Calgary Expo 2016

Calgary Expo 2016: Daily Blog

I’ve always loved the Calgary Expo. I’ve been attending it for quite a few years now and have seen it grow from its beginnings as a small convention into the huge force of nature it is now. This is the first time I have attended the show as a member of the media, and this is my daily blog of my time at the Expo.

Regardless of taking the show in for either a day or the whole weekend, there is always something, or someone to see at the Calgary Expo. Whether it’s getting an autograph or a photo op with a favorite celebrity, or just taking in the show for the shops or even a cool and interesting panel; like how to speak Klingon, or breaking into the voice acting business, there is always something fun to do each and every year.

Day 1: THURSDAY

Thursday is the shortest day of the Expo, being open from 4-9, it’s the perfect bite sized day to tour the show floor and find out where everything is. You can even find a few media guests to visit before the huge weekend rush. As we entered the show floor, we stopped in to see the awesome displays at Weta. Various statues of Hobbits, Dwarves and Dragons are on full display, and are just breathtaking in their detail. If you haven’t stopped in to see the awesome stuff here at Weta, you really need to see it in person.

Walking past the Lemonade stand, where we had to stop, it’s pretty much tradition. After leaving with our drinks, all you could hear nearby was “Wahooooo!!” and other high pitched vocals of one particular Italian plumber by the name of Mario. Charles Martinet, the voice of Mario was putting a smile on each and everyone of the people in his line up.

The various guest booths were empty, as most of them won’t be attending on Thursday, but it gives you a good idea on where to go, and how big the line ups can get. This year they have fantastic new signs made up that not only show their names, but have nice pictures of them as well, in case you know what they look like but don’t know their name. Some of the guests this year are Clark Gregg, William Shatner, Stan Lee, John Barrowman, Robin Lord Taylor, Billie Piper and Nolan North. I’m leaving out tons more, but man, what a turn out!. Regardless of what shows are your favorite, there is someone here for everyone.

We left the main hall and went to take in the shops. There are vendors as far as the eye can see, and then maybe a bit further than that. The T-shirt Tower is back, with even more shirts than ever before. Redd Skull is a staple of the Expo and is packed full of awesome comic collectibles. Tee Turtle T-shirts, a particular favorite of mine is back and loaded with a ton of awesome shirts, I really like the “You have failed this Kingdom” shirt featuring Link as the Green Arrow.

Taking a tour of Artist Alley, there are plenty of really talented people here. I had to stop and get some stuff signed by Ryan Stegman, artist of Superior Spider-Man and Inhumans. He was finishing a sketch of Spider-Man decked out like James Bond. Had a brief chat with him and then it was off to take in a panel: Conversational Klingon.

The panel was pretty interesting as not only was the talk about the nature of the Klingon Language and how verbs and nouns work, but how those factors also work within our own languages. It was a very informative panel and should you ever get the chance to take it in on a following year, I recommend doing so. Canada Post also showed up and announced the reveal of two new stamps to add to its already growing Star Trek stamp collection, two Klingon additions. It was also revealed at the Spotlight on William Shatner that a new Kirk stamp would also join the collection as well.

Day one had come to a close and we were eager to see what tomorrow would bring us, with new guests showing up, new panels to take in, and a few guests to interview!

Day 2: FRIDAY.

We showed up bright and early to the Media relations desk and were given the go ahead for our first interview: Ryan Stegman. I had talked to him yesterday getting a few things signed, but it was time for not only my first interview of the day, but my first Expo interview ever.

I asked Ryan Stegman about his history with Marvel Comics and other factors like the use of traditional pencil on paper and the advantages of working entirely digital, as well as how particular jobs were handed out, and how far in advance his work puts him ahead of the book being printed. It was a great interview and you can give it a listen on the site very soon!

After that we took a stroll around the main hall and saw fairly empty lines for John Barrowman and Clark Gregg. Turns out the Clark Gregg line was empty due to another booth set up for buying his autograph, so we got in that line as fast as we could. Buying our autograph ticket for Clark Gregg for later in the day, I joined the line for John Barrowman. If you ever want to be entertained during a line up, this is the guy to see. I lost track of how many times he made us all in the line laugh out loud.

