Toronto ComiCon: A First-Timers Experience

Photographs by Kayley Luftig.

Last weekend I got to experience ComiCon for the first time. It’s taken me a while to formulate anything comprehensible to describe my experience this weekend, but if you’ve ever been, you know that what I’m aiming to achieve is nearly impossible. 

I’m going to start this off by mentioning that at the beginning of the weekend, I felt like an imposter. My interest in anything ComiCon is limited to reading Watchmen for a class in first year, reading the first half of Chamber of Secrets with my class in grade four, watching one episode of The Walking Dead and having nightmares for two days, my recent obsession with Settlers of Catan, and my deep love for the show Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. 

That being said, here is my top three favourite moments from the weekend:

  1. Four year old Cruella Duville cosplay with angry eyebrows drawn on yelling at people walking by
  2. Jabba the hut cosplay
  3. Jason Issacs moderating his own panel and yelling at people (which would have been significantly better if he was wearing a blonde wig)

On day two I wanted to better understand the ComiCon environment with some investigative journalism. I decided to cosplay as Chloe Bennet’s character Skye from Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, only to have no one have any idea who I was. Next time, I’m dressing up as Spiderman like the 500 other Marvel loving Toronto ComiCon attendees who put on a body suit and called it a day. 

Because I like lists, here is my top 3 most awkward moments:

  1. Getting really excited about seeing someone with the S.H.I.E.L.D logo on his jacket, only to have him ask me if I was Agent Maria Hill 
  2. Meeting Robbie Amell 
  3. Taking a selfie with Jabba the Hut and looking like twins

Above all, the panels were what made the weekend for me. I had the privilege of hearing Jason Issacs, Robbie Amell, Tovah Feldshuh, Karen Allen, and Will Friedle speak this weekend.

Each actor noted the importance of these opportunities for them and spoke about the pleasure of getting these face-to-face interactions with fans. On the flip side, I think these panels provide fans with something even more special than being in the same room or getting to meet their idols. It’s about the vulnerability of the actors that you don’t ever get to see on screen. 

Hearing the most extroverted character on Boy Meets World talk about his anxiety was so significant for me and undoubtedly so many others in the room. When Jason Issacs, a screen based actor, reiterated the importance of being present in the moment and setting technology aside, people listened. They put away their phones and were present in the moment, which is a rare scenario when celebrities are in the room. 

Going into all of these panels, I thought that the panelists would just be focused on answering questions and getting out of there. Instead, I got to hear artists tell personal stories and pass on important lessons to their fans, which made these panels that more enjoyable.  

I went into this weekend with a foggy understanding of why so many people flock to these cons and put so much time and effort into dressing up or spending upwards of $100 to get an autograph from their favourite comic book artist or voice actor. I ended up coming away with a pretty clear understanding of what makes these cons so special and why fans come back year after year. To me, ComiCon is a magical gathering of passionate people meeting and sharing an experience with other passionate people. It’s not about how you look, how devoted of a fan you are, or why you’re there; everyone and anyone is welcome.

I’m going to close this off with three things I learned this weekend:

  1. People can and will put a steam punk spin on anything, and the end result is pretty damn cool.
  2. ComiCon is a community where all kinds of weird is embraced and encouraged 
  3. No one is too old or young to be there
  4. BONUS: Jason Issacs designed his own costume for Lucius Malfoy, blonde wig and all.