Six Things to Do at Fan Expo 2014

Because it's about more than just the costumes—there'll also be board games, and video games, and werewolf cops, and Richard Dreyfuss. (And also costumes.)

A disco stormtrooper from Fan Expo 2013.

  • Metro Toronto Convention Centre (255 Front Street West)
  • August 28–31
  • Day passes $25–50, Four-day passes $115–149

Every year, just before the fall kicks in, it’s time for Fan Expo, the city’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, the con is promoting dozens of huge events. (There are two high-profile—and expensive—reunion events, for example: Patrick Stewart shares a panel with William Shatner, and Matt Smith, Karen Gillan, and Arthur Darvill reunite to thrill Doctor Who nerds everywhere). And the speed-dating is back for another year, meaning the organizers are still hopeful they’ll find straight male nerds willing to try out speed-dating (it happens every year: the women’s slots fill up and, despite there being plenty of single dudes about, the men are always outnumbered). But there are lots of other things to do at Fan Expo. Here are seven of them.

1 Revive Prisoners of Gravity fandom. To celebrate the 25th anniversary of the legendary TVO show, which covered comic books before anybody in the media thought it was cool to cover comic books, Fan Expo has assembled a panel made up of Rick Green and a bunch of people who worked on the show who aren’t Rick Green. Older nerds will remember the show fondly, and younger nerds will learn exactly how hard it was to learn about nerd things before the internet was invented. (Spoiler: it was not easy.)

2 Learn about board game design. Eric Lang, who has designed some truly remarkable games (including Quarriors, Chaos in the Old World, and the board-game version of Battlestar Galactica, which sees some players take on the roles of secret Cylons trying to destroy the last of the humans without the other players figuring out who they are) is coming to this year’s Fan Expo to share his thoughts on board-game design—and this is only one of several panels discussing the design, marketing, and publishing of board games. If you think you have the next Settlers of Catan or Cards Against Humanity brewing in your head, panels like these could potentially help you develop that idea.

3 Pretend you are playing Assassin’s Creed Unity. Unless there’s a last-minute change, video game fans will likely not be able to play a demo of Assassin’s Creed Unity at Fan Expo. However, they will be able to play a demo of Middle-Earth: Shadows of Mordor, which is basically just Assassin’s Creed with the names sanded off and some Lord of the Rings references awkwardly glued on—and if you want to stab baddies and do parkour in the same game, that’s probably good enough. And, of course, there will be lots of other playable game demos as well.

4 Meet Richard Dreyfuss. Okay, it is admittedly stretching the bounds of credulity to classify Richard Dreyfuss as a “sci-fi” actor just because he appeared in Close Encounters of The Third Kind a long time ago, but so what? It’s Richard Dreyfuss. He worked with George Lucas before George Lucas did the Star Wars. He played Duddy in The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz, which probably makes him an honorary Canadian somehow. He has won an actual Academy Award (which he will probably not bring with him, unfortunately). He can legitimately be called a living legend and can probably tell at least one amazing/horrifying story at his Q&A, so yeah, go see him.

5 Discover the difference between wolf… and cop. Wolfcop became a surprise hit last year in the indie horror film scene, and since it is Canadian, we feel extra-obligated to mention it. But it’s more than simply a film about a cop who is also a werewolf—Wolfcop is also a leading example of the new wave of Canadian indie horror, and its creators are doing a panel with numerous other Canadian horror filmmakers (who have not made films about werewolf cops, but that’s all right, as we are allowed to make all sorts of films).

6 Watch Shakespeare die. The Kill Shakespeare crew return to their hometown for a live reading of the stage adaptation of their comic book, wherein Shakespeare’s characters are all in one world, and some of them are trying to, well, kill Shakespeare. (Nobody ask the writers if they’re going to do a Kill Disney followup.)

CORRECTION: August 28, 2014, 3:05 PM This post originally stated that Assassin’s Creed IV hasn’t been released yet, when in fact it is Assassin’s Creed Unity that won’t be available at Fan Expo. We regret the error.

What else is happening:

Today In Festivals at Metro Toronto Convention Centre