Calgary Expo 2014, In Retrospect.

by Tori B. on April 30, 2014

Post Calgary Expo is such a strange feeling; gone is the weekend of readjusting spandex, lugging around a backpack full of snacks and vitamin water, while preciously balancing an armful of gorgeous prints in arm. Now that I’ve had a couple of days to muse over my weekend, this’ll be a summary of events in retrospect—probably a little more critical as I am wont to do, but trust me, there was a lot of elation as the weekend occurred and the Expo truly gets better with each passing year as I learn new tricks to enjoy myself more.
The first noticeable difference this year is that instead of the usual three days (Friday, Saturday, Sunday), the Expo took an extra half-day and started Thursday afternoon/evening, which personally made a huge difference for me. Throughout the evening many of the four-day participants (like myself) kind of filter ourselves into Stampede Park, as our schedules see fit. Gone was the long line up to trade tickets for wristbands, and instead was a quick walk to a table and then suddenly I’m Expo ready for the next four days. While I can’t speak for the rest of the days, I’d like to imagine it was that simple and quick for everyone else.  In fact in comparison to last year, despite there being more people, I lined up significantly less every morning to get into the Centre.
Despite there being a lot of big names like Sigourney Weaver,  Sean Astin, Felica Day, Tom Felton, Karen Gillan, Matt Smith, and John Ratzenberger, we opted to have a fairly low key weekend, no photo ops, no major autographs, essentially if anything had a line we stayed out of it. Same goes for panels, the more people in the panel, the less fun it seemed to be. About the panels, from personal experience, bigger panels seemed to have poorer moderators and Q&A sessions had some less than fruitful questions—which I get, bigger panels have a higher saturation of pop culture, so a lot of people are interested in it, but lacks that culture that I love to soak up when I hit up the convention scene.  By far my favourite panels were those focused around big names in terms of comic creators. J Scott Campbell, Terry Dodson, and Mike Oeming to name a few, oddly enough all artists… I couldn’t make it in time to catch the one with Greg Rucka, and Gerry Duggan seemed to be a no show, but the few panels I did manage to get around to were incredibly insightful and enlightening, and all three artists are incredibly intelligent and ridiculously inspiring to boot, each in their own way. Terry Dodson provided a lot of insight into the industry—deadlines, what it’s like working with wife Rachel, interiors, collaboration with writers, and his break into creator owned; J Scott Campbell on the other hand talked primarily about being an artist, developing style and the absolute fun he has doing covers and how thrilled he is to be able to be where he is in the industry; And Mike Oeming talked extensively about his upcoming series with Brian Michael Bendis, United Stated of Murder Inc, and even though there were about six of us attending that panel, I assure you he got all of us thrilled for its release. I spent a lot of time last year with big names and walked away vaguely disappointed, and this year I spent a majority of my time with creators and was beyond thrilled for about 98% of the time. My only setback, was for some reason I missed a lot of the creator names prior to my adventure to Calgary and failed to bring a lot of paraphernalia to sign, or in the case of Powers which I read digitally, I literally had nothing for Mike Oeming. But despite that, there’s more to hitting up creators for signatures, a lot of them are just really cool for talking. I ended up stalking Nick Bradshaw’s table for the whole weekend. I didn’t have any issues of Wolverine and the X-Men with me, but told him how I loved his Quentin Quire anyways and we chatted, I looked at his original sketches for a couple issues and may have hounded him for a commission, which he was too busy for but promised me next time he was in the area. He had also been kind enough to remember me each time I approached his table and was always eager to shake my hand as I left. Professional, personable, and he wasn’t the only one. Terry Dodson, J Scott Campbell, and Mike Oeming were similar in their professionalism and personablity. Eager to talk one on one about their work and always had a lot to say. For such talented and busy men, they always seem to have time for fans, which was much appreciated.
It’s one thing to be there for the creators and be a comic fan in general at a con, and a whole other thing to be in it for the cosplay. I’ve yet to find the perfect balance. This year seemed to be a smaller year for cosplay. I noticed less people in costume, and less people excited to see others in costume (children being the major exception to this). Though there were some pretty epic ones this year, especially of LEGO people thanks to the LEGO movie—as you can hear everyone around you beginning to sing Everything is Awesome. Last year I merely wore a Captain Marvel shirt and was being constantly stopped for pictures. This year I rocked three different outfits, Harley Quinn, Kate Bishop, and Zatanna, and only as Harley did people recognize me. Clay Mann even confused Kate Bishop for Psylocke until I popped the aviators on. Which is totally fine, I’m not cosplaying to get recognized or to have my picture taken, but what I did notice was that I certainly wasn’t taken as seriously when in cosplay as opposed to out of. In cosplay, it’s like I was just a girl dressing up, and out of cosplay talking to everyone, I was a genuine comic enthusiast. It’s a strange sensation, I love the fun of running around in spandex (Kate Bishop is my favourite outfit) but I couldn’t do it if I wanted to go to panels or talk at any tables. I’m having a hard time figuring out whether it has anything to do with being female, or a weird stigma associated with cosplay, or most likely a combination of the two.
Calgary Expo was a fantastic four-day romp though, and while it had its downsides, all the amazing upsides I had certainly made up for it. There just isn’t enough time to do everything though. I sacrificed seeing the cast of The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, to go talk to Terry Dodson and Nick Bradshaw instead, and I don’t regret it. Going to the Expo, you need to decide priorities, comics being mine, settled a lot of decisions for me over the weekend, and were the best decisions I made. Truly.
Being a comic fan right now is an exciting time and conventions, especially one like the Expo, which was simply brimming with awesome creators simply reiterates that. Take advantage of the absolute privilege that a convention can give you and don’t be shy and embrace what you love, and you’ll have a grand ol’ time.



Thanks for referring the website and the difference of expo. Expo is the thing to expose and express to your feeling to specific stuff. Like I am also being comic found it quiet funny and interesting though at the same time. It’s just the time to find and expose some extra things from expo.
MadeleineWoodward's picture

Thanks TORI for the fantastic information my friend told me about this seminar and no doubt you are saying truth that there were a big name were present one of my favorite “Signourney” and “Tom Felton” unfortunately I missed that event because on that time I was working on my management assignment project. Well as being a comic lover I want to see these seminars and events in the future so students like me who love the comics can join these seminars to enhance the knowledge.