Dylan's Canadian National Expo 2002 Report.

Ninjatron is going to talk about the big Toronto Convention... again.

Ah yes, it's that time again. Another year, another trip to the big show. I've gone to the Canadian National Comic Book/Sci Fi/Anime Expo several times now, and you'll recall that I had a very good time last year. While this year was a pretty good show, I felt like it was something I did not for any extraordinary reasons, but just because that's what I do every August. This report isn't going to be as in depth as last year's, because I honestly don't have very much to talk about this time.

Expo sign

Friday - Obtain the Blade of Destiny!

Lines suck

As usual, the reoccurring theme of this convention, as with many conventions, is waiting in the ever present line-up. This year was particularly taxing, with a bizarre system of lines that had us all waiting outside at one point.

Ninja is bored.

People were very confused about which line they were supposed to be standing in and which end of the line they should be in, myself included. There was a fairly long wait after the dealer room was supposed to open before the line even started to move. As a testament to that, here is a terrible picture of me looking bored. How exciting.

Transformers: The War Within.

Once we had gotten in, there was one thing that I was really after. Dreamwave Productions, being the patriotic bunch that they are, offered an exclusive comic book to the Toronto crowd. It was an early look at Transformers: The War Within, an amazing comic about the early days of Optimus Prime's role as Autobot leader before The Transformers had ever arrived on Earth. Written by the great Simon Furman and penciled by former fan artist Don Figueroa it was sure to be a favorite. I picked one up and I'm glad I did. Anything else that happened that weekend was gravy.

Scourge is mine! Sword of Fury!

The other thing I wanted was a Transformers Generation 1 Megatron reissue. There was a few around, but much too expensive. Buying one would have burned out all of my funds for the entire convention. So, wanting to have something cool to show for making the trip that I couldn't just go out and buy anywhere, I got myself a Robots in Disguise Scourge toy. He's an evil version of Optimus Prime which didn't get a very wide release. The good thing was, now I had Scourge, and Scourge is awesome. The bad thing is that now I had to carry that big box around for the rest of the day, which was not awesome.

80's panel

There was a panel all about the 80's revival going on in comics. People from DC, Dreamwave, Devil's Due, and Top Cow were all there. Before things got started the guy from DC, who's name I can't remember unfortunately, saw my Decepticon hat and asked if I was also a Beast Wars fan. Turns out he used to work for Mainframe during those days. We talked for a bit about how stupid the Canadian name "Beasties" was, despite it being more violent that the edited showing it had on Fox Kids. Topics like GI-Joe, Transformers, Thundercats, Battle of the Planets, and whatnot were all discussed quite passionately, because they were all fans. The highlight of the panel was when a lady in the audience asked why the girl's properties didn't still have the popularity that the boy's franchises did. That sparked a great filibuster from Dreamwave's Adam Fortier, who reminded us all of a particular girl's 80's show when he said, quite seriously mind you, "Jem is truly outrageous! Truly truly truly outrageous!". Apparently he's up for a Jem revival. Yeah, for real.

Taka the interpreter with Kia Asamiya

The really big draw for me this year was seeing Kia Asamiya, one of the greatest working manga artists in Japan today. He's created titles such as Silent Mobius, Steam Detectives, and worked on Batman and X-Men projects as well . One of the funnier stories he told was when he was asked to suggest an artist that could draw the manga adaptation of Star Wars Episode 1. He said he knew someone who he thought could handle the job. Of course, that someone was himself. That brought on much applause from the audience. However, he said he could not enjoy the movie when he eventually saw it, because all he could think about while we was watching it were the mistakes he had made in his manga version. It was surprising to me how much influence he (and several other manga artists) had always taken from American comics.

Kia Asamiya Kia Asamiya

This is a pretty rare chance to actually see what Kia looks like, as most photo's of him have his face blocked off. I don't know what's up with those shiny stripes on his shirt. It didn't look this shiny at all in person. Strange, but very cool. I want a shirt like that.

Weapons! Signs read 'In order to handle or purchase anything from this booth, all persons must be 18 years old or over.'

Weapons for sale! Get your deadly weapons right here! This booth was here last year too, and seemed to be doing good business. What would a comic book convention be without the sale of deadly weapons? If you said "Much, much safer", well then I'm afraid I have some bad news for you.

Ninja with sword The sword unleashed

I bought a sword. Let the fear begin! Aww yeah!

Saturday - Gorilla of Sorrow

Amaranthine

Here's some old pals from Amaranthine, a great group of artists that often come in to speak to my students. That's Merit, Prax, Nick, and Jeremy. They had a table at the artists' alley and were offering their drawing services.Jeremy was dressed in a suit, which I think was the best gimmick of the whole show.

Kirby Morrow Kirby Morrow Kirby Morrow

Kirby Morrow, a great voice actor from Vancouver, was another guest that I was looking forward to seeing. He has worked on such shows including Escaflowne as Van, X-Men Evolution as Cyclops, Transformers: Armada (which had just debuted in the US that weekend) as Rad, and Gundam Wing as Trowa. His first voice role was as Michealengelo in Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation, and he's also been in several TV shows such as Stargate SG1 and Jeremiah. As it usually goes with these folks, the stories of the voice recordings with their fellow BC voice actors were very entertaining.

