A Journey Into Wizard World Toronto 2012 by Alex Correa
There's always this nostalgic feeling whenever I hear about Wizard World, as if I'm still this teenage kid about to open up my seven dollar (!!) copy of Wizard Magazine and learn about the lesser known aspects of the comic book world from a collective of wise, sage-like neckbeards.
It's now 2012, Wizard no longer publishes magazines but have taken to hosting comic conventions in various cities, including Toronto after acquiring Paradise Comics Toronto Comicon (remember that one?). Feeling a little weary of this year's event, I have to admit that there was a bit of shameful glee swelling up in me when I found out that they had moved the event to the Metro Toronto Convention Center, which is typically Hobbystar's choice of venue for their late-August cons.
Upon arrival, there was the all too familiar scene of a sea of cosplayers including pudgy Thor, pudgy Bane, pudgy Comedian, and jailbait Sailor Scouts. Outside of the security guard in charge of checking wristbands being a little too distracted by the Daleks (I'd be scared too), everything seemed to be in order, minus the addition of an oddly out of place Medieval Times booth that could be attributed to the success of Game of Thrones.
The fact that Wizard World decided to hold the event in the same hall as Hobbystar did around a decade ago really brought me back to a time before the mainstream exposure of comics culture and reminded me what a difference windows make in a cramped setting. The absence of horror, sci-fi, anime and video games really was an improvement by not only making it navigable and free, but also in placing more emphasis on the comic book aspect of an event aptly named a comic convention.
Now, before I let my nerd-gripe get the best of me, let me explain. Of the comic creators at the Wizard World Toronto, both local and international, I managed to speak to all of them for a generous amount of time. Even my friend, and artist for Grown Ups (or a Reasonable Facsimile), Khaiam Dar was able to get an extensive portfolio review from local Marvel Comics cover artist Mike Del Mundo. This isn't me bragging about rubbing elbows with the likes of Jock, Mike Deodato and Kagan McLeod (okay, maybe it is just a bit) but I'm just saying that this would not have happened during the mega event that the late August convention has turned into. The crowd this weekend knew what they were there for and got to it. No lulling, no shuffling, no stopping abruptly in the middle of a single file to take a picture of a ceiling fan. A more manageable crowd could be a sign of smaller revenue but I'll let Wizard Entertainment worry about it.
The quality of non-comic talent went up a notch as both celebrities and quasi-celebrities were out and about. From WWE Hall of Famer and Toronto's own, Edge, down to the viral sensation, Toronto Batman, there were quite a few people to get excited over. In previous years it would be the odd Star Trek: DS9 or Battle Star Galactica actor as well as around a dozen or so wrestlers from the 80s doing their best to not look depressingly out of shape so that they can sign autographs for paying fans (I have my Iron Shiek photo, I'm fine).
Overall, I would place Wizard World Toronto somewhere between the Toronto Comics Arts Festival and the Toronto Comic Con in terms of relevance. There is that feeling of artistic prominence that you would find at TCAF but at the same time, there's quite a bit of just flat out shilling (trollface keychains? I don't think so) that dominates the Toronto Comic Con. Now I'll leave you with the words I heard the Naked News reporter (who wasn't following Naked News mandate, might I add) mutter to camera man after interviewing a Gargamel cosplayer: "Geez, let's get out of here."