by Hani Yassine
The Lance – Arts Editor
It was held on three floors. There were eight celebrities, five comic guests, 32 retailers and 27 vendors in the artist alley. There was Batman and Superman, space marines and Pokemon trainers. There were card games, board games and video games. There were illustrative works, and finally, there were comic books.
With all these elements combined, it led to an erupting pop culture volcano.
Anyone who likely had any interest in anything may have found themselves at the second Windsor ComiCon on Oct. 15 and 16. From children to adults, there was an influx of thousands within Caesars Windsor where the weekend was owned by people dressing up as some of their favourite characters, from the iconic to the obscure. By simply gauging the turnout of the event, the second year’s success seemed more than apparent.
“The number of people, the engagement, the excitement, you can definitely feel the electricity in the air, said event coordinator Jeremy Renaud.
His second time attending the local ComiCon, 18-year old John Andonian was present in a lab coat and full blue make-up, replicating Beast from the ‘X-Men’ comics. While he enjoyed this year’s selection, he was having more fun with random people recognizing him and his portrayal.
“It’s mainly why I did it, just to see the smiles on people’s faces,” Andonian said.
The ground floor of Caesars was the main draw where the all the vendors had resided. But the third floor theatre rooms had draws of their own as question and answer panels were being held with this year’s featured celebrities.
Among the higher billed ones was actor Sean Astin from ‘The Goonies’, ‘Rudy’ and perhaps prominently his role as Samwise Gamgee in the ‘Lord of the Rings’ trilogy. The majority of the panel was in regards to his work in the trilogy, where he shared personal anecdotes when it came to getting the role as well as interesting production details, particularly how he felt studio New Line Cinema didn’t quite understand the film through their marketing strategy.
“When you looked at what the New Line marketing people were doing… you don’t market this to the bleachers,” Astin said during the panel. “This is a big, important, special, sophisticated, elegant, smart, powerful piece of cinema that’s going to instantly take its place in cinema history. That’s what we felt when we were making it. You just look around and you see what all the people around you are doing, and you pinch yourself and try not to mess up your part.”
Of course, ComiCon would not be what it’s called without genuine comic book presence, which is where Cristina Marin of Super-Chi studios helped fit the bill. Based in Windsor, Marin is a teacher by trade, graduating from UWindsor in French and Psychology, but has also done several written and illustrative works to help carve a secondary career. She was at the event promoting her ‘Ball and Chain’ comic series, which is set in post-apocalyptic Canada where it’s filled with mutants and modern-day gladiators.
“I really like post-apocalyptic stories, I like mutants and obviously gladiator stories, so it was kind of like a mix of my interests,” Marin said.
Local retailers had also set up shop during the convention, one of which being The CG Realm. Located on the corner of Hall Avenue and Tecumseh Road, the store specializes in board games, card games, miniature table top experiences and pop figures among others. Store co-owner Ian Devies says attending the event has helped bring in new customers both in and out of town. He also finds board games themselves making a bit of resurgence due to a mix of new features and plain old nostalgia.
“A lot of this is new people finding us, and that’s kind of one of the goals and aims is that we want to bring new games to new people,” Devies said. “As people get older and start having kids, they want to have those experiences that they had with their parents.”
While the numbers are unconfirmed, Renaud senses a larger attendance with this year’s event, and in turn greater community response which essentially gives the convention a greenlight for a third year. Though nothing is set in stone, planning for next year is underway in attempts to up the ante and make it a mainstay in Windsor.
“From the first year it’s like a learning experience, so every year we’re trying to refine how to do it,” Renaud said. “We have some really cool ideas already for next year, to keep continuing to grow and build excitement.”