Tuesday, August 31, 2010

A LETTER FROM THE PRESIDENT OF HOBBYSTAR MARKETING, INC.

August 31, 2010

Dear Fans,

On behalf of the staff of Fan Expo Canada™ I would like to apologize for the lengthy delays and inconvenience experienced by many at Fan Expo Canada™ this past weekend. We were, quite simply, inadequately prepared for the increased crowds in a venue that was neither familiar to us nor not capable of meeting our collective demands. We recognize and have heard from many of you that this was unacceptable and unfair to our loyal fans.

The staff at Fan Expo have been and will continue to read and act upon the concerns communicated by our fans about Fan Expo 2010. In preparation for Fan Expo Canada™ 2011, we have already confirmed a booking of the entire South Metro Toronto Convention Centre. This will be the largest area ever used for our show and its layout is far better suited to the size and nature of our event. We are also committed to the communication of key practices for ticket purchases, show access and other related logistics effectively and well in advance of the 2011 show. In addition, we intend to engage all of the event stakeholders as we work through the planning process including: staff, fans, venue, security, Fire & Emergency Services, Tourism Toronto and the City of Toronto in this process.

We appreciate the continued support of each fan, and are grateful to have fans who are willing to take the time and effort to help improve the "Fan Expo Experience". Again we sincerely apologize to the fans that were unable to enjoy the full experience of Fan Expo 2010. Please know that we welcome your feedback and suggestions for how we can improve the fan experience. Please forward your comments to us at info@hobbystar.com.

Sincerely yours,

Aman Gupta and the Fan Expo Canada Team
President and CEO
Hobby Star Marketing, Inc.

FAN EXPO CANADA 2010 REPORT

August 27th-29th, 2010 - So what have people been dubbing the con this year? Clusterf*ck 2010? That seems to be the most used word I've been hearing this past weekend. Clusterf*ck.

It's unfortunate that there is all of this negativity towards Fan Expo Canada, but for the most part, I was not affected, so there won't be much talk about that here. Many have heard about the Fire Marshalls closing the doors, preventing people from coming in, re-entering, etc. Many have heard and complained about all the long lines, and the Premium VIP Passes being of somewhat of a waste this year (mainly, being let in slower than regular/deluxe admission people). I'm really not interested in beating the dead horse, cause as I said, I wasn't really affected by it. Aside from the fiasco on Friday, in trying to separate the Premium passes line, from the Deluxe passes line, I had no problems getting in the building or onto the convention floor.

I am a little disappointed my copy of the Amazing Spider-Man #638 Expo Exclusive was damaged, since I was hoping to get it signed by Stan Lee, Olivier Coipel, and Paolo Rivera, and have it submitted to CGC, under their Signature Series program... but, is it something I'm going to raise hell over. No.

Catwoman #4 Page 2 (Roughs) by Darwyn CookeFrankly, that saved me some money, cause I started this convention off with my biggest purchases to date.

I haven't done much planning for this con, at all... Aside from the photo op with Stan Lee, getting a signature from Summer Glau, the photo op with Summer Glau, a piece by J. Bone (which he wasn't able to get to at the Fan Appreciation show), and a commission by Agnes Garbowska, I had no game plan. And for a good chunk of time, I didn't know how much money I would have for this con, so spending on sketches/commissions, didn't really come in to mind. But once I figured out my budget for the con, during the days leading up to the con, I just kept thinking, "What do I really want to get done at the con?"

Then it hit me. I wanted to get a piece by Darwyn Cooke. Well, another one... Really, just to upgrade either the Wonder Woman, or the Zatanna. Both of which, I still absolutely love. Especially the Wonder Woman (I still stand by my statement, I'm taking that one with me to the grave... Yes, I'm selfish, but that's mine... All you get is a watermarked scan of it. :p ).

Many of you know what I think about his work, and he is a swell person, too. I knew it wasn't going to be cheap, but my reply to that, "It's Darwyn!" I didn't think twice about getting one done. It was more, "Who, of the two?"

