Ottawa’s Comiccon could grow
Taking a photo of Captain America and Jack Sparrow next to a time-traveling Delorean is a surreal experience in any circumstance. When surrounded by 12,000 other people at the first Ottawa Comiccon May 12-13, it’s mind-blowing.
Comiccon sounds like a comic book convention (which it is) but it’s also much more than that.
Started in San Diego, where the enormous convention has been an annual fixture since 1970, Comiccon plays host to comic creators and readers, lovers of fantasy and science fiction, as well as an increasingly large collection of celebrity guests. The overwhelming popularity of the San Diego event has spawned yearly conventions in London, New York, Montreal, Toronto, and many other cities.
Convention veteran Ryan Sohmer, writer of popular webcomic Least I Could Do (LICD), said he was “f–king blown away” by Ottawa’s first show.
“Give it another two, three years, and this show’s going to be massive,” Sohmer said.
“You’ll get better celebrities, more exhibitors, more artists – it’s going to grow.”
Celebrity guests were hardly in short supply. William Shatner, Cassandra Peterson, Brent Spiner and Adam Baldwin were only a few of the icons of fan culture that made appearances.
Baldwin, who played the character Jayne Cobb on the short-lived but critically-acclaimed TV series Firefly, was heralded by dozens of fans dressed as Firefly characters.
Firefly also gave the Ottawa-based group Browncoats Burlesque their name. The group, named after a group of fighters in the series, has been performing in Ottawa for two years, dressing and undressing as characters from comics, movies, and TV shows.
Del Roba, the founder of the troupe, said she got the idea after performing a “Weird Al’s White and Nerdy” routine at a burlesque idol competition.
“The nerds went nuts,” she said. Complete with a sequined fanny-pack bustle, she said that routine is still one of her favourites to perform.
Another crowd pleaser is her “Firefly Geisha” routine, as she uses the theme song from the show, and encourages her audience to sing along.
“We have a bit of a following with the nerds,” she said, adding that they try to make their routines as fun and approachable for non-nerds as possible.
While giving fans an opportunity to attend panels and meet favourite artists, Comiccon also gave lesser-known comic creators the opportunity to reach out to new readers.
Mirror Comics editor-in-chief Kristopher Waddell was promoting Challenger, a comic about a female mechanic who accidentally gains superpowers.
The independent Ottawa-based publishing company is scheduled to appear at the large Toronto Comiccon, as well as the Fan Expo in Vancouver, but Waddell said Ottawa’s event was “like a house on fire.”
“Ottawa’s been frothing at the mouth for something like this,” he said, adding that he plans to attend the presumably annual event, as it’s a great experience for comic creators.
Ryan Sohmer and LICD artist Lar deSouza have attended 15 conventions a year for the past five years, but Sohmer said they’re “still fun, still exciting.”
“You’ve got to remember that we spend ten months of our year behind a computer desk, engaging only with the Internet,” he said. “So to meet fans face-to-face, there’s nothing like it.”