Fan Expo Day 1

Thomas Sullivan the Cat, thought 6:30 was plenty of time for a sleep in this morning and made sure I was up in lots of time to greet my favourite time of year – Fan Expo!!!

So after a quick prep, making sure I had everything I had, I hit the TTC.

I was off to meet up with two friends, Audrey and Marilyn, who had come all the way from France to meet the cast of one of their favourite shows… Lost Girl (I’m sure Saturday still seems kind of far away to them right now) and to enjoy Toronto, and this wonderful gathering of geeks and talent!

Making sure they were safe and secure in their line, I set to work documenting the day, and helping some friends get their booth set up.

The floor is abuzz with activity as exhibitors and guests prepare for what may be called battle. They are the armies of Helm’s Deep watching the army of geeks (of which I proudly count myself one) massing, knowing that there are four days of intense costumes, wacky awesomness and sheer fun coming their way before Gandalf rides over the hill with the Rohirrim.

Outside a ribbon-cutting ceremony is underway with the original Incredible Hulk himself Lou Ferrigno. This simply helps to build the excitement of an already giddy crowd.

Inside, a literal stillness seems to settle over the giant room when a disembodied voice announces that the Expo is two hours from ‘Doors Open.’ Even now, as final displays are settled into place the Metro Center’s maintenance crew is spiriting away garbage bins and checking with booth attendants that everything is going smoothly. Carpets are laid (that is not a metaphor), signs are positioned and you can see the full shape of the convention starting to form up. You can see a glimmer of the incredible event that is going to occur when exhibitors and guests meet those wonderful people waiting outside in the afternoon sun.

At the one hour mark, they’ve started letting people into the building to begin queuing up outside the sets of double doors that line the northern room of the wall. They’ve picked up their passes, tightened their wrist bands into place, Premium pass holders are checking the loot in their annual Fan Expo bag.

On the floor, the stillness has given way to organized chaos as people rush to finish  before the seemingly imminent toll of 2 o’clock. Final stock items are put out, wires taped down, prep speeches given to teams… you can feel the positive wave of energy building up in the room now, starting in your feet, sweeping up your legs, and nestling in your stomach as excitement.

And then…

It begins.

The floodgates burst, and people start to pour in, sparsely at first, but then more and more, filling the aisles, there’s laughter at a joke, delight in finding something unexpected or much-needed, it’s a fun and jovial atmosphere.

And it’s the sign of the beginning of a great weekend!

Right off the bat, a couple fo the con’s guests have already arrived, despite the fact that it’s a Thursday afternoon, and are already signing. Lou Ferrigno is smiling and greeting his fans, while Sean Patrick Flannery (Boondock Saints, Young Indiana Jones) is throwing his arms around a fan and posing for a casual picture. Both of them seem to be having a truly enjoyable time, meeting and greeting those fans who have already raced to meet them, lining up, jostling one another nervously as they wait for their moment to say hi.

Sue and I begin a leisurely meander through the displays, the comics, the toys, oh the toys!! There are some giant video game displays, and people are already lining up for their turn on the controllers, and even I know a lot of these games look awesome, though I’ll be honest, I’m waiting for Lego Lord of the Rings, and Lego Avengers!

We see friends and familiar faces everywhere, stopping frequently to say hi, trade stories, catching up.

We swing by the Toronto After Dark booth, and chat with our friend, Adam Lopez. He’s announcing the first 10 films of the film festival and they sound like winners! Make sure you swing by their booth to check out their program!

There’s also a wonderful little booth that first caught our attention at another convention, Baby’s First Boo. This is a great little booth, there are blankets, and shirts, and bags, not all of them for infants, made from bed spreads, sleeping bags, linens, and they all share a common theme, they are either sci-fi or horror. There are some fantastic and retro looking items at this booth.

We slip in to a presentation, and I hope this is the only misstep we make this weekend. The Warner Brothers Pictures Preview. Sorry Warner, but you dropped the ball on this. The room started out packed to the rafters, cause everyone in it thought we’d be seeing teasers and trailers for titles coming out later this year, or next (like say, the Man of Steel teaser), what we got was 5 trailers, on a loop, 3 of which were titles that had already been released. The room cleared out pretty quick.

Along the Southern wall, nestled between the brilliant Frankenweenie exhibit, and an equally awesome Lego display, featuring a lego Gandalf and Bilbo, a Hulk, and a Batman is a white, blood-smeared Ford camper.

It is here, that the director and members of the cast of the film Dead Before Dawn 3D have taken up residence for the weekend. It’s great to see our friends Tim Doiron and April Mullen again, and honestly, I love watching the movie trailer over and over again, because I’m in it! But in all honesty, this film looks so good, and I can’t wait to see the finished product. Make sure you check their booth out over the weekend as Devon Bostick will be on hand for an autograph session.

Sue and I also made use of one of the new innovations of this year’s Expo, a booth where you can buy all your photo ops in one go, without having to wait through multiple guests’ lines. Nice work. And remember folks, there is one in celebrity alley, but there’s also one out in the hall next to the Fan Expo premiums table, and those lines were moving incredibly smoothly!

From there, we went to see our first celebrity Q&A session of the Expo, the darling Julie Benz. Here is an actress, who is gracious, self-effacing, wonderfully friendly, and incredibly funny. She shared some wonderful stories and anecdotes, including one about her second test for her role on Dexter that had the room in stitches. She also spoke about the presence of strong female characters in genre film and television. She’s a true delight, and I love that we have her for the whole weekend. (Sue and I are gonna see about a quick chat with her…)

Then, as the evening was getting ready to wrap up, Sue and I lined up for our last event of the evening… our photo op with the man who IS Marvel comics (and I don’t mean Tony Stark), the one, the only, the legend… Stan Lee.

Once again there had been some changes in the processing of the lines and, while there was a bit of an assembly line feel to it, it worked, because Stan’s line was huge. That line FLEW!!! Great work to the photographers, who, sadly, I’ve still to get their first names, we see them every year, and I tend to think that they’ve started to recognize me and Sue (I think we’re pretty jovial and friendly with everyone, and like to share our moment with people, to recognize them for the effort they put in – and this group of photographers hasn’t done us wrong yet).

We do a last round of the floor, and as the lights switch to dim, we join the waves of happy geeks heading for the exits, knowing, and reveling in the fact that we still have three more days of this…

What’s been your favorite part so far?

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