It’s time to haul out the lanyards and dust off those comfy easy walking shoes because comic convention season is officially in full swing and just this past weekend one of the premiere events in Canada celebrated a milestone. The Calgary Comic & Entertainment Expo celebrated its 10th anniversary with an amazing line-up of guests and exhibitors for a record shattering 102,000 faithful fans.
First up, since many of you do not reside in the great white north, if you’ve never attended a Canadian con, you are really missing out. Just remember most of your favorite TV shows and movies are made north of the wall, and once again the Calgary Expo proved to be a fantastic place to celebrate this whole nerd/geek/pop-culture universe that we all live in and love.
What follows is a whirlwind overview of an amazing weekend.
The star-studded line-up of guests crossed both genre and era with notable appearances by the guys from 90210, together again for the first time since the show ended (which was before more than a few of you were born… I’m talking Luke Perry, Jason Priestly and, Ian Ziering, before he was taking chainsaws to tornado’d sharks.) Stars from Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Brent Dalton and Ming Na Wen, were also in attendance.
For DC TV fans Arrow (Stephen Amell,) Diggle (David Ramsey,) Firestorm (Robbie Amell,) Constantine (Matt Ryan,) and Rip Hunter (look… I know many of you are crying out, “but Arthur Darvill is Rory from Doctor Who,” well he was, but now he’s Rip and since both characters are time travelers things will get very confusing if we continue to argue about this.)
Now, before this turns into me just listing names, just let me say that they packed the program with something for everyone. From Star Trek to The Walking Dead to voice actors like Peter Cullen, Tom Kenny, Alan Oppenheimer and top-tier cosplayers like Ivy Doom Kitty and Jessica Nigri… Sorry, I started just listing names again there, didn’t I? Did I mention that the After Hours gang from Cracked.com were also on hand?
If you are looking for a couple of pull quotes from the Calgary Expo, well the inarguably awesome Neil Patrick Harris was on hand and yes he did give an update on a Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog sequel. “We have a script and songs written for it but Joss keeps making these gagillion dollar movies” said Harris, adding that they were close to starting production but Joss Whedon had to delay it to make that plucky little movie called The Avengers: Age of Ultron, so maybe it is safe for us to assume we’ll get more Dr. Horrible soon? Please?
Another newsworthy moment came from Jason Mamoa, and while he was upfront and honest that he couldn’t say much about playing Aquaman on the big screen, he did display confidence in Zack Snyder’s vision for the DC Comics cinematic universe adding that he has met with DC Comics Geoff Johns (who is, apparently ‘a beast‘) and then closed with “like it or not, I’m the new fucking Aquaman, buddy.” This is where we quietly whimper ‘yes sir, sorry for questioning you oh great and powerful lord of Atlantis.’
Now, since this is a comic convention, the Calgary Expo was also packed with creator guests. Highlights included the man behind the DC Animated Universe, Bruce Timm, a delightful gentleman that we owe many thanks to the endless enduring ours of cartoons he gave us, the legendary Preacher/Punisher writer Garth Ennis, and arguably one of the bests artists in comics today, Jae Lee among many, many others. As for a personal highlight, grabbing 5 minutes with the guys behind the wonderfully twisted webcomic Cyanide and Happiness (Rob DenBleyker, Kris Wilson, Dave McElfatrick,) was a blast and I got to walk away with an on-the-spot, one-off-a-kind, please-mom-don’t-click-the-link, comic titled Taco Pole Dancing that will amuse me till the end of time.
The true heart of any pop-culture entertainment event of this type is lives and breathes on the exhibitor and vendor floor, and at the Calgary Expo delivered the experience perfectly. Encompassing the expansive Calgary Stampede grounds, the event filled every twist and turn with something for everyone. Now you would think that with this years recording breaking attendance (102,000!) there would be congestion and madness in the isles. Well there wasn’t, the whole atmosphere on the floor was smooth and the crowds ebbed and flowed easily (and since we’re Canadians, politely.)