Unfortunately, he wasn't doing any sketches or commissions this weekend, so I didn't get to make a final choice (Seriously, as of right now, I still don't know who I would have chosen, cause it could still go either way. Zatanna, cause that's my thing. Or, Wonder Woman, cause it's Wonder Woman).

However, there were two portfolios with some pre-dones pieces, roughs, and other goodies. I spent some time flipping back and forth between them, but just kept coming back to the page I posted above. From Catwoman #4. It's the page 2 rough from that issue. It's a really nice looking rough page, which is why I kept flipping back to it. Figured I'd just pull the trigger and I picked it up.

Also, I finally got to meet Darwyn's lovely wife, Marsha, who later showed me a picture of the biggest "Sh*thead" she's ever seen. I had to ask if it was a picture of me (really, I did ask). But it wasn't a picture of me (who's going to be the first to say, "There's a bigger one out there?"). I was stunned. She showed me a picture of the biggest "Sh*thead" I've ever seen. I still want to meet this person.

As always, great seeing you again, Darwyn! And nice to finally meet you, Marsha!

Ramona Flowers vs. Knives Chau (w/ Scott Pilgrim watching) by Agnes Garbowska (2010)This was a piece that I thought of last week, while replying to an email (between myself, Edward and Milo from Digital Kontent).

This was during the week after Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. So being still on that high, I shot out the request to Agnes, which was a little more detailed than I usually am (or like to be) in commission requests, and it came out looking fantastic. This is easily my favourite pieces that she has done for me.

Wolverine by Steve McNiven (2010)Eventually, I headed over to the Stan Lee signing area, and purchased the two photo op tickets for myself and Danny. Then I planted myself in line for Gary Frank (the International Guest of Honour).

After that line, I was walking around, to see what books I could get signed, and ended up at the Marvel Comics Booth, where Ian Churchill and Steve McNiven were signing. The line for that signing was capped, shortly after I got there.

Books were signed, and I ended up with a pretty cool sketch from Steve McNiven.

I actually spent a good chunk of the rest of the weekend, back and forth, between the Marvel and the DC booths, for signings, and sketches.

Catwoman by J. Bone (2010)As I mentioned before, this was a sketch that I wanted to get at the Toronto ComiCON Fan Appreciation Event. Unfortunately, I was near the end of the list, so J. Bone was willing to have it done for Fan Expo (along with one for Danny). I am quite happy with how it turned out.

The rest of Friday, was really just me getting books signed, to minimize the amount I would have had to bring back to the show for the rest of the weekend. Also, because of the Stan Lee photo op being at 8pm, I decided to line up around 7. So did many others, and they lined up earlier.

Batgirl by Alex Konat (2010) (*Note* I'm just going to start staggering the sketches, randomly, unless I can tells ye a tale about them... cause there's a lot).

The Stan Lee Photo Op line was quite long, but did move somewhat. I'm not sure what exactly happened, but I was at the ramp, just behind Timothy's, when I initially lined up, and ended up on the other side of the room, by about 8:30pm. Then they moved up all of those that purchased the "Ultimate Stan Lee Package", to the front of the line, and took care of those people, while saying that Stan Lee had to leave at 9pm, for the reception with those that purchased that package.

Iron Man by Bob Layton (2010)Being pretty far back, I left the line, to try and get more stuff done/books signed. Called it a night, when the lights started turning off.

Decided to be back for Saturday morning at 8am. Early, like usual. Just in case of any mix-ups with the lines. Turns out we were in the regular line, as opposed to the Premium Passes VIP entrance. We were pretty close to the front, and not know what line we were supposed to be in, we just stuck here, until we found out otherwise.

Milo and Kathryn ended up joining us in line. Drawing a blank here, I can't remember if Brian was there too. Eventually some jackass decides to come by and called us "F*cking Idiots" for since we had the VIP badges, and we were waiting in the wrong line.

