Wednesday, September 9, 2009

My big surprise at the Toronto Fan Expo

The Toronto Fan Expo had something on its opening day that I'm not used to in the convention circuits - a nine o'clock closing time. Because it started late in the afternoon, closing in the evening hours certainly made sense. However, I took my time getting down on that first day (and had some trouble getting in), so I only intended to scout the location and plan what I'd do the following day. By the time I was through the doors, I had only 1.5 hours to look around.

I went straight to Artist's Alley to see who might be sequestered there. After seeing how San Diego's Artist's Alley had a superstar lineup, Toronto was more like what I'm used to in Calgary - locals and small talent. So, I went up the first row glancing at names then came down the second.

There, at the end of that row was a table covered in Rex Libris merchandise. Behind the table sat a bald, bearded man. He noticed the Ordo Bibliotheca t-shirt I was wearing and complimented it. "Are you James Turner?" I asked. "I am." he replied.

James Turner's Rex Libris was one of my favorite reading experiences. The "librarian hero" gimmick caught my eye, but Turner's humourous scripts held me as a customer through all 14 issues and encouraged me to try his Warlord of Io and Other Stories.

I knew that Turner was from the area, but the convention's website made no mention of his presence. I thought the listings included guests at Artist's Alley, but no, for there he was.

And what a bounty he had at his table! Magnets, buttons, an Ordo Bibliotheca official membership book...and the unpublished 2nd Warlord of Io story! Wait, unpublished? Yeah, except for the ten copies Turner printed himself. Now, one of them is mine.

But then the realization hit me; I had no money! I had spent the last of my cash on Toronto's subway! I spirited away for the nearest cash machine which was, thankfully, very near, and returned to collect the products.

But more importantly, I was able to speak with James Turner. I was finally able to express how much I enjoyed Rex Libris, what I thought of Warlord of Io, and made all manner of comments on his artwork, SLG's online store, the direct market, advertising and a host of other concerns. And I showed him my profile picture used in my Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe bio (the one I use as my online avatar).

More about the Warlord of Io comic later; for now, I'm simply pleased to recall my meeting with Turner. Mark Gruenwald once advised readers not to seek out creators they admire - "once you find out the guy's a slob in real life, how can you not let that color your impression of his work?" James Turner is no slob.

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