For my one day visit to Fan Expo in Toronto, I planned to see what I was interested in, and what related to all things Disney. Artist Alley was the first place I wanted to stop at. I had walked by Artist Alley during my visit last year, but I wasn’t quite sure if I wanted to venture in. I read comic books, not a lot, but enough to keep me in the loop of what is happening in the Marvel world, and I love the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but it just didn’t draw me in. This year I was going to try something new.

Since I never walked through Artist Alley, I decided to make an exploratory journey just to see what was there, and how things were done. You see, in Artist Alley, you can meet the artists that bring your favorite characters to life on the comic page. They are literally sitting and waiting for you to come to the. The best part is that in most cases, autographs are free. I started to learn this throughout my journey and was quite pleased to see and a little intimidated by the fact that all I had to do was stop at the artist and talk to them.

Now, why might this simple form of communication seem to be intimidating? These are people who up until a few moments before you entered Artist Alley, were names on a comic book. Now they are real, flesh and blood, and you get the chance to meet them one on one.

So I made my first tour and was pleased with what was there. Who I was going to meet was a foregone conclusion. It seemed like it was destined to be the choice, and I was glad for it. I had been reviewing a lot of Marvel comics for Laughing Place, including the Secret Empire series that just recently concluded its ten-issue run. I loved all of the comics, and as I walked through on my first journey, I saw Steve McNiven and issue 10 of Secret Empire waiting patiently at his table for the line of fans to shuffle through. I jumped into the line.

Something that I enjoy about comics is the nature of story arcs and characters being flipped on their head. Secret Empire took golden boy Steve Rogers and made him an evil Hydra agent. That was unexpected, and fun to watch evolve.

What McNiven did well in his artwork throughout the series was give each of the characters their own unique style through the image he created. The Captain America that is bad throughout the series, looks like the guy we know, but you can tell that this is a different person, and that is thanks to McNiven’s work with David Marquez. Between the both of them, they crafted the visual world to this saga that was unique amongst other great story lines such as Civil War.

As these thoughts were racing through my head the line moved up, and before I knew it I was standing in front of McNiven but I didn’t have anything for him to sign. Crisis averted because there is always something for sale at pop culture conventions. So I asked for Secret Empire #10 and for Steve to make it out to me (incidentally, I had just completed the review for Secret Empire #10 the Wednesday before).

Our interaction was brief, but I told him how much I enjoyed the series, and he thanked me. I even told him I just completed the review of the last issue in the series. McNiven asked who I wrote for and I told him. He said he would look for the review. I didn’t give enough credit to him in my reviews, and I will correct that omission now: congrats to you Steve McNiven on your brilliant work, and thanks for signing my comic too.

Artist Alley will always be on the agenda whenever I go to Fan Expo.