Can-Con 2011

Can-ConLast year’s Can-con in Ottawa was small. As a relaunch after a 10 year hiatus and with an abrupt announcement, there was some concern whether anyone would show up at all. But I was lucky enough to have found their site and made it down for the con. Being SF deprived in my home town for 10 years, I just soaked it in enjoyed what I could. The small dealer room had four small tables and some of the panels had only 2 or 3 audience members, but I didn’t care. The one wish I had was that now that it was off the ground again, the con would grow in the future.

So I was quite eager to get back again this year to see the second year would pan out. The GoHs lined up for the event included author Julie Czernada, media stars Liana K and Ed the Sock, and comic artist Leonard Kirk along with a smattering of other Special Guests reflecting the Con’s branching out from its traditional ‘literary only’ roots. Its a move I highly favored and expected to improve the reach to an even bigger audience. But would the low turnout last year keep some people from returning? Or would the word now be out that Can-con was back?

It didn’t take long to find out. Even on the normally quiet Friday evening it was evident that there were more people all over the place. As per usual, I hit the dealer room first just in case there were any ‘must haves’ I did not want to miss out on. Already there was a big improvement as the dealers room had moved over to a room about twice the size that of last year. Despite my reluctance to add any more books to my vast and vastly under-read library, I could not resist to add one Philip K. Dick novel and two Richard Matheson collected stories editions. I was also happy to see a first edition “Monkey Planet” hardcover (the original title of the English translation for “Planet of the Apes”). But at $500 all I could do was enjoy holding it in my hands for a few seconds and taking a picture of it.

The panel programming ran the typical gamut of topics. Some of the more interesting ones I attended included “Trends in SF Lit”, “RPG Fundamentals”, “Future Cities and Towns: Urban Sprawl”, and “How Different Cultures view Graphic Novels”.

One of the odder panels that really piqued my interest was “The Real Japan”. As this was on during the latter part of a Heather Dale (Folk/Celtic) concert, when I got to the room I was the only one there besides the presenter, a long time Ottawa fan and current president of The Ottawa Science Fiction Society, a man who goes by the name of Starwolf. Unfazed, he accommodated his singular audience and presented a fascinating view of that exotic cultured country. Japan has always been the one country at the top of my wish list of places to visit, and this presentation just added fuel to that fire. Ironically, the panel which started with me alone in the audience ended up running late as Starwolf tried bringing the stragglers to the panel some of the content they had missed out on. As a result, I wasn’t able to ask him for a copy of the digital files he had shown us (always carry a USB stick for just such occasions!) but thankfully we were able to have another personal chat and exchange later in the con and our talk expanded into other favorite topics like Ultraman, Godzilla and Japanese TV shows.

I already have a personalized signed postcard of Ed the Sock framed sitting in my home office as I’ve enjoyed their company before (Paradise comic con 2009 ) so I knew what to expect from the “Ed the Sock and Liana K. Hour”. Social and political commentary with fart jokes. I especially liked how they commented on the many celebrity interviews of the past and telling us who were genuine and who were jerks. I missed out on a panel in which they recorded a podcast, but I figured I’ll just download that once it becomes available and went to another panel instead.

There was no Masquerade last year but they took a shot at one this time. MC’ed by everybody’s favorite voice actor, Larry “The Doctor” Stewart, all five brave contestants (well four and a half really) strutted their stuff. Despite the turnout, the judges needed a little extra time doing all those complex scoring computations and Larry was called upon to provide extra entertainment which he dutifully provided with ad hoc improv antics.

It was only one the last day that I had a chance to check out some of Leonard Kirk’s artwork in the dealers room. I confess that I was not familiar with his work before but the I spent considerable time going through the dazzling array of comic pages he had for sale. I hard a hard time choosing which one I liked most but finally settled on a New Mutants page I found particularly striking. (Going to have to look up the issue now and at least get the story arc). But the biggest surprise was to be had as I discussed my special interest in all things Planet of the Apes and how I had just about every comic ever put out. Just about, but not quite. He told me he worked on the 4 issue “Forbidden Zone” series put out by Malibu in the early nineties. As it so happens I had all but one issue from the main run, many of of the 4 issue limited series (Urchak’s Folly, Ape City, Blood of the Apes) and at least one issue from the other limited series (Terror, Ape Nation). The only series that I do not own even a single issue is the Forbidden Zone series that he worked on. Sigh. I told him to be sure to check out his older pages back home should he still have one from that series to sell. I later saw him at another panel and let me tell you this guy knows his SF as well. I hope to see him again at a con soon.

All in all, it was a fun weekend and I’m already looking forward to next year and hopefully an even bigger Can-con. SF fandon is looking brighter in Ottawa already.

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