photo journal: fan expo 2008
As some of you know (especially those who visited — thanks!) I had a table in Artist's Alley at Fan Expo 2008 in Toronto. I took over 4000 photographs
at this event in less than three days, and there are a lot of gems. Some of which I'm saving, of course, for future episodes of Hypothesis. But others, I've managed to assemble into a sort of photo journal of my experiences as an exhibitor, with commentary...
The Setting: Metro Convention Centre. Circa August 22-24, 2008.
The Plot: Debut comic artist teams up with a new podcast crew to take Fan Expo 2008 by stiff wind!
The Cast: rgbFILTER, including Ryan, Doug, Dave, Alex, and myself.
The Genre: It's like, weird here.
The Quirky Character Moment: Dave and Ryan, lovin' the weird.
The Drama: Me, twiddling my thumbs, as my super-talented neighbours (who pen The Uniques) get foot traffic.
And foot traffic. And interviews. And a visit from Aaron Douglas! And then even more foot traffic.
Obsessive-compulsively moved things around on my table, probably annoying the Uniques to no end.
Meanwhile, Ryan and Dave are engaging in rampant video intrepitude, interviewing not only throughout Artist's Alley —
— while hardhitting-tech-lensmen-on-the-ground Doug and Alex logged time with Brian Bolland and Mega64.
Needless to say, I was beginning to feel rawly dealt, being anchored to a table for most of that. I did eventually attract some interest.
But with no sign of the rgb-gees, eventually I just had to beat feet.
This is exactly how I envision the tourist gift shop that would inevitably be erected next to any portal ever discovered into Dementia Five...
One of my favourite things about Fan Expo is how it stands up a loose cohort of artists of every stripe and colour —
— and riddles them with a barrage of fans in every stripe and colour.
It's very easy to get caught up in the salesmanship of it all. There are even real life-sized celebrity figures, completely alive and outside of their television enclosures. (You can see them reflected here in the left lens of this belly-buttoned, disco horn afficionado.)
There are also miniature plastic figures.
Life-sized plastic figures.
Even alien-life-sized figures.
Because that's exactly what this is. It's a paradise of figures. Inked. Sculpted. Animated. Stitched. Worn. Posed. Photographed. Plied for signatures. And packaged in frames for mass delivery by wire.
The idea is to pick yourself a set of figures that work for you, and run with it. And if there is ample evidence anywhere of the sheer unpredictability of where those kinds of choices might lead, it's right here, on the trading floor of the most fantastic human identity market.
Marc was the first person I met on the first day, both of us arriving at the exhibitor's registration desk at the last possible moment, and via the wrong entrance.
Turns out we were also both there for the first time as Samurai Jack-loving exhibitors with a debut issue. Who'da thunk it!
I bought his book, MECHALIBRE. And loved it. Especially all the trailer trash ASCII-talkin' robot 'noids who really appreciate a 'solid' from a wandering mech.
And then there was this guy, J. Korim of NeoZoic, to whom I must have given the impression that I wanted to talk about his (admittedly stunning) Led Zeppelin print, because I was then put on the spot about 'Zeppelin' lore.
It was one of those moments when, even though you realise that immediately saying you had no clue about something would have been the smartest exit, you also sense that the moment for that has passed, and now you're committed to the most awkward change of subject in the universe.
My awkward change of subject was to a print of Korim's that I ultimately ended up buying, probably my favourite of the entire convention. (Although, if I had noticed the one on his website called Yonge & Elm anywhere on his table, that definitely would have topped it!)
Eventually I wandered further afield into the gaming arena, which was built on a massive structure that hung ominously over one end of the hall like the bridge of a star destroyer. Far more this year than last year, the gamers were segregated from the rest of the convention-goers.
Nonlinear geeks are not like linear geeks. The clustering vibe is as different as between a clan of badgers and a herd of buffalo. It shouldn't really be necessary to separate them — that takes care of itself. I would have preferred it if the organisers had used their floor plan to force a little more mixing of the crowds, as they did before.
Speaking of herds, at one point I found myself lost among stormtroopers, but that's a story for a more Hypothetical occasion. (Most of issue #2, encompassing web episodes 1.1 through 1.4, will take place at Fan Expo.)
Mind you, I still don't think I've topped this stormtrooper shot from Fan Expo 2007.
And then the stormtroopers parted, and I beheld the wonder — at least, that's the way it would have happened, if I had control of the narrative. Which come to think of it I do. So, this uninterrupted sea of stormtroopers finally does part, and I behold the wonder that is Jesse Heffring of P-Brane: The Green Man.
It is so easy to spot a person creating something in a crowd of other people who are (at least for the moment) only engaged in dissemination.
The body language is completely different. In this case, I come upon a man standing in front of a green screen speaking intensely to a commando figure, and naturally I'm thinking —
— where's the camera? (Besides in my left hand.)
The camera was attached to a friendly operator greeting me and my fellow Death Star refugees.
Meanwhile, Jesse's been directing himself into a frothy crescendo.
Finally, he snatches the camera up himself for some trench photography. Or whatever it is commandos do in P-Brane.
(Disclaimer: No, I haven't actually read it yet, but plan to. The one thing missing from the convention is that I wish more comic artists would see the enlightened self-interest of full publication online. It would expand the sharing of influence at an event like this way beyond what one person can afford to buy in one weekend. But you can order P-Brane here, as will I when the pocket recovers.)
Inevitably, the other-man-with-a-camera's attention turned to me. And that's when the wonder that is Jesse Heffring of P-Brane DEMANDED that I surrender my camera's memory card, and then told me to step the fuck off, or else he would have me physically removed from the convention floor.
Dave and Ryan were gobsmacked!!
I shit you not!
Okay, okay, I do in fact, shit you. Jesse couldn't have been nicer or more collegial in discussing our shared direction in comics.
The truth is, and I concluded from talking to Jesse that he feels the same, that this is an inevitable combination, the technology having definitely and firmly arrived in everybody's hands. (And of course, we are not even the first ones doing it, although we may each be the first to do it in our own peculiar ways.)
Every newcomer to a new format like this will increase general awareness and acceptance of that format, and thereby, float all boats.
When photonovels are no longer a rare curiosity, but have a shelf of their own, I may well have Jesse to thank for that! Besides I have already learned a fair bit from their enterprising way of involving the readership, and their beautiful black and white process.
Finally, Jesse directed me willingly into the figure of a war photographer, ducking in and out of a pockmarked defile, bullets whizzing by, as I snapped my final pulitzer-prize winning shot:
Speaking of which, shortly afterward (or was it shortly before?) here I am handing a coin to a man guarding a hellish crossing.
Is that significant, in any way?
What happens next, and when it happens, is once again, a subject for Hypothesis. For now, suffice it to say —
— my rgbFriends found me several hours later buried in a pile of discarded convention schwag, mumbling questions for Aaron Douglas.
They got me back to my table just in time for me to pack up, so until my next photo diary entry, signing off —
Oh, and one more thing: Doug?
STOP TOUCHING IT.