Action figures, video games, costumes, and comic books are all familiar sights at Fan Expo. But occasionally, a few booths and exhibitors stand out from the rest. So what are CSIS, the York Regional Police, and the Canadian Mint doing at a comic book convention?
CSIS, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service
CSIS is basically Canada’s version of the CIA, a federal intelligence service that runs operations – both known and classified – in Canada’s interest. It’s strange to see the logo on a floor dominated by Imperial Stormtroopers, but they were there for comparatively mundane and understandable reasons.
Roxanne was at the booth for the Canadian Security and Intelligence Service. She declined to give her last name.
Dork Shelf: What is CSIS doing here at Fan Expo?
Roxanne: A very good question. We are here to promote some of the IT positions that we have. We reach out to potential applicants.
DS: Are people at the convention surprised to see you here?
R: Yes, there is surprise, and some people are asking why where we’re here. When we explain we’re here for IT, some of them have said, “ah, fantastic, marketing genius,” so it’s been very positive.
DS: Where did the idea come from to appear at Fan Expo?
R: The idea originally came from HR managers and some of our IT managers. We go to some of the typical job fairs across Canada, and we wanted to think outside the box and reach out to those that may not be going to job fairs. This seemed like a logical place to be.
DS: If people are interested in applying to the jobs you’re promoting here, what would they be doing?
R: As an organization we have typical IT opportunities like software systems analyst, and communications/RF specialist, database administrator, that type of thing. So they can apply online. What they have to do is go to CSIScareers.ca and look at the job postings that are there, and apply online.
DS: What’s it like being at Fan Expo?
R: It’s great. I think there’s a lot of creativity here, and it’s a lot of fun. Everybody is very well behaved, and everybody is happy, and that’s what’s important.
York Regional Police’s comic book hero, UNITED
Officers from the York Regional Police were in full uniform for the convention, including one in a heavier kind of armour that looks like it was taken from the pages of a Batman comic. We spoke with York Regional Police Constable Tony Cedrone about their new comic book character, which he hopes will spearhead a new and innovative community outreach program. You can see more pictures of the UNITED short film at YRP’s Facebook page here.
DS: Where did the idea of a comic book character for the police come from?
Tony Cedrone: We’re fans, first and foremost. We love comics. Our messaging is trying to get out to our youth, and our kids. We’re community services, so we work a lot in the schools, and we were trying to think of different and exciting ways to get our messaging to them, in a way that’s entertaining and educational and interactive.
So we’re here to introduce the character, to get feedback on the concept, and we’re also here to promote: we have a short film called United, it’s about four minutes long, and the theme is basically police-community partnership. The short film will be launched in November. We really want to get them excited and invested in the concept, and in promoting anti-crime, and making positive choices.
DS: Who designed the character and the concept?
TC: Everything is done in-house. The artwork and the film and everything else is done by police officers, civilians at our agency, and volunteers. It was a very collaborative thing.
DS: What’s the reception been so far at Fan Expo?
TC: Awesome. It’s funny, because initially they walk up and you see that, “huh?” quizzical kind of thing. But once you explain the project and what we’re trying to do, you see the lights go on and they think it’s cool. They get it.
DS: I was talking with the CSIS booth just around the corner, and they were here for active recruitment. Have you talked to any aspiring police officers here?
TC: That’s not our primary purpose here, but there have been probably 20 to 25 people or so who’ve stopped in and told us they were taking Police Foundations [the police education programs in Ontario], or if I wanted to do that for a career, what would I do? And stuff like that.
DS: For yourself, what’s it like being at Fan Expo, and in uniform?
TC: It’s awesome. And I think that’s the thing – we’re fans. We’re not just here doing the labour part of it. We’re excited to be here. It’s funny because there’s way more officers here than you’d ever know – but they’re in the 501st Legion. We like the same things – we do artwork, we love anime, we love sci-fi, we’re Star Trek fans, Star Wars fans. It runs the gamut.
DS: What’s your favourite thing you’ve seen, or person you’ve met?
TC: Staaaan Leeee, man. I mean, it’s Stan The Man, right?! I read his comic books growing up. It was way too brief, but just being able to shake his hand and thank him for signing some stuff and taking a photo, that’s just huge for us. The fact that they gave us any time was fantastic. I’m absolutely grateful for it.
The Royal Canadian Mint reveals Superman anniversary coin collection
The Royal Canadian Mint, with its shiny and prolific collection of specially designed coins, was at Fan Expo for the first time this year, where it unveiled four limited edition Superman coins as a follow-up to the iconic character’s 75th anniversary coin and stamp collection from last year. We spoke with the Mint’s Jamie Desrochers, who designed the Superman Iconic Covers collection, about the coins.
DS: What’s the Mint doing at Fan Expo?
Jamie Desrochers: Last year we did a 75th anniversary of Superman series, and then this year we followed up and we wanted to launch at Fan Expo because we thought it’d be a great venue to do so. So we had our coin launch, the minister [federal government House Leader Peter Van Loan] came and unveiled the coins, we had a great crowd, and media was everywhere. Basically we thought it would be a great place to do it and it was.
DS: For those who might not be familiar with it, Superman has, in part, a Canadian origin.
JD: He was co-created by Joe Shuster, who was a Canadian. Most of Metropolis was originally based on Toronto, and the Daily Planet was actually the Toronto Star. So there was a lot of original Superman that was based on Toronto and Canada.
DS: Can you tell us about how the coins were designed, and about the images you chose to represent Superman?
JD: I’m the one that designed the coins and the packaging and all that. We had our engraving teams handle it. I wanted to represent as many eras of Superman as possible, so the Golden Age, the Silver Age, to the modern age. And this year we added the Iconic Covers series. I wanted to be sure that Action Comics #1 was there, but also to be able to hit the beats so that people would look at it, and say “Yeah, I know and love that cover, and I want that coin because of it.”
DS: About how long does the process take from the first design sketches to the final product?
JD: Generally speaking, a year to a year and a half.
DS: What’s the reception been so far at Fan Expo?
JD: It’s been great. Unbelievable. I wish we launched our coins here last year.
DS: Have you been at Fan Expo before? What’s it like being here with a booth?
JD: It’s been great. Not only as a fan, but from a work point of view, I got to meet all kinds of new artists. I’m always looking for new artists to do coin designs and stuff like that, so Artist Alley was great for that.
DS: Will the Mint be at Fan Expo again?
JD: I would love to. I think we need to come back here.
DS: Is it different coming to Fan Expo compared to other conventions you’ve been to?
JD: Usually we go to a lot of coin conventions and coin shows. It’s much more low-key there. They’re the guys that have been collecting for years, and they’re kinda just sitting there. They don’t really engage people as much as at Fan Expo. Here at Fan Expo, you’ve got people in Superman costumes who are really passionate about it, whereas with coin [conventions], it’s more about negotiation and weird stuff like that.