Somewhere along the line I had bought a Transformers Beast Machines Blast Punch Optimus Primal. I assume that this was a good toy, but I don't really know because after Kirby's panel it was lost/stolen. Set it down under my chair, left the room for not even 15 minutes, and when I went back to get it, it was gone. Because of my frantic and ultimately failed search to retrieve it, I missed seeing Billy Dee Williams. Bummer.

Dreamwave panel

I went to Dreamwave Production's panel. This was a big deal for them at the time because of the recent successes of Transformers G1 and Transformers Armada. They said that, while they had expected to be successful, they never imagined the level of success they archive. I asked Armada artist James Raiz about his amazing work on the huge 400+ character lithograph. He sort of acted like it was no big deal, which was amusing.

Transformers Fan Panel Transformers Fan Panel staring Sprocket

Directly afterwards in the same room, there was a Transformers fan panel, which had a small but loyal audience talking about all things Transformers related and having a decent time of things. The highlight was when my friend Sprocket (visiting the convention from the US) and I, having been seen by the panel members as good sources of information, were asked to join the panel ourselves. It was fun to be an "expert" of sorts for awhile and talk with people who were into all of that as much as I am. The guys who were really running things knew their stuff very well.

Ninja gets his hair braided. Fear the ninja braids!

Then came another round of the waiting game as the line up for the masquerade was growing. I essentially picked a random spot in line (no one seemed to mind) and preceded to wait. I was eventually joined by my usual con-going cohorts. Haley and Michele decided to play with my hair. I had no objections, and so the trademarked long blond tendrils in front of my face became two braids. They each took a side and apparently it became some sort of contest between who could braid the best.

Cosplaying monster.

While waiting, this huge monster walked by. You can hardly tell from this that it's a monster, but it is.

KR, the future club, apparently.

Before the masquerade started, we were "treated" to a bizarre futurist concert of sorts by a group calling themselves "KR". Very weird stuff. I really can't fairly comment any further, though, because the multitude of technical problems were a real deterrent. Unfourtunatly those problems really set the tone for the rest of the evening.

KR, the future club, apparently.

Usually, the masquerade is very entertaining, and this year it was indeed that. Gordon Rose again hosted it and made things a lot of fun. However, the auditorium was very hot, the crew running things backstage bungled a lot of things up, and most of all, the majority of the costumes were boring. I'm sorry, I know a lot of people work hard on that stuff, and it's supposed to be all in fun, but for crying out loud... enough with the freakin' Final Fantasy gimmicks! It seemed like every other entry was another dull Final Fantasy character that I could care less about. People, these costumes are way, way over done! Show some creativity and pick some decent characters that haven't been cosplayed to death a million times before.

Gundam Final Fantasy Whatever

I was using Shawn's camera to take pictures, but fighting a losing battle. Hardly anything came out right. Most ended up looking like abstract artwork.

Monster Monster

Finally it ended, and I was glad. If it were not for Gordon Rose playing around with the audience like he did, the masquerade would have been nothing but an exercise in pain and madness. Apparently that big monster won, which had people pissed off because it was made by a professional costume maker, though was entered as a novice. Whatever.

Sunday - The Blankness of one's Soul

Nothing really important happened. I bought some stuff and had Jeremy draw me a portrait.

The Ninja by Jeremy

Looks just like me, huh? It's great!

For the entire convention, Draxhall Jump, who made a big splash last year, was no where to be found. If they where there, I didn't see them. What happened?

Later, as things were winding down towards the end of the convention, My buddy Jeff and I got in a conversation with Dreamwave President Pat Lee. That was pretty cool.

Random Pictures

Bandai

Bandai! Let's all look at toys that are not available for sale yet, and probably never will be available for sale in Canada at all.

Dealers Room

The dealers area! Let's all look at toys that we could actually potentially buy, but don't have enough money for.

Irwin Toys

Irwin Toys: Bringing long, drawn out battles between a never ending stream of overpowered uber-characters home!

Devil's Due - GI Joe Dreamwave

Awesome GI-Joe Art by Devil's Due and Dreamwave's impressive booth.

Ballistic Pluto Nash

Warning! Incoming Bombs!

X-Box Truck

I wonder if, given its contents, this truck has ever crashed? *rimshot*

Conclusion

I have to say, in all honesty, that this convention was nothing too special, but for some reason I'm glad that I went. I think that in order to really have a good time, you have to make your own fun. Granted, that shouldn't always be the case, and hopefully things will be organized a bit better next year. I guess the best way to put it is that the convention needs some heart. Luckily, I was able to spend much of the time with other people who filled in that gap.

I'm still angry that I lost that Optimus Primal I bought, though.

Sayonara.

On to Shawn's Report

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