I first attended Montreal Comiccon back in 2007, when it was in a tiny little room at Place Bonaventure, filled with long boxes, few cosplayers and even less exciting events. But that’s all changed in the last few years. Montreal Comiccon has become Quebec’s largest pop culture convention. Growing in numbers each year, the con continues to bring forth different activities to delight geeks of all ages over a span of three days. But for a first or second time con-goer, the weekend can seem overwhelming. Between the lineups, the exhibit hall and the impressive roster of celebrities, some pretty neat things can pass right under your nose.
But don’t worry! Take a deep breath… and exhale. We’re here to help. Here are 10 things you can do other than spend your cash on that CGC’ed comic and gawk at Sir Patrick Stewart.
But before we get into the nitty gritty of things, here’s a little pre-comiccon tip:
Note: Click on images to enlarge them.
Always Check Your Pip-Boy 3000
Are you smartphone-savvy? Yes? Good. Before stepping out the door with your backpack in tow and a list of merch you want to pick up, you’re going to want to do this first: download Montreal Comiccon’s guidebook. This nifty little site details every.tiny.event that will be going down during the weekend. From film screenings to autographs schedules, the guidebook will help you in making the most of your experience. While you can access it through your desktop and/or laptop, but why would you? Just install it directly on your phone so you’ll have it on hand the entire day.
TIP: The guidebook allows you to search for keywords in the schedule. If you’re looking for something in particular, type it in! You’ll then be able to craft your itinerary more efficiently.
Montreal Comiccon spans three floors of the Palais des congrès. The main floor has the exhibition hall and an area where you can eat, get some air outside and take in the crowds. But the comiccon has so much more to offer. There’s a tabletop room, the masquerade area and screening rooms. Either take a screen shot and save it to your phone, or use the one given to you by the convention.
1. It’s In The Game
The Montreal Comiccon is presented by PlayStation and every year they’ve had a booth on the main floor where you can kick back and play some video games for free. Have you been eyeing a particular game or wanted to give the PS4 a go? Then take advantage. The booth usually fills up during the day so make this one of your first pitstops.
TIP: Be on the lookout for free stuff. Last year, they were giving out t-shirts and late sunday night I got a free figurine from Unchartered 3. Now it’s sitting snug in my display case.
2. There’s An Event Right Over There…
From “Hulk Hogan: Uncut” to “Star Trek: TNG Engaged!”, this year’s Comiccon has a slew of special events going on. But there’s a catch: it costs extra. But wait! Don’t walk away. There are some really cool one’s that’ll only cost you 20-30$ such as “The Hour of the Doctor” and George A. Romero’s “Dead” Double Feature. But act fast. These tickets will sell out and being in room full of excited fans is an experience in itself.
TIP: Always buy your tickets online. While some require an online purchase, if it doesn’t, then you do not want to stand in line. You’re wasting valuable con-time.
3. Lights, Action, Cosplay!
One of the more exciting events of the Montreal Comiccon is the Masquerade Ball. It starts at 8pm on Saturday and will showcase the best cosplay at the convention. There’ll be a stage, music and the best feature of all: no gold required!
TIP: There is a glitch, however. Because it’s free, the lineup will be strong with this one and there’s only limited seating. So for the love of Master Chief, get there at least an hour early!
4. Speaking of Cosplay…
Been wanting to cosplay at a convention but don’t know how? Amazed by how authentic some costumes are, yet they are completely homemade? Look no further! “Cosplay: Par Où Commencer?” is a workshop on Friday at 3:30pm in room 511f that discusses the ins and outs of the cosplay movement. Another cool workshop happening the same day is Kamui’s Cosplay Workshop at 7:15pm, room 511f. Got the craft down but suck at doing the makeup? Pop in at 4:30 pm on friday for “Maquillage 101 – Trucs et conseils”. Need more? On Saturday, there’s a workshop dedicated to “Costuming On A Budget”. Check it out in room 512a at 11am!
Surround yourself with veterans and noobs alike and start planning ahead for next year’s costume.
TIP: Bring a notepad and ask questions. Engage yourself in the workshop; these people are here to help and share tips so don’t be shy to ask questions!
5. Sex and Violence
Do video games promote violence? Is the sexualization of female characters in the industry overt? If so, what are the societal ramifications of such objectification, and is it necessary? Join Montreal’s Amber Goldfarb and others in their panel on Saturday at 6pm in room 512a to discuss “Sex & Violence: Gaming in Dystopia”. With social studies being done, as well as the recent internet meltdown à propos Anita Sarkeesian’s Tropes vs. Women in Video Games, these issues are extremely relevant for those interested in the video game industry.
