Niagara Falls, Ontario – the Las Vegas Light of Canada. Who’d ever fathom that a city with a population of 83,000 would ever host a comic book convention? Outrageous!! This town is known only for two things: (1) sightseeing, duh! and (2) gambling. Casinos, baby! Cha-ching!! Some genius had the bright notion to cull herds of fans, geeks, nerds as well as send out the call to comic book creators and celebrities.
This brand new, and now mainstay convention, first appeared on June 9th, 2012. It was a one-day event. I learned of it a week after the fact. Actually, I lied. I saw ads for it but it was in the back of my mind and under my radar since I was unsure of attending. The opportunity passed me by.
The following year (2013) I checked it out with my best buds Davie and Ariel [name-dropping ;-)]. The one-day event of the inaugural year graduated to two for the second year. Solid progression. It goes without saying that we oohed and aahed at the amount of books, sketches, merch, cosplayers, merch, cars, rolling R2D2s, disturbing Daleks, etc. We only went the Saturday but it was enjoyable especially since it was in its sophomore year. Plus, having it so close to the American border but being on Canadian soil is a plus. We didn’t have to wait until August when FANeXpo takes place in the T-dot.
The third year (2014) evolved a three-day event. It came and went and I decided not to attend. No particular reason. Again, that’s a fib. I didn’t want to go bonkers in terms of “needlessly spending” my disposable income on my passion. The past is the past and remains in the past.
Fast-forward to this year. Things were from an entirely different perspective since I have recently joined Comix Asylum (this magazine) and tagged along with Steve, my editor and Vaughn, the publisher. I got a much-coveted press pass. How sweet is that? To all those hard-working individuals who buy their tickets and have to put up with waiting in line, I truly sympathize. Having an exhibitor or press pass guarantees easy access. Let’s just say I was shadowing these two experienced gentlemen as they interviewed big-wigs.
Anything goes at a con and that’s what makes it appealing as well as awesome (in the literal sense of the world). You truly never know what to expect, who you’ll bump into, what you’ll witness as the day unfolds. In its now fourth year, NFCC has reeled in movie, animation and TV stars, wrestlers, comic book writers as well as artists, and local talent. It’s an unusual blend of the main ingredient, horror, sci-fi, video gaming, and pop culture. The demographics have altered, the audiences have expanded, and a unilateral focus just isn’t feasible in this day and age.
Walking around as a member of the media was liberating, relaxing, and very comfortable. I will emphasize EASY in terms of getting in, schmoozing with stars, and snapping photos, to name a few things. I attended two panels.
The first was the announcement of the nominees for the Shuster Awards. For those of you in the dark, they are named after Joe Shuster, the Canadian who co-created DC’s true number one hero with Jerry Siegel. *gasp* Yes, one half of that duo was Canadian!! As I heard the nominees, I was astounded at the revelation of the number of Canadians ‘hidden’ among their American counterparts. Warm smiles came across my face knowing that Ed Brisson, Nick Bradshaw, Karl Kerschl, Ryan North, and Curtis Wiebe to name more recent creators are red, white, and red. I also dropped my jaw upon discovering that Red 5 Comics hails from Alberta :0 The standard categories are Best Writer, Best Cover Artist, Best Artist. There are more eclectic awards honouring charity, creativity and promotion of the industry: the T.M. Maple Award, the Dragon Prize, the Hall of Fame, the Retailer Award, Best Cartoonist, and Web Comics. Hearing the number of individuals mentioned was a real eye-opener for me.
Immediately after that, the three of us attended The History of Canadian Comic Books. Here is where I hung my head in shame. Being born and raised as Canuck, I had (and still have) little to zero knowledge of the importance and legacy of comics in my native land. Canada published its own line of books from 1941-1946. Imagine that!! Just like our southern neighbours, this was the Golden Age for the True North. Canada started churning its own product due to the War Exchange Conservation Act that prohibited American funny books crossing the border. Restriction definitely leads to innovation!! The best known characters from this era are Brok Windsor, Johnny Canuck, and Nelvana of the Northern Lights. Given the decision to forgo colour, these ultra-rare issues were referred to as “Canadian whites”. In attendance at this panel were Hope Nicholson and Rachel Richey, two young ladies who have compiled an impressive history of the most obscure, unknown Canadian content and Walter Durajlija, owner of Big B Comics.
The rest of the afternoon was spent going camera-crazy, chatting it up with top-notch artists as well as the homegrown talent, checking out retailers, and buying very little to go easy on the wallet. I purchased MOONSHOT: the INDIGINOUS COMICS COLLECTION vol. 1 from AH Comics and was given TITAN: an ALTERNATE HISTORY as a companion piece. The first is an anthology of the Native tribes that are the original residents of our country. The second is the initial publication by founder Andy Stanleigh in a historical fiction slant.
The day ended on a real high note. There was an after-party at Big B Comics in the Falls. Walter was promoting the “Canadian Comic Book Corner”, a special and recent initiative put into the store. This is not only to promote and educate the masses about Canadiana but also to attract tourists. Walt shared an anecdote of a Texan who came across an issue of CAPTAIN CANUCK. He was so amused by the concept and storyline that he snatched up as many copies as possible to share with his family and friends. Vive le Canada!!
There’s a lot more I could write but for that, do your own research;-D I’ll throw in my own shameless plug. You can read my previous reviews for this mag as well as tons of other good stuff at http://www.comixasylum.com/
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