The Magic of the Montreal ComicCon


Darth Vader waits

Several differently-sized Supermen stand in a line -- even their monumental shared strength is nothing compared to the locked doors of the Palais des Congres. The line-up of superheroes, supervillains, children, and parents alike, have taken the day off in advance just so they could be the first ones in when the doors open at 1 pm. Inside, the staff is anxious, nervous and excited; their days of hard work will finally be appreciated in the next few moments. The sound of doors unlocking is their cue, and faster than speeding bullets, the crowd begins to pour in.

For nearly the last decade, during the somber month of September, comic fans have been anticipating the second weekend of the month. "I look forward to it every year," says Kristen Smart, a two-year veteran of both the Montreal ComicCon and Toronto-based Fan Expo convention- and she's not alone. Since the conventions' inception in 2006, attendance has been steadily growing, with 2014 being their largest 'con yet, boasting over 51,000 visitors. "You would be hard pressed to find a more fun way to spend a weekend, and the people at the Montreal ComicCon tend to be super entertaining" says George Salvador Mallari-Lee, a local comic book shop owner. Attendees can expect to find nearly anything comic related at the venue. Aisles of comic book vendors extend nearly the entire length of the hall. Memorabilia, both retro and new, are stacked so high it's a miracle no one has been crushed by Spider-Man plushies.

There's more to the convention than just mass consumerism, and the organizers of the Montreal ComicCon have gone out of their way to provide entertainment for fans of all ages. With attractions such as concerts, celebrity signings, costume competitions, tabletop gaming, videogames, and even special movie or trailer screenings, the Montreal ComicCon weekend is packed to the brim with things to do.

Like most ComicCons, the Montreal ComicCon's main draw is the guests and celebrities who have been invited to appear at the convention. For most fans, the chance to meet the onscreen hero,

writer, or artist of their favorite series is too good to skip. Montreal in particular has been blessed with many fan-favorites, such as Patrick Stewart, William Shatner, Stephen Amell, Jim Starlin, and Neal Adams. According to frequent ComicCon attendee, Kristen Smart, "the con itself seems to be pretty good at finding a balance to keep most people content." Beyond seeing these individuals with your own eyes, the convention also offers various activities to interact with them. "The signings are great," says Kristen. "You'll usually get at least a minute with them in most cases, and most celebrities have been through the process enough that they know how to make that minute meaningful." Although some of the activities allow for fan-to-actor interactions, others, such as the photo opportunities suffer due to sheer demand on both the stars and their time. "The photo process is a lot more like a production line - go up, shake hands (maybe), pose, smile, camera flashes, and leave. It's a lot more impersonal than the celebs at their booths because there's a drastically stricter timeline to it, and they want as many people as who want one to get a photo. But of course you can take the photo to the celeb at their booth later on and they'll be happy to sign and chat a little bit." concludes Kristen, after her numerous visits to various conventions.

Another recent trend for the convention is branching out beyond the typical superhero and comic focus. The organizers have made a significant attempt to try and bring in a variety of guests and speakers to appeal to any crowd. "They started to bring wrestlers during ComicCon 2013, which we were ecstatic about", says Gina Savino Foster, an avid wrestling fan since high school. "JT [her husband], our friend and I go to ComicCon to basically meet the wrestlers...We've met Hulk Hogan, Lita, Trish Stratus and Jimmy Hart. We would check out the sci-fi actors and the different Q&A's, but the wrestlers were a really big deal, like Lita, who was a huge idol of mine as a teenager." But not everyone goes just for the muscles and the tights. "They for sure branched out from just superhero stuff. They played up Star Trek a lot one year because of all the actors being there. I went mostly for the experience but was a bit disappointed by all the hype being used as just an excuse to try and sell merchandise", says Kevin Oakley.

Beyond the actors, comics and signings, Montreal ComicCon has another attraction that many are excited for: the International Artists. Located in the Artist Alley, and sometimes referred to as "La Gallery", many French and European artists have helped to diversify an otherwise North American dominated field. "It was only natural to blend the both, since Montreal has such a great European and North American influence." said Oscar Yazedjian, when asked why he felt attendees reacted so well to the diverse talent brought in for the convention. For journalist and blogger, Scott VanderPloeg, "The big draw for me at Montreal ComicCon 2011 was the bandes desinees artists that would be attending the show". While he was visiting, Scott noted that although the number of artists was small, "I wandered up and down the La Gallery setup where the bande desinee artists were working but there was a line for each."

