With summer con season winding down, one of the newer kids on the comic/pop-culture convention scene wrapped up this past weekend. The Saskatoon Comic & Entertainment Expo enjoyed it’s sophomore year by shattering last years attendance by Shatnering those in attendance. You could say the more than 13,000 attendees experienced the Wrath of Con and even Rescue 911 couldn’t save them from getting T.J. Hooked… uh, um, I am trying to say that William Shatner was there through the power of puns because someone told me the kids are really into puns these days, ok?
Anyway, yes Captain Kirk was there and it was as awesome as you’d expect which would then make for a decently successful expo, right? Sure, but Sask Expo 2015 wasn’t satisfied with just being decently successful, it was shooting for a spectacular second year. Did it cross into the final frontier of fantastic? Will I keep ham handedly forcing these Shatner puns?
Let’s find out!
Not only was the legendary starship captain/discount hotel pitchman in attendance but other notable guests included Breaking Bad‘s Giancarlo Esposito, Battlestar Galactica‘s Tricia Helfer and Rekha Sharma, as well as Red Power Ranger Steve Cardenas. Top level cosplayers Nathan DeLuca and E-Town Spidey were featured in very informative panels and comic creators like Batgirl/Secret Six writer Gail Simone and the artist from the recently announced Aquaman Earth One, Francis Manapul, were on hand for this rather robust guest list that touched every corner of the nerd world and we’re not even close to naming them all. Speaking of names, does the name Mario ring any bells? The man (and mouth) behind the legendary phrase “It’s a me, Mario!” Charles Martinet wowed a packed room of the Nintendo faithful. Arguably one of the biggest highlights of the weekend was Peregrin “Pippin” Took from The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, better known as Billy Boyd outside of Middle Earth, who not only ran the typical gauntlet of panel to photo ops to autograph but also performed to a sold-out crowd with his band, Beecake.
As far as panels and guests go, and especially for an event this new and of this size, the Saskatoon Expo laid out a very well rounded weekend. The rooms were full but not crowded, the hosts worked well and ran a smooth program both days. Plus, adding ‘extra-value’ experiences like Billy Boyd and Beecake to bring music to the weekend’s events really gave the Saskatoon Comic & Entertainment Expo an unique flavour and giving the musical side of the geek world a little more attention would be a very welcome addition to future events, in my opinion. Granted, and to the best of my knowledge, Jason Momoa doesn’t (publicly) play the ukulele and booking David Hasselhoff for gigs outside of Germany is neither cheap nor advised… well there is a wide expanse of nerd music out there to draw from.
To bring what was on stage at the Saskatoon Expo full circle, yes being that close to William Shatner and knowing that you are sharing air with the only man to ever actually beat the the Kobayashi Maru was an added little thrill. While Shatner’s 45 minutes bordered on stand-up comedy at times, it was not without it’s heartfelt and true moments. When asked about his relationship with his late Star Trek co-star, Leonard Nimoy, Shatner said the two of them shared many thing’s like a bit of a quirky sense of humor, adding “I’d fall on my knees with the way he’d make me laugh, ” as well as saying that he is currently working on a book about his 50 year plus friendship with Nimoy, due out sometime next year. As far as the displaying that Shatner sense of humor when a asked who’d win between Kirk and Han Solo, Shatner quipped “who? Harrison Ford? But he’s an old man!”
If the above counts as the galactic central point, then beyond it lays the great expanse the events final frontier (ok, that is the last of the Star Trek puns, honest.) The floor. Between the masses of cosplay and the many vendors and more rests the real experience. To truly emerge yourself in the culture and ‘release that inner nerd’, as some would say, and for me, to be among my people. Ok, maybe that is a little dramatic, but the real fun and life blood of any nerd con convergence type thing is the main floor and with the Saskatoon Expo growing a full 60%+ over last year as well as inhabiting a new and bigger space, some growing pains could be observed. Congestion was a little high at times and when a panel would let out, the mass exodus back to main hall would create more than a few choke points through the connecting passages. If it feels like I am reaching to trying and find something to be critical, I kind of am. Yes there was a crowd, but still and well mannered and managed one. One that, if anything, is more a positive than a negative since it points to the growth the event has experienced. As the Saskatoon Expo continues to grow (along with sister events in Calgary and Edmonton,) I’d expect to see and hear more about these Expo’s from the Canadian prairies as they find their place in the ever growing convention scene.
Now on with the cosplay. When you pack 13,000 or more of the faithful in to an event center, many of them take advantage of it and take to the wild (and sometimes weird) world of cosplay. What follows is a small gallery of the sites of the Saskatoon Comic & Entertainment Expo. One that is in no way all encompassing (and if you want to share your own feel free to do so in the comments below) of what was on hand, but just small taste of the costumes and creativity and the Harley Quinns. So many Harley Quinns.
Seriously, this town loves it’s Harley Quinns.