Wolverine by Khoi Pham (2010)From what I've been hearing, people are upset that those without VIP badges, were getting in earlier than most of those with VIP badges... hmmm... so I'm pretty sure I got in before that jackass, since we were like 20 people back.

Once in, I went straight to the Summer Glau line, to see if she was there. She was, then I headed to the CGC booth, to touch bases with one of the employees, when I got closer to the front. I brought a copy of Serenity #3 (Joshua Middleton Cover), which has River Tam (Summer Glau) on the cover (I think it'll go well with this).

Little Death by Jill Thompson (2010)And after about 2 hours, I was through that line, finished up the paperwork with CGC, and off the enjoy the rest of the day... or part of the day, anyways. I didn't really have much on tap for Saturday. It really was just trying to spend less than what I did (and committed to), than I did on Friday. I was able to get all but one book signed.

I was also able to pick this book up. It's finally home! Twelve signatures, nine of which have sketches to go with the signatures. Big Thanks to Carlos, Will, Ben and Raph for getting this book done for me!

Molly by Adrian Alphona (2010)Because of the crowd, and the issues with getting back into the building, and well as the delays of getting back onto the con floor, I really just roamed around for a little while, because I was a little worried about getting back up to the con floor, until I felt it was time to line up for the Summer Glau photo op.

The plan was to get there early, line up for the photo op, then jump into the Stan Lee photo op, since the Friday evening people got priority over the rest for Stan Lee. Figuring the con would close at 7pm, and the Stan Lee photo op starting at 7pm, the day would pretty much be over.

Turns out, there was an announcement about the con hours. I didn't hear what was said, but I was told the con was staying open until 8pm. Others (over message boards, and the Fan Expo Canada comment section on their website) are saying they heard that the con will be opening at 8am on Sunday. I don't know what was said over the PA system, but apparently, even 680 News was reporting the early opening on Sunday.

Black Cat by Leonard Kirk (2010)Both photo ops went pretty quickly, and with the show staying open later, we went back up to the con floor, to finish off whatever. Marvel was doing more giveaways at their booth, so I headed over there. Thanks to Arie for the Thor concept poster, and the Vengeance of Moon Knight variant.

I also managed to get one of the Captain America posters. Can't remember what else. Once the giveaways ended, I proceeded over to the BigSexyComics.com, to introduce myself to 'Fearless' Fred Kennedy, where I also found Shane Heron. I'm going to leave it at that.

Layla Miller by Valentine De Landro (2010)Loose Moose, for UFC 118, was the plan for the evening. Danny and I headed to the hotel room (Intercontinental Hotel), to shower and change, then met up with Shane, Milo, Kathryn, and Shane.

This was definitely a fun night, filled with lots of drinking, 5-minute sketch duels (which I'm really bad at drawing), some entertaining UFC (even though I don't normally watch), and this desire to get sponsored by K-Mart.

Once UFC was over, we all went our separate ways. Unlike last year, I wasn't as drunk this time around. Then again, the hotel was much closer, and much, much better than last year. So stumbling back, wasn't a struggle. :)

Batgirl by Chris Sprouse (2010)Sunday was a little frustrating. Not so much with getting into the con. That was a lot easier. I had a bitch of a time, trying to get down the elevator of the hotel.

I went down once, which was fairly simple, to drop off some of the bags into the car. Getting back up wasn't bad either. I saw the line form in the hotel lobby. When Danny went down later, he came back in the room shortly, to say the elevators are packed with people going down.

So we decided to take the stairs. The doors were locked on the main floor, so we headed back to the third floor, to try and take the elevator from there. Danny got on the first one. I had waited for about 6 of them, before finally being able to get onto one.

Wolverine by Ian Churchill (2010)Once in, I didn't really have much to do today. First thing I did, hit up the DC booth for freebies. I loaded up my bag with a lot freebies. Comics, posters, beach balls, padded notepads, tattoos, buttons, rings.

Then it was off to Gary Frank's line, to help Danny try to get more of his books signed. It was still early, and I had not eaten yet, to I headed over to grab a slice of pizza for me, and I guess one for Danny, to not seem like a bastard.