I asked him a question about his Malcom Merlyn character on Arrow, and while he couldn’t tell me what was going to happen in the next few episodes, he did say this, “Oh.. you have no idea… you’re close.. but you have no idea.” He said it in such a cryptic way that I am even more excited for the next few episodes of Arrow. It reminds me how I almost got a season finale spoiler out of Stephen Amell last year. I have to say, Arrow casts some truly amazing and friendly people.

It was time for some more interviews. I met up with Camilla d’Errico, who is a fantastic illustrator. If you have the chance to stop by her booth, do so, her work is stunning. Among finding out how to actually pronounce her name, which I was totally wrong on.. We chatted about her career and how she worked with such clients as Avril Lavigne and the Walt Disney company. Next Stop was Zenescope Comics. I really enjoy the art behind the covers of Zenescope. Their Grimm Fairy Tales series and their take on Robin Hood is not to be missed. I had a great chat with them about the history of the company, upcoming projects, and how most of their artists live all over the world. Both that interview and Camilla’s will be up soon.

Later on, I eventually met up with Clark Gregg and got my Agents of Shield Blu-ray cover signed, having his signatures right there alongside other members of the cast, signed at previous conventions. I had a short chat about the next few episodes and then made my way to grab some food.

If you’ve been to the Expo, the area set aside for food has been fairly OK to just decent in the past few years. This year they have out done themselves. A variety of food shops indoors with a huge seating area is on full display and it is great. Subway, New York Fries, Opa! and tons more choices of food make this one of the best Expo’s yet for taking in a quick meal between Autographs, Shopping, Panels and Photo Ops. They even had a Tim Horton’s here!

After grabbing some food, it was time for another panel. “The Role of Women in J.R.R. Tolkien”. This was a really good panel. The ladies hosting it were informative and funny. Alexandra Thompson, Sofia Parrila and Ariel Petra were really entertaining. They went over the differences between the movies and the books in how women have been used in the both formats.

After doing a bit more shopping, it was time to call it a day. I’m super excited for Day 3!

Day 3: SATURDAY.

Wow, what a day! So let’s get started!

After grabbing some morning Tim Horton’s it was off to Calgary for my third day taking in the 2016 Calgary Expo. Grabbing a great place to park, we made our way to the Media desk to get started with some interviews. My first interview of the day was my first Press Junket. Myself and other members of the media sat in a room and took turns asking questions to the writers, creators and stars of Cracked: After Hours. This was a blast and I really enjoy their video content. It was interesting hearing how each of them started with the online content show and how Cracked Magazine transformed into an online content producing comedy show.

After that, it was time to tour the floor and check out the shops again, there is just so much good stuff to buy. A quick text flashed my phone and we were set up with an interview with Jason Palmer, and if you have visited the Expo, then you’ve seen his booth. He is a fantastic artist who has a huge panel of large prints that feature the various Expo guests. While no shirts were on sale this year, his vast collection of prints, both old and new, were here for sale and totally worth checking out.

My business card holder has an Umbrella Corporation logo on it, and it got him talking about how he used to love playing Videogames and was a fan of the original Resident Evil series. I thanked him for his time and then it was off again for yet another interview!

As we made our way to the Inner Space booth in the main hall, we were passed by a huge troupe of cosplayers, all decked out in some seriously awesome costumes. The cosplay has been really great this year. Some of the costumes I’ve seen here must have had months of preparing and hundreds of hours of labor creating each and every component to their outfit.

If you are a fan of Orphan Black, then you’ll know Kristian Bruun, who plays Donnie Hendrix. I chatted with him about the show, maybe wanting to write and even direct not just with Orphan Black, but just in general. He was really nice to talk to and each of these interviews I talk about will be on the site soon, so stay tuned!

