Sunday, September 4, 2011

It Came From the Back Issue Bin! #20: Fan Expo 2011

This year’s Fan Expo was held in the South Building of the Metro Convention Center in downtown Toronto. Unlike last year’s logistical disaster which had fans screaming bloody murder, this year actually went rather smoothly. It’s rather difficult to find a negative comment on The Fan Expo Facebook group. Last year it was overrun with hateful comments about the unhelpful staff, obscene lineups, and the selling of tickets despite the show having reached its attendance capacity.

The comic book guest list was decent with a strong presence by Canadian creators, Francis Manipul, Yanick Paquette, Jeff Lemire, and Dale Eaglesham. The comic guests were also well balance with a good mix of current creators (Fred Van Lente, Andy Kubert, Matt Fraction, Jonathan Hickman, Jason Aaron) and classic creators (Chris Claremont, Bob McLeod, Joe Kubert, and Bill Sienkiewicz). The additional number of writers that were invited to the show was another pleasant improvement this year.

This year seemed like a rather quiet one for horror despite being headlined by Robert “Freddy Krueger” Englund, Lance Henriksen, and Malcolm McDowell. Actors aren’t much of a draw for me, so it would be nice to see more horror writers make appearances.

One horror writer, Gregory Lamberson, at the Medallion Press booth caught my attention. Perhaps better known as an Indy filmmaker (Slime City and Slime City Massacre), Lamberson is also the author of two ongoing horror series. One series, The Jake Helman Files, features a supernatural detective and is into its third novel with Cosmic Forces (available October 2012), and the other series, The Frenzy Wolves werewolf series, which is into its second novel, The Frenzy War (available June 2012). Check them out.

I had the pleasure of making my panel moderating debut with Great White Northstars. This panel focused on the Canadian Superhero team, Alpha Flight, and it brought together co-creator Chris Claremont, current series co-writer Fred Van Lente, and artist Dale Eaglesham. It was a lot of fun and really delved into the creative process and ongoing creative energy put into these well-loved and continuity-plagued heroes.

DC Comics ran a panel pumping up their new 52 relaunch. In case, you haven’t heard about it, DC Comics is rebooting its entire universe and relaunching it with 52 new #1 titles. Even long running titles like Action Comics and Detective Comics are being restarted with new #1 issues.

Why 52 new titles in a month? I’m not sure. No one can pick up all these issues, especially when DC is competing with DVDs and Video Games for teenagers’ spending money. From the early weeks, it seems to be a success. I’ll more fairly cover the reboot next month once I’ve had a chance to read through them all, yes all 52 issues.

That aside, what did catch my attention was DC’s willingness to push outside the traditional superhero genre into horror and dark sci-fi with titles like Swamp Thing, Animal Man, and Frankenstein.

--Jason Shayer

(THE BLACK GLOVE, once again, thanks Jason for his time and efforts on our behalf while he's supposed to be having a good time, without work on his mind. Jason, thanks, man, for taking the time to do the pics and such for the magazine. I'm sure the readers appreciate it as much as we do.)