FanExpo in Toronto this year had much to offer a variety of fans. Cosplayers of all types were out in force, autograph booths were homes to stars of film and television, from both live-action and animated features. Artist alley displayed new and old work by up-and-coming and well-established artists of comicbooks, manga, and other pop-culture work.
As recent readers of my coverage will remember, I went to the FanExpo in Toronto with high hopes about finding a variety of Marvel back issues. Although I didn’t find a booth that had every issue of Spider-Man’s ’90s Clone Saga, I did find a few items I’ve been looking for for a long time.
I also attended a Q&A with Cary Elwes, star of The Princess Bride and Mel Brooks’s Robin Hood: Men in Tights who has also appeared in a number of movies and TV series, including Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Glory, Hot Shots!, and Psych. Fans of Stranger Things will be happy to learn that Mr. Elwes will be adding to his impressive CV by appearing in the next season of the nostalgia-fueled horror epic.
But, since my main reason for attending the FanExpo in Toronto was so that I could find rare back issues, let’s get back to the comicbooks and discuss Cary Elwes later.
FanExpo in Toronto: The Multi-Titled Machine Man
Although I did find Machine Man (Vol. 1) #19 at one of the many-aisled booths I had the pleasure of perusing, I had to put the sought-after issue back in the bins when I saw the price. Exhibiting only the smallest amount of self-control, I made up an excuse that the pages were too yellowed for the price and returned the issue to its rightful spot.
Machine Man (Vol. 1) represents the robotic hero’s second try at a title all his own, having first appeared as the central character in issues 8–10 of 2001: A Space Odyssey. Much like issue #10 of 2001: A Space Odyssey, Machine Man #19 was fated to be the serial’s final issue. You can’t keep a good robot down though. Machine Man returned three years later in a four-part mini-series, also named Machine Man — I’m looking for #4 if anyone has a lead on it.
FanExpo in Toronto: Picking up Power Pack #27
Collecting multi-title crossovers can bring you pretty far away from your regular pull list. Part of 1986’s “Mutant Massacre” story-line, looking for this issue always made me feel like a bit of a creep. Even though Power Pack was written by the great Louise Simonson, that the Power Pack are a group of children superheroes, some in tights, makes me uncomfortable, and I always wonder if I’m attracting stares when I leaf through the Power Pack section of the bins. So, happy to avoid such questioning glances in the future, I was glad to find the issue I was looking for, which happens to include a meeting between Wolverine and Sabretooth! The cover is entertaining at least: it features a typically enraged Sabretooth about to tear into a fair-haired member of the juvenile team. Ah, the ’80s…
FanExpo in Toronto: The Vision and the Scarlet Witch
My sought-after issues from the ’80s were well represented at the booths I attended. In addition to Power Pack #27 and Machine Man #19, I also found issues I was missing for The Vision and the Scarlet Witch, a 12-issue mini-series that ran from ’85–’86. Although I don’t want to offer any spoilers, a cover reveals that the Scarlet Witch is pregnant with the Vision’s baby…somehow.
Covers also reveal an appearance by the purple-suited Magneto. It’s always stressful when your father-in-law has no fashion sense, and is also a murderous tyrant.
FanExpo in Toronto: The Epic Find
My most cherished find from the recent FanExpo in Toronto was 1985’s Epic Illustrated #26–34. Comprising an unfinished story about Galactus entitled “The Last Galactus Story,” by John Byrne and Terry Austin, the only issue that I couldn’t find was #31. Issues of Epic Illustrated are very difficult to find since they’re magazines rather than comicbooks. Publication of magazines in the ’80s must have involved smaller runs than comicbooks because there seem to be less and less in shops every year.
Whatever the reason, I found nearly all of the magazine issues I was looking for in addition to several of the comicbooks I was looking for. And, I got them at a discount! I felt good. I wandered the exhibition halls looking for artists to talk to but couldn’t find any I recognized — a serious problem when you’re currently reading comicbooks from nearly 60 years ago.
John Byrne was in attendance, but he was always away from his booth when I walked by, probably getting grilled by another member of the pop-culture press. Having little success finding artists and celebrities to talk to, and excited to cross items off of my list, I hopped on the subway and to a friend’s house.
FanExpo in Toronto: Confronting Epic Loss
When I arrived, I realized that my treasured issues of Epic Illustrated were gone! I insisted that my friend check his bags but, finding only his things, I figured I must have accidentally left them at the booth I bought them from! What a fool I was!
A frantic subway trip later, I arrived back at the closing convention centre. Using my Monkeys Fighting Robots press pass like a force field, I surged through four increasingly skeptical security checkpoints while mumbling “I forgot something inside…”
FanExpo in Toronto: An Epic Convention Miracle
Optimism waned as I saw the closed comicbook booths, but as I rounded the corner I saw the Comics Age booth, where I had purchased the issues of Epic Illustrated, closed but still staffed by the people I had bought from earlier in the day. I interrupted their closing routine. I was happy to learn that the staff remembered me and had even set my forgotten purchase aside.
Starry-eyed, I retrieved the seven issues. I thanked anyone who would listen, including one of the security guards, and returned to my friend’s house triumphant.
FanExpo in Toronto: Cary Elwes on Cary Elwes
Mr. Elwes presented well during the Q&A, sharing stories about working on The Princess Bride, one about working with Andre the Giant, one about learning to fence alongside Mandy Patinkin, and one about taking direction from Rob Reiner on how to properly kiss Robin Wright.
He also talked briefly about working on The Riverman, and the difficult task of portraying serial killer Ted Bundy. Describing the process as disturbing, he said that he’d probably avoid portraying serial killers in the future.
Some Q&As can become monotonous or awkward quickly, but Cary Elwes managed the event well, even pulling out impressions of Rob Reiner, Andre the Giant, and Mel Brooks for effect. His was the final Q&A of the convention, and, although it wasn’t overly revealing or personal, it was interesting and fun, a great topper to an excellent weekend. I look forward to finding out what they have planned for FanExpo Canada 2019!