Sunday, April 29, 2018

Nerds of a Feather - Calgary Expo 2018

Less than 24 hours after watching Infinity Wars 1.7 times (long story), the girls and I were on the QEII highway on our way to attend the Calgary Expo.
Last year, Jim had told me that he would get all of us tickets for the Expo for my 50th birthday present. Somehow our schedules all coalesced  in such a way that we were all able to attend, and so we found ourselves barreling southwards -  a return after five years for Fenya and I, and a first-time for Glory.

The celebrity lineups were out of control when we arrived Saturday (there were at least 70 people waiting in line for comic artist Jim Lee when we got there), but I managed to get the legendary Neal Adams to autograph the poster I've had over the basement steps for a few years now.


As always there were tremendous costumes to be seen, but as usual, I hate to be intrusive and ask for a picture (which is dumb, the admiration is big part of why many people do cosplay). I made an exception for this superb rendition of the classic Spider-Man villain, Mysterio.


(The Spider-Man mask clutched in his hand is a nice detail, I thought.)

We didn't sit in for any panels this time around, and the photo ops felt pretty expensive this time around ($110 for Jeff Goldblum, $130 for Jason Momoa), so we spent pretty much all of Saturday checking out the artists, exhibitors and merchants in the large halls.

I somehow managed to hold myself to a single t-shirt, but all of us lost our minds a little bit when we found a great selection of patches at one of the larger tables.


Glory is clearly a chip off the old block with her Aliens collection (right), Fenya is assembling a very cool denim shirt festooned with all manner of nerdy insignia (bottom), and I finally got my hands on the set of Buckaroo Banzai patches I have been searching for for years (centre-ish), among others. Now, I have no idea what I will eventually affix them to, but since it took me nearly three decades to sort out the 2010: Odyssey 2 patches for my flight jacket and that turned out all right, I don't find myself in any sort of hurry.

I was disappointed to see that when I looked up a mysterious patch I saw on the display board, it turned out to be yet another Colonial Marines patch from Aliens! Ah, well, all the more reason to go back, I suppose.


Tchotchkes abound, and I am a sucker for them: I found a tiny dice tower with some rude advice on it, an Infinity Gauntlet mug, and a poster that speaks volumes of truth about the nature of resource-dependent boardgames.

Glory thought all night about an original art Alien sweatshirt she saw on Saturday, and when we returned on Sunday, she managed to get the very last one in her size. Fenya finally got her hands on the S.T.A.R. Labs sweatshirt she has coveted since the first season of The Flash.

It wasn't all impulse buying though, I will have you know. I somehow managed to resist purchasing a very nice looking replica of Dr. Strange's Eye of Agamotto and Jim was able to steel himself and not nab the $500 Great Mazinger model that hearkened back to the Shogun Warrior toys of his youth.


The deluxe passes Jim procured for us also entitled us to an enormous loot bag (seriously, the bag came with back pack straps instead of a handle) which contained a free Wolverine comic, a number of coupons, and a vintage-style Spider-Man lunchbox.

Jim is a great guy to attend such an event with; in addition to being an avid patron of the arts (he tends to get at least a couple of commissions or signed pieces per show, and is building quite a collection), he also will not hesitate to stop someone in a costume and tell them what a great job they did, or how fun he finds their costumes, or how he felt a spot-on Captain Marvel's swashbuckler boots and hairstyle completely nailed the look she was going for. Truly the world could use more Jim Ks, and the world of nerdy conventions could use even more.


The best part though, was spending a little quality nerdy-time with my girls. This extended to the car ride home, where I sat in the back seat without Audrey at the wheel for the first time ever, which felt like a bit of a milestone.


They'd had a wonderful time, so we talked about what we saw, and what we liked, and about going back next year (which might not include more autographs, but will very likely involve sitting in for more interviews and panels and the like).

The Calgary Expo has expanded significantly since Fenya and I went five years ago, going from 54,000 attendees to an anticipated 90,000. I've no idea how much bigger it might be the next time we go, but I find myself looking forward to it already.

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