Forest City Comicon featuring Project Play on Sept. 23 at London Convention Centre

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When fans meet big stars at conventions, it can sometimes end in raw feelings. They pay big bucks to chat with their idols, only to find the cash they’ve forked over for a signature buys them a few scant seconds to meet the celebrity of their choice and breathe the same air.

So the organizers behind the fourth annual Forest City Comicon want Londoners to know they have asked their guests to be especially kind on Sept. 23 and give fans as meaningful a con experience as they can.

To that end, the event — officially known as Forest City Comicon featuring Project Play — has announced its signature guest will be Billy Boyd, the Scottish actor who played Pippin the hobbit in the Lord of the Rings movies from 2001 to 2003.

“It sucks the magic out of it, too,” if fans don’t have a “real interaction,” said FCC spokesperson John Houghton.

Boyd grew up a fan of genre movies, inspired by 1977’s Star Wars to seek his fortune in Hollywood. He brought much-needed comic relief to LOTR, becoming the emotional heart of the quest to destroy the One Ring.

FCC has had good luck with Lord of the Rings guests in the past: John Noble, who played Denethor, and also starred on television’s Fringe, was a much-loved attraction at the second FCC in 2015.

And there may be another guest who has as much drawing power as Boyd, at least here in Southwestern Ontario: Comic creator Jeff Lemire, who hails from Woodslee near Windsor.

Lemire was going to visit FCC last fall, but had to cancel due to a scheduling conflict. Consequently, the artist/writer behind the book Essex County and the series Sweet Tooth was the first guest signed to appear at this year’s edition of the fan gathering.

“This was a guest we were very passionate about last year. And we’re even more passionate now,” explained Houghton, calling Lemire “a real hometown guy. The work that he does is from our region. He’s in our backyard.”

Lemire is currently riding high on the success of Secret Path, which tells the true story of a residential-school student who froze to death when he tried to escape abuse at the facility and return to his Indigenous family. Lemire drew the book, while ailing Tragically Hip lead vocalist Gord Downey wrote the slender volume, which is told entirely without dialogue.

Houghton says the organizers behind the show don’t want to put on an event that’s “pretty good for London,” they aim to entice ticket buyers from the entire region to come to London for the day.

Also on the marquee is Dickey Beer, the stuntman who doubled as Boba Fett in 1983’s Return of the Jedi. Reality TV boasters Kenny and Spenny will be on hand, as well as local comic creator Willow Dawson.

The price of a ticket also gets you in to see Super Art Fight, which is described by organizers as “a hilarious hybrid of live drawing, pro-wrestling style dramatics and characters, and improv comedy.”

If you go

What: Forest City Comicon featuring Project Play, a fun fan gathering for the nerd in all of us.

When: Sept. 23, doors open at 10 a.m.

Where: London Convention Centre, 300 York St.

Tickets: $30, kids aged 12 years and under are free with an adult; advance tickets are $25 and get you in the door at 9:30 a.m., 30 minutes earlier than everyone else.


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