This past weekend the smell of both spring and nerd was in the air here in Ottawa (incidentally, it turns out that nerd smells a lot like B.O, Cheetos and unwashed Storm Trooper armor). The reason, of course, was the first annual Ottawa ComicCon, which hit the nation’s capital like an angry, proton torpedo-riding wookie.
As a self-professed geek and lover of comic books, video games and Stars (of both the “Trek” and “Wars” variety), myself – and a few of my fellow Corel employees – decided to make the visit to check out the insanity. As the very first ComicCon here in Ottawa, the event sold out weeks in advance, with a crowd of over 15,000 people making the pilgrimage over the two-day event. It’s not too surprising given that some of the biggest names in geekdom were also there, including Star Trek alumni such as John de Lancie (Q from Star Trek: The Next Generation), Brent Spiner (Commander Data), Marina Sirtis (Counsellor Deanna Troi) and of course, the guest of honor, everyone’s favorite paunchy, overacting starship captain, William “Don’t Call Me T.J. Hooker” Shatner. Additional celebrity guests included Lou Ferrigno (a.k.a. The Incredible Hulk), Adam Baldwin (Jayne from Firefly), Jamie Bamber (Apollo from Battlestar Galactica), Cassandra Peterson (a.k.a. Elvira Mistress of the Dark) and Jeremy Bulloch (who played Boba Fett in Star Wars).
I arrived on opening day on Saturday morning and found myself stuck in line for almost two hours before being let in. That being said, it’s one of the few times in my life that waiting in line was actually an entertaining experience given the number of costumed con-goers in attendance. Only at a ComicCon can you watch a dude in a Captain America costume chug a Starbucks coffee while a woman dressed as a blue squid-alien snaps pics on her iPhone.
When I finally made my way inside, I found myself in a sprawling Geektopia, with the convention center packed with countless booths and exhibitors offering everything from comic books, to t-shirts, to collector toys, to original artwork. Of course, you could also wait in line to snag an autograph or get a pic taken with your favorite celeb (at $75 bucks a pop, getting a photo with Shatner was a little too rich for my blood. Captain Kirk doesn’t screw around when it comes to raking in the dough!).
Of course, checking out all the incredible nerd paraphernalia was all well and good, but the main reason I’d dragged my lazy butt out of bed at 9am on a Saturday was to snag some comics. And that’s exactly what I did, picking up a couple of graphic novels and old school comic book back issues on the cheap. I also had the chance to talk to a number of professional comic book artists who were exhibiting their materials. It was particularly cool to see a solid turnout of webcomics (something near and dear to my nerdy little heart) and there were a number of incredibly talented writers and artists in attendance who work almost exclusively in a digital format (shameless plug: did you know you can create your very own digital comic using CorelDRAW and Painter? It’s true!)
After the better part of a day wandering around, snapping pics and chatting with the numerous ComicCon guests and exhibitors, I was running low on fumes and starting to feel the effects of the mini-donuts I’d eaten earlier (a classic, eat-now-regret-later ComicCon snack). And so I headed out the door laden down with plenty of swag and riding on a superhero high.
The first annual Ottawa ComicCon might not have been the most fragrant smelling experience on the planet, but it was also one incredible event that boldly went where this geek had never gone before. And for that, you can count me in for next year!
Are you a digital comic or webcomic creator? We’d love to see your stuff! Post a link to your comic in the comments below.