So last weekend we made the big trip to the Big Smoke and headed to Toronto for Fan Expo 2010 with some friends of ours. All in all, it was a great weekend. Was Fan Expo well organized? I would say no. Saturday was absolutely insane, with a line around the block just for re-admittance and hundreds of ticket holders who got left outside when the Convention Centre hit capacity. The worst part about the capacity was that the expo was spread over three levels, so they would shut down an escalator to another level until the capacity levels evened out. All in all, it made for a frustrating day. Friday and Sunday were much better, with smaller crowds.
Highlights of Fan Expo:
- Jagger got his Summer Glau autograph, after about an hour and a half of waiting in line. It was frustrating, but worth it.
- Stan Lee walked right by us. This was at one of the "wait in line to take the escalator back up to the main level" incidents. We were at the head of the line, waiting for them to let us up when security ushered Stan Lee up the escalator beside us. Pretty crazy, but no picture. In real life, he looks like Stan Lee.
- Lots of good deals in Artist's Alley. All in all, we probably spent the most time in Artist's Alley getting sketches, signatures and picking up some prints. I got some of the guys from Kill Shakespeare to sign one of my issues.
My friend Dan bought me one of these Gloomies prints. All of her work was hilarious, it really cracks me up. Dan's wife Amanda got one as well, and here's the one I picked out.
I also managed to get some stuff for the kid, including these three prints - 3 for $10, can't go wrong there.
I got something else for the kid while we were there, but if I told you what it was, then it would be a hint to our name if the kid ends up being a boy. You'll have to wait another 3 months to find out!
I also picked up this print, which the husband is not thrilled about...
- The DC Universe panel was fun an informative. There should have been more questions directed at the artists, but you can't really help what people ask. It was great to see Jeff Lemire on the panel, and I was excited to see Brian Azzarello on the panel, and then to run into him at a booth later on.
- Pure Pwnage - do you watch this show? Probably not, it's a Canadian show on Showcase, but it started as an online show. It's hilarious, all about gaming. We met the creator and start, Jarett Cale. We got some pictures, but they're super blurry thanks to the kid in line who took it for us.
Not-So Highlights of Fan Expo:
- Lines, lines, line. I knew going into it that we would be waiting in lots of lines, but this was ridiculous. There were lines everywhere, and no one knew what they were for. That being said, I would appreciate...
- Lack of signage. A little signage would go a long way. You had to constantly ask staff what a line was for, and a few signs would have made things a lot easier.
- Very condensed areas - I've since read that they had to move it to the other side of the convention centre than they normally have it in, so they were forced into a smaller space. They definitely need to break out some sections. We decided we would love to see Artist's Alley in its own separate area. It was extremely squished in that area and difficult to make it to all the tables. It would also be nice if the celebrity signing area was held on a different level - on Sunday, the lineup for Shatner ran right through the middle of the convention centre, making it really difficult to get to lots of booths.
- Poor food selection. We literally had to buy a $7 hot dog on Saturday. Our original plan had been to leave the centre for lunch and go somewhere else nearby, but due to the capacity issues, if we left the building, we wouldn't be able to come back in. Instead, we were stuck with a $7 hot dog, on a kind of stale bun. Not cool. We did bring lots of snacks, but still, having some more food options would go a long way.
- Lax security - I could not believe that they weren't checking anyone on their way in. Not a single pat down, not a single bag was checked that I could see. On Saturday, I fully expected my bag to be searched and assumed I would get hassled about the food I was bringing in, but no one batted an eye. I know geeks are a mild bunch, but it wouldn't take much for some fake costume weapon to become an actual weapon.
- Too many costumes. Okay, I know you worked really hard on your costume, and I have no idea what anime character you're supposed to be, but seriously. I was tired of getting bumped with pieces of cardboard and hoop skirts by the end of Saturday, I was ready to lose it. I know there's a masquerade and it's a big deal, but seriously, let's think before we get dressed.
- People bringing their kids. This is not a place for children. It was so crowded and there was so much walking. I know your kid looks super cute in their costume, but leave them at home until they're old enough to handle it. I literally saw a little girl, probably 4 years old throwing herself on the floor and crying because she couldn't walk anymore. Awful.
All in all, we did have a good time, despite the downfalls. As far as returning next year, I don't know if we would. It would depend on what celebrities they have attend next year and whether or not they organize things better. I don't think we would do Saturday ever again if things are going to be like that. It would be nicer to go for an entire day on Friday and/or Sunday and avoid the major crowds of Saturday.
Here's a few more pictures of our weekend...
This weekend has also made me realize how much I need a new camera. Mine is crap with indoor lighting. Add it to the list of things to get...
Any of you brave Fan Expo this year? Or any other Comic Conventions?