I have to say, I have had zero issues with the Expo this year, it’s been great. Lines have been good, the space between aisles is more than enough room, and it’s just been an overall pleasant experience. Trouble free is always a good sign of a great event, so I have to give them credit for a well run machine this year.

We had some time to kill between interviews, so Kyler and I took in a voice acting panel hosted by Hunter X IMG_1359Hunter’s own Brendan Hunter. He was hilarious, informative and really great with answering all sorts of questions. If you get a chance to meet and talk with him, please do. Best of all, he lives in Calgary, so it’s safe to say that he will be back.

We got out of the panel and checked the guide, which is so well organized it made finding a new activity to do a snap, as is the App as well, if you attend the Expo, it’s worth it to download.

We were half hour away from catching Spotlight on Karl Urban, and wanting to know more about a possible Judge Dredd sequel, I was very eager to catch this panel. We made it in time and got fairly ok seats up high. His panel was great. He talked about a possible future for Judge Dredd, info regarding the new Star Trek movie, and some emotional moments making the first Star Trek film. It was a fantastic panel that will be up for a listen soon.

As the panel ended, they made us aware that John Barrowman’s panel was next and not wanting to miss that one, we moved down and got better seats. This was the highlight of the Expo and I strongly recommend you see a John Barrowman panel at some point, it’s hilarious, just don’t bring young children. While hitting on the camera man, or men actually, as both of them were fair game, he also talked about filming Doctor Who, Arrow and almost let it slip on his next big project. This panel was amazing, I laughed so much.

We had to leave the John Barrowman panel a few minutes early to catch my next interview, Geisha Vi, who has been cosplaying for a very long time. She was great to talk with and discussed making her outfits, charitable activities within the cosplay community and some of the great locations that cosplaying takes her. She is such a fantastic person to talk with and I recommend doing so if you get the chance.

I really love touring the shops and we had some time before our next scheduled event and did some shopping. I found a great Sword Art Online fan with Sinon, my favorite character, on it. Only 10 bucks, I was sold. I love checking out Manga and Anime and while some of the anime was outside my price range, I found a few new series’ I would love to watch.

I met up with a friend of mine who had a Celebrity Fast Pass ticket and I was able to get my copy of Serenity on Blu-Ray signed by Alan Tudyk. I was so happy to get that signed as I just couldn’t find the time to be in line to get that done myself. While I didn’t have the honor of meeting the man myself, I did walk by and see him at the table interacting with fans. I almost have the entire casts’ signatures on this Blu-Ray sleeve.. so close! Just a few left!

IMG_1412We hit up the main hall again and proceeded to the Inner Space booth yet again, this time to interview Aaron Ashmore and Luke Macfarlane. I enjoyed this interview a lot. We talked about what a newcomer like myself can expect from the hit show ‘Killjoys’. How it has a lived in feel to its Sci-Fi, and how fun the show is. I was able to snag them away from their busy schedule for just a few minutes, but what a pair of fantastic guys. I had a blast talking with them. Also, fun fact.. Aaron has an exact twin brother Shawn, who is in Quantum Break, a title I reviewed, and Aaron has yet to play it, I kinda think Shawn should hook up his brother with an Xbox One and the game, just sayin’.

It was almost time to call it a day and wow, I was beat. I spotted a few media guests that had no line up and took full advantage of that and when up to say hi. Charles Martinet was at his booth and we chatted about Dry Bones, a favorite character of mine, his history with the Mario voice and then wished him well and that he enjoy the rest of his Expo. I also stopped in to say hi to the stunning Katee Sackhoff. I talked with her about her role in Call of Duty: Black Ops 3, her role on Big Bang Theory and just how awesome her career has been. If you think she’s gorgeous in her movies and TV, then you’ll be even more nervous when you meet her in real life. She was so great and extremely kind and one of my highlights for the day.

After that, our day was done! We gave the shops a quick glance over and then it was time to hit the road and head back home. Now all I need is a good night’s sleep. Bring on Day four!

Day 4: SUNDAY.

It was a pretty productive day as a lot of wish lists came true today. So let’s get started.

