Calgary Expo 2018 Wrap-Up: Comic Creators Dominated The Show with Best Line-up to Date

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The 2018 Calgary Comic & Entertainment Expo has come to a close after an incredible four-day show that featured stars like Elijah Wood, Jeff Goldblum, Tom Cavanagh, Christopher Lloyd, Jennifer Morrison, Anthony Daniels, Donny Cates, Jim Lee, Rob Liefield, Jason Momoa and more!

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Another year, another Calgary Expo in the bag. This was the first time I decided to bring my kids with me to my annual nerdfest and I’m happy to say they loved it! We had a blast seeing some of our favourite stars like Elijah Wood (our favourite panel of the weekend), Tom Cavanagh (whose short film completely changed how I see Flash star Grant Gustin as a performer), along with all the comic creators we could handle. Donny Cates, Kyle Higgins, Rob Guillory, Jody Houser, Kurtis Wiebe, Owen Gieni, Andy Price, Sara Richard, Steve Orlando, Fernando Ruiz — these were all people we personally met and had sign our books at the show. It was glorious – easily the best lineup of creators that the show has had to date and I hope it’s a trend that continues going forward. I’m a massive Don Cates fan – writer of Thanos, Baby Teeth, Redneck, God Country, Atomahawk, Venom and so much more. Before he got a tattoo on the showroom floor (of Venom mind you), he showed me a tease of the upcoming cover for Venom issue #5 and it blew my freaking mind… We are not prepared for what the Hell is going to happen with this series. I can’t wait.

calgary expo 2018 wrap up

On Friday I attended the Renegade Arts Entertainment panel, where editor Alexander Finbow and some of the talented writers and artists with upcoming or newly released books were all there to chat about what’s on tap for 2018. Sharkasaurus is the big release at the moment — a horror comedy with a meaty subplot of science versus religion thrown in for good measure. Writer Spencer Estabrooks was hilarious and his commentary stole the panel. If you haven’t picked that one up and you’re a fan of shows like Ash Vs. Evil Dead, or classic flicks like Tremors, buy it immediately. Ben Rankel was also there promoting his upcoming and first graphic novel FRANK, which is one of the most stunning comic book debuts I’ve seen in ages. It’s a fictional murder mystery set during a historical Canadian natural disaster where a mountain landslide engulfed an entire town. Check out my reviews for Sharkasaurus HERE and FRANK right HERE.

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Jeff Martin has a sequel to Redcoats coming soon as well, which should excite fans who enjoy a good Canadian history lesson that is the exact opposite of boring. It was nice seeing Martin talk about how it was important to him to tell these Canadian stories and have them stick in readers’ heads by adding more human emotion and excitement into the mix for once. That’s one of the core things that Renegade Arts does so well — they choose great stories and comics that not only show off local Canadian stories, but they all have a deeper element to them which makes them stand out from the rest of the comic book publishing herd. 2018 is shaping up to be the strongest year ever for the publisher and I’m very happy to see such wonderful books with their logo on them.

Now… Let’s talk about Jason Momoa. I’m a big fan. Have been since the Game of Thrones and Conan days – long before he was Aquaman. So I was stoked to see him at the Calgary Expo again (he’s been here before) — that is until I discovered sadly that he refused to do a panel. He was there for two days to make a shitload of money and leave as fast as humanly possible. His autograph fee was $100 and even more for a photo; also I noticed that he was refusing selfies with people in his autograph line. For people who paid for a regular admission ticket, they wouldn’t even know he was there. If it were up to me, I would suggest that big name media guests are required to do at least one panel for Calgary Expo pass holders. Don’t just show up after your face is all over the ads, and then only sign shit to those willing to break the bank just to catch a glimpse of you. That’s a dick move and it was very revealing to see what kind of a person he is by making those kinds of choices. Sure, other guests like Elijah Wood were charging $100 for an autograph, but they also did panels for the regular ticket buyers. That’s the key – if you won’t do a panel – then don’t bother coming to the show. End rant.

The other gross thing I noticed were how some comic creators were charging asinine fees for their autographs. Rob Liefeld wanted just under $60 for his signature and upwards of $100 for signing key issues… Really Rob? I’ve heard he charges around $40 at other shows, but apparently Calgary got the bone when it comes to that deal. Maybe Albertans have more money to blow on an overrated artist cashing in on other writers’ success who managed to turn his creation into something funny and original as opposed to a knockoff of Deathstroke. You’re not Stan Lee Rob – don’t suck the comic fans’ wallets dry just because Deadpool 2 is coming out soon.. Dick move. We were all better off spending money on these amazing Infinity Gauntlet Expo Exclusive shirts anyway. I totally did and I absolutely wore it to see Infinity War in IMAX on Saturday evening after the Expo. You could not have asked for a better evening. Thanos is the greatest Marvel Studios character of all time.

The 2018 Calgary Expo was a blast. The positives highly outranked the negatives this and I could not have been a happier comic geek when I visited the Big Four building this year, which is the brand new comic-centric area for creators. In the past, comic creators were kind of an afterthought and were stuck by bathroom lineups or beside the main entry and exit points. It just wasn’t the best place for them to be and now that they were all in the Big Four — a separate building entirely — it just worked. To perfection. I really appreciate the effort to bring in more big names in comics and the idea to give them their own space. It all paid off in droves – please do that going forward Expo organisers.

Calgary Expo 2018
Calgary Expo 501st Legion with my Kids Aliva and Luke – Photo by Keven Skinner

My kids loved the show as well, which is something I worried about when taking them. There were some great kids’ activities and play areas though which were fun breaks from the chaotic crowds of the weekend. Seeing my daughter and son get so excited when artists like Andy Price or writers like Kyle Higgins sign their My Little Pony and Power Rangers books was beautiful for this geeky father to see. I’m happy that I can share my favourite weekend of the year with my children now and I’m glad it was the 2018 show which wound up being their first ever convention.

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