Thursday, August 29, 2013

Fan Expo: Where has all the horror gone?

Had another fantastic time at Fan Expo Canada 2013, which took place August 22-25 here in Toronto. This year, Hobbystar expanded the convention, taking over both the north and south buildings at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. The big addition was a sports component, which was placed in the north building, and--much to the chagrin of retailers and fans alike--most of the celebrity signings were also moved to that location. But many, including myself, couldn't help but wonder: where has all the horror gone?

Let me start by saying that Hobbystar really does take care of their invited guests, and I'm always glad to be a part of this convention. But I've noticed a trend over the course of the last six years or so that I've attended Fan Expo, both as a fan and as a writer: the horror component is dwindling away.

I chatted with a lot of people about this, from fans to others working in the horror genre, and everyone felt the same way. The main problem was the fact that the horror component was spread throughout the south building, as were the writers. Rue Morgue magazine, the major horror sponsor, had a fantastic display this year--but it's unfortunate that none of us working in the horror genre were anywhere close to them. Myself and Greg Lamberson, a popular horror writer and filmmaker from the U.S., were at a table in Artist's Alley, which primarily features illustrators. A handful of other writers were grouped together outside of the main hall, in Author's Alley; at times, this area didn't have a lot of foot traffic.

It would benefit horror fans if those of us working in the genre were placed closer together. From my perspective in Artist's Alley, many of those who bought books complained that it was hard to find us, and others were actually surprised when they stumbled across some authors among all the illustrators. What I'd really like to see next year is a focused attempt to improve the horror component at Fan Expo, as well as a concerted effort to place us within the vicinity of one another.

That said, this was a fun year for me, with a lot of firsts: it was my first time there as a published author; I took part in a panel discussion about nonfiction writing; and I was interviewed for a new documentary about horror, called "Why Horror?". The best part was meeting and chatting with fellow authors and horror fans--such a diverse community of fun-loving, friendly people. And the costumes! Wow. A lot of creativity in one place.

Here's a slideshow that features some photos I took over the course of the 4-day event:


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