Every year, just before fall kicks in, it’s time for Fan Expo, Toronto’s annual convention for every hobby that might potentially involve dressing up in an elaborate costume: comics, horror, anime, gaming, sci-fi, you name it. As always, there are dozens of huge events the con is promoting (Stan Lee returns to Fan Expo this year, and the Fan Expo Party offers you the chance to hang out with the likes of Michael Rooker, Dean Cain, and Colin Baker). But there are lots of other things to do at Fan Expo 2013. Here are seven of them.
1 Learn yourself how to make comics. Ty Templeton deserves to be recognized as a Toronto treasure. He’s long been a mainstay of the Toronto comics scene, he has a list of comics work as long as several people’s arms stitched together (which would be gross, so nobody do that), and has been running his Comic Boot Camp classes for years, from which have come numerous comics professionals. This year (as he has done at some previous Fan Expos), Templeton is running short versions of his classes to teach noobs the basic ins and outs of figure composition and comic-book plotting. Well worth a drop-in, even if you’re beyond noob level.
2 Meet sports legends. This is the first year Fan Expo is offering a “sports” section, and the organizers have assembled an extremely impressive lineup of Toronto sports legends: Doug Gilmour, Roberto Alomar, Tony Fernandez, and Paul Molitor are all appearing (and they’re all doing Q&A sessions in addition to the usual “line up and pay for an autograph” deal). Fan Expo has also gotten a bunch of big, non-Toronto-centric names: Bobby Orr, Gordie Howe, Joe Sakic, Martin Brodeur, and Joe Montana are all scheduled for autograph sessions. However, possibly the most intriguing name on the sports docket is Ben Johnson, best remembered for his doping scandal, whom we note is not doing a Q&A session, and that is probably a good move on Mr. Johnson’s part.
3 Sit down with the mind behind the Forgotten Realms. Ed Greenwood is one of the old lions of tabletop RPG gaming, a veteran of Dungeons & Dragons storytelling since back in the eighties when it was still owned by TSR. His Q&A session should be illuminating. Also note that, if you want to actually play some Dungeons & Dragons at Fan Expo, you’ll have no shortage of opportunities to do so.
4 Look at all the Daleks. As part of the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who, Fan Expo has a lot of Daleks showing up: apparently, the idea is to set a world record for “largest gathering of Daleks.” (Also, there is a world record for “largest gathering of Daleks” and that is a real thing.) Accordingly, in addition to the gathering of Daleks, there will be a Dalek parade, a Dalek gameshow, and a class on how to build your own Dalek. There will be so much Dalek content the word will lose all meaning, most likely.
5 Get your toxic avenging on. Okay, the Toxic Avenger is not (so far as we know) appearing at Fan Expo, but the legendary Lloyd Kaufman of Troma Studios is, in order to promote Return to Class of Nuke ‘Em High Volumes 1 and 2. Lloyd Kaufman is never anything less than completely entertaining; the man is a self-made cinema guru, plain and simple, and his devotion to trash exploitation horror is something that makes the whole world better.
6 Relive Hulkamania. It takes a separate admission fee to enter, but the “Hulk Hogan Uncensored” event on Friday is nonetheless potentially fascinating, because pro wrestlers indulging in “real talk” shoot-style interviews about the truths and secrets of pro wrestling are always fascinating, and there’s no bigger name than Hulk Hogan. Granted, Hogan’s version of the backstage truth will probably be more than a little bit self-serving, but that’s part of what makes it so interesting.
7 Listen to George Takei speak. Now that Roger Ebert is dead, George Takei is probably the senior speaker emeritus for the entire internet, and having the opportunity on Friday to listen to him tell stories for an hour with Nichelle Nichols (and we do not want to downplay Nichols, because she is as hilarious as Takei is) seems like it shouldn’t be missed. Because George Takei is awesome.