We made our way to the Media desk to see what was on tap for today, and meeting with my new contact for the day, Kelly, we set out to the floor to start another day of fun interviews.

20160501_101020First up was Waldon Wong, an Inker for a variety of awesome books. He talked about learning a few tricks of the trade with legend Arthur Adams when he was really little and just discovering Comic Books. I am a huge fan of Arthur and it was a real treat to know that Waldon eventually teamed up with Arthur many years later. Such a great guy and his work is amazing.

I had the chance to meet Legend Randy Emberlin, whom if comics were something you were interested in back in the Maximum Carnage days, his inks were overtop of Mark Bagely’s pencils. Becoming a bit of an artist himself, he’s had quite the career. I enjoyed talking with him.

I’ve been to many of the Calgary Expo events over the past years and one constant to each and every year is Vanessa Wedge. She is one of my favorite Cosplay artists and I had the chance to sit down with her and get an interview. Some of the past costumes she’s had over the course of attending the expo are: X23, Crimson Viper, Jasmine, Elektra and Nariko from Heavenly Sword. I had a great time chatting with her and am super impressed as always with her fantastic costumes. She’s also in a band, and local to Calgary.

We toured the floor a bit more and said goodbye to Kelly as he went on to some more things as we were done with interviews for a bit. We took in a few more shops and stopped at Camilla d’Errico’s booth again and bought a book from her store. Her work is incredible and as I approached the table, she greeted me by name and thanked me for the interview yesterday. I look forward to seeing her in Edmonton this fall and she even sat down and did a sketch in the book. Awesome!.

As we walked around artist alley and took in many of the independent art that is just everywhere you look, there is such great talent here. Nearly any character, comic or anime you can think of has some artwork present here. Do you want Spider-Man and Goku sitting on a pier fishing? You can have it commissioned here by literally dozens of artists on site.

We noticed that Dan Panosian, artist and inker, was back at his booth and were granted an interview with him. I 20160501_101948have a soft spot in my heart for 90’s comics like Prophet and other various Image comics content and Dan was a big part of that. He has some great current stuff going on and a game in the works for release this summer. Look for a review when it drops!

We met back up with Kelly after we took in a few more shops and were granted access with two big interviews: Emily Expo and Charles Martinet, the voice of Mario. Each interview was great and we had such a great time talking with both of them. Emily talked about her joining the Expo after being mistaken for the Emily Expo girl on the promotional material. Taking the name Emily, as it is not her real name, she’s been the physical embodiment of Emily Expo ever since.

Charles was great, he chatted briefly about creating the Wario and Luigi voices as well as his history with the Mario voice. He is literally one of the kindest and just awesome people I have ever met. He even did a shout out to Game 20160501_122724Refraction in the Mario voice!

After wrapping up the interview, it was time to race to the Voice acting with Nolan North Panel. We arrived around 5-10 minutes late and got a good view from an upper balcony. His panel was awesome. He talked about his history with Uncharted, being offered roles that other actors are normally known for, and various bits about other characters and acting in general. Great guy, great panel. Had a blast.

We toured the area outside the big four building and got some great shots of people in Cosplay. Samurai Stormtroopers, Spider-Gwen and Samus from Metroid all seemed to come out of nowhere. Each and every year I am impressed with the level of Cosplay on display here.

We ended our Expo this year with the Famke Janssen panel, which was great until some guy trolled her and the host with some Disney remaking the X-Men movies question that was obviously a set up. The panel was great, and it turned out that this was Famke’s first convention, so that was really cool to know. She talked about Goldeneye, X-Men and working with Liam Neeson and Hugh Jackman. It was a really great panel.

It was time to finally go home and I have to say that this was probably the best run Expo so far that I have been too. Lines were great, there were plenty of food options, and tons of areas to sit down. The weather was really good today, especially the early afternoon, and there was so much to see and do that it was impossible to get bored.

If you haven’t taken in the Expo yet, it is a great time and there is always something to see, or someone to meet. Hope to see you next year!

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