Ottawa Comic Con 2014May 14, 2014
Daleks, stormtroopers and Ash Williams, oh my!
This past weekend, the Ernst & Young Center by the Ottawa airport was home to Ottawa’s third Comic Con that brought stars such as Bruce Campbell, Karl Urban, Robert Englund and many more to the capital city. Fans came out in droves, some donning costumes of their favorite characters spanning comics, television and film.
Despite only being in it’s third year, Ottawa Comic Con (or OCC) saw over 38,000 people throughout three days that came in to shop, see their favorite celebrity at a panel or get their autograph and a photo with them. Make no mistake, there’s lots to do at a convention and it can very easily be overwhelming for newcomers. Leave it to OCC staff and their volunteers (called Minions) though to make sure you have the best experience you can during the convention.
[blockquote]“It’s my first time at a convention and I’m already hooked. OCC has done a great job catering to it’s fans.”[/blockquote]
Brand new to the convention scene, Lord of the Rings fan Marie told us that she was glad she chose Ottawa as a first convention experience. She was fresh from meeting one of her favorite actors, Karl Urban, and had just done some shopping in the vendors area.
While the vendors area was large with lots of items available from the usual tower of tee shirts to independent horror films from Black Fawn and books from author Jen Frankel, there was lots to see and buy. What stood out to us though was the sheer amount of artists present in artists alley, sharing their separate room with the celebrity autograph section that kept the entire section buzzing all day. Along with independent artists, Tony Moore (co-creator of The Walking Dead), Neal Adams (Batman) and Simon Bisley (Judge Dredd) were among the professional artists that were meeting their fans and showing off their prints in artists alley.
Admittedly, artists alley is the place where I do most of my shopping. There are all kinds of handmade jewelry pieces, buttons, unique sculptures, and thousands of art prints to choose from. I might not have frames for purchases I’ve made as far back as Fan Expo 2013, but that didn’t stop me from taking home some amazing prints by artist Ron Guyatt, who does a lot of his work in a ‘propaganda poster’ style. You can find more of his work here on his website.
Perhaps the most impressive feat was how the lines were organized. Of course, the autograph area got congested with lines twisting every which way and more popular celebrities lines even spilling over into those who were not there or not as well-known, but other than that, there was no congestion inside the convention. The organizers set up large tents outside on each side of the building and had many ‘minions’ helping attendees find their way. There was one line for people who were interested in buying tickets on one side of the building, and more tents set up to house those with pre-purchased, general admission passes. The attendees with deluxe or VIP passes were allowed immediate entry into the convention.
After everyone was successfully inside, panel line ups were no problem either. Again, the convention staff made use of the tents that were set up outside for people to line up to get seats in Hall 4, which housed the biggest panels. There was also a section for VIP and deluxe patrons down the side of the building, separate from the general admission that were allowed in first in order to get their seating closer to the front. The best thing about the hall was that it was large enough to fit in everyone that wanted to see the panel, with a little room leftover to spare. Too many times there are complaints that attendees couldn’t get in to their their favorite actor or actresses panel because there’s simply not enough room. Ottawa Comic Con not only addressed these issues, but the issue that is most prominent at conventions and that’s line congestion.
The only complaint that anyone seemed to have was that there simply wasn’t enough parking for the thousands of attendees. The parking lot filled up early and there was also the issue of traffic tie ups, which on Saturday morning lasted more than an hour. Attendees weren’t the only ones that got tied up in it though; vendors, artists and even guests had a hard time getting through, making some of them late for autograph sessions or to their booths.
There were plenty of activities to keep people interested, including smaller panels on horror filmmaking, costuming and more. The Doctor Who Society of Canada were there with their various daleks that roamed about the floor, and the 501st Legion had a huge set up on the far side of the vendors floor. The 501st, if you are not familiar, are a group of Star Wars fans that dress up in detailed costume replicas of characters in the film and put on activities all weekend to not only keep interest in the Star Wars community, but to raise money for various charities. After Ottawa Comic Con, reps for the 501st that attended were happy to announce that thanks to the generosity of the patrons, they managed to raise over $12,000 for the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
Ottawa Comic Con may still be in it’s infancy as far as conventions go, but other conventions should be taking note on how they operate, especially when it comes to panels and the elimination of line congestion. Not only is this a convention I would recommend to anyone looking for an incredible experience, but it’s one I look forward to attending for years to come.
Ottawa Comic Con will return to the EY Centre May 8 to 10, 2015.
All photos below courtesy of Marc Daniel Photography for Geek Chic Elite. If you are a cosplayer and would like a copy of your photo, please send us an email at: photography[@!]geekchicelite.com