The Calgary Comic and Entertainment Expo 2014
Each consecutive year that we — my Fiancé Kayla, who also loves comics and occasionally contributes to the site, and I — attend the Calgary Expo it grows and expands at an almost alarming rate and this year, our third, was no exception as the Expo expanded to having to use adjacent buildings and add an extra day to the event. They even had to erect a large tent in the middle of the parking lot outside the main building—though what was in said tent I can’t say because we didn’t end up making it over there. Thankfully the Expo organizers had learned from their over-selling 2012, where the Fire Marshall almost shut down the event and if you left there was absolutely no re-entry, and much like last year everything ran smoothly and even if we managed to hit that 70,000 person count it never really felt like there was that many people at the show.
Plenty of space for people to eat, or sit and take a break as well as, and again this was huge after being trapped in the building two years ago, being able to wander outside and get some fresh air before heading back in. Sure, this might be the only event like this that we’ve been to, but every year it gets better and every year it sets the bar higher for any other convention that we’re looking at visiting. I like to think we’re spoiled to have a convention like this in our back yard.
Update: I guess the final count came in, and this, their 9th year, had about 97,000 fans move through the doors. Insanity. 10th Anniversary next year is going to be incredible.
A big part—okay pretty much the entire reason—that I want to attend these conventions is to meet the comic book creators that I admire and whose work I enjoy as well as meet new ones and discover new books that I might not have been aware of before. It’s great to be able to meet the creators I’ve interacted with over social media and share some laughs and talk about comics and annoy my fiancé as I go on and on about this or that with whichever creator I happen to be stopped in front of. Seriously, I get so passionate about comics when I’m talking to people who actually make them for a living I sometimes forget to even introduce her or, well, acknowledge her for minutes at a time. Sorry baby!
All the creators we met were great, of course, but there were a few that really stood out to us. First and foremost, Michael Oeming and Taki Soma who were just beyond awesome to talk to and share stories with and talk Norse mythology with that I really had a hard time leaving their table. We even got so busy towards the end of the final day that we didn’t even get a chance to get back to their table and pick up some awesome prints before we left. But, really, they were an absolute pleasure to meet and talk to and if we’re ever in the Portland area we’re going to have to harass them some more. We’ll be in need of more stories about Taki picking up Brian Michael Bendis, which just might have been the best story of the whole convention. It also taught me not to mess with Taki Soma.
Another stand out is hometown artist Riley Rossmo and his wife Robin. Sure, we’ve met him before a bunch of times because he’s from Calgary, but the guy is just beyond awesome. I could sit there and watch him sketch and draw all day, and probably stayed just a little too long while he was doing a horror movie poster commission for someone at the show. But both Riley and Robin were awesome to talk to and if you get a chance to see Riley at a show definitely make sure you stop in and check out his work and talk to him. I’ll never get tired of talking comics with him.
For those that don’t know Calgary weather is… well, it’s a little different here. Saturday we had a bit of a wet snow day which we’re pretty much used to but some of the creators at the expo (probably all of them) were a little shocked at our mini-winter at the end of April. Particularly Matt Hawkins from Top Cow who’s from L.A. and, frankly, had no idea what was going on. Not only was that a hilarious exchange, especially after Riley Rossmo was telling us earlier how all the American creators were so confused and shocked by it, but Matt was just a genuinely awesome guy to talk to. After interacting with somebody on Twitter, like I have with Matt, for a year or so it was great meeting him and showing him at least two different seasons while he was here.
As I mentioned before, everybody was really great to talk to. The few creators above just really, really stood out. But there are also guys at the BOOM! booth like Wook Jin Clark who got me talking B.P.R.D. when I had to leave on Friday and I ended up standing there interfering with his work for at least a half an hour. There’s also Ed Brisson who basically helped plan my honeymoon trip to Seattle by adding a whole Portland mini-trip. Great creator and great guy to talk to, though and just between Ed and Wook alone I think I might have spent a good couple hours at the BOOM booth this past weekend.
There were so many great creators and people at the Expo that these few paragraphs did not do it all justice, but to those I missed I assure you: I will get to your series eventually when I can find time to get through my ridiculous stack of trades, novels, digital books, PDFs and everything else. I promise that wasn’t just an excuse! Well, it is an excuse, but it wasn’t made up!
