Convention Report: Hal-Con 2016
Disclaimer: This is a horribly delayed post because I forgot to schedule it – no excuses. The following is an unedited post that should have run a long time ago – it wasn’t until I went to write another feature on comics mentioned within this post did I realize this never went live.
A couple of weekends ago I had the chance to attend the biggest comic convention in Atlantic Canada: Hal-Con. Held annually in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Hal-Con doesn’t come close to rivaling Fan Expo in Toronto for attendance numbers, but the passion it’s organizers and volunteers have for the convention is rivaled only by the attendees, of which there were more than 8,800 people both in and out of costume in attendance.
Hal-Con is a three day event, but for various reasons I was only able to make the second day of the event, along with my wife (who took the majority of the pictures you’ll see in this article because she’s better at that than I am), even then arriving later than I would have liked (around 1pm) due to some minor traffic issues on the drive to Halifax. Needless to say once my wife and I had checked in to our hotel for the night we headed over to the World Trade And Convention Center to start our convention experience. Right off the bat,
finding a place to park wasn’t an issue, even with the city’s reputation for a lack of parking – whether that was because we arrived after the initial rush of people at the day’s opening or not I couldn’t tell you, but we plonked our car within a block of the con.
Picking up our tickets was a surprisingly smooth process; my wife was able to pick her ticket up as quickly as I was able to locate the press desk for my pass. Although the lateness of our arrival likely helped my wife through the line, I spoke to several attendees during the day who said that the wait “wasn’t too bad, really” when they arrived, so I suspect our experience was fairly typical in that regard.
The Sales Floor
Taking up the rink surface, and bleeding into the surrounding corridors, was the vendor and exhibitors floor. My first impressions upon entering that seething mass of geekmanity was that there wasn’t much room to maneuver around – not quite sardine bad, but certainly cramped. Although my wife pointed out that’s because there was a lot of people standing around the entrance to the floor waiting for friends, taking pictures and generally soaking in the atmosphere of convention; once we’d slid past that group we and had made our way into the floor proper, there was certainly breathing room.
There was also, apparently, a cosplay repair station that I didn’t notice…
As with any smaller con, the vendors were a healthy mix of local artisans specializing in various nerd and geek accessories that you’re either going to sto
p and look at (and maybe even part with your money for a couple) or keep walking past, and a fair few comic and nerd memorabilia retailers. Although there were several local comic shops in attendance, Halifax’s own Strange Adventures were the standout for us because of their Spin To Win wheel with proceeds going to a children’s hospital (I walked away with a colouring book and Mickey Mouse tpb).
But as awesome as those artisans and vendors are, it was the local comic book creators that had me most excited as I walked through the aisles (my wife was more enamoured with the artisans, but then she’s not much of a comics reader). There were several fantastic looking comics to be picked up at Hal-Con, and thinking it’d be rude for me not to buy comics at a convention, I walked away with the the first two issues of Psychosis published by Outpouring Comics; The Forsaken Future, published by White Fire Comics; and Blot, a comic by C. Cameron (look for more on these comics and publishers). There were more comics that I wanted to pick up, but I only had so much cash on hand – and I didn’t notice to hand ATM until we were leaving after the sales floor had closed for the evening.
Depending on what your main branch of fandom is, there was somebody there that you’d have at least a passing interest in meeting. While I won’t list the guests at the event (you can find that online easily enough here), I was impressed with how their area was set up; out of the way enough to be away from the main crowds, but easily accessible for those looking for a photo op or a specific signature.
Without mincing words, there were so many great costumes and cosplays on display as we walked around. There’s only a small selection of the people we saw in the gallery below.
The Games Area
Honestly, this was where we spent a lot of our evening once we’d wandered through the sale area and cosplayers. We did check out a panel or two (with varying degrees of enjoyment), but ended up hanging out with a few different boardgames borrowed from the event’s library. It was also helpful because the board games were on the ground floor closest to our car, so by the time we did finally leave for the we didn’t need to go too far.
I’m aware I’m a lazy person.
There were more than enough tables for boardgames, as well as a fantastic arcade, for quite a few people (I don’t know how many exactly, but my guess would be hovering around the 500 mark). There was always an empty chair or two for us to join a game in progress – which probably have more to do with the lateness of the hour than the popularity of the area, which we were able to see was jam packed from a concourse rest area earlier in the day.
Although we only made it to one of the three days, Hal-Con was a fantastic experience for both myself and my wife. If you’re in the area, then pop in during the 2017 convention in September. I may just see you there.