Every year in Toronto Hobbystar puts on a “Fan Appreciation Event” – a wonderful convention where the set-up is a little different from most comic cons. The admission is free, and it’s about giving back to the fans, rather than trying to gouge them of money. This year the guest list was impressive as Hades with Ethan Van Sciver, Patrick Gleason, Koi Pham, Geoff Darrow, Chris Sprouse, Dale Keown, Bob McLeod, Marcus To, Francis Manapul, Leonard Kirk, Dave Ross, Richard Pace and too many more comic book guys to mention, along with Captain of the Enterprise (and Ferris Bueller’s best pal) Alan Ruck, Richard Hatch (the one from space, not from Survivor) and Dominic (Enterprise) Keating, and more, more, more!
With free admission, you’d have expected this thing to be packed to the rafters with wall to wall fanboys and girls, especially since Hobbystar is the same group that puts on the mega-convention FAN EXPO every year (Canada’s biggest con show).
So I can’t explain what happened. It was, at best, lightly attended. And a good chunk of the people that came by our section of Artist’s Alley were not really comic fans, but families looking for something to do on a weekend.
When I’m at Fan Appreciation Event, my rule is that everyone gets a sketch who asks for one, so my table is usually fairly busy. But there were some surprising lulls. Every now and then I’d see some of the biggest names there with no one to talk to, which surprised me. I hope we’re not oversaturating the market in Toronto with too many of these…I know when I was a kid living in the Big Smoke, we’d only get a convention every couple of years, so they were really big deals to us.
Okay, enough griping, here’s the good stuff.
I got to hang with Ethan Van Sciver for a while, and we compared notes on our calling out of the fraud-who-must-not-be-named. The level of boyish glee in recounting how he told an armed man to “…sit the $#@! down!” was in such dichotomy to the content of the story, I couldn’t have been more charmed by it all. As we both went back to our tables to talk to the folks waiting for us, Ethan went to shake my hand, and as I have done consistently since Obama was elected, I raised my knuckles to fist bump him. He asked why, and I said “It was the age of Obama”. Ethan, in classy fashion, fist bumped me back, but said with a grin, “I can’t wait to shake your hand someday”. I burst out laughing. And now Ethan is officially my favorite Republican, cause THAT’S how you talk politics and stay friends.
Speaking of the fraud-who-cannot-be-named….at the convention I was presented with a fraud-team hockey jersey (that the convention organizer Kevin Boyd had acquired somewhere) to do with what I wished…it’s pictured here, being held up by Pitt/New Warriors/Dream Detectives artist Richard Pace.
I didn’t know what to do with it…other than toss it in a urinal and ask con-goers is they wanted to piss on it for ten dollars a spray, all for charity. But my wife didn’t want me to just hand it back without a plan in place, and had a con-fab with Ethan, who agreed that they should get comic book creators to sign the shirt and then it could be handed over to a Hero Initiative rep. (It eventually turned out that there wasn’t a Hero Initiative rep there, so event organizer Kevin Boyd–who had hoped to be done with the shirt which is why he gave it to Ty in the first place!–took it upon himself to take it with him to the next few big cons to get a few more signatures, before passing it onto Hero Initiative–Keiren)
To make it fun, all the artists who drew something on the shirt signed our names underneath someone else’s sketch so that they’re all sort-of fraudulent in some way.
The last I heard, the shirt is heading for a convention in Pittsburgh, where the remaining blank spots will be filled in and the whole meshuga will be donated to HERO. I hope it goes for big bucks, as HERO is one of my favorite charities: it raises money for retired comic book professionals in dire straights (such as Gene Colan, Russ Heath and others whose medical expenses threaten their ability to make the rent each month).
I finished off the weekend’s sketching with a drawing of my website mascot “Ty-bunny” for Ethan’s wife, Sharis Bunny Van Sciver. Since we share a bunny in our name, and she’s an instructor for the NRA, there was little choice but to arm the furry rodent to the teeth with weapons.
All in all, I had a terrific time with my all my comic book peeps, including folks I talk to online all the time, but rarely get to see in person, so I’m glad I went. If only it hadn’t put me two more days behind on all the stuff I’m always late with…sigh. Back to the drawing board, literally.
Ty the Guy OUT!
Now, your cosplay bonus moment: