Thursday, September 8, 2016

The Wonders of FanExpo Canada 2016, by Alec Frazier and Autistic Reality

The smaller exhibition hall in the North building on Friday, one of the less busy days.
Hello. In this post, I would like to inform you about my trip to FanExpo Canada 2016! FanExpo is a convention that focuses on pop culture, but especially comics, fantasy, science fiction, gaming, and geek culture. It is held annually in Toronto in Ontario, Canada. The full event lasts for four days: Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. It has merchants, creators, gamers, various celebrities, cosplayers, panel discussions, photo opportunities, autograph sessions, parties, and more. It takes up both gigantic buildings of the Metro Toronto Convention Center in the heart of downtown.
A world of T-shirts on sale in the exhibition hall and the North building on Thursday.
I got an early admission along with my premium admission, so I explored the merchants’ stalls in the North Building. I was amazed by the variety of products available! There was everything from Pok√©mon to clothing to novels to jewelry and much more. They also sold to the adult market and various niche markets. In addition, there were a number of stalls for creators to sit at during their signing sessions, and an area for photo ops.
The infamous line for Stan Lee autograph tickets on Thursday evening. 
Afterwards, I went to the South Building and bought my autograph ticket for Stan “The Man” Lee. Stan Lee is the most influential person in comic book history, having created or cocreated a seemingly infinite number of titles including but not limited to Spider-Man, Daredevil, the Hulk, the Avengers, the Fantastic Four, the X-Men, and much, much, much, more. All of his work has been for my favorite brand, Marvel Comics. I have been trying to meet Stan Lee all my life. This was his last show ever, as he has worked in the field of comics and creativity since the 1930s, and is ninety-three years old. I also bought a photo opportunity with him ahead of time. Nonetheless, the lines to see him are infamously long. In fact, legendary cartoonist Fred Hembeck once even did an award-winning comic about the lengthy line to meet Stan Lee!
Me with Joe Quesada. 
The next day, Friday, I spent most of my day in the South Building. I repeatedly went to the line for Stan Lee’s autographs, only to be told that it was too long, and that I should come back later. Later on, I had a private autograph session with Joe Quesada. Whereas Stan Lee is the most influential person in the history of comics, Joe Quesada most likely has the most decision-making power in the current world of comic books and related media. He is an artist and a writer for Marvel Comics who was their editor-in-chief for fifteen years. He has both written and illustrated a number of Daredevil comics, and before I went to his autograph session, I bought a packaged action figure for him to autograph. When I met him, I raised the point that I had done a book on the first autistic superhero from the Daredevil comics. For those of you who do not know, the book is called Without Fear:The First Autistic Superhero, and it is copyrighted with the Library of Congress. I mentioned this to Quesada, and gave him a copy. He asked if I had been in touch with the character’s creator, Brian Michael Bendis, or the current editor of the Daredevil comics, Sana Amanat. I mentioned that I had tried, but that I hadn’t managed to get in touch with them. Quesada said that he would make sure they get in touch with me, and asked for my info. He said that Marvel was interested in working with me about the character I profile in my book. My heart soared! I had never in my wildest dreams expected an answer that good!
Me with Stan Lee.
After my autograph session with Joe Quesada on Friday, I went back to the Stan Lee line one last time. I was told that he had finished autographing for the day, and I knew how busy he would be on Saturday, and that it would be nearly impossible to get an autograph. I negotiated with The Man’s handlers, until I was allowed backstage to see him. The spry nonagenarian greeted me, and I told him, “You mean the world to me.” He said, “I’d better!” It was totally awesome to see that, despite his advanced age, his wit has survived. I shook his hand, he signed his autograph, and I gave him a copy of my book. He promised to read it when he gets home! This is a very big deal for me!
Guests creating an Outlander scene at the Showcase Pavilion.