Although it's not required, many fans like to dress up as their favorite superheroes. Why? "Be it love of a character, enjoying the attention of being in an elaborate costume or portraying a loved character, or the appreciation from peers from peers from completing a complex costume....there are many motivations for donning spandex or cape," says Molly McIsaac, a cosplayer and journalist for writer for iFanboy. There is also the matter of your peers: "Community. I've met a ton of amazing people who like the same thing I do because we saw each other across the room wearing shows that the other one liked," explains Sabrina Ranellucci. Beyond that, there are also awards, fame, and sometimes even money on the line. Local costume designers and makeup artists set up shop at the convention looking to advertise their talents. To top it off, every year, many fans compete to win the coveted best costume. It's also a great experience for fans and competitors to check out whatpeople have been working on over the last year.

But the Montreal ComicCon has had its own share of problems. After an unprecedented success during their 2011 ComicCon, the organizers found themselves needing a larger venue to accommodate the ever-growing convention. Although Place Bonaventure had housed many successful conventions, the looming issue of an ever-increasing audience had to be addressed. By the time the 2012 edition of the Montreal ComicCon came around, attendees found the address for the venue had changed. Moving eastward and upward, the Montreal ComicCon can now be found annually at the Palais des Congres. Recent changes have included a rescheduling of the event, moving it from the second weekend in September to first weekend in July, to allow full access to the convention hall that would otherwise be occupied.

The break out success of the Montreal ComicCon has also inspired several neighboring towns to adopt an annual comic convention. Starting in 2012, Ottawa now hosts its annual Ottawa ComicCon, and similarly, starting in 2014, Quebec City is now home to its own comic convention as well. If you consider the Fan Expo in Toronto, that's four potential comic conventions a year! That's not even including our over-the-border cousins in New York City and Boston. Nowadays, Montrealers need only travel a few hours away to attend these events. That means, in an ideal situation, Montrealers visit six different cities and attend six different comic conventions a year, with none of the venues being more than eight hours away!

The ComicCon is also a great way for local businesses to meet and expand their clientele. "[The] Montreal ComicCon is a great opportunity for us to gain exposure to a wider audience, and to connect with the greater community on the whole," says George Salvador Mallari-Lee and Paul Landry, two of the owners of Librairie Crossover Comics. "The large attendance of the Montreal ComicCon, and the exposure it gets from the media, makes it an ideal event for us." The ComicCon also serves as a way to introduce the fan base to what a store a local like Librairie Crossover Comics can offer versus ordering comics online. "We pride ourselves on being able to offer a wide variety of books that cater to all kinds of interests. We also like to cross over into providing board games, figures, clothing, and more. Ultimately, we try to create a warm, fun, and engaging atmosphere in which to support those interests" explains George. Lastly, for these two owners, the ComicCon offers a chance to get back to their roots: "We go to the Montreal ComicCon because we are huge fans of the artists, vendors and celebrities that come out. We remember going to the ComicCons years ago, when they were smaller in scope. It's really enjoyable to be part of something for such a long time and to be able to watch it flourish and grow."

Looking to fill your comics needs but don't want to wait until the next ComicCon? Why not visit Librairie Crossover Comics!


Landry, Paul. Personal Interview. February 19th, 2015

McIsaac, Molly. "What is Cosplay and why do people do it?"


Oakley, Kevin. Personal Interview. February 9th, 2015

Ranellucci, Sabrina. "What is Cosplay and why do people do it?"


Salvador Mallari-Lee, George. Personal Interview. February 19th, 2015

Savino Foster,Gina. Personal Interview. February 9th, 2015

Smart, Kristen. Personal Interview. February 9th, 2015

VanderPloeg, Scott. "Artists Alley" September 22nd, 2011


Yazedjian, Oscar. "Montreal Comiccon Interview" September 8th, 2010.


(All images generously supplied by Kristen Smart.)


This past year was my first at the Montreal comiccon. It's always really fun, as your article points out. I'll have to check out Librairie Crossover Comics!

I didn't know there were wrestlers at ComicCon. All the unique and creative costumes people put on are the best!

Leave a comment