Day 3: As I woke up for the third and final day of the convention, my body was still aching from the last two days’ adventures. I would have been perfectly happy to stay in bed to rest, but I had stuff to do for IMJ— and I also wanted to take my girlfriend and her nephew down the con… So I somehow found the energy to get up and get dressed.
You’d assume any 10-year-old would be super enthused about getting to go to a comic con, but that wasn’t the case with my girlfriend’s nephew. While he was somewhat interested in going, he would’ve just as easily preferred to stay at my place and play video games all day. (I have six different consoles set up in my living room and more games that anyone needs– so whenever he comes over it’s always a struggle to pry the little guy away from the television.) Getting him to leave the games alone for a few hours was a little easier than usual on this occasion, mainly because we informed him he’d be able to try some new video games at the con.
Thankfully, we got into the con without having to wait very long. The building was very crowded, but nowhere near as packed as it had been the day before. There were, however, more people on the third day than there had been on the first. One thing I noticed about the crowd– a lot of them were coughing and sneezing. I was sure I’d end up with the dreaded “con flu” that you’ve heard mentioned on Inveterate Media Junkies in the past– but by some miracle, I managed to get through the weekend with my health reasonably intact.
Of course, our 10-year-old companion wanted to head straight to the video games, but my girlfriend and I made the decision to start at one end of the showroom floor and make our way to the other side. That didn’t thrill the little guy, but doing things our way at least ensured we wouldn’t miss anything. We got him to go along with the plan by informing him there were dealers with new and used video games scattered throughout the building. Knowing he was going to get a game as a gift at some point, he was much more willing to spend some time exploring the con.
We started at the far side of the floor at Artist Alley. Things like Ecto-1 from Ghostbusters, a Landspeeder from Star Wars, a mail truck celebrating Superman’s 75th Anniversary, Daleks, and the DeLorean from Back to the Future were also on display here. Sadly, the nephew didn’t give a damn about the vehicles and cared even less about the artists. Apparently, he wasn’t the only in one attendance who wasn’t terribly interested in the various comic creators either, because talented people like Chris Claremont, Mike Grell, Bob Layton and Richard Starkings never seemed to have big crowds gathered around their tables when I was in their vicinity. Meanwhile, cosplayers like Jessica Nigri, Kamui, and Monica Lee (also mentioned in Part 2 of my report) were swamped by admirers all weekend long.
My girlfriend definitely enjoyed her time in Artist Alley. She always picks up some art when she comes to cons with me and this time she purchased several gorgeous prints. She bought a couple from artist Andrea Tamme and three more from local artist Geneviève FT. She also bought a Daenerys Targaryen print illustrated by Michael Dooney and a limited Elephantmen print drawn by Camilla D’Errico. The latter artist wasn’t there in person, but her print was being sold at Starkings’ table. (It was probably a very good thing D’Errico wasn’t around either– since my girlfriend adores her art and likely would have purchased a lot more of her fine work had she had the chance.)
A few of the artists had original comic book art with them and there was the odd page or two to be seen elsewhere at the convention– but this really wasn’t a great show for people looking to get their hands on some choice comic book pages. Truth is, The Montreal Comiccon has never been a great place to acquire art, and that’s something I’d like to see change. I’d love to see the promoters bring in some of the big art dealers from the US– and I’m sure I’m not alone in feeling this way.
I know there are some serious art collectors who frequent my local comic shop who would be thrilled to see more original art at the show. They’d end up going home with significantly lighter wallets, but they’d be happy all the same. I’d probably have much less cash myself, as I am developing a real taste for original art. Thankfully, my girlfriend is fine with prints… If she wasn’t, we’d both be in the poor house in no time.
While I’m on the subject of art, I should mention the Montreal Comiccon isn’t the type of con you bring your portfolio to in the hopes of finding a comic book gig. Major publishers don’t really come to this show. (Aspen Comics was the only noteworthy publisher in attendance this year and their booth was easy enough to miss.) If you’re serious about landing work as an artist in the comic industry, I would recommend showing your work to some of the men/women who are already working in the business. It’s easy enough to get some time with the various artists here and most are more than happy to give you tips and advice on how you can improve as a penciler, inker, or whatever.
Once we finished our walk through artist alley, it was time to make our way through the various aisles stuffed with dealers and merchandise. You could buy just about anything geek-related on this floor: Toys, Statues, Art Books, T-Shirts, Swords– even Shoes. It didn’t take long to find a vendor with video games and it took even less time for my girlfriend’s nephew to pick out a game… So I took a picture of him shopping with his aunt. While snapping the pics, I could overhear the guys working the booth talking about me. I listened a little closer, only to discover they were under the impression I was some creep taking pictures of a random girl and a little kid. Wanting to correct their misconception as quickly as possible, I hurried over to my girlfriend and put my arm around her. (She had a good laugh when I told her about what I had heard.)
