Fan Expo Top Ten – J.W. Ward on everything you need to see

If you can name Spider-Man’s greatest girlfriends or have strong feelings about Superman wearing tights versus body armour, this is probably the weekend you’ve been looking forward to all year.

Tens of thousands of fanboys, cosplayers and gaming geeks are expected to haunt the south building of the Metro Toronto Convention Centre this weekend for the 17th annual Fan Expo.

Whether your flavour is comic books, science fiction, horror, anime or gaming, Canada’s largest celebration of geek culture has a little something for everyone. Even so, over 400,000 square feet of convention floor space is a lot to cover, despite the event being expanded to 4 days this year.

No matter if you’re a first-timer or an expert, a little guidance can go a long way. Here are Biff Bam Pop’s Top 10 things to check out at this year’s Fan Expo:

10 – Autographs – Some big names will be in attendance this year, including William Shatner (Star Trek), Martin Landau (Ed Wood), Robert Englund (A Nightmare on Elm Street), Barbara Eden and Larry Hagman (of I Dream of Jeannie) as well as other notable genre actors like Eliza Dushku (Faith on Buffy the Vampire Slayer), Katee Sackhoff (Battlestar Galactica), Malcolm McDowell (A Clockwork Orange) and Tom Felton (Harry Potter). The autograph area will have prices and schedules posted for all your favourites, but be sure to budget at least $100 for the big names (Shatner, Landau, etc.) and $40 on average for the rest.

9 – The Captains – William Shatner became a household name thanks to the role of Captain James T. Kirk in Star Trek, and with his attendance on Sunday comes a chance to see clips of his new documentary The Captains, where Shatner sits down to talk to the many other actors who’ve played – you guessed it – captains in the Star Trek franchise. Check out Shatner’s space on Sunday in the autograph area to find screening times.

8 – This Filthy World – John Waters is known around the world as “The Pope of Trash,” and the Toronto Underground Cinema hosts the man himself Saturday night at 7 in a one-man vaudeville show exploring his influences and interests. Just be prepared to shell out some dough – it’ll cost you $35 at the door to soak it in.

7 – Gaming Demos – Want to see and even sample the game play of titles like Batman: Arkham City, Gears of War 3 and Disney Universe? EB Games’ Gaming Expo will feature many opportunities for you to explore this fall’s hottest titles all weekend long.

6 – Panels – Have a question about DC’s big September relaunch? DC’s “The New 52” panel takes place Saturday in room 716 at 1 PM. Later, Marvel talent scout C.B. Cebulski hosts the “Pint o’ C.B.” panel in room 714 at 5:30 and is expected to announce some new series, including a project called Destroy! that was teased earlier this week. Also check out Friday’s 5:30 panel on creating independent comic books, presented by the guys behind Kill Shakespeare in room 717, and Sunday’s 1:30 Q & A with Freddy himself, Robert Englund, in Hall G.

5 – Speed Dating – Tired of spending too many lonely nights curled up with your Y: The Last Man trades and wanting to share the experience? Saturday brings a new all-genre speed dating event, where you could very well meet the love of your life, or at least of the night. The event gets underway at 6 o’clock in room 803, but arrive early – space will be extremely limited.

4 – Tom Savini – The make-up master and horror movie icon will be at Rue Morgue’s booth (#1828) for much of weekend, in addition to a Q & A session in Hall G on Friday at 2:30 PM. He’ll also host the midnight costume contest at the 2011 Festival of Fear party at Revival on Saturday night, but it’ll cost you $15 at the door to get in.

3 – Artist Alley – When it comes to comics, this is where the future is. Artist Alley is usually designed to feature established, mainstream artists around the perimeter of the area, while the new, independent and largely undiscovered talent populate the many other tables within. Spend some time meeting the stars of tomorrow, buy their samples and make great contacts if you’re looking to break in.

2 – Cosplayers – While Saturday night brings the annual Masquerade and Teletoon Retro Costume Contest to Hall G, that doesn’t mean it’s the only place to see amateur and professional costumers in their finest of finery. Look for cosplayers walking the halls throughout the weekend and lots of other folks (like yours truly) taking pictures. Bring your camera and don’t be afraid to ask if you can take a snapshot.

1 – Sunday Shopping – By the last day of Fan Expo, most retailers aren’t too keen on hauling a lot of unsold merchandise back to their stores. Around 2 PM Sunday, you’ll see prices on books, movies and more drop in a last-ditch effort to get rid of as much as possible before the vans get packed up. It’s the perfect time to strike if you’re completing collections – if you have any money left.

What are you most looking forward to at this year’s Fan Expo?

JW Ward is a Toronto-based writer, media personality and professional cynic. Follow him on Twitter at @jasonwardDOTca, through his website at www.jasonward.ca and every Thursday here at Biff Bam Pop!

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