big fan of these genres, and I’m still not. But I’m now a fan of Fan Expo and may even attend next year. Eric says he’ll make a nerd out me yet. He might be right.
(Thanks to Eric for the photos, except the ones of the “Red Queen” and “Matthew Sheppard”, which I took.)
Did you go to Fan Expo 2012, or have you been to something like this? Would you go again? There’ll be a few articles here, so please follow along and add your comments.