What to Look Forward To: Fan Expo 2017

This weekend, the 2017 version of Fan Expo, Toronto’s largest convention takes place.  I’ve been going to the Expo for years, and it’s always with mixed emotions, as I hate large crowds (the show has been getting steadily bigger and busier every year, which is great for the organizers, vendors, and ultimately the non-agoraphobic fans, as it means that more and more can be provided to them), but love good deals.

I’ll be honest – I don’t care about any of the non-comics stuff.  I don’t know which celebrities are attending, and won’t be going near the booths dedicated to video games, toys, horror, science fiction, or whatever else they have.  And, even ignoring all of that, I’ll be hard-pressed to take the whole thing in on a single visit.  That’s how big this show has gotten.

So, what drives me to go to Fan Expo?

Shopping:

If you read my weekly round-up column, you’ll have seen that there are a ton of series that I would like to read, but have to draw the line somewhere, because I also like eating at least two meals a day, and having a roof over my head.  For that reason, Fan Expo becomes a great way to catch up on on-going books at better prices.  I have a huge list of books that I enjoy, like Amazing Spider-Man, X-Men Blue and Gold, All-New Wolverine, Superman, Green Arrow, Mighty Thor, and many others that I will not pay full price for.  I’m hoping to get caught up this week.

Also, as I get more and more frustrated with the pacing or content of current comics, I’ve been rereading older titles that I loved as a kid a lot more (hence my irregular Retro Reviews columns).  Weirdly though, I’ve been more and more interested in filling in gaps in my collection or, in some cases, diving into books that I didn’t read back in the day.  I’m not overly picky – I could read these in trade or individual issues, but generally, the singles are cheaper and easier to find.

These are the titles I’m going to be hunting for this year.

  • All-Star Squadron – To me, the All-Star Squadron is the original $0.50 bin comic.  I picked up almost every issue that way when I was a kid, but recently figured out that I’m still missing five issues.
  • Animal Man – There are only two issues from Grant Morrison’s run that I’m still looking for.  I came onboard for the end of Morrison’s run and it was brilliant, but I never went back to read the whole story from the beginning.
  • Astro City – I’ve read all of this except for the Vertigo stuff.  In this case, I’m more interested in getting some cheap trades than I am the singles.
  • Dazzler – Last year, I picked up some old Dazzlers that had gorgeous Bill Sienkiewicz covers, that I remember admiring as a kid.  But, because I’m a typically obsessive comics guy, I now need to have the whole run in hand before I read them.  There are only four I’m looking for, and it shouldn’t be that tough to find them, should it?  What about that Dazzler OGN?  I’m not sure that I’ve ever seen it in the wild…
  • New Defenders – My interest in this book has absolutely nothing to do with the current Netflix series, which might be weirdly creating more attention for back issues that don’t feature any of the characters in the show.  I liked this oddball lineup of characters (Iceman, Beast, Angel, Gargoyle, Moondragon, Cloud, and Valkyrie) and want to read this again.
  • Hourman – I remember liking the first issue of this DC title that came out while Morrison was writing JLA, but for some reason (probably that I was broke then), I never read it.  My editor on this site has consistently sung the praises of this title, so I thought it was time to finally read it.  These are not easy to find though, so this might be the thing I spend the most time hunting for.
  • Iron Man – Recently, after Marvel killed of Jim Rhodes, I was thinking about how much I liked it when he was Iron Man.  I decided to hunt down his run, but there are still a few that elude me.  I’ve been reading comics my whole life, but only recently learned that it wasn’t the Demon in the Bottle arc where Rhodey put on the armor – it came like a year or more later!
  • The ‘Nam – Marvel did a great job collecting this excellent Vietnam War series into three trades, and then they stopped.  Ever since, I’ve been hunting the title from issue 42 on, but it’s not easy to find, aside from the issues that had the Punisher in them.
  • Stray Bullets – I regret that I ever stopped reading this book back in the day.  I’m down to missing only three issues, so buying the big omnibus seems pointless.  Maybe this year…
  • Xombi – A few years ago, DC resurrected (see what I did there?) this old Milestone property, and it was one of the best books they published that year.  I skipped Milestone during its first go around, so started hunting all the back issues.  I recently picked up most of them, after having had no luck for ages, but am still missing three issues.  I’ll be really happy if I get them here.
  • Master of Kung Fu – I’ve never read an issue of this comic, but think it’s time to fix that.  I know there are omnibus editions out there now, but are the singles cheaper?
  • Power Man and Iron Fist – I’ve been on a big Christopher Priest kick of late, and know that he, under his original name of Jim Owsley, wrote the end of this classic series.  I just haven’t read more than one or two of them, and think it’s time to fix that.
  • RAID-One – Local comics studio RAID is debuting its first anthology at the show this year, and that is at the top of my shopping list.  The studio includes Ramon K Perez, Scott Hepburn, Marcus To, Ian Herring, and Tonci Zonjic, all creators I admire.  This should be good.

Creators:

I think I’m a little atypical in that I love to see some of my favourite creators at Fan Expo or at TCAF, but I don’t really often want to talk to them.  Even though I write about comics for this site, and I read a handful of other comics news sites pretty regularly, I’m not the kind of person that is desperate to glean a hint or two of what’s to come, nor do I feel the need to ever tell people a thousand times more talented than I am what they should be doing differently (can you tell I’ve overheard a lot of these conversations?).  What I do like to do is thank creators for work that has touched me on some level, and if possible, purchase a minicomic or something exclusive that they have brought with them to the show.  There are a lot of great people coming to Fan Expo this year, including giants like Jim Lee, Adam Kubert, and the team of Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo.  These are the people I’m most excited about this year:

  • Tom King – I liked his Grayson run, but everything since then (that isn’t Batman) has blown me away.  His Vision is a modern classic, and I think Mister Miracle is headed in that direction too.
  • Jerome Opeña – Seven to Eternity is a big favourite of mine, as was his X-Force work.  I would love to look through his portfolio or see if he has anything exclusive on offer.
  • Marco Ruby – I’ve been saying this for a while now, but I believe Marco Rudy is one of the most talented new artists to come along in years, and I have loved watching his work evolve.  His commissioned work is great, and I often swing by his table more than once to see what he’s working on.
  • Jason Loo – The Pitiful Human-Lizard is the most Toronto comic I’ve ever read, and he often has very cool little minicomics completed just for the show.  He’s also a great guy.
  • Heroes of the World – This is one of my favourite booths to go to every year.  The talented minds behind Heroes of the World have created a team of superheroes for every country on the planet, and in addition to selling their own comic, also sell posters, t-shirts, and other wares that help people reflect their own nationality with pride.  If you’re going to the show, be sure to check out their stuff.

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