Montreal Comicon Diversifies As It’s Audience Grows

Posted by at 12:18 pm on September 13, 2013

Montreal ComiconThe Montreal Gazette reports that Montreal Comicon is “…slowly taking over everything in geekdom.” At least that’s the opinion of programming director Cliff Caporale. Last year, the Con drew 32,000 fans. For this year’s event, running from Friday to Sunday at the Palais des congrès, Caporale expects up to 50,000.

And it’s all because the focus has spread from comics. This year includes genre film and TV, wrestling, the European large-format comics known as bande-dessinée, and everything in between, making it difficult to come up with the right metaphor to explain its seemingly unstoppable expansion. Do we compare it to a voracious nanobot swarm? The spread of the Legacy Virus in ’90s X-Men comics? Or do we just realize that geekdom has become so ingrained in pop culture no one has to Wikipedia the jokes on Big Bang Theory anymore?

The key, says Carporale, is finding common ground where geek subcultures intersect, mingle and cross-pollinate, like incestuous Venn diagrams. “There’s so much crossover,” he says. “Folks that are into wrestling buy comic books. People who are into sci-fi like big concept bande-dessinée from France. (Most people are) very open-minded.”

This year’s convention shows just how all-encompassing the event has become. Featured guests include X-Files actress Gillian Anderson, Star Trek alum George Takei, wrestler Brett Hart, Degrassi’s Pat Mastroianni and Game of Thrones’s Jason Momoa. Lou Ferrigno, the Incredible Hulk from the ’70s TV series will be there, as will be much of the cast from Battlestar Galactica reboot. Panels and workshops include everything from costume building to video game demos.

While some of the guests may be recognizable to a general audience, others have more niche appeal — but may still be huge draws. Caporale has high hopes for Felicia Day, who’s perhaps best known for her long-running gaming-themed webseries The Guild. “She’s got some of the most attention (of all the guests),” says Caporale, “you’d think it would be some of the other names, but we’re the Internet age, so she’s probably going to fill out her room, which fits 2,500 people.”

Of course, comics are not neglected. “Comics are where we got our start. They’re our bread and butter … and are by far our most present aspect,” says Caporale. “We have 40 or 50 artists (and writers) coming from North America, France, Spain.” Comics guests include writer Chris Claremont, who helped elevate the X-Men during the ’70s and ’80s, legendary artists Neal Adams, best known for Batman, and Avengers illustrators George Perez, and Simon Bisley, whose amazing gothic fantasy artwork often looks like a roid-raged romance novel cover flexing until a vein ruptures.

Then there are the events, more than 150 of them. So, along with film screenings and mainstays like the Masquerade, which features homemade costumes ranging from superheroes to anime characters resembling Saturday morning cartoons halfway through puberty, the Comiccon features things like G33kStock. Mixing comedy, music and YouTube like a computer crashing with every application open, the event has Caporale undeniably excited.

The move to media diversity isn’t unique to Montreal — San Diego’s con pioneered the shift in its slow evolution from a comic convention to a colorful, cacophonous media spectacle. But Caporale believes the Con has the opportunity to showcase the city’s unique cultural diversity.



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