As anyone who has attended Montreal Comic Con knows, one of its great privileges – in addition to hobnobbing with creators and celebs – is seeing the best of our local cosplay scene. This year proved no exception, as can be seen in following gallery of costumes covering everything from Star Wars and Disney characters to Horror icons and Burton films. Enjoy!
Bust out your back issues and binoculars folks, because it’s that time of year again. Montreal Comic Con descends upon the Palais Des Congres this weekend for three days of autographs, celebrity encounters, cosplay and of course, comic books.
This year, the 1990s will be very well represented, and not just by those sporting fashions from Forever 21. Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman’s very own Man of Steel, Dean Cain, will be present to reflect on his time in the iconic red and blue tights, as well as his turns as Vandal Savage on Smallville and Jeremiah Danvers – aka Supergirl’s foster father – on CW’s Supergirl.
Voiceover actor extraordinaire Jim Cummings will also be making a long-awaited appearance at the Con. If the name doesn’t ring a bell, his voice certainly will.
Remember the classic after-school programming block known as the Disney Afternoon? Cummings worked on nearly every animated series you raced home from the bus stop to check out, from Gummy Bears, Duck Tales, Chip ‘N Dale Rescue Rangers, Aladdin and Gargoyles, to the comic book/sitcom Darkwing Duck, where he brought the titular Masked Mallard to vivid, egomaniacal life.
He’s also voiced both Winnie the Pooh and Tigger for the last few decades, and stood in for Jeremy Irons and Christopher Lloyd as the singing voices of The Lion King’s Scar and Anastasia’s Rasputin. He’s lent his pipes to various Looney Tunes projects, all sorts of video games and even theme park attractions. Suffice it to say, if there’s an animated property you hold dear to your heart, he was likely involved.
Speaking of Disney, the voice of Belle herself, Paige O’Hara, will be present to reflect on that tale as old as time, Beauty and the Beast. Given her character’s reappearance in Ralph Breaks the Internet and the continual popularity of the ‘Disney Princess’ brand, one can only wonder whether we’ll be seeing more of the brunette bookworm in the years to come.
Celebrated Canadian comic artist and writer Ty Templeton will also be in attendance once again this year, telling stories and taking commissions from his booth in Artists Alley. Templeton is best known for having adapted the classic superhero cartoon Batman: The Animated Series into a monthly comic for DC through the 90s and 00s.
The Batman Adventures series won multiple Eisner Awards and helped introduce a whole new generation to the Dark Knight Detective. Though Templeton’s credits span multiple DC and Marvel titles, as well as the late, great Mad Magazine, which only this week was cancelled after 67 years in print. Try not to bum him out about that one.
Mighty Morphin Power Rangers fans will be tickled by the appearances of Austin St. John, Karan Ashley, Walter E. Jones and David Fielding aka the Red, Yellow and Black Rangers and their amorphous floating head of a leader, Zordon. Though the action-packed live action kids series became a pop culture phenomenon in its day, it also left us with plenty of unanswered questions, such as: how exactly is saber-tooth tiger a dinosaur?
All this isn’t to suggest other decades of comic book and pop culture deliciousness won’t be equally represented, mind you. 70’s Hulk Lou Ferrigno will be hulking about, X-Men and Star Wars actor/athlete Ray Park will also be around (and maybe even demonstrating roundhouse kicks? No?) and Elijah Wood will be reminiscing about the Lord of the Rings films with the one and only Captain Kirk himself, William Shatner, holding court for autograph seekers, no doubt surrounded by Starship Enterprise memorabilia.
Comic Con is the perfect time to let your inner geek out, whichever era you prefer, so take some time this weekend to enjoy its more than 200 activities and remember to invite children under the age of five to tag along. Because they get in for free…and because it’s never too early to start obsessing over sci-fi.
For full program details and ticket information, visit montrealcomiccon.com. Comic Con runs from July 5th to the 7th
For the past seven years local cartoonist Samantha Leriche-Gionet has attended the Montreal Comic Convention with copies of her autobiographical comic strip, Boumeries, in hand. The graduate of Concordia University’s Film Animation department has made a career for herself chronicling the ups, downs and in-betweens of daily life by finding humor in everything from raising young children to having vivid dreams on a nightly basis.
To get a sense of how our annual Con has evolved, FTB took a moment to speak with the artist about the challenges facing illustrators working the convention circuit, finding French readers in unexpected places and the double-edged sword of celebrity.
Forget The Box: Do you feel like there’s been enough support for you here on home soil to build your brand or do you feel like you get further along outside Montreal or Quebec?
Samantha Leriche-Gionet: No, I do much better here. I used to sell equal amounts of English and French copies at Montreal Comic Con, but that shifted when I started getting somewhat popular and because I’m a local, I’m going to attract a lot more Francophones.
