As Montreal ComicCon begins to skew more mainstream each and every year, so does its crowd. Suddenly more and more people are flocking to the convention to see the stars of their favourite movies and television shows up close and personal. In fact, because of its growing popularity, Montreal ComicCon changed venues two years ago and took over the entire Palais des congrès — and judging by what I saw today, it doesn’t seem to be slowing down. When I arrived early this afternoon, fans were lined up around the corner waiting to get in, many of them in costume and all with a smile on their face. It’s only the first day and the event is promising to be bigger than ever with over 60,000 visitors expected to pour into the mouth of the Convention Center before Sunday night. It’s safe to say, the event has gone beyond just attracting fans of science-fiction, fantasy, horror, video games and comic books. As I looked around, there were people of all ages ready to geek out to a variety of attractions including 100 different panel discussions and workshops, and a star-studded lineup of celebrities to meet as well. But regardless of how big Montreal ComicCon is getting, one very important thing hasn’t changed over the years…
Comiccon, by its very nature, is a fan-driven event. It’s always been about the community and their shared love of a sub-culture, and the main reason most people go to any comic-con is to meet new people – and I’m not just talking about the celebrities in attendance, but anyone in general. The stereotype that geeks are loners who don’t care about social interaction is just that – a stereotype. Geeks love making new friends and comic-cons make it easy to find other people who share the same interests as them. In fact, the best thing about Montreal ComicCon is that it leads to new friendships. Sure you can line up and spend outrageous amounts of money on autographs or getting your photo taken with a star, but the moments you’ll remember the most don’t usually cost you anything outside of the initial price of admission. In fact, after spending eight hours at ComicCon today, I left not having spent one dollar. Sure there was plenty of merchandise I wanted to buy (and I may buy over the next two days), but between the celebrity Q & As, hundreds of cosplayers and various panels, I found myself entertained throughout the entire afternoon and evening.
Montreal, like every bustling metropolis, has a growing number of make-believe “cosplay” heroes, too. Many of the 60,000 plus people who attend the event every year invest big bucks in elaborate outfits as a way of showing off their favorite fictional characters. And as this trend keeps growing — the costumes seem to get better and better each year and the amount of time and effort Montreal fans put into creating these costumes is truly commendable. To some, cosplaying is a hobby but for many of the fans I met today, cosplaying is a lifestyle. Ample time and labour was spent on creating these costumes, and for those who practice the art, cosplay is more than just dressing up – it is fully immersing oneself as a character and performing in front of thousands of strangers. Speaking of which, cosplayers love an audience. Ask any cosplayer at Montreal ComicCon if you can take a photo, and they will immediately strike the signature pose of his or her character. And when cosplayers from the same fictional universe bump into each other, they get their photos taken as a group. If you’ve never been to any ComicCon, I highly recommend you, at the very least, consider checking it out because cosplay is infectious fun, even for those of us who don’t dress up.
Of course with some fictional characters, fans may want more than just a costume. Imagine you wanted to dress like Batman, more specifically, the Adam West Batman from the 1966 television series. Well, this would be a great year to do so since the legendary Batmobile, customized by the legendary George Barris is on display. And that’s not all: Also at Montreal ComicCon this year is the 1967 Chevrolet Impala 4-Door Hardtop driven by Supernatural’s Winchester siblings and a replica of the famous motorcycle Harrison Ford drives in the movie Indiana Jones and The last Crusade. And if that doesn’t tickle your fancy, you can always take a ride in the 1992 Jeep Wrangler Sahara seen in Steven Spielberg’s Jurassic Park or hop into a modified 1982 Pontiac Trans Am a.ka. KITT, the fictional car, and character from the ’80s TV series Knight Rider. They even have one of only two Optimus trucks made specifically for the latest Transformers movies!
As with every Comic-Con, there is just so much to do that attending ComicCon is largely about carefully picking and choosing what best suits you. It’s also about making sacrifices since there is no way you can be in two places at the same time. If your favourite movie star is scheduled for a Q&A at 4:00 PM, chances are someone else you may want to see will also be booked for a panel at the very same time. In fact, what was once a small collection of booths, has quickly turned into a massive convention that it is impossible for me to write about everything I saw today in just one sitting. I’ll be posting more coverage over the next four days so be sure to check back for more. In the meantime, I’ll end with this…
With the increased popularity of fan conventions, the event has gained a lot of traction in recent years; but organizers haven’t forgotten its underground roots, and continue to shine a spotlight on up-and-coming, homegrown artists. When walking into the Palais des Congrès, I couldn’t help but also feel an overwhelmingly warm welcome by staff, volunteers and spectators alike. Montreal Comiccon felt like home, and not because I’m a massive fan of video games, movies, television shows, and comics, but because it doesn’t matter how big of a nerd, or how new to the game you are, everyone is treated with respect. In other words, anyone can have fun at Montreal ComicCon. In fact, the highlights of the day, all came when simply conversing with other fans. It was great to see countless strangers stop and ask other cosplayers for photographs, or exchange in a dialogue about something you both adore. One can only hope the event keeps growing.
Editor’s Note: We believe it is common courtesy to ask each cosplayer if we can post their photos on our website first. With that said, each and every one of the cosplayers featured on our website did give us permission to post images of them in costume.
– Ricky D