Montreal Comiccon 2016
By Stuart Nulman – mtltimes.ca
If you were a fan or aficionado of comic books, super heroes, science fiction, video games, fantasy, animation or any other aspect of pop culture, then Montreal Comiccon was the place to be, as record crowds jammed the aisles of the Palais de Congres between July 8 and 10.
Basically, it was a virtual “kid-in-a-candy-store” setting, with a multitude of kiosks of various shapes and sizes offering fans and collectors everything from comic books (both classic and current), memorabilia, video games and video game accessories, collectibles, movie posters, trading cards, model kits, t-shirts, hoodies and even authentic cosplay weapons (especially swords).
While strolling along the aisles of Montreal Comiccon throughout the entire three-day period, several things caught my attention. First of all, the costumes. I was so impressed by the effort and attention to detail many of the Comiccon went through with their costumes, whether it be Batman, Superman, Darth Vader, the X-Men, Captain America, or anyone from the Star Wars or Star Trek universes. However, the one character whom I saw represented the most was Harley Quinn, the harlequin-like, mallet-wielding companion of the Joker who is the star of her own comic book and is going to be portrayed by Australian actress Margot Robbie in the upcoming “Suicide Squad” film that is going to be released on August 5. Why is Harley Quinn so popular with female comic book fans?
“Harley Quinn is a cute bad girl, who is spontaneous, happy, but is a totally whacked-out character who is a little less dangerous than the Joker,” said Kyle, an employee at Labyrinth, a Toronto-based comic book and collectibles store.
Second, the autographs and photo ops. One thing is for sure, there is no shortage of Comiccon fans who love to get an autograph of – or a photo with – one of their pop culture idols, and are determined to spend the time and money to get those celebrity signatures and photos. And this year’s line-up of celebrity appearances was quite an impressive one: William Shatner, Brent Spiner, Nichelle Nichols, Kate Mulgrew, Tom Felton from the Harry Potter movies (according to one source, when he appeared for his autograph session, he was greeting with loud screams similar to what greeted the Beatles more than 50 years ago), pro wrestlers Ric Flair and Eric Bischoff, Cary Elwes, Eliza Dushku, Billy Dee Williams and Alfonso Ribeiro, to name a few. I had the golden opportunity to join the foursome for a photo op with William Shatner on Friday afternoon. Shatner was friendly and amiable and wanted to have a brief chat with us; unfortunately, because of the high volume of fans who also purchased a photo op with the revered Captain Kirk, we had to be in and out of the area in a matter of seconds (but the photo came out quite nicely, I have to admit).
Third, the Q&A sessions. Fans also got the chance to see many of these celebrities talk about the shows and movies that made them famous in a series of 45-minute Q&A sessions that took place in one of the Palais’ large conference rooms on the fifth floor. I managed to catch four of these sessions and here are my highlights: William Shatner offered fond memories of growing up in NDG (as part of the Marcil Street Gang), his weakness for Ruby Foo’s garlic spareribs, why Canadians like to say “not bad”, and his unlikely musical career (and announced he is going to release a Christmas album later this year); Kate Mulgrew, accompanied by her niece Isabel, gave a fulfilling , inspirational session and talked about how significant her role as Captain Janeway on “Star Trek: Voyager” was for female actors, and how she developed her Russian accent for the character of “Red” Reznikov on “Orange is the New Black”; the bubbly, sassy Eliza Dushku spoke about one piece of advice Arnold Schwarzenegger gave her on the set of “True Lies”, one of her first onscreen appearances: “Don’t ever change your paternal name”; and Alfonso Ribeiro shared some great behind-the-scenes stories from “The Fresh Prince of Bel Air”, including his famous dance to Tom Jones’ hit “It’s Not Unusual”, and admitted that at first, he wasn’t a fan of his music, but grew to appreciate him when appeared on an episode of the show (“He is an incredible gentleman … but he now owes me a lot of money,” he jokingly added).
Finally, the merchandise. It is impossible to go to Montreal Comiccon (or any other Comiccon across North America) and not leave without purchasing some sort of pop culture-type merchandise. In fact, the displays and kiosks were so eye catching, that you were automatically drawn to them and tempted to buy something to add to your collection, whatever that may be. For me, it’s t-shirts. And thanks to one vendor’s huge selection of shirts that represented Marvel, DC, movies and classic TV, I added two new t-shirts to my vast collection: Monty Python’s Flying Circus (featuring the Ministry of Silly Walks) and the 1966 Batman TV series logo. And then there’s all those comic books. As I was going from comic book kiosk to kiosk, I rifled through their stacks and found many of the DC and Marvel comic books (especially Batman and Howard the Duck) that I bought as a teenager for about 20 to 30 cents each (not to mention those special giant-sized editions for $1) back in the 1970s. And as I saw the price tags for these books going for $20, $30 and as much as $60 each, my heart began to ache in retrospect, wishing that somehow I should have held onto those comic books and not relegate them to the garbage can. Oh, well…..