The next day, Saturday, was the busiest day at the show. People were packed wall-to-wall, and the crowds were so intense that it was in large part physically impossible to truly admire creators, art, or merchants. I am amazed that anyone got any business done! There was a booth for Showcase, which is what the Canadians call Showtime, the pay-per-view media channel with a great deal of interesting content. That booth was set up to resemble a dining scene from the show Outlander, a historical fiction/fantasy based on the lives of Scottish Highlanders in the 1700s. What is extremely noteworthy about Outlander is that the books and show are about my family, the Clan Fraser of Lovat. I took several photos of their set up, although it was difficult because of the massive crowds.
The wall-to-wall crowds between the merchants and artists alley on Saturday.
Later on, I went to a question and answer session with Joe Quesada, and asked him about a comic he illustrated and wrote for Daredevil entitled Daredevil: Father. Much to my surprise, Quesada teared up as I asked him about his inspiration and influences for Father. It turns out that he wrote the entire comic as he was staying with his dying father in the hospital. A few days later, his father passed away. There is a scene in Daredevil: Father in which Battlin’ Jack Murdock hugs his son, the young Matt Murdock. This was meant to be a symbol of affection between Joe Quesada and his daughter, showing that the love of the generations continues. That night, I went to dinner with some fellow Outlander fans and made some new friends!
Me with Charlie Cox.
On Sunday, I had my photo taken with Charlie Cox, the actor who plays Matt Murdock/Daredevil in the Netflix series about that hero. He is such a nice man, and asked my name. Because he is British, Alec is a much more common name for him to understand. I then had a photo taken with Stan Lee. The machine that scanned the tickets broke down, and he went to the restroom. When he came back, I was ready for my photo, and he said, “Let the WONDER commence!” The emphasis was his, and I was extremely gleeful to see that the sense of fun and enjoyment that The Man shows about his celebrity and his work is completely genuine. I told him I enjoy his work tremendously, and he said, “That’s wonderful!” and you could tell that he was also completely genuine about that statement! Afterwards, I went to have Charlie Cox sign his autograph, and he continued being an absolute gentleman. I told him that his work meant a lot to me, because I work in disability rights advocacy. He said, “You do wonderful work. God bless you.”
My painting of Daredevil by Tyler Wrobel of Under the Hood Artists.
It should be noted that my favorite comic is Daredevil due to its strong disability themes. Daredevil’s alter ego, Matt Murdock, is a blind lawyer whose senses were heightened in the same accident that took his sight. In addition, the person who became daredevil after Matt Murdock passed away, Tim Urich, is the first properly rendered autistic superhero in history. As I have mentioned, I have done a copyrighted book about Tim’s disability, and how it reflects the evolution of common conceptions of autism. At the 2016 spring show of Buffalo Comicon, I bought a painting of Daredevil by Tyler Wrobel of Under the Hood Artists based out of Buffalo, New York. The painting is based on the opening to the Netflix show, and is done in red oil paint. Tyler signed the work in the bottom right corner, also in red oil paint. At FanExpo, I got three additional signatures on the work of art. The top right corner is signed by Stan Lee, the creator of Daredevil and most of the other successful comics media that exist today. The top left corner is signed by Charlie Cox, the actor who plays Daredevil in the current show on Netflix. The bottom left corner is signed by Joe Quesada, who is a writer and artist who has done a great deal of work on the Daredevil comics. Quesada was the Editor-in-Chief of Marvel Comics for fifteen years, and is currently the Chief Creative Officer of Marvel Entertainment, overseeing a vast body of work in comics, movies, television, music, games, and more. Lee, Cox, and Quesada signed in black permanent marker. Having this work of art with these autographs in my collection means the world to me, and I am incredibly grateful to Tyler Wrobel, Under the Hood Artists, FanExpo Canada 2016, Charlie Cox, Joe Quesada , and Stan Lee for helping my dreams come true!


This blog posting is both the personal opinion of Alec Frazier, and the professional policy of his advocacy firm, Autistic Reality. If you oppose it, please screen grab it! We are very proud of this opinion!

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