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Saturday, July 16, 2016

DC in the 80s visits the 2016 Montreal Comiccon

The weekend of July 8th 2016 saw Montreal host it's 11th Comic-con at the Palais des congrès. First held in a low-ceiling windowless exhibition hall back in 2006, the fact that Montreal now requires a 200,000 sq ft exhibition hall for this "pop culture" convention is a pretty big deal considering that Canada has always been somewhat lacking in the 'comic book appreciation' department (seriously, check the North America comic convention schedule - there's a major comic con somewhere in the U.S. almost every weekend. sometimes even two). It's about time Montrealers are finally recognized as a strong fandom community worthy of a major pop culture event.

Montreal Comiccon logo. Property of Montreal Comiccon, I'd assume.

DC in the 80s was lucky enough to attend this massive event and spend a good portion of Saturday and Sunday touring the floor and taking in the sights. We rolled up around 10:00 am on Saturday morning and the convention hall was already packed. You didn't even need to get further than the admissions line to see a wide variety of cosplay. Unsurprisingly, there was a strong DC cosplay showing - but much to our surprise it wasn't the 'usual suspects'. Sure, there were quite a few Jokers and Harley Quinns, but we also saw more than one Raven and Starfire (perhaps because Tom Grummett was attending?), a Hawkman and Hawkwoman, a few obscure and not so obscure Bat-Villains and a really innovative Batman vs Superman 'armored-up' Batman.

...and then we saw these guys...

...which doesn't really have anything to do with DC comics - but as kids who grew up playing arcade beat-em ups, we can really appreciate the sentiment.

The Montreal ComicCon had an impressive line-up of media guests this year, so it was pretty much guaranteed that attendance would be at max capacity. The list is pretty huge, so we'll just list off a few you'll probably recognize: William Shatner, Billy Dee Williams, Brent Spinner, Eric Bischoff, Darryl "DMC" Daniels, and Ric Flair [...of course this list is pretty subjective considering this is a zine primarily focused on the 1980s]...

...and who could forget Alfonso Ribeiro (who played Carlton) from Fresh Prince of Bel-Air?

Will Smith and Alfonso Ribeiro from Fresh Prince of Bel-Air

The list of 80s comic book professionals included Neal Adams, Ty Templeton, Tom Grummett, David Lloyd, Bob Layton, Dave Ross, Eric Talbot and Richard Pace (among others). Michael Golden and Renee Witterstaetter were slated to appear, but had to withdraw at the very last minute. Mike Grell was also there - he and his crew remembered us from this year's Ottawa ComicCon, so we chatted and exchanged pleasantries. Richard Comely (the gentleman who created Captain Canuck) was also in attendance and was just a great guy to chat with and we're sorry we didn't get a photo of him at the time.

Although the exhibition hall crowds were bustling, the comic pros were still pretty accessible to fans and you could literally walk right up and start a conversation with Neal Adams. (I can't say the same for the higher-profile media celebrities, but that's to be expected at these types of events. Sorry, we didn't get an interview with Carlton.) Throughout the day, Mark Belkin was able to get commissions from Ty Templeton, Mike Grell and David Lloyd. Truth be told, if we didn't have such a long list of comic pros to interview, I could've sat and chatted with Grell all afternoon - Mike is easily one of the most interesting people I've ever spoken with.

Ty Templeton Solomon Grundy commission. Photo credit: Mark Belkin

Mike Grell Solomon Grundy commission. Photo credit: Mark Belkin David LLoyd John Constantine commission. Photo credit: Mark Belkin

For the past two decades, Montreal has been aggressively marketing itself as a 'city to watch' in regards to film, special effects and software development [Ubisoft opened a Montreal office in 1998]. So it should come as no surprise that the Montreal ComicCon would host a strong assortment of video game and indie movie developers showcasing their latest projects. Mark almost had a coronary when he discovered the directors of Turbo Kid were in attendance with their own booth featuring props from the film:

Mark Belkin is the dude with the beard AND glasses

The Montreal Comiccon boasted a fine selection of panel discussions - there are too many to list here, so I'll just point out the two that I really would've really liked to have attended: The Idiots Guide to Investing in Comics, and The History of Coleco, Colecovision, The Cabbage Patch Kids and Montreal. Mark achieved his life-long dream and got a chance to ask both Ric Flair and Eric Bischoff questions at the Ric Flair/Eric Bischoff panel.

Ric Flair/Eric Bischoff panel. SPOILER: 'whooo!' was yelled a lot

The Artist Alley was also very active, and due to a condensed schedule I didn't get much of an opportunity to peruse the local artist booths. I do, however, have it on good authority that Amy Spaulding was in attendance. Sorry we missed you this time, Amy. Hopefully we'll meet you at the next? Mark did make the acquaintance of a very talented Magic Card creator and all-around great artist named Anastasia Ovchinnikova. Hopefully we'll hear more from her in the future.

The art of Anastasia

Other than meeting up with Mark in-person for the time ever and getting to interview a few comic pros we've been wanting to chat with, one of the biggest thrills of the day was picking up a complete set of DC Villains: Dark Judgement cards (produced by SkyBox back in 1995) for under $20. I've been looking for these for a while, and they were the last set needed to complete my "early 90s DC comics card sets" collection. Thanks for having us Montreal ComicCon! This was a great event and I wish I could've stayed until the end (luckily Mark held out until Sunday afternoon).

Going to close off with some non-DC cosplay that really stood out at this event. I always felt that if you go to this much trouble designing your own costume and/or covering yourself in green paint, you DESERVE to have your pic taken and plastered everywhere.


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