Toronto ComiCON is a renaming of what was the Fan Appreciation Events of previous years, from the same company that produces FanExpo Canada. This year’s event featured more ‘name’ guests than usual. All the comics guests were still gathered together in one area, in rows of tables with those who had paid for their tables clustered in the middle. The ‘name’ guests were all on the far left of each row, so that their fans could line up against the wall and not block the aisles at all. It was a good system–although with the other end of each table being closed off by a booth that meant that all the other artists had to push past that name guest to get out. I had some fear that my bag would swing off my shoulder and I would thwack Phil Jimenez across the head or knock over Mark Bagley’s standee. (And I discovered quickly that I’m a lot more claustrophobic than I would have guessed–seeing the hordes blocking the only free end of the table as they waited for Jiminez and George Perez was a bit overwhelming at times).
There were a lot of familiar faces at our table–Gibson Quarter (a frequent collaborator of mine, a former student of Ty’s at TCW, and a collaborator with both of us on the Holmes Incorporated books); David J. Cutler (one of Ty’s former students, the artist on The Northern Guard, and currently working with me on Heroes of the North’s Nordik: Chilling Me Softly). On the other side of Ty was the inimitable Leonard Kirk, and then Mr. Phil Jimenez.
Across from us were the Teuton guys for Big Sexy Comics—Fearless Fred Kennedy and Adam Gorham. I did pop by to say a quick hello, but they were busy with fans and questions, so I mostly left them be. George Perez was at the end of their table, easily identifiable by the big smile and the amazing shirts (a pattern of M and Ms the first day, and I believe a pattern of toy robots on the Sunday).
Got to meet and briefly chat with Claudia Davila (writer/artist of the kids book Luz See The Light) at a moment when she wasn’t busy with fans (or her daughter who was there on the Sunday in a wonderful fabric crown of pale purple with a big gold star and a long pink cape). On Sunday, I introduced myself to her husband Michael Cho and got to talk to him for a while. He and Ty had never actually physically met in all the years they’ve both been at Toronto cons so I introduced them. The result was a very energetic and passionate conversation about their favourite years of Jack Kirby’s creativity (Ty said ’71-’76 stating that most people would prefer the 60s , but Michael was in complete agreement until Ty said “The Demon”. There they parted ways…)
I tried to wander around the con a couple of times but it was BUSY!! (My stories of conventions necessarily end up being pretty myopic as I spend most of my time at the table or wandering to another creator to chat for a while.) I mostly stayed with Ty to chat with people and answer questions for when Ty was too busy, to watch his space or David’s and Gibson’s (nice feeling to sell some of the prints that I’d coloured!)
Ty made a run on Sunday to find Quarter or Dollar comic bins. He came back awed by the impressive pile he’d picked up from a bin of DIME comics. Dime comics!! Usually, he regards Quarter Comics as The Best Purchase Ever and has reluctantly moved up to Dollar Comics in recent years. When he discovered the Dime Comics, I was stunned that he left any behind.
Over the two days, I waved quick hellos at various creators–but it was so busy with appreciative fans that there wasn’t a lot of chance for conversations. That was saved for dinner on Saturday night. Local creators Agnes Garbowska and Francis Manapul let Yanick Paquette in on the location of one of their favourite restaurants (a Thai place down on Queen’s Quay) where they were awaiting Marcus To and Marco Rudy, so Yanick showed up with Gibson Quarter, Richard Pace, Phil Jiminez, Paolo Rivera and his partner April, and me and Ty.
We had a great time–lots of good food and, as is always the case after a long day at a con, sharing stories of some of the more interesting sketch requests (okay we’ve all heard about the honey guy, and the glue guy but…camel toe? Really?), battle stories and more. We even had a brief discussion of American politics (that was before we’d met up with the whole group–there were half a dozen of us in a bar awaiting drinks and I can’t remember what Phil Jiminez said but there was this great moment where everyone there realised that Phil had just opened up the conversation to something that would make Ty inordinately happy! Ty, son of a former radio and newsman, loveslovesloves to discuss politics, most particularly American politics. It was an energetic and rowdy fun conversation.)
All in all–exhausting but worthwhile. It’s always a bit strange for me at conventions–I prefer to let Ty make all the conversation so I have to really try to “put myself out there”. This works well in limited bursts–I’d try to meet a creator and say hello, and if their eyes shifted off to the side for the slightest moment, I’d have a brief panic that I was taking up too much of their time and melt away. On the other hand, I do like to warn people that if you make the mistake of talking to me, I’m likely to talk your ears off–one of the reasons people have trouble believing I’m as shy as I swear I am.
Ty and I still have loads of work to do before we catch up–two days away from our desks is a lot. But Ty made a point of telling me how glad he was that we ignored our deadlines and went out to dinner with everyone. We were only sorry to have missed out on other opportunities to hang out, but we did have kids waiting for us at home…