I want to take a moment to address just how ‘kid friendly’ the Calgary Expo was. As a father of the next generation of nerds, an ‘all ages’ type environment is something that is important to me. Besides, admit it, when you see an 8-year-old dressed up as The Flash you feel secure in the knowledge that this grand obsession we’ve harbored all these years will be carried on for years to come. I look forward to attending the 50th anniversary with my grandkids pushing me around in a wheelchair (well, since it will be in the future, my hoverchair.)
If you noticed a little hubub on various social networks about a certain kerfuffle at the Calgary Expo (I don’t know why I am suddenly talking like the above nerd-grandpa I will one day be,) well I’d like to address that here quickly. With my long-standing policy of not feeding the trolls I’m not going to name names or go into great detail (if you want a good rundown Jill Pantozzi over at the Mary Sue did a great write-up of what happened here.) I would just like to say that the organizers of the event handled it professionally and perfectly. When the individuals that gained access under false pretenses were identified and their less than friendly intentions brought to light, they were removed. It is rather clear that they were not only working to counter the defined guidelines and rules of the Expo itself, but the enjoyment of the event for the rest of us. Simply put, people came from far and wide for four days of fun and widespread geekery, 102,000 of us in fact, and the Calgary Expo is not a political platform for half a dozen individuals to try to knock out a soapbox diatribe or two, it’s for those that love the things we love to group up and be in the middle of it all. The organizers of the Calgary Expo have a responsibility to us, the other 101,994 attendees and they did a great job living up to that responsibility and, if I may speak for the majority, we thank them for it.
As for this vocal little minority? before the misappropriated the calls of free speech for all ring out, no one is taking that from them. They can tweet and hashtag to their little hearts content (seriously, even Snapchat that shit if they are so inclined.) The right to say and believe whatever they want was not and never will be impeded or infringed, however choosing to do so at the detriment of the enjoyment of the rest of us at an event designed for us to exercise that aforementioned enjoyment in all the glory of the things we enjoy… Are you getting the picture? Maybe it wasn’t the smartest or most appropriate venue to pick for that particular flavour of activism. Plus, any accusations of discrimination or unfair treatment fall a bit short when the handful of individuals in question chose subterfuge and deceit as a course of action. Makes one question how confident that little table was in this cause they want to shout so loudly about.
The Comic & Entertainment Expo Group (the ones behind the Calgary Expo and sister events in Edmonton and Saskatoon) have made equality and inclusiveness a mandate and a priority for their events and from where I am standing I can say with confidence they are doing a great job. It’s a place where those that love what we love can come together and share and enjoy (inadvertent obscure Douglas Adams reference not intented.) Yes true believers, it’s a place where even the most adherent DC and Marvel fans can meet and find a new understanding of each other and perhaps one day learn to love each other as brothers and sisters. Unless of course you come at me with that whole Iron Man is better than Batman stuff… I will shut you down, son.
With the 10th Annual Calgary Comic & Entertainment Expo now but a pleasant memory, I think my main take way (besides the fist full of new books to read, stack of business cards thick enough to choke a baby walrus and all the other wonderful nerdy little things I picked up over the weekend,) is simply that I’m sad for missing out on the last nine of these, a mistake I won’t be making in the future. Luckily the fine folk behind the Calgary Expo have the Saskatoon Comic & Entertainment Expo (Sept 19-20) and the Edmonton Comic & Entertainment Expo (Sept 25-27) coming up on the horizon, and both are events I would encourage anyone to attend. You won’t be disappointed.
Now, if you came here for Cosplay… What you think I could go though a whole weekend and a con without getting a few (hundred) cosplay photos? Hit up page number 2 for an amazingly colossal gallery of some great cosplay from the Calgary Comic & Entertainment Expo!
With cosplay being such a huge part of celebrating nerd culture, the Calgary Comic & Entertainment Expo is a hotbed of some great, jaw dropping, amusing, entertaining, and (before I run out of adjectives) fun work from fans and pros a like. So sit back, relax and go through a hundred or so photos and enjoy a small slice of what Calgary Expo attendees came out with this year.
(and if you see yourself, feel free to email me or leave a comment below and I’d be more than happy to add your name for more Internet fame!)