6. Industry Secrets
Another really interesting panel being held is “7 (Business) Habits of Highly Effective Game Developers”.
If you’re an aspiring developer, or just want to know the intimate details of what goes into your favourite games, then join the discussion on Friday at 4:45pm in room 511a.
7. A History of Fear
Throughout history, humanity has always created webs of mythologies to explain the inexplicable, and make sense of our fears and of society itself. While much has been expressed through religious doctrines, there have always been tales of vampires, zombies and ghouls. In our age of scientific reasoning, however, these fears no longer have a hold on us, yet we still recount its mythos through different mediums, most particularly the horror film. The panel “Horror Movies: A History Of Social Fears” discusses how the film industry oftentimes reflect societal fears. While the theme may change, the underlying structure behind it remains. If you’re a horror film buff, or a social science geek, you won’t want to miss this. It starts at 6:45pm on Friday in room 512a.
8. Grab the Popcorn
Montreal Comiccon has a great feature this year called the HorrorFest. While you buy tickets to see George A. Romero’s double feature event, there are plenty of screenings to attend that are completely free. As always, there’s limited seating but there’ll be one or two that you’ll be able to get into. What’s wicked about this is that they’re all indie projects that’ll most likely never make it to mainstream movie theatres. Here are some that look cool, with links to their trailers:
Beautiful People: 2:45pm Room 512c
Dry Bones: 2:45pm Room 512b
How Olin Lost His Eye: 4:15 Room 512c
After watching a few flicks, end your friday night with a roundtable discussion on slasher movies! It’s at 8:45 in room 512a.
An American Terror: 10:45am Room 512b
Phantom of the Opera: 1pm Room 512b
Lost After Dark: 9:30pm Room 512c
Call Girl Of Cthulhu: 9:45pm Room 512b
House of Last Things: 10:45am Room 512b
The Drownsman: 12:30pm Room 512c
Ejecta: 2:15pm Room 512c
I’m sure most fans have seen The Akira Project fan film trailer. Before we begin, check it out here. Done? Alright. On Sunday at 5pm in room 510a, there will be a panel where you can ask questions, discuss and meet those behind the trailer! There is also a special guest appearance with cast member Osric Chau! Not convinced? Check out our interview with director Nguyen-Anh Nguyen. This one will definitely fill up fast so, again, get there early!
10. Indies, Indies And More Indies!
And finally, we have the panel on “World of Indie Games – Ecstasy and Madness”. Scheduled for Saturday at 11:45am in room 511a, this panel is definitely a must-see for both Girls On Games and you guys! Montreal is a hub for indie-created games and the energy and emotion put into them is amazing. Not too long ago, I covered two newly funded Montreal indie games that we’re looking forward to. Now, come join indie developers and discover their dedication to the craft, and what truly goes on behind close doors!
Heh. Can you tell I’m excited for the weekend? While there’s no scheduled event as of yet, another Montreal Comiccon feature you should check out is the Table Top room in 513a. Whether you’re with a group of friends, or riding this con solo, head out and play some board games with fellow con-goers! It’s a neat way to spend time in between events and get to avoid the crowds! The room will be open throughout the entire weekend. Bring your own game or hop in with others!
Take in the spirit of the event and bring a camera! Between seeing celebrities, cool movie props or awesome cosplayers, you’ll want to capture these moments. You never know what or whom you might see!
This last bonus event is neither part of Montreal Comiccon, nor is it on site. But it was so much fun that I have to include it.
When all is said and done over at the convention, you can continue to geek out at Foonzo Video Game Bar. Some of us over at Girls on Games had the chance to pop by a few weeks ago and see what it was all about. We were bloody impressed. It had a multitude of consoles and board games to choose from which are all free-to-use. The food was great (especially the nachos and burgers) and all their cocktails had some video game reference. So head over there, grab a beer and reflect on your awesome weekend. Check their Facebook page for hours and address here!
And there you have it, folks. My guide to on-site Comiccon events. Though I listed a good amount, this is no where near the extent of what Montreal Comiccon has to offer. I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again: download the guide! Seriously, go download it.
What are you guys most looking forward to this weekend? Sound off in the comments section!