Montreal Comiccon – For three days last weekend, Montrealers of all ages lost themselves in another world that was filled with comic book super heroes, TV, movie and animation characters, video games, comic books, collectibles, animation, fantasy, sci-fi, celebrities and a whole lot of cool merchandise. That was the world of Montreal Comiccon, which held its 10th anniversary edition from July 6 to 8 at the Palais de Congres.
Whether you have attended Montreal Comiccon for the first or tenth time, you can’t help but be overwhelmed at the grand scale of how this comic book/pop culture event has grown over the past decade. And for me, there are three main reasons why I return year after year.
First of all, there’s the merchandise and collectibles. This basically was the roots of the comic book conventions that took place in hotel ballrooms during the 70s and 80s that evolved into Comiccon. You went there to the many kiosks of comic book dealers from your hometown, or nearby cities and towns, to purchase a single copy or two of your favorite classic comic book, or complete certain sets of your comic book collection.
These days, Comiccon’s kiosks offer so much more than just comic books. You can purchase t-shirts of your favorite hero or character (my perennial favorite is MTC Comics, an Ontario-based company that probably has one of the best and largest selection of pop culture-related t-shirts and apparel; I always buy at least one t-shirt from them every year. This time, I bought one with the cover of the first issue of Action Comics – which marked the debut of Superman – on the front); costumes and accessories (even medieval swords); prints; edibles; posters; and even surprise boxes, which for a certain price, you can a whole whack of mystery merchandise and collectibles. Those surprise boxes are the top sellers at Comiccon. And there are even thematic surprise boxes, ranging from Star Wars, to Doctor Who, to even the Golden Girls.
Second, there’s the costumes. Every year when I go to Comiccon, I am amazed at how elaborate – and sometimes intricate – the effort and detail that are put into these costumes, which represent a wide range of genres, movies, TV shows, comic books and animation. This year, I saw my share of people dressed as the Joker, Harley Quinn, Wonder Woman, Spider Man, and Princess Leia. As well, there were people dressed up as characters from Japanese animation programs, Game of Thrones, and even from Disney’s animated blockbuster “Frozen”. And whether they be roaming the aisles of the convention space or the large foyer area at the Palais, there were no shortage of amateur and professional photographers snapping away at these cosplay enthusiasts, who were always willing to take a few seconds to enthusiastically pose in character for them.
Third, there are the celebrities. This year’s Montreal Comiccon offered a line-up of 35 pop culture celebrities from the world of TV, movies, animation and the web, such as Chuck Norris, David Duchovny, Pamela Anderson, Val Kilmer, Jason Momoa (aka Aquaman) and Danny Trejo (“Sons of Anarchy”).
And as in past Comiccons, their fans and admirers had three ways of having a face-to-face encounter with them: through scheduled autograph sessions, photo ops (which ranged in price from $40 to well over $200, and were listed on a large video monitor as if you were in a fast food restaurant), and the in-person Q&A sessions.
The Q&A sessions are one of my favorite parts of Montreal Comiccon; I had the chance to attend four of them, and two really stood out for me. First there was veteran British actor Julian Glover, who is best known for his roles in Game of Thrones, The Empire Strikes Back and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. But being a James Bond fan, I best remember him for his role as the despicable villain Ari Kristatos in the 1981 Bond thriller For Your Eyes Only.
However, at his Q&A session, Glover was anything but despicable; in fact, he was quite charming and engaging with the audience, as he told several behind-the-scenes stories about working on the above-mentioned productions. One of them dealt with how secretive the people at Game of Thrones are, especially with its story lines, and whether certain characters would survive into the next season. Glover was convinced to stay for season six when he was delivered the script pages of his death scene to his home by courier … only after he had to open two different boxes with two different keys.
“When you really don’t want something is when you’ll probably get it,” was Glover’s glib response from that incident.
Chuck Norris, who is best known for his martial arts-based action movies like Missing in Action, Code of Silence and Lone Wolf McQuade, and his hit TV series Walker, Texas Ranger, entertained the full house at his Q&A session with a myriad of stories he happily related to them about his long career as a martial arts champion and as an action movie star, working alongside the likes of Sylvester Stallone and Bruce Lee. As well, he told how the series of memes filled with all those Chuck Norris “facts” brought about a new generation of fans and resulted in a goodwill tour that he took part in 2006, in which he visited 17 U.S. military camps and bases throughout Iraq, and took pictures with every soldier that he visited there (which totalled over 24,000 soldiers).
Let the pop culture celebrating continue as Montreal Comiccon enters its second decade.