As I said, here’s a little write-up of some observations and comments from my recent trip to Fan Expo 2008. So if you’re interested in a manga/anime focused peek, then… enjoy?
As expected of a large convention, there was plenty of selection in the vendors area. Ranging from anime, Japanese food imports and a large portion of comic book retailers offering a sea of endless back issues, there was a little something for everyone in attendance amidst the sellers.
Needless to say I spent the majority of my time spelunking through the aisles of manga, looking for some new volumes and hoping for some hidden surprises. There was a little bit of everything there, that’s for sure! From the mainstream to the more obscure, if I wanted it, then I found it eventually.
One of the biggest crowd draws, and largest genre sections at each booth, was undoubtedly the boys’ love. With special orders through retailers and online shopping the only way to find it, as most places don’t carry it on a regular basis, this is easily the most affordable and bountiful way to get it (not to mention have nearly every title available to browse though). I purchased quite a few myself, both new and old.
Some titles even surprised me, including quite a selection of BeBeautiful out-of-print books. I found several copies from all their series, with the exception of the Finder series of course (which goes for a consistent $100+ a volume on eBay). Thanks to a find of Sound of My Voice, I now own all of BeBeautiful’s books. Too bad most will remain unfinished collections (or will they…?)! There were also several DramaQueen series available as well. That said, I generally review everything I read today, but is worth reviewing something that readers won’t be able to find easily (if at all)?
I also got caught up on all the Dark Horse series I collect, which was great since their books are also difficult to find outside speciality carriers, not being carried by Indigo stores on-shelf. Yen Press books were also all over the place, much to the joy of many happy fans I browsed alongside. Not a sign of Yen Plus though! I’ve been keeping my eye for it but have yet to ever see a copy, both here and in any bookstore or on any magazine shelf. I’ve heard tell they can be found in the rare speciality store but I’m a little saddened that it’s still so difficult to find, especially when Viz’s anthologies are everywhere and then some.
Other random observation was some Reservoir Chronicles: Tsubasa books, pictured to the side. As you can see they have some different logo work on them. Inside they were the same Del Rey release, as far as I could see, yet are sporting a quite noticeably different look on the spine. Upon looking it up at home, I realized they were the UK releases. Interesting that the occasional vendors were selling these versions of them. It’s the first Tanoshimi releases I’ve seen here.
Anime-wise, there was plenty of the usual across the sea of merchandise and DVDs. While the $50-$60 per DVD came as no surprise (though I had held up hope they’d be cheaper from some vendors), Funimation’s booth offered much financial relief with a large selection for a fraction of the price. $20 for new releases, yes please. With so many series being put out by Funimation in the next year, I’ll definitely be saving my money for con purchases and save myself a bundle. No complaints about the many freebies either!
While the vendor area is undoubtedly one of the biggest, if not the biggest, draw for anime and manga fans, there was also the Artists Alley, which had lots of incredibly talented people, of all styles, offering prints and commissions. It was great having an Artists Alley table and getting to speak with people. Big thanks to those who stopped by (and of course, double-thanks to those who helped pay for the trip by purchasing a print or two)!
Also, being a fan-convention of glorious geekery, don’t forget that cosplay! Cosplay, cosplay, cosplay everywhere… and hardly a ninja in sight! There were so many amazing cosplays, ranging from super heroes to magical girls to inanimate objects, but I couldn’t help but notice the big difference in cosplay choices as I’ve become accustomed to seeing. Rarely did I ever see anyone cosplaying the more mainstream series, such as Naruto (easily the highest ratio of cosplayers I’ve seen at past conventions, hands down), and instead showing love for some less mainstream series, such as Gurren Lagann, Ouran Host Club and the live-action adaptation of Sailor Moon. Needless to say, I loved the diversity of it. You never knew who’d be waltzing around the next corner.
All in all, it wasn’t a blow your mind convention, and I thus far prefer the more community-oriented aspect of smaller conventions like Animaritime. As much as I love manga-shopping from a shelf, shopping compulsively is something just as easily done from the my computer chair. Still, if you’re looking for cosplayers, merchandise and a place to hang out with fellow fans, then Fan Expo might be something worth looking into if you’re in the area. If you’re interested in a more long-winded, much less punctuated version of my trip, you can check out my LJ entries for day one, day two and day three.
Now some friendly pluggage! Below are two links to my favourite vendors present there, both by sale-selection and their friendly, plus informative and willing to chat for a while, staff. I made several visits to their tables and their stores will be on my list of must-dos next time I’m in Toronto.
And finally, to round things off, here’s a list to websites of some of the artists, writers and entrenpeneurs I had the pleasure of speaking with, and purchasing from, at the convention!
Ichigo-Oh (a) Deviantart.com
Wicked World Studios (a) Deviantart.com
Tiikay (a) Deviantart.com
Shokujyou Misora (a) Deviantart.com
Gum-Gum Pins N’ Stickers!
Strawberry: Women Creating Comics
Velharthis: The Fantasy Webcomic
You can see larger versions of the pictures above, and a bunch of others, here.