So now, for the last volume I printed 500 in French and 100 in English. The ratio is really unbalanced now but I do sell a lot of English copies on the web and it’s nice to have English copies if I want to travel. When I went to Seattle, I didn’t bring any French copies and the first person who stopped by my booth addressed me in French and said “I’m from Calgary but I’m from Quebec originally. Do you have any French copies?” [Laughs] I have a bigger readership here than anywhere else.
Is it cathartic chronicling your personal life in your comic strip?
It’s also a great document to look back on….
Yes, it’s a really great archive. I didn’t think of it that way at all when I started doing it. Even after having kids, I would just keep doing the comic and then I’d forget about some strips and then when I read the books again I’ll go, “oh yeah – my daughter used to do that!”
Now, I’m aware that on top of baby photos my kids are going to have a bunch of comics about them to look through. They’re probably going to be angry with me at some point over some gags I’ve written about them or something they did. I’m not making fun of them though.
How do you choose what to edit out of the stories?
I never want my kids or [my partner] Pierre-Luc to be the butt of the joke. Pierre-Luc can veto anything. Usually he vetoes it right away – “don’t put this in the comic!” My kids can’t do that yet. My oldest knows it’s her and her sister but she doesn’t get that the whole story is about them yet. I just try not to make fun of them because I don’t want to. I try to depict them in a funny light. I want them to be likeable and fondly remembered. It’s not that big of a problem. I know when something is good enough for the comic.
What conventions, other than the Montreal Comic Con, have you attended?
TCAF in Toronto, VanCAF in Vancouver, Emerald City Comicon in Seattle. Here, I do the Montreal Comic Arts Festival, Expozine which is in the fall and I do Otakuthon which is an anime con, which is pretty good for me because there is less of a focus on comics.
We are three cartoonists, so if people are looking for comics in French they have three choices. There’s a small comics festival in Prevost, in the Laurentians. I did a really crummy convention in Toronto that doesn’t exist there anymore called Wizard World. The franchise exists but not in Toronto anymore. It was really bad. I did okay, but…
Bad terms of sales, you mean?
I sold one book in three days and out of desperation I started taking ten dollar commissions and paid for the whole trip with those. I did forty-five, I think. It was exhausting. I’m never doing that again!
What have you seen change here at the Montreal Comic Con in terms of the way people come through Artist’s Alley and check out art?
Well, the place got much bigger so I don’t think it’s to our advantage really because people get lost. They say “oh I’ll be back later” and they never find you again. Of course that’s also a good excuse if they don’t want to buy anything [Laughs]. And of course there are a lot more artists than there used to be.
Comic Con is not on the growth curve for me actually. I did better this year than last year but just barely. It’s not a great Con for me but it’s an okay Con so I still do it.
It’s often said there are different atmospheres at different conventions…
Do you feel, as other attendees have expressed, that the focus at this event has shifted more towards promoting the big-name celebrities?
Yes, more than before. I heard that David Tennant was something like 130 bucks if you wanted an autograph or a photo-op, I can’t recall which, but it explains why people are hesitant to buy anything. People also have to pay to get in, so it gets expensive.
I don’t do commissions but other artists here do and attendees don’t really order commissions at all. If you go to Ontario or the States, it’s basically what everyone wants. I have a friend who usually pays for her table with commissions and she was complaining all weekend because no one orders commissions.
At other conventions, do you find people will ask for commissions even if they aren’t familiar with your work?
Yes. They see “Commissions” and they’re interested.
Has there been a highlight to this year’s Con for you?
[Laughs] This isn’t a highlight but somebody told me it’s too bad I don’t have PAW Patrol merchandise and I wanted to tell him that PAW Patrol stuff is everywhere. Why did you come to Comic Con looking for PAW Patrol stuff?
I do love when kids buy my books. I love when kids know what it is. Adults are nice too, but kids are special. I think my ideal target audience is geeky parents.
What would you like to see change as the Con evolves in years to come, if anything?
I’d like the prices to drop but that’s impossible. I don’t know. I’m doing okay.
What’s next for you? More Boumeries…?
Yes. I’m also illustrating a series of children’s novels. I’m working on two comics at once: one that I’m only illustrating and one that I’m doing completely by myself. I already have a publisher behind it.
Is it weird being a local celebrity of sorts and having fans recognize you? I remember once seeing someone asking you and Pierre-Luc for a photo…
People feel like they know me. Yeah, it’s weird. I’m the one doing the comics so I’m okay with it. Pierre-Luc found it weirder so he doesn’t come to conventions a lot, in part because of that. People know a bunch of stuff about me. Some people I don’t even recognize. They’ll say hi and I’ll wonder “who are you?” But it’s nice to have three days of people saying “your work is awesome!” even if they don’t buy anything. Just hearing “this is great, I’ve read it, keep it up.” That’s my real pay.
