Attending Fan Expo Canada 2021 brings with it a mixed bag of emotions. On one hand it’s Fan Expo, Canada’s largest comics, sci-fi, horror, anime and gaming event. But on the other hand this year a lot of that was missing. Instead of calling it Limited Edition, perhaps they should have called in Fan Expo Lite, because really that’s what it was.
Usually two building are full of vendors, celebrities, artists, food and above all fans (many of whom are dressed up like their favourite characters). Fans shoveling out their hard earned money to buy collectables of all kinds, including signatures and pictures of their idols. This year however most of the show takes place in Metro Toronto Convention Centre’s South Building. The North Building is for celebrity panels, autographs and pictures. Some of those include Captain Kirk portrayer and recent astronaut William Shatner and his Star Trek co-star George Takei. You can also meet Ricky, Julian and Bubbles of the Trailer Park Boys, or James Marsters who played Spike on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. All told there are 17 different celebrities signing autographs this year, which is much less that usual. But it’s also is pretty impressive considering the pandemic is still on and borders have not fully reopened yet.
In the South Building you will find a lot of comic book artists and writers, including the new kid on the block Jason Fabok who turned heads last year as the artist of the Three Jokers limited series. The lineup also includes award winning artists David Finch and Ken Lashley, and writer Ed Brisson. All four are superstars in their own right. But they are all also Canadians like many of the guests in attendance this year. Again, this is due to the pandemic, but not all of them are Canadian. Many offer autographs, custom sketches, comic books and posters. You can attend draw-offs where you can win the artwork being created. There are also tutorials on how to draw, colour, ink and write.
Throughout the building you will find comic books, Funko Pops, T-Shirts, posters, movies and many other items that are a must for your collection. You will also find the 501st Legion. They bring with them their popular Star Wars sets for you to be a part of, Stormtroopers and droids. You’ll find cosplayers that you can pose for photos with, The Toronto Steampunks, The Ghostbusters of Ontario. And last but not least, the Doctor Who Society of Canada whose collection of robotic Daleks are extremely creepy. Even the Ontario Provincial Police get in on the fun with a custom police car painted like a comic book.
While Fan Expo 2021 Limited Edition pales in comparison to the last FanExpo (which was in 2019), it’s still something to cherish. It means we are heading in the right direction, back towards normality. Most of the fans in attendance were respectful of one another too, wearing their masks at all times, keeping their distance when they could, and being polite to one another. And you might be wondering the same things that other do. But FanExpo does an incredible job of checking your vaccine passports and keeping track of the number of people inside at all times. You even have to swipe out so another person can enter.
You may not spend as much time at the 2021 version of FanExpo, and it might not be the event we all remember and were hoping for. But it’s worth going to. Maybe just for a second or two you can forget the world around you. And you can just enjoy yourself in the moment once again.
FanExpo runs all weekend at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. It’s open Saturday from 10-7 and Sunday from 10-5, and tickets can be purchased in advance on their website.