The Best Comic Convention in Canada … Toronto Comicon 2019

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Toronto Comicon is easily my favourite comic book convention each and every year. Put on by the same folks as FanExpo, the Toronto Comicon features hundreds of exhibitors, a tonne of celebrity guests, a plethora of comic book Pros and a bevvy of celebrity guests. While Fan Expo Canada still ranks as the largest pop culture convention and is an amazing, not-to-be-missed event, the comic book reader in me really digs the Toronto Comicon just a tad better.

This year the festivities started a day earlier on Thursday, March 14th with Fan Expo HQ co-sponsoring the Toronto red carpet event for DC Comics Shazam! movie. Coming to theatres April 5th, fans got a sneak peek with a cool interactive fan experience that included a replica of the Wizard Shazam’s Rock of Eternity cave at the Yonge-Dundas Square. Inside the cave, guests were shown several props from the DC Comics movie which was filmed right here in Toronto. The film’s director, David F. Sandberg was on hand as were cast members Zachary Levi (Shazam!), Mark Strong (Dr Sivana), Asher Angel (Billy Batson), Jack Dylan Grazer (Freddy Freeman). The fan event continued into the first day of the Toronto Comicon Friday, March 15th.

While I am not normally the type of fan that heads to comic conventions to meet celebrities there is no doubt that this is a popular attraction. Toronto Comicon featured scheduled guests like Corbin Bernsen whom I remember from the Major League movies, Ron Perlman from Sons of Anarchy and Hellboy, Tommy Flanagan also from Sons of Anarchy, Jaleel White from Family Matters, Emma Caulfield from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, John Rhys-Davies from Sliders and Lord of the Rings, and John De Lancie from Star Trek. All the celebs offered fans a chance to ask a question or two, grab a picture and an autograph.

At the professional comic book guest tables, I had the opportunity to catch up with a tonne of friends in the industry and meet some new ones. A few quick conversations with Jack Briglio (True Patriot Presents), George Todorovski (Heavy Metal), and Ken Wheaton (Popeye). Some longer conversations with a few guests that I’ll go into below. Legendary creators like Mike Zeck, Phil Noto, Steve Englehart and Ron Wilson were also on hand meeting and creating fans. But the highlight for me was finally meeting a comic book writing All-Star and author of my favourite comic book storyline of all-time, Mr Denny O’Neil. Denny regaled us with a tale of how and why he brought the Golden Age heroine, Black Canary, into the then-current comics. And I finally got his signature added to the Neal Adams head sketch in my hardcover volume of the Green Lantern / Green Arrow Hard Traveling Heroes collection. What a treat.

I only made it down for the Saturday of this three-day convention so my time was a bit limited. I know I missed seeing some great animation and voice acting guests. I didn’t get to talk to the dozen or so cosplay guests and I skipped all the wonderful gaming events. There really is a tonne of stuff to do at a comic convention of this size with the Toronto Comicon managing to provide a delightful blend of guests and events so everyone can be entertained.

The first face I saw when I walked in the door is Steve Quinnell from Whitby’s Comic Book Addiction . Steve had a nice vendor space with all sorts of great comics for sale. I was a customer of Comic Book Addiction for a few years and Steve met me with a hearty handshake. While I did dig in his $2 bins for a few Conan comics I needed the gem pick-up of the show for me was my final issue needed to complete my Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes set. Superboy #202 was in Near Mint shape and I gladly handed Steve some cash when he dug it out of his bins for me. But Comic Book Addiction was just one of the many comic book retailers at the show. I stopped into the equally great Gotham Central Comics and Collectibles booth although I missed seeing owner Carlos Camara as he must have been busy walking the show floor. Other great comic retailers included Big B Comics and All New Comics with the Comic Book Lounge.

As I mentioned above, for me a comic convention is all about meeting the established and up and coming creators featured in Artist Alley. I spend the majority of my time and money walking the aisles picking up goodies. So what did I grab?

Apocrypha: The Legend of Babymetal by Sridhar Reddy, GMB Chomichuk and Justin Birch. A beautiful trade paperback brings the cult Japanese Metal band Babymetalto comics and was also available in an epic, oversized hardcover. “Tasked with defeating the forces of darkness and division, the metal spirits must travel through a variety of eras of time, assuming different forms and identities.” GMB Chomichuk was on hand and quickly drew a nice head sketch on the inside cover. Really looking forward to reading this book.

Auric of the Great White North #5 from Davis Dewsbury, Andrew Thomas, Sharon Gauthier, Donovan Yaciuk and Josh Rose. I’ve been following this series from the start as we get to the penultimate issue of this particular arc things are really getting interesting. And, like the previous issues, Auric #5 is available with an amazing back & white Mike Rooth variant cover.

Oktana & KO #2 by Yuriy Levytskyy, Renan Shody, Angel RD, Casey Parsons, Arnold Trinidad, Jason Ward, Allison O’Toole and Robert Iveniuk. “Oktana & KO tells the story of a revolutionary marine science team that has found a unique way to research octopus by mentally interfacing with them to create a symbiotic relationship. Their ship is hijacked by criminals that want to use their abilities and technology for themselves. The team must fight to protect themselves and the animals they have bonded with so closely.” I grabbed a copy with a nice George Todorovski variant cover.

Group of 7 #4 from Chris Sanagan and Jason Lapidus. Another instalment in a really cool Canadian comic book with a historical bend. I’ve chatted with both Chris and Jason on several occasions and this book is a real gem. So, who are the members of the Group of 7? None other than historical figures John McCrae, A.Y. Jackson, Francis Pegahmagabow, Lester Pearson, Frederick Banting, Norman Bethune, and Conn Smythe. With a team that consists of a future Prime Minister (Canada’s equivalent to a US President), a hockey legend, and the Doctor that discovered insulin, amongst others, this fictional account promises to be full of intrigue and adventure.

Vladiasaurs by A. Shay Hahn. What is there to say about Shay? I’ve mentioned and reviewed his books a few times here on First Comics News and I just love his work. Born of zany, late-night concepts, each comic Shay puts out is exceptionally original. Vladiasaurs is exactly what it sounds like … vampire dinosaurs. Do I really need to say more? The main cover is drawn by Salo Farias and a slew of additional speciality covers exist as well. I also nabbed a sketch cover with Shay pitting the Vladiasaur against my own creation, Kapitan Polska.

And I grabbed a tonne more. Gehenna: Death Valley from Becka Kinzie, the complete Blue Hour set of which I interviewed  creator Dino Caruso a few years back, Die Kitty Die: Heaven and Hell hardcover from Dan Parent and Fernando Ruiz

Toronto Comicon is quite simply a great event. My words from last year’s review of Toronto Comicon still hold up … “I saw families having fun. I saw amateur cosplayers being very generous with their time posing for photos. I saw gracious celebrity guests chatting up anyone that lined-up for a chance to meet them. All the organizers deserve a very solid pat on the back for putting on a monster of a good show. Make plans to attend next year and I don’t think you will be disappointed. But buy your tickets early as the event is more and more popular each year.”

Toronto Comicon 2019

Friday, March 15th to Sunday, March 17th, 2019

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