Calgary Expo 2015: Wrap Up (pt.1)
This was my second visit to Calgary’s Comic and Entertainment Expo, and it was kind of a mixed bag.
The first thing I saw when I walked in was an enormous “Cosplay is not Consent” sign, which was heartening. It always makes me feel good when a convention goes out of its way to make attendees feel safe… but more on that later.
The convention has grown immensely since my first visit in 2013, now taking up three buildings for panels and vendors. Dining has mostly been moved outside to a parking lot full of food trucks and boasting an enormous tent with tables for people to eat and rest at.
Celebrity signings were once again completely separate from the vendor area, which is nice because it keeps the signing area from getting too crowded.
The vendor area was hectic, but that was ameliorated by the fact that it was extremely well organized. Calgary Expo does an excellent job of keeping their booths on a grid, which makes it easy to check out all of the booths without running in circles. It also makes the best use of the space they have. Whoever is in charge of the vendor area layout gets a slow clap from me.
Artists Alley was split between two different buildings, with many of them being in the main hall while an entire floor in the Big Four building (a building behind the main building) was split between artists booths and a tabletop gaming area. The Big Four was less hectic than the main building, but it was still busy.
The third building, the Agrium, was used for attendee check in and housed a large arena where panels were held. The Agrium also had a small area for video games, which was underwhelming to me but was clearly aimed at engaging families and children.
Calgary Expo did well by families by providing a wide range of activities that younger kids could enjoy, ranging from Lego to (foam) swordfighting lessons.
I saw fewer panels than I wanted to, largely because I found the convention center kind of difficult to navigate, even with a map. On more than one occasion I found myself walking around the entire building to get to a panel, and I skipped panels a couple of times because by the time I figured out where they were I was late. This might not be a Calgary Expo problem, though; this might be a “I have no sense of direction and can’t read a map” problem.
The panels I did attend were *mostly* enjoyable. I saw Yaya Han talking about her experiences in cosplay, which was delightful. The moderator was great and Yaya was a very engaging speaker.
I attended an Agents of Shield panel with Brett Dalton and Ming Na Wen. I learned two things, the first being that Brett Dalton really is the most handsome man in the world. Really. He’s really really ridiculously good looking. He’s so handsome he’s almost a caricature of handsome.
The second is that Ming Na couldn’t be less like her Agents Of Shield character Melinda May if she tried. She’s bubbly and playful. The onstage banter between the two was pretty fun.
The little interaction I had with convention staff was wonderful. They were extremely nice and very helpful.
I also made it into the Neil Patrick Harris panel. NPH was a last minute addition to the Calgary Expo line-up, added to the roster after Stan Lee had to cancel. It was also the first convention he attended solo. His panel was as fun and funny as you’d expect it to be; he talked about his career and the work he’d done (he’s immensely proud of Doogie Howser, MD, which I was happy to hear) but he also talked a lot about his family, and it was heartwarming and very sweet. He seems like a good dude.
Speaking of good dudes: the convention staff was awesome. They were helpful and kind every time I encountered them.So that’s the (mostly) good… the (kind of) bad and the ugly will have to be tomorrow’s topic.