On my way to get the pizza, while walking in the back aisle, behind the artist alley, I happen to pass by Summer Glau (walking the other way). She was heading somewhere with someone, so I didn't do what I normally would have done... ask for a photo with her... I know, I did the photo op, but I wouldn't mind another one. She's gorgeous, what can I say?

Spider-Man by Paolo Rivera (2010)I was also in line, in hope that Gary Frank was able to get to my sketch request (the money I had committed to spend). Unfortunately, he wasn't able to get to it. Oh well.

The bulk of Sunday, was me going back and forth, between the Marvel and DC booths. Most of the sketches I got over the weekend, were at those booths. My Sketch-Whoring nature has returned!

Daredevil by Whilce Portacio (2010)Most of the characters chosen, were thought of on the spot. I didn't really know what I was getting. As I said, I didn't do much planning at all. Spur of the moment choices... not something I'm good at.

I just didn't feel right choosing the other company's characters, when getting a sketch. Like choosing Zatanna, or Wonder Woman.

Odd, where the hell are those sketches?

Okay, there aren't any Wonder Woman sketches obtained this year.

Zatanna by Laura Klein (2010)The first Zatanna I got, was by Laura Klein. I've seen her sketches before, and have been considering getting one, but never knew where she was sitting, and never asked anyone to point her out.

I'm liking the newer style of her sketches, where they are more rounder. It's cute, and after seeing more of them this weekend, I just had to get one. Luckily for me, I just happened to notice her table early in the day, and just dropped off my sketchpad for her.

Zatanna by Khoi Pham (2010)And the last piece of the con, Zatanna by Khoi Pham. After Danny told me his price, I headed over, and got onto his commission list.

He told me to check back on Saturday, which I did, but he had not gotten to it. He told me to check back on Sunday. So I checked early on, but told me he would get to it before the show was over. It took until 5:40, before he finished.

While waiting for the piece, I did stroll by the Marvel booth, while they were doing their giveaway. Ended up getting the concept posters again (which I gave away), a Shadowland promo poster, the X-Men #1 blank cover, more comics, an X-23 button, an iPhone gelaskin, and an iPod Touch gelaskin.

I also managed to snag one of those Tron: Legacy disc/frisbee.

But after getting the last Khoi Pham piece, I continued looking to grab more free stuff, that I have absolutely no what I am going to do with them, but what the heck. I'm helping exhibitors carry less crap back with them.

After the con, it was a trip up to Smoke's Poutinerie, for some awesome poutine. I was actually craving Burrito Boyz, since I have yet to eat there, but was the only one in the group that wanted it, so I changed what I wanted, and was too full to grab a burrito after.

Frankly, for me, this was a great show. Others will disagree, based on their experience. But I can only talk about mine.

Great job by the Hobbystar crew, despite what others will say. Thanks to the usual crew and others, Aman, Tiz, Kevin, James, Ty, David, Matt, Allison, Debra, I'm sure I'm missing some names.

Looking forward to next year!

Now, some photos.








Me & "Harleen Quinzel" (One of my friends from high school)



Summer Glau



Me & Stan Lee

Monday, August 30, 2010

It's Coming...



... the con report for Fan Expo Canada 2010 is coming. Above, is a preview of the commission I had done, by Agnes Garbowska. Some of you, may have seen it already, whether I showed it to you, or if you saw the print she made of it on her table.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Fan Expo Canada, Starts Today!

I should really be getting ready, but you know, procrastination...

Danny and I will be at Fan Expo Canada all weekend.

You should be there too!

Monday, August 23, 2010

GREEN DAY - 21st Century Breakdown Tour - Toronto



August 18th, 2010 - I'm not going to lie, getting hooked up with free tickets, is awesome! And to a concert, for a band that I started listening to back in 1994. Though, I wasn't much of a Green Day fan, back then, I did enjoy their songs, whenever they came on. I started to become more of a fan, as the years went on. No way, was I going to turn away these tickets.

