Monday, 22 April 2013




“Shiny!” It’s an apt term to describe an (inter)stellar gathering of fans and talent that has come to be known as the Calgary Comic & Entertainment Expo (Comic-Con has been trademarked by the San Diego faction). Celebrating its eighth year of exponential growth, this multifaceted exhibition of pop culture and, specifically, science fiction fandom, has much more to offer than staple-rust and hermetically-sealed comic bags. According to event director Kandrix Foong and assistant director Lindsay Thomas (a.k.a. Emily Expo), this year’s show will benefit from some new streamlining and crowd-control measures that were successfully tested when they mounted Edmonton’s version of the Expo late last year.

“We’re on the threshold between being a mid-sized to a large-sized convention,” Kandrix confirms. “I think our expected number of visitors is hovering around 60,000. Obviously, we’ve been working closely with the Stampede Board and fire department to ensure that everyone is safe and happy. High-capacity crowds don’t have to be crazy crowds and we’re implementing initiatives to help alleviate line-ups and take off some of the pressure.”

Embracing a universe of possibilities, this year’s event will see the Expo’s area expand by 47 per cent thanks to the annexation of the Big Four building. This additional 12,000 square feet of outer space will facilitate food services, gaming modules, video games, photo ops and a kid zone. Limiting the number of weekend and single-day passes to the event has also proven to be a key element to keeping the nerfherders in a good mood. Anyone who purchases their ticket in advance is guaranteed entrance to the show and a high-five from Carrie Fisher (just kidding). This means that there will be a limited number of passes available at the door, so buy early to avoid disappointment. Ticket holders will be fast-tracked in through numerous points-of-entry and event organizers have also made it possible for fans to book autograph and photo opportunities with their favourite celebrities in advance via the Expo’s website.

“The bottom line is that, we love our fans and our guests and we want them all to have a fantastic time!” Emily Expo relates. “Creating a comfortable environment and making sure that the foot traffic flows smoothly makes people feel like they’re being taken care of… Little details like meeting guests at the airport, making sure that they’re happy and well fed, have a big positive impact. And I love creating those moments of pure joy, like when we surprised the cast of Star Trek TNG with an appearance by John de Lancie, who played Q.”

Constantly on the hunt for the star-studded event’s next unbelievable guest attendee, Kandrix is thrilled beyond-the-pale to take Firefly “out to the black” as this year’s Expo welcomes Serenity’s Captain Malcolm Reynolds (a.k.a. actor Nathan Fillion) to the fray. Beyond appealing to the renegade sensibilities of the Alberta Browncoat Society members, the Expo has amassed a tremendous roster of cherished performers to grace the convention with their presence. Light-years ahead of the curve, yet still true to its terrestrial origins, the event will also be acknowledging cutting-edge series, like Game of Thrones, while paying homage to never-outdated classics, like 90-year-old Spiderman creator Stan Lee.

“It’s about creating the right mix of hitting stuff everyone recognizes and intermingling those broader classic genres with more niche-oriented projects, like Firefly,” Kandrix explains. “I’m very interested to see the response to Nathan Fillion. He’s an Albertan hero and fans have been asking us to have him at our show for eight years and he finally said yes! We’re competing against conventions in Chicago and Belgium, so it was a bit of a coup that we managed to get him and it’s generating a very exciting vibe.”

It’ll be a feast for the eyes, with everything relating to science fiction, fantasy, horror, animation and beyond on display as over 600 artists, exhibitors, and vendors showcase their wares in the Expo’s impressive marketplace. The ears, however, will not go neglected as the paragon of musical parody, Weird Al Yankovic, delivers a full-blown Alpocalypse concert as one of the Expo’s special events. Other Expo-affiliated events include: The Hub – An Evening Reception with Torchwood torchbearers John Barrowman, Eve Myles, and Gareth David-Lloyd, and An Evening with Game of Thrones, which includes dinner at The Palliser with Peter Dinklage (Prince Tyrion) & Lina Headey (Queen Cersei).

“What sets Calgary’s Expo apart is that we are concerned with producing a unique, solid, stand-alone experience,” Kandrix observes. “In my opinion, having attended conventions throughout North America, [I’ve realized] presenting a vast number of artists at a show is less important than providing a lot of variety. As organizers, we’re huge fans ourselves, so we wanted to touch on a lot of genres and offer an outstanding level of diversity. From Dr. Who and The Terminator, to Weird Al and The X-Files, we’ve gone the extra mile and word-of-mouth is spreading.”

Book off April 26-28 and pull out the sunscreen and spandex, the Calgary Comic & Entertainment Expo touches down once more!

By Christine Leonard

Originally published  April 22, 2013 · in beatrouteab · in AB CITYFEATURES. ·

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