Montreal, Canada’s second largest city. For those of you in the dark, it is the largest city in the province in Québec but not its capital. Plus, it is the ninth largest city in all of North America. Oh la la!! The metropolis is similar to NYC in that it is an island but it has a European æsthetic and way of life.
Personally speaking, I fell in love with this marvelous hub when I ventured on my own during March Break 1999. From that point on, I wanted to pack it up all and claim some space here. However, I made poor excuses about the brutal winters. Being a full-time French teacher and lover of the language, I had starry eyes. The real reason I never relocated was because I couldn’t find employment here. The city is international but predominantly Francophone. As such, I’m still an Anglophone regardless of my linguistic acumen.
MTL CC started in 2006. I kept wanting to go but never acted on it. Since my abso fave comic store Gotham Central opened three years ago, I told the owner I would travel with him to give him a helping hand. More silly excuses were made on my part telling myself and others: “Well, it falls into the second week of the school year and I’m re-greasing the gears in my brain.” That all changed this year!! The event shifted to early July due to popular demand (but really, overcrowding). Just like other conventions, this combines comics, sci-fi, gaming, horror, animé, cosplayers, and those much worshipped celebs. The major difference is that comics are available in English but more so en français. There are also European BD (bande dessinnée) available for perusal and purchasing. The main draw changed locations to the Palais des Congrès three years ago.
My editor, my publisher, and I drove the distance. It is a short enough road trip. Only 6 hours. We left Ontario at 8 a.m. on Friday. By the time we actually walked into the centre, it was nearly 3 p.m. The con went until 8 p.m. for the opening salvo. Plenty of time to walk around, snap pics, browse books, and chat it up with creators and cosplayers. I reacquainted with several people mostly local artists from Spent Pencils, retailers like A.K. Comics, Big B Comics, Gotham Central, and Myths & Legends. In terms of official business, I interviewed Neal Adams and Francis Manapul.
Mr. Adams was very gracious. He used his own wit to break the ice. He is quite the conversationalist!! He was very elaborate in his opinions of DC’s handling of characters, his contributions to the industry, and a proponent of creator-owned rights. In his current stage of life, he sells his most famous renditions. Interestingly enough, Mr. Adams introduced me to the Expanding Earth hypothesis. I was enlightened by this notion.
Mr. Manapul is well established at this point in time. He announced the previous week his departure from DC Comics after an eight-year stint. He is broadening his strokes by doing his own creator-owned work. Major decisions are never easy and they require much time to make. He is extremely excited about the next level in his artistic life and he remains good-natured about moving on. He left on amicable terms and is very appreciative of his former collaborator and considerate of his former employer. I remarked the evolution in his technique from strict pencils to watercolours. He explained when that occurred. Being a major fan, I made him aware of his major DC contributions. He is approachable, accommodating, friendly, and sociable. He encouraged fans to ask questions while he was autographing or sketching.
Tons of cosplayers!! Much respect must be given to the people that slave away for hours, days, weeks, months for their passion. Immersing yourself into another persona is a liberating experience. You take on another identity and enact all traits. Several Spider-Men, dozens of Deadpools, heaps of Harley Quinns, and real-life cut-outs from every pop cultural facet. The most noble are the Montreal X-Men who took photos ops for charity. The cutest were a mini Iron Man and young Poison Ivy as well as a teenage Peggy Carter.
I finished the day by meandering through the French selection of books. I didn’t realize the number of retailers!! I’d say it was 40-60 or closer to 50-50. The two booths I approached were Kurokawa (a subsidiary of Univers Poche) and Renaud-Bray. I carefully spent my time leafing through the hard cover books (which is the standard format of European BD) and conversing with the employees/owners.
For my first ever MTL CC and first day, it was educative, enriching, and enjoyable 🙂
I snapped 337 shots, BTW.
Bienvenue à la Belle Province!! Vive le Québec libre!!!
Longer day. Bigger crowds. The excitement upped a few notches. My two closest friends joined in on the fun. We eventually ended up separating due to our individual enthusiasm as well as my contractual obligations ;-P Even though there were nine and a half hours to kill, there still wasn’t enough time to do every single thing!
Three giants roamed the con. That’s no exaggeration!! I don’t know if they were using stilts (most likely): Hulk, Chewbacca, and Stay Puft Marshmallow Man. Hulk actually scared me. Aside from his height and frame, he stayed in role looking angry and grunting. Chewbacca was a gentle giant in every sense of the word. Stay Puft was just funny and engaged the attendees by giving high fives and hugs.