I, of course, don’t read as many comics as Tyler does – basically if he thinks I’ll like something, I’ll read it, but I don’t have a tower of books waiting for my attention! I love to get the opportunity to meet creators I might not have known about before, because once we’ve really gotten a chance to get to know someone, like Michael Oeming and Taki Soma, I’ll be more interested in looking for things they’ve been a part of. I’ll willingly admit that I’m really new to comics, so most of the creators we get to meet are also new to me. I’m really glad to be a part of the whole thing now, though, because it turns out comic creators are really fantastic people!
Matt Smith and Karen Gillen were in the same room as us and during the initial photo blitz for media they were only a handful of feet away. I really enjoy Doctor Who and Matt Smith is my doctor, without question, so this was cool. It was light and fun and I can see us attending more panels in the future.
For our first panel ever, this was definitely an incredible experience. I’ve heard from other huge Doctor Who/Matt Smith fans that this was one of his best panels ever, so I feel incredibly lucky to have been able to be right there! And uh… I may have cried… but we don’t need to talk about that. Anyway… Matt Smith and Karen Gillan have the best chemistry ever. They had amazing chemistry on the show, and it carries through to real life. They just play off of what they say to each other, and everything just totally works (“You would make a really good witch in Macbeth.” “Hey!”)
The panel was a good length, but I honestly could’ve sat there all day and listened to their stories! Even though we were in there for awhile, it didn’t feel like very long at all. Time just flies when you’re enjoying yourself! We will definitely have to attend panels in the future – especially if we’re lucky enough to have such amazing guests to sit and listen to.
This was something special, and another first for us, that I can’t say for sure if we’ll ever do again, simply because paying for a signature, personally, bothers me. I understand it but at the same time don’t get it. So I’ll let Kayla take it away from here, since this, really, was for her:
In past years there have definitely been guests I would’ve loved to see, but I agree with Tyler – it’s hard to just hand your money to someone so a celebrity will sign something for you. I know people who go to these things just for signatures, and I just can’t wrap my brain around it. For most of the guests we’ve seen in the past, it’s been enough to just walk by and maybe snap a quick picture of the celebrities at their tables.
I knew Michael Rooker was coming this year, and of course I’m a big fan, but I didn’t really think to bring my Zombie Merle to get signed right away. Then Tyler pointed it out and I realized that getting that signed would be awesome. Most people would probably go and get a picture of him signed, or a Walking Dead poster – not as many people would bring something different so I knew we had to do it!
And I am SO glad we did! We’re not much for waiting in lines, but we were right at the start of that one, so it wasn’t so bad at all. Plus when he walked by everyone at the front of the line he shook our hands! I did my best not to fangirl too hard. That was kind of hard, though, when he was in total disbelief that I cried for an hour when Merle died…
Whoa, spoilers Kayla! Geez.
As I said at the start, this convention is just growing and growing and there’s no end in sight. The fact that next year they’ve booked the even one week earlier, meaning it won’t conflict with the large Chicago Con on the same weekend, can only bode well for everybody. My goals are lofty, of course, but I’d love to see Dark Horse make their way up, and more creators that might not have been able to make it up before because of the commitment to C2E2. If talking to some of the creators this year who have done that whole circuit is any indication, this is one of the larger conventions in North America and they all enjoy it.
Its times like this that I wish I could help organize the event and maybe push them towards certain creators that I think should be included and of course those creators that I’ve been dying to meet. Though, if that happens I might have to get a bigger back pack…
There is a ton of people to thank so I’m going to make a list and hope that I get everybody. If I don’t, it’s not personal there was just so many great people involved that it’s damn near impossible to get them all! So, thank you: Alex Kingcott, The Calgary Expo Volunteers, Mike Oeming, Taki Soma, Riley and Robin Rossmo, Jim Zub, David Finch, Nick Bradshaw, Conor McCreery, Gibson Quarter, BOOM! Studios, Ross Richie, Wook Jin Clark, Ed Brisson, Reilly Brown, Kevin Eastman, Kieron Gillen, Ian McGinty, Greg Rucka, Michael Rooker, R.L. Stine, Matt Smith, Karen Gillan, Devon at the BOOM! Booth, Top Cow and Matt Hawkins, Avatar Press, Mike Kunkel, Brooke Allen, Ragnar the Trader and of course all the awesome fans and cosplayers who make this event fun.
As far as “thank yous” go, I’d just like to say thanks to all the guests (creators and celebrities alike) that take the time to actually talk to their fans/interested parties. It’s cool just to have all these interesting people all in one place, but it’s even better to get the chance to have a conversation with all kinds of people.
For more about the annual Calgary Expo, head over to http://www.calgaryexpo.com. Especially any and all creators interested in this show!