From comics and cult films to kitschy Canadian TV and cosplay, the annual convention is the place to indulge your nerd obsessions this weekend
FAN EXPO CANADA at the Metro Convention Centre (255 Front W), August 31-September 3. All-day pass Thursday $25, Friday $40, Saturday $60, Sunday $45, four-day pass $125. Autographs and photo op prices vary. fanexpocanada.com.
Comic books! You’ve probably read one and even if you haven’t, you are now at the mercy of the culture that surrounds them: titles The Avengers, The Walking Dead and Justice League are inescapable pop-culture behemoths.
As such, Toronto’s 22-year-old Fan Expo has grown to become one of the biggest events of the summer, taking over the Metro Toronto Convention Centre from August 31 to September 3 with a lineup of B-movie actors, cult stars and TV celebrities that includes cast members from Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Star Wars, Doctor Who, Stranger Things and The Rocky Horror Picture Show.
The four-day event also features cosplay, autograph lines, screenings, a costume exhibit and all manner of merch. Whether it’s your first time at the Fan Expo rodeo or you’re worried you might miss something good in the extensive list of events, we’ve got you covered with 10 things you need to hit.
We were all in high school once, feeling like kings and queens of the night, stealthily drinking beer while in line for the Bloor Cinema’s Rocky Horror Picture Show midnight screening. And while you can’t do the Time Warp back to those days, the present has some phenomenal pleasures. Many of the 1975 cult musical’s cast members are appearing at Fan Expo for autographs, a panel and a screening: Patricia Quinn, Nell Campbell, Barry Bostwick, Meat Loaf and, most exciting of all, Dr. Frank-N-Furter himself, Tim Curry.
A sleekly produced homage to nostalgic infatuations, Stranger Things is one of Netflix’s biggest hits. Before the love letter to 80s genre films’ second season airs this fall, you can meet its child stars Caleb McLaughlin, Gaten Matarazzo and Finn Wolfhard (who is also starring in the remake of Stephen King’s It). Tell them how neat it was that they tried to kill a pan-dimensional superbeast with a lil’ rock. Tell them Barb got a raw deal – bet they’ve never heard that one before.
Voice actors can often make the difference between cartoon classic and waste bin. The biggest voice talents on hand is Justin Roiland, star and co-creator of Adult Swim’s Rick And Morty, the comedy hit about a boy and his terrible, nihilist mad genius grandfather. Also attending is Maurice LaMarche, the actor behind Brain of Pinky And The Brain and a go-to Orson Welles impersonator (his credits include Tim Burton’s Ed Wood and The Critic). Fan Expo is also bringing in Jennifer Hale and Nolan North, actors who, combined, have starred in at least half of all video games ever made.
Nia Vardalos and Richard Dreyfuss in My Life In Ruins
How many opportunities are you going to have to look at Richard Dreyfuss? Look right into the firm eyes of the guy who stared into the open jaws of Jaws. He won an Oscar in 1977 for The Goodbye Girl and starred in Mr. Holland’s Opus and American Graffiti. He’s also likely on hand to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Close Encounter Of The Third Kind. Just go look at Richard Dreyfuss in person, this isn’t complicated.
The truest, most annoying nerds know that you do or die by the pointless trivia stored in your head, but on Saturday you’ll be able to test your brain with none other than schlock legend Bruce Campbell. The wry and facetious star of Evil Dead and Army Of Darkness presents a live version of his game show Last Fan Standing. Even if you don’t get to participate, you can snicker at smug geeks trying to impress one of their idols.
On Saturday night, The Rec Room (the new venue across from the Convention Centre) is hosting the Cybertronic Spree, a hair metal band that play hits from The Transformers: The Movie, like Stan Bush’s The Touch and Weird Al’s Dare To Be Stupid. On top of cartoons-turned-corporeal versions of Unicron and Arcee, the Cybertronic Spree will also be joined by Canadian rappers Wordburglar and More Or Les.
Who among us didn’t get duped by the 90s comic boom, thinking that every comic branded “collectible” would grow in value over time. They didn’t, but they still mean a lot to you, don’t they? Of that 90s blast, Greg Capullo was, and continues to be, one of the best. Leaving his mark on early Image series releases like Spawn, Creech and currently Batman, he’ll be in town to sign your back issues. Another comic heavyweight attending this year is Jim Lee, co-publisher of DC Entertainment.
Speaking of the 90s, taking a note from ComiCon’s popular Degrassi reunion last spring, Fan Expo is one-upping by reuniting the cast of an even more niche teen dramedy (with an even catchier theme tune). Chronicling the trials and tribulations of student journalists, YTV’s young adult program had something for everyone: romance, relationship humour and, for kids like me who didn’t care about either of those things, goofy animated screen wipes. Reminisce about the canned audience reactions with an actual audience during Saturday’s panel.
The needlessly convoluted Spider-Man Clone Saga may be long over, but it has left us with a whole bunch of Spider-Men. Capitalizing on this, a cluster of Spider-People are planning to invade the convention like those hybrid tarantulas in Arachnophobia. Get your photo taken with a parade of wall crawlers, some with capes, some with goggles, some have multiple arms, hopefully at least one of them is Spider-Ham, the Spider-Man that’s a ham.
There’s no Star Wars extra too far in the background or Kill La Kill character too impractical in the world of cosplay. For many, cosplay is the reason for the convention season. With the size and scale of Fan Expo expect the crowd of costumed fans, from the decadently detailed to clearly cardboard, to be a legion. Heck, expect legions of X-Men’s Legion. You can check out the official Masquerade to see cosplayers in competition, but all your favourite game, comics, TV and film characters will likely be lounging around the lobby.
For complete schedule and ticket info, visit fanexpocanada.com.