I took a more familiar and friendly approach. There was more opportunity to interview budding artist Kevin Briones (from Spent Pencils), three cosplayers from Montreal and/or elsewhere in the province, and big names like Scott Kolins, Yanick Paquette, and Marguerite Sauvage. The last two being completely en français as was my chit-chat with the costumed attendees.
Kevin is a super-friendly guy. He always has a smile on his face. Nothing seems to bother him. He has his own comic: Go-Man. It’s tongue-in-cheek. I have two issues. I’m missing a few. Either way, I respect any one person who toils night and day to not only indulge in the creative process but who is trying to get his/her name on the map. That is on top of familial duties as well as holding a ‘real job’. Kevin is so sweet that he said on camera that he and I were besties. Warm fuzzies all around >_<
Scott Kolins was easily ‘swept’ into a camera interview. I mentioned books of his that I happen to own. That was a feather in my cap. I discussed with him the upcoming ADAM.3 from Image. He was impressed at the parallels I drew to certain DC characters. I also made a Biblical allusion which pleased him. Mr. Kolins is also a writer. In fact, he is three times the talent. He is also happy to be with Dark Horse. I wish him all the best and will check out his newest Image title.
Yanick Paquette and I warmed up to each other less than a month ago at Niagara Falls Comic Con. The reason being that I spoke to him in French from the get-go. That created a glint in his eyes and put him more at ease. Plus, let’s be honest: he must have been astounded to hear an Ontarian speak his native tongue outside of his element. We had an engaging conversation off-camera one-on-one. He actually remembered me and happily put himself in the spotlight. I brought up my excitement for WONDER WOMAN: EARTH ONE. Much to my chagrin, he told me that it has been delayed until next year most likely to coincide with the release of BATMAN v. SUPERMAN: DAWN of JUSTICE. Sadly, decisions like that are beyond his control. He fulfilled his end of the bargains. Matters like that are out of his hands. He is also enthused about launching a creator-owned book but he is in no rush. Total bias here: I adore hearing the Québecois accent. I’ll never tire of it. Mr. Paquette is a humble gentleman.
Up-and-coming artist Marguerite Sauvage was sitting right beside Yanick. This is a classy lady. She was sympathetic to my cause when she saw that I had tried three times to interview Mr. Paquette before succeeding. In between, I asked if she would object to speaking to you, dear readers. She was more than willing!! Ironically, once I finished with her table mate, I had to wait for my chance since five fans approached her asking for autographs, picking up a commission, or questioning her on prints for sale. At the risk of tooting my own horn, I made a good impression by referring to her current Marvel work. She proceeded to show her other recent contributions to IDW, Image, Valiant, and Vertigo. She eagerly announced her latest project: the on-going BOMBSHELLS with the other Marguerite (Bennett). She jokingly calls it “Team Marguerite”. This is from DC and based on the statues that were also variant covers turned into posters. I made a minor faux pas in assuming she is Québécoise. She corrected me by stating that she is a long-time resident of France (Australian-born) and is temporarily calling Montreal home. We both laughed about it. I complimented her on her friendliness, open-mindedness, genuine goodwill and generosity.
I rushed a bit at the end of the day by zipping through Artists’ Alley. I took photos of the following booths: Québec BD, Front Froid, Michel Falardeau, Jacques Lamontagne, Denis Rodier, Hachette Canada, Studio Lounak, Éditions Héritage, LesApatrides.Com, NXG Comics, and Tulio Flores. I spent a bit of time talking to Québec BD. I was a bit overzealous with Éditions Héritage. I couldn’t help myself!! This is a Québécois publishing company that produced original adventures of The Phantom. They also took liberties with Marvel characters going as far as recoloring Daredevil’s costume. *snicker*
The day ended with much jocularity. I reconvened with my buddies and editor at Gotham Central’s booth. Along with the owner and his helpers, we were sharing funny stories, poking fun at each other, and laughing to our hearts’ content. Laughter is the best medicine :$_• Coincidentally, the Just for Laughs festival takes place in MTL this year from July 8th to the 28th. Patrick Stewart is one of the major attractions.
I leave you all with the motto on Québec licence plates:
Je me souviens! [I remember] I will make it future tense by saying Je me souviendrai. Next year’s fun is only 363 days away <^<