An Overview of Calgary's Annual Comic and Entertainment Expo, 2013

Calgary's annual Comic and Entertainment Expo (CCEE) has quickly become one of Canada's most impressive cons. So quickly, in fact, that last year the CCEE crew had some major over-crowding and organizational issues. While those who managed to get into the expo found themselves in an overly crowded and stuffy exhibition hall, hundreds of not-so-lucky ticket holders were turned away from the doors and promised a refund. It was a disaster.

A well-done Barf cosplay from Spaceballs.
This year, the CCEE seemed better prepared for the nerd-storm that is the Calgary expo. For one thing, the CCEE did not oversell tickets. Genius. Additionally, VIP and regular ticket passes were sold online only--no tickets were sold on site, which prevented a lot of the disappointment and crowding I witnessed in 2012. They also introduced wristbands which I (and all weekend pass holders), regretfully, had to wear all weekend. Although the wristbands were uncomfortable, they were very handy. Lines moved faster and lost passes were less of an issue. Overall, a very good organizational decision. Finally, Photo ops and autograph lines moved significantly faster, likely because the photo ops, autographs, and shopping booths were separated into three buildings/exhibition halls.

The problems the CCEE had last year have all but been forgotten, and it was a lot easier to enjoy the experience. The panels, guests, and cosplays were absolutely fantastic as well as indicative of current pop culture obsessions. The CCEE really tries to appeal to all types of nerds (there were even some WWE wrestlers on the guest list), but there are obvious trending themes, movies, television series, and graphic novels. As expected, zombies were everywhere. While I've long since lost interest in Frank Darabont's television series, The Walking Dead,  the show (and the comics) is still wildly popular. Celebrity guests, Steven Yeun, Norman Reedus, and Melissa McBride, had long autograph/photo op lines the entire expo. The Walking Dead panel was packed. And, I didn't bother counting  the number of zombie costumes I saw, there were too many. Some of them were even creative. I felt like a lone survivor in a sea of walking dead. I guess I felt a bit zombie-ish, too, shuffling in the entrance line every morning.

Artist Nat Jones.

Pendleton Ward's cartoon series, Adventure Time, was popular among both children and adults this weekend. There were many booths (busy booths, too) dedicated to the post-apocalyptic narrative. Ward's comic and youtube series, Bravest Warriors, has also garnered a bit of a following, though there weren't nearly as many cosplayers wearing Christopher Kirkman or Catbug costumes compared to the countless Finn, Jake, Princess Bubblegum, and LSP costumes. Adventure Time and Bravest Warriors are both hilarious, but Adventure Time has more of a following. Adventure Time definitely has more of an appeal with its fascinating and slow-to-reveal background story (which has become an arc in the series).  Fans spend hours looking at stills of the cartoon trying to find clues that reveal more about the great mushroom war, an apocalyptic event that takes place something like 6,000 years before the adventures of Finn and Jake (the protagonists).  Moreover, fans are captivated by Finn's past. He seems to be the only human left in a world occupied by bubble gum people, talking, elastic dogs, and element-bending creatures.  It's really a paradoxical show. It's a dark story about nuclear bombs, wars, business men, and sickly mutants wrapped in playful and light-hearted stories (like a delicious everything burrito). I can only hope that Bravest Warriors will live-up to the greatness that is Adventure Time.

Avengers and superheroes (especially Marvel superheroes) are still a big deal. Captain America, Thor, Black Widow, Superman, Deadpool, and Batman were all popular cosplays. I suspect that many of my fellow expo nerds were at the CCEE to see the legendary Stan Lee who is getting up there in years. He graciously signed autographs after undergoing recent cataract surgery. Despite his ailing health,  he was as kind as ever to his fans.

Finally, the television series, The Game of Thrones, was such a popular attraction at the event that CCEE volunteers actually had to close-off the GOT panel on Sunday afternoon due to overcrowding and strict fire codes. Luckily, I managed to get in. Stars, Peter Dinklage (Tyrion Lannister) and Lena Headey (Cersei Lannister), attended the expo and spoke at the panel. They were tight-lipped about the upcoming episodes (even when an audience member asked if Joffrey gets what's coming to him), but they did hint that something really big and shocking is about to happen. Because nothing big and shocking ever happens on GOT...
Peter Dinklage was also silent when asked about his upcoming role in X-Men: Days of Future Past. Dinklage suggested sending all of our questions to director, Bryan Singer, who frequently updates his twitter with hints about the film.
At the The X-Files panel, star, Gillian Anderson, revealed that there may possibly be a third X-Files movie in the future. She confirmed that there will be a new comic book series as well. So, it looks like X-Files may renew its popularity and, perhaps, suck in the next generation.

The weekend went by incredibly fast, as it does every year, but it was enjoyable and well worth the line-ups and crowds. Next year is sure to be busier and better organized, so be sure to get your tickets well in advance!



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