Friday, September 12, 2008

Toronto Fan Expo 2008 - Part 3

Sophie and I both were pretty beat up by day one of the convention, from walking around and lugging pounds of loot with us. She had blisters, and I pulled something in my hip/ass area, (sure it may sound embarrassing, but I did, and I'll admit to it.) so we just about dropped dead when we got home. Keith had just driven in from Pembroke and was anxious to go out and party, and we were quick to squash those hopes and settled in for a night of sitting around, watching wrestling and playing Soul Calibur 2.

Up early-ish the next morning, the three of us got some breakfast and went beck down to the convention center, generally enthused because a) the con is awesome and b) Keith has a car, so we're not taking the subway there. Sophie becomes less enthused as the soundtrack for the trip downtown consists entirely of a hip-hop mix I had made the week before, and her decidedly metal tastes were left unsated.

We hit the floor of the con again, and quickly discovered that Saturday was much more crowded than Friday had been, and that the distinct tastes of three people made it difficult to keep together on the floor. Keith had purchased a VIP delux pass that would enable him to meet Wes Craven, shake his hand, hug, and so on. Unsure of what merch he would like to autograph, he consistently shot down my suggestion of a VHS copy of "Shocker". I still feel that this would have been a good idea, and according to Keith, someone at the VIP meet and greet had the same idea. I still think he missed out on a great opportunity there.

We scanned the program until coming upon one labeled "Alex Maleev Tells it Like it Is". Time to sit down for a bit.

I'd read Maleev's work with Brian Michael Bendis when they were on Daredevil, and I particularly liked his art during the mob war between the Kinpin and Mr. Silke, and this was enough to sit in for me. Sophie, well, she had blisters, and any reason to sit was good for her. Alex Maleev was a good speaker, despite his hesitation to admit it to himself. He was dryly witty, very frank with his opinions ( I paraphrase him when he said; Copying manga is not art, you have to learn to draw. Go to school.) and oddly, seemingly uninterested in the rest of the comics world.

It was his blunt manner that made the talk awesome. More so than other comic artists I've met, he was not shy about his ego, and while that might put some people off, I thought it at least showed some confidence in his work. A good parallel I think would be to compare him to hockey player Alex Kovalev, who doesn't play at modesty when talking about his skill. Maleev was very sure of himself, and that too, even if it rubs you the wrong way, makes for an interesting speaker. Keith is a longstanding fan and occasional practitioner of cockiness, so he was 100% won over.

Maleev spoke about growing up and studying in Bulgaria, getting his degree in Fine Art, and coming to the United States and sort of unwillingly getting into comics. He also told the crowd he was a certified ski instructor, and if anyone had any skiing questions, he could probably answer them better than comic-related ones.

When asked what character he would like to redesign if he could, he said "Spider-Woman" as if he'd been thinking about it for a while. He told us he'd put her in a black costume, with a big white spider on the chest. A couple of days later, I stopped by his table with a couple of issues of West Coast Avengers that had Spider-Woman II on the cover, to show him that there already was a Spider-Woman in a Venom-esque outfit, and in a dry and non-plussed fashion, he only said "See, I was right. It does look better." Awesome.

We also managed to catch a screening of "30 Days of Night: Blood Trails", which was a cool, short prequel to the movie that had a lot of the introduction from the original comic which was left out of the Hartnett film. Gory, but fun eye candy. After this, we had to run off to get food and catch a Roller Derby match.

More to come.

Monday, September 8, 2008


I went to see "Wanted" last night with my friend Ali. She wanted to see Wall-E, but couldn't make it in time, so "Wanted" got the nod in it's place.

I confess, I haven't read the Mark Millar/JG Jones comic book yet. I will eventually, I'm sure, but I cannot compare the movie to it's source material yet, and will have to give my opinion of the film based solely on it's merits.

It has few merits.

This movie was a mix of "Shoot Em Up" (Gun fights!), Alias (Assassin training montages!), and a Gatorade commercial (What have you done today?!?). Also, the whole movie, I just couldn't get the voice-over from "Counter-Strike" out of my mind, just shouting out "Head-shot!" at every turn. Angelina Jolie was bland, and the main character, whom the audience was supposed to empathize with just turns into a jerk by the end, and his last line makes you feel as if you've wasted your time and effort in caring about his plight.

It was a cool concept that was poorly executed, and had too many brain-splattering gun murders. Though there was one saving grace, and that was hearing Morgan Freeman say "Kill this motherfucker!" Solid gold. I want it as my ring tone.

All in all, this was the least enjoyable summer comic movie adaptation. I'd have rather watched The Dark Knight, Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk or Hellboy II a second time than this. Skip it.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Toronto Fan Expo 2008 - Part 2

I swear, just sitting down to write something around here is a magnet for other work to arise. Either there is some technological advance that detects when I'm blogging, or this page is just plain old cursed. In either case, I expect today's entry to conjure up all kinds of distractions so that my writing it will take place over the next several hours, rather that the fifteen minutes I would normally take.

Aside from that, I was talking about Fan Expo. This was my second convention experience, the first being in my hometown of Montreal when Fan Expo came up here, about six or seven years ago. That con was a lot of fun for me, and I had a great time chatting with Darrick Robertson about Wolverine and art and such, but the con on a whole was a failure and Fan Expo will never come back here.

Sophie had been to San Diego before, but she didn't really get to enjoy the full experience, and was dragged around by her travel companions.

So we both had high hopes for Fan Expo 2008.

After DC Nation, we decided that sitting in on a panel was far superior to wandering the con floor lugging around the heavy loot we had picked up earlier (which included a page of original art by Jason Armstrong from "Lobster Johnson: the Iron Prometheus"), and we made sure to line some up for the next day before giving up and going of in hunt of food.

More to come, and maybe some photos, next time.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Toronto Fan Expo 2008 - Part 1

I had meant to get around to writing about this right away, but life gets in the way.

I went to Fan Expo 2008 in Toronto this year with my friends Sophie and Keith. It was a great con, and I had a great time. I'll try to put down as much as I can remember here.

Sophie and I went to two panels on day one; The DC Nation panel with Dan Didio, Ethan Van Sciver and Keith Giffen. Dan was on his game for the panel, which was nice as some interviews I had heard him in, he was pretty grating, but this time, he was playful and having a good time with the crowd. Ethan was defensive when I asked about the need to bring Barry Allen back, but when we mixed it up a little more over on the CBR forums, I think I got a clearer picture of why he wants Barry back, even if I don't agree. He said:

"[Fans] miss him. Barry Allen ushered in the Silver Age with Showcase #4. He's a neat character, with his ironic twist of always being late in his personal life as Barry, but having the superspeed secret ID of Flash. He raised Wally. He's a different personality, has some slightly different ideas about crimefighting than Wally West, though."

Dan spotted A guy dressed as Namor in the crowd and pulled him on stage to sit next to a thoroughly weirded-out Keith Giffen.

There was a lot of talk about Aquaman, his constant reboots, and how everyone has a great idea to relaunch him. DiDio basically agreed that Arthur works best in a team setting.

Lastly, the crowd sort of turned on Marvel, and began pandering to DC, starting questions off with lines like "Marvel sucks, but why does DC..." Dan got control of the crowd and kept the focus on DC. In a very candid moment, DiDio explained what he throught DC could do better to help out the fans, and that was to stop rebooting the characters as often as they do, saying that he thought it created a distance between fans and the characters when every few years, the heroes are reinvented.

All in all, it was a great panel, and Dan DiDio stood out as funny and sharp.

More to come.