One of the con’s biggest attractions was the new Playstation 4. There were several consoles set up on the showroom floor, and the line of people waiting for a turn on them was just insane. People were pretty much camped out just waiting to play video games. There was no way my girlfriend was going to wait in line for who knows how long just so her nephew could get in a few minutes of gaming. Lucky for him, though, there were some X-Box 360 consoles set up nearby and the wait to play with them wasn’t nearly as long. There were a couple of Lego games and a Batman game being showcased… So we let the nephew have some fun.
After he finished, he was ready to head home… Even though the adults hadn’t made it through half the room yet. We were also supposed to meet my girlfriend’s buddy at some point, so we weren’t going to leave just yet. In an effort to keep the little guy happy while waiting for my girlfriend’s pal to join us, we took the kid to a booth selling Halloween costumes. The offer of a lightsaber to go with his newly acquired Jedi costume did the trick and bought us a little extra peace.
When we met up with the friend a short time later, a guy in some sort of mascot suit wandered over and tried to have some fun with our 10-year-old sidekick. The little guy wasn’t having any of it, though. When the mascot rubbed his head, the nephew pushed him away and gave him a couple of smacks. The guy took the hint and wandered away… And it’s probably a good thing he did, because this kid was fed up and ready to scrap.
My girlfriend and I really don’t care about meeting celebrities at comic conventions, but being able to see and meet stars was the main reason my GF’s friend purchased a ticket. That was actually the main reason a lot of people purchased tickets to the con as well. You really had to feel bad for these fans this year too– as the convention had many of its big guests cancel their appearances at the last-minute. Billy Dee Williams, Carrie Fisher, Katee Sackhoff, Laurie Holden, Michael Rooker and Tricia Helfer were among those who had to bail on the show. These cancellations really upset many people, but the organizers did a wonderful job of finding replacement guests under difficult circumstances. Christopher Lloyd, Edward James Olmos, Felicia Day, Frazer Hines, George Takei, Gillian Anderson, Jason David Frank, Jason Momoa, Lou Ferrigno, Manu Bennett, Margot Kidder, Nicole de Boer, Ray Park, and Sean Astin were among the celebrities who did make appearances.
With the different stars all charging for autographs and pictures, my girlfriend’s friend decided to limit himself to getting a signed photo of himself with Manu Bennett. He was thrilled with it and couldn’t wait to get home to post it on Facebook. Before leaving, though, he decided he needed to get a picture with model Marie-Claude Bourbonnais. Hmmm… Looking at the pic on the left, I wonder why?
The celebrity area was packed with people all weekend long. Some stars obviously attracted much larger crowds than others, but I didn’t see anyone sitting around looking bored (like you do at some cons). The fans were well behaved (for the most part) and were fairly good at respecting the con’s rules about not walking up to the celebrities and taking their pictures without permission (and without paying). There was even a sign stating “NO FLASH PHOTOGRAPHY”– and the majority of the con-goers respected it. Not me! I saw it and proceeded to take a picture of the first guy dressed as The Flash I could find.
There was one fellow who got in a bit of trouble in the celebrity area. Armed with a camera, he wandered over to the table belonging to former WWE Diva Maryse. She wasn’t at her booth at the time, but she had left a number of photos at her table. The guy, apparently unaware there’s this thing called the internet where you can find sexy pictures of women (especially celebrity women), approached the table and started taking shots of all the different pics. A worker at the con rushed over to stop him and they ended up getting into a heated argument. It was quite a sight.
At this point in the day, my girlfriend had her prints, her friend had his pictures, the nephew had his presents and I had enough to write about– so we decided to go grab a bite to eat and then head off into the sunset. We made our way home and I was more than happy to sit around playing video games for the rest of the afternoon. Having been on my feet and running around for three days straight, it felt really good to finally be able to sit and relax.
Though it was rough on my body, I had a really good time at the Montreal Comiccon. Based on what I’ve been hearing, the majority of the people who attended the show did as well. In all, more than 42,000 visitors made their way to the con this year. That’s over 10,000 more than the year before. MCC still has a way to go before it catches up with Toronto’s Fan Expo Canada (an event that attracted over 100,000 attendees back in August 2013)… But many are saying Montreal’s comic con already compares very favorably to it. It’ll be very interesting to see how the show grows and improves over the next few years. I’ll definitely be there in 2014 to see for myself.
I recommend you book some holiday time next September, so you can join me in enjoying a unique convention held in a unique city.