I’d like to say that I’m writing this surrounded by the spoils acquired at the Edmonton Expo but even after a good nights sleep and a half day of coming down from my convention high I’m still too scared to open my luggage. I don’t need Admiral Ackbar to tell me it’s a trap, because surely everything will spring out at me in cartoon fashion.
The three day event had over 50k fans in attendance and manages to hit that perfect balance between well known guests and community driven events, local exhibitors and artists. Compared to its bigger sibling the Calgary Expo, which had 100K plus in attendance, the relatively smaller Edmonton Expo allows you to have some more one on one time with your favourite writers and artists and autograph lines for most guests were very reasonable. Although just like every other convention, Photo Ops still feel like you’re being herded like cattle, but let’s face it, most of us can’t form coherent sentences when ushered into a room with the people who’s work you absolutely love and respect. I still can’t look at my photo with James Marsters, Amber Benson and Eliza Dushku of Buffy the Vampire Slayer fame without letting out a huge squee of delight.
The Expo doesn’t open until the afternoon on Friday so we had chance to enjoy the beