Paradise Comics Toronto Comicon 2007

Report By Jamie Coville

Paradise Comics Toronto Comicon 2007
Date: June 8-10
Place: The Direct Energy Centre, Hall C.
Attendance: 5967 People, about 300 more than last year.
Con Report by Jamie Coville

On Friday around 3pm when the doors opened, there was a small line up to get into the con. Inside most dealers and some pro's were already set up and ready, this included big name pro's too. Among them were Mike Perkins, Matt Wagner, Marv Wolfman, Karee Andrews, Darywn Cooke, Joseph Michael Lisner, and Michael Golden. I spent some time meeting people I had done interviews with previously, among them Svetlana Chmakova and Dave Sim. Dave had a 5 table set up showing off his newest artwork. Among them was some photo-realistic pages of an American Splendor story he did for Harvey Pekar. Dave hired a photographer and had them take pictures of him, Chester Brown and Harvey all in a diner as they talked politics. Dave then used the photographs to draw a hyper realistic looking story about their meeting. Dave said that DC vetoed publishing this story because they were upset over his public display and comments of a Vertigo contract that made it on the Internet last year. Dave also mentioned he and Marvel are talking about his working under their Icon imprint.

I spent much of Friday running around and taking pictures of pro's. I also got a chance to speak to Gail Simone briefly over the Olney thread I've been reading. Robin and Terry Moore said they are going to do what Jeff Smith did and make a huge book collecting all of Stranger in Paradise - except that they've produced 2000 pages vs Smith's 1000 pages and will have to do it in two books. Michael Golden had a digest sized trade collecting the entire Bucky O'Hare series he did with writer Larry Hama, published by Neal Adams Continuity Comics. Mr. Comics said they are going to publish a Trade collecting their two time Joe Shuster Award nominated Planet of the Apes later on this year.

I also caught up to Jerry Robinson whom I interviewed a couple of years ago and met Ryan North of Dinosaur Comics. I also spoke with online friend Dwight Williams about upcoming Local Hero and Azad about his work in Flight. Shortly after the con started a massive thunderstorm took place outside. It was so strong people could hear the rain and thunder inside the building. By the time the con ended the rain had stopped and it cooled down the city.

Saturday was much busier with more people. I attended a couple of panels; the first one being a Women in Comics panel devoted to female editors. On the Panel was Robin Moore (Terry Moore's wife and business partner), Shelly Bond (Vertigo and MINX editor), Joan Hilty (DC and Johnny DC editor) and Renee Witterstaetter (Former Marvel editor, now Freelance editor, agent, production assistant to Michael Golden). The panel was moderated by long time pro Janet Heatherington, who did an excellent job researching her panel members and having a good list of questions for them. One eager fan asked about getting into the business as an editor. Another asked about late books. Another about the quality about the artwork in them. You can hear the panel here: Women in Comics - Female Editors Panel (58mb, 63:11)

It was at this panel I met Christopher Bird, aka mightygodking on live journal. He was one of those humorously re-scripting the Civil War mini series last year. He was very humble and insisted I call him Chris. Here's hoping he gets the job of writing Legion like he campaigned for.

Next up was the Women in Comics - Comics as a Visual Language panel moderated by Diana Tamblyn. This panel had 6 female creators. They were Tara McPherson, Svetlana Chmakova, Janet Heatherington, Raina Telgemeier, Christine Norrie, and Faith Erin Hicks. The panel introduced these women and we learned about what got them into comics, their views on using photoshop, art training, comic book stores and more. You can hear that panel here: Women in Comics - Visual Language of Comics Panel (74mb, 80:13)

One fun story from the panel came from Tara McPherson. She said her father worked on the props for the Linda Carter Wonder Woman TV show. As a young girl, she was able to wear the Wonder Woman bracelets and pretend to be her. The panel was good, but with 6 creators there either should have been more time given, or fewer creators involved.

I left the show around 4:30 to have a bite to eat at a friends place, then went back into town for the Joe Shuster Awards. This year the awards were hosted at the Holiday Inn, which was much, much nicer than a convention room. The JSA was hosted again by Rick Green and Rob Salem, two well known Canadian TV/Media hosts that also happen to love comic books. The show had a lot of unscripted humor, with equipment malfunctioning, people falling down, teachers forgetting their former students, mispronounced names, lots of in jokes about previous shows and more. Making it all work was great presenters who would get the audience laughing with a quick witted joke.

They also showed a video montage of fallen heroes, but all made up of Marvel and DC Superheroes killed in the major events of last year (Captain American, New Warriors, Black Goliath, Elongated Man, etc.. ) Like previous shows, there was some very emotional moments bringing people to tears. David Day receiving the Hall of Fame award on behalf of his deceased brother Gene Day, and the retailers from Happy Harbor Comics. After the awards there was cake and some people went to the bar downstairs for more celebrations. The entire Joe Shuster Awards Ceremony can be heard here (90mb, 97:51). A part by part break down can be found here.

The 2007 Joe Shuster Award Winners:

    Artist: Darwyn Cooke and J. Bone for Batman/Spirit #1
    Cartoonist: Darwyn Cooke for Spirit #1
    Writer: Darywn Cooke for Superman Confidential #1-2
    Publisher: Drawn and Quarterly
    Webcomic Creator: Dan Kim for April, May, June
    International Creator: Brian K. Vaughan
    Fan Favorite English Canadian: Dan Kim for April, May, June
    Fan Favorite French Canadian: Michal Rabagliati for Paul A La Peche
    Harry Kramer Outstanding Retailer Award: Happy Harbor Comics from Edmonton, Alberta
    Hall of Fame Inductees: Gene Day, Albert Chartier, Gerry Lazare, Jacques Hurtubise

Sunday was free for people that came in costumes and both adults and kids showed up. It was really great to see a bunch of kids running around in costumes. There was an art centre for kids to draw in the middle of the convention floor and all day kids and various creators were there drawing. Some of the creators were there with their own kids, drawing characters or whatever they wanted on the paper there.

Here is a video of costumed Kids meeting Darth Vader and his Stormtroopers, also in there are two guys dressed as Spider-Man:

I attended a couple of panels as well, one was about Kids Comics moderated by Janet Heatherington. On the panel were a number of writers, artists and an editor all working in children's entertainment. On the panel was Dan Davis (artist), Michele LaFramboise (French Graphic Novelist), Joan Hilty (Johnny DC Editor), J. Torres (writer), Mike Choi (artist), Bryan McLachlin (writer), and Tania Del Rio (artist Sabrina the Teenage Witch). There were a few kids in the audience and the panelist honed in on them and began asking them questions. Sadly the kids were kinda taken aback and didn't give much in the way of answers. You can hear the recording of this panel here: Kids Comics Panel (54mb, 58:48)

The other panel was a Vertigo Panel hosted by Vertigo editor Shelly Bond. With her was Cecil Castellucci, writer of the first MINX book The Plane Janes. Shelly used the panel to plug the upcoming MINX line and then went on to describe new Vertigo books and story lines within their existing titles. Part way through DC / Vertigo editor Joan Hilty made a special guest appearance. After going through all the books, the editors answered questions from the audience. Some of which was about breaking into the business, others were about Internet rumors regarding Animal Man's potential use in the DC Universe. Vertigo/MINX Sneak Peak Panel (52mb, 56:25)

The HERO Booth was there raising money by selling books. Many of the cons big name creators put in some time at raising money for the charity. The Women in Comics Booth had female creators there for special signings. DC editor Joan Hilty was reviewing portfolio's at the Women in Comics Booth on Sunday as well.

One booth that really stuck out was the Suicide Girls. On the table was playing cards with topless women on them. They also had a book with nude photos of themselves in it. There was another booth with a small sign advertising they were selling "Smut" DVDs. I must admit it made me wince a little when I saw all these kids and families running around. I hope there weren't any parents bothered by those booths.

Some US pro's began to leave around 3pm to catch planes. Towards the end of the convention I was hanging around Gail Simone's table and saw something really funny happen. A group of guys were hanging back, looking at Liana K dressed in her Knockout costume. One of them walked over and asked if she was Liana K. She said yes and the rest of the guys walked up to her. Liana recognized what was going on right off the bat and gave the brave guy a hug and playfully admonished the other guys for not being brave enough to approach her initially.

Towards the end of the show I began asking artists and pro's how the convention did for them. Creators had mixed opinions, with Marv Wolfman and Gail Simone enjoying the show. Many of those in artists alley didn't do so well. One of the bright spots was Jonathon Dalton had a bookstore buyer order 50 copies of his book on Saturday and then he sold more stuff on Sunday. Others said they sold a lot of sketches and stuff, but much of artists alley said it was slow.

Most dealers I talked to also said it was slow and down from last year. One specifically said they sold 50% of what they did last year. Two dealers that said it was either the same or up from last year was selling Silver and Bronze Age books. A personal disappointment was the lack of discount on GNs. Almost every retailer was selling them for US prices. Last year this was a significant discount, but for the last few months or so, most Toronto stores have been selling all in print trades for US prices due to the strength of our dollar. For many locals, they saw the same books at the same prices as they see at their comic shop every week. I noticed 1 dealer gave a little on Sunday and started selling at 20% off US price. Most felt Friday was dead in terms of sales (and attendance) and they were expecting more people over all.

I personally had a great time at the convention. It was one of my top con experiences in 5 years of going to conventions. But I really feel for the artists and dealers who didn't do so well financially. I hope next year they can bring in more customers.


Jamie Coville
News and discussion on a free, Delphi like forum.

[Back to Collector Times]
[Prev.] [Return to Conventions] [Disclaimer] [Next]

Text Copyright © 2007 Jamie Coville

About the Author