You can check out Samantha Leriche-Gionet’s work, including Boumeries, at comics.boumerie.com
If you happen to spot a Power Ranger or Sailor Scout in the days ahead, do not be alarmed. It’s simply that special time of year again, when fanboys and girls of all ages gather at the Palais de Congres for three days of celebrities, cosplay and comic books. Yes, the Montreal Comic Con is back in full swing this weekend and expecting some 60 000 visitors with a passion for all things sci-fi and spandex.
Those who’ve frequented local cons since the early 2000s have seen these gatherings grow from modest affairs in hotel ballrooms to an annual event proudly featuring the likes of Patrick Stewart and Nathan Fillion. But while Hollywood heavy-hitters are sure to draw in the crowds, it’s important not to overlook the ones who do the actual…well, drawing.
Yes, there was once a time – back before geekdom went mainstream – when comic book conventions were focused more on actual comic books than comic adaptations. Of course, those were the days when superheroes rarely made the transition to television let alone the big screen. Now, we can watch the adventures of Supergirl and Preacher from our living-rooms while Wonder Woman and the Guardians of the Galaxy battle at the multiplex for box office supremacy.
It’s impossible not to be excited about that, but as films like Batman V Superman have shown, adaptations can often pale in comparison to the source material. Why not then seize this opportunity to spend some time with the creative minds who’ve been fueling these franchises for decades and truly understand what makes these characters great?
Case in point: Ty Templeton. This Ontario-based Renaissance Man has worked in just about every area of the entertainment industry – and has the hilarious anecdotes to prove it – but is probably best known for helping to adapt the Emmy Award-winning Batman: The Animated Series for comics. The celebrated tie-in book, The Batman Adventures, debuted in 1992 and proved so popular DC kept it going for another twelve years, long after the animated series concluded its run in 1999.
Templeton provided scripts, covers and interior art for the all-ages book, which won several Eisner Awards during its run and is widely considered to feature some of the best Batman stories of all time. He’s also written for Bongo Comics’ Simpsons books and provided art for DC’s recent Batman ’66 Meets the Green Hornet series.
Templeton’s sense of humor and passion for comics is evident in all his work, but especially his weekly online comic strip Bun Toons, which cleverly comments on comic book culture and even politics in as few as six panels. If you happen upon his booth, don’t be surprised to see him regaling a group fans with one of his rousing stories. He’s an entertaining one to be sure.
…not that he’s the only one with stories to tell. Comics legend Neal Adams will also be in attendance and hosting a panel called The Sordid History of Comic Books. Having worked on characters as diverse as Tarzan, the X-Men, Green Lantern and Batman, he has a wealth of knowledge to share with both readers and aspiring comic artists.
In addition to having drawn Superman’s famous boxing match against Muhammad Ali and co-created the villain Ra’s Al Ghul, Adams is especially well regarded within the artistic community for having stood up to the big publishers in the 1970s to ensure creator’s rights were being respected. His efforts saw Avengers creator Jack Kirby and Superman creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster get long-overdue credit for their contributions to the medium, and helped ensure today’s crop of comic book artists aren’t at the mercy of their employers. If anyone can speak to the industry’s sordid past and possibly brighter future, it’s him.
Archie Comics’ artists Dan Parent and Fernando Ruiz, meanwhile, will be present to reflect on the adventures of the world’s oldest teenager, who just so happens to also have a new hit series on the CW network. If you haven’t checked out an Archie comic since your last visit to summer camp, rest assured that little has changed in his neck of the woods, except perhaps the variety of representation now featured.
Parent ushered Kevin Keller – Riverdale’s first openly gay resident – into the pages of Archie back in 2012. The character has since made the transition to all corners of the world of Archie after weathering an initial storm of controversy. Now, Parent and Ruiz are focused on their first creator-owned collaboration: a saucy series called Die Kitty Die! which came about through a successful 2015 Kickstarter campaign and sees their typically kid-friendly style take a walk on the wilder side.
Perhaps most fittingly, given Canada’s recent 150th birthday, attendees can get to know a bit about our own somewhat forgotten national superhero Captain Canuck, whose latest adventures are being scripted in part by Jay Baruchel. The former Montreal-based actor has invested in Chapterhouse Comics to help chart the course for this character, originally created in 1975.
These are but a few of the comic book writers and artists attending this weekend’s festivities. Walking through Artist’s Alley will also offer an opportunity to familiarize oneself with the work of local independent artists whose unique perspectives and enthusiasm for comics could very well lead them to success and fame down the road.
In short, great as the temptation may be to spend those hard-earned savings on autographed photos with the host of talented actors and actresses present, celebrating the creative minds at the hearts of these larger-than-life franchises is really what a comic book convention is all about.
Full guest and schedule details for the Montreal Comic Con, which runs through Sunday July 9th, is available at MontrealComicCon.com
* Featured image: The 2011 Montreal Comic Con main room, via WikiMedia Commons