Conventions, Conventions, Conventions!

I went to a few conventions recently. All of them in Toronto.

The first one was Fan Expo Toronto Comicon, I only went up and down on the Sunday but it was a 3 day event. I did audio record a few panels, 2 sketch duels and 1 spotlight on Larry F. Houston. I normally stick with just comic book (and often comic book history) related panels but there unfortunately weren’t any on that day.

That said I did enjoy the Larry F. Houston panel. If you’re around my age and enjoyed cartoons such as Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends, Pryde of the X-Men and the 1992 X-Men cartoon than this panel is for you as Larry was involved in all of it. Larry also gives us a heads up on what the X-Men 97 cartoon is about and why we should watch it. This got me to watch it. While I did watch the X-Men 92 show I can’t say I had the overly fond memories that people a bit younger than me have about the show.

The two sketch duels were interesting, one involved Mike Rooth vs. Hugh Rookwood (and vs. Jay Fosgitt) they spoke about drawing with various things and working digitally vs/and digitally. Jay told the story about writing a letter to Jim Henson as a young boy saying he wanted to be an artist and work for him, then eventually doing so and seeing that Jim kept that letter and his response.

The other duel was Casey Parsons vs. Chris Compana and the spoke about a variety of topics including when they started drawing, their art school experience, artist block and how they deal with it, what music they listen to while drawing, how doing art for a living can sometimes be a drudgery, working on trading cards, if they bargain with editor/writers when they get a page they really don’t want to draw, if they have a go to character they always draw when doodling or warming up, guilty pleasures they like to draw, their other creative outlets, characters they would love to revive with their own takes, what they are working on right now, a project they weren’t happy with but turned out to be a big success, their dream project, work of other artists they like, but can’t happily do themselves, if it’s harder starting a series mid-way through vs being there from the very beginning, their ‘I made it’ moment.

The 2nd convention I went to was the Artsy Fartsy Comic Con. This is a very small 1 day show with 20 creators selling books, art and doing sketches/commissions. I mainly chatted with various people there and took pictures of everybody. It was especially nice to see Ty Templeton and Ruby Smith. Both of whom (but Ty especially) have had health problems and haven’t been tabling at Toronto shows since before the pandemic I believe. Proof of Life! was shouted when people (including me) took pictures of Ty. It was also nice to chat with Mike and Erika Wallace Rooth.

The most recent ‘convention’ I attended was the Toronto Comics Arts Festival. Where I recorded a whole bunch of panels. It is one of my favourite shows to do each year. What was surprising this year was program director Miles Baker stepping down and that the Toronto Reference Library that hosts the event will be undergoing renovations for the next two years. They are going to need to find a new space for the show. Trying to find a space that will fit the convention and keeping it free to attend will be a challenge.

On happier news Drawn & Quarterly, who had taken a multi year hiatus from doing the show was back this year. Sadly there was a couple of sections of the event I did not get to visit as I spent most of my time recording panels as usual. I got most of the panels I wanted to do but there were a few I couldn’t do for a variety of reasons, among them were panels running late and not being able to get to the next panel on time. For some reason it just felt like people were running over, starting late or were rushing through their panels to make it fit within whatever time was left to do. I didn’t check to see if they had volunteers there giving panellists warnings about their time, but if they didn’t, they need to make sure they are there next year.