I went to this concert with my buddy, Mike, who is a huge Green Day fan. Prior to the concert, we grabbed an early dinner at Terminal 4 Patio & Grill, Okay, I'm plugging a restaurant owned by one of my co-worker's (and one of my former co-worker's) dad. We did go there, and had great meals. If you're by the airport, it's at Carlingview + International (near the Molson Canadian Brewing Factory).

We got to the concert early enough to catch the opening act, AFI. Neither one of us actually care for AFI, but they weren't that bad. Got the crowd going.

I ended up picking up a tour t-shirt, during the intermission, then proceeded to enjoy a great concert, put on by Green Day.

Photo slideshow first, YouTube videos of parts of the concert, to follow.











One of my favourite Green Day songs...




Loved being there for this. Just pretty cool to see...

Saturday, August 14, 2010

I SAW SCOTT PILGRIM VS. THE WORLD!



Okay, so did many others. Frankly, this was a great adaptation of the original material. I won't get into it, as you should all go see it. Even if you didn't read any of them, it's just a great movie to enjoy.

Oh, and I leave you again, with the photo of me with Ellen Wong (Knives Chau). She was awesome in the movie.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World: The Game OUT NOW on PSN



I was quite excited about this game, when I heard it was going to happen. And the excitement grew, as footage started to be released. More and more, as the days drew closer and closer to the release date.

Finally, it's out on Playstation Network. I came home from work today, ready to purchase and download it. But it wasn't on PSN at the time, but eventually, it was up, and I was downloading. Had dinner, then started playing.

I didn't play too long, yet. Currently on Level 4, but that's a tough one.

Friday, August 06, 2010

METRIC - Free Street Concert - Videos

Here are two of the songs that I recorded, while at the free Metric concert on Wednesday. Audio isn't the greatest, and camera is shaky, because of the crowd movement, and me trying to refocus the camera. Enjoy!



Thursday, August 05, 2010

METRIC - Free Street Concert - August 4th, 2010


Emily Haines (Lead Singer of Metric)


I don't know why, but I like that shot.

So late Tuesday evening, I was checking out my Facebook (one of the several hundred times I check it throughout the day), and I came across an interesting post.

"Metric This Week! Free METRIC Shows in Toronto + New York City http://bit.ly/bxkb9S"

That posting caught my eye, and when I saw it was a concert for the following day, I went to tell Danny about it. However, it seemed like he was sleeping, so I just shot him an email with the link. He confirmed he was going, like 40 minutes later (open your friggin door, when I knock...).

For me, since I wasn't working, it was a must go for me. I had the opportunity to see Metric live, at the Casby Awards last October. But Danny had already gone to see Metric perform at Massey Hall earlier that week, and none of my friends were available. I decided against it, at the time. I have been regretting that decision, ever since.

I arrived around 4:45pm, know that there would already be people waiting there. Yep, there were. Occupying the front row, at the gate. I stood back, thinking that I'd probably get clearer shots, from the side, near the pillars of Union Station. But once everyone got up, I decided to move closer.

See, there was a sectioned off area, but also empty. So everyone thought that they were going to open the gates, and let everyone move closer to the stage. Found out closer to the start time, it was reserved for Samsung employees (I think, since they seemed to sponsor the concert). At this point, I was stuck.

And once again, I leave you with a slideshow of the photos I took (last three pics, are the ones Danny took, he was further away than I was).



The free Metric concert ended at 8pm. Didn't expect them to play long, for a free show, and really didn't expect an encore (which did not happen). Went home right after.

Next events on my agenda:
- Green Day (with AFI) - August 18th, 2010
- Buffalo Bills vs. Indianapolis Colts - August 19th, 2010
- Fan Expo Canada - August 27th-29th, 2010
- Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) - September 9th-19th, 2010
- WWE RAW in Toronto (House show, not live taping) - September 10th, 2010
- Hoping for one more event in September, but won't know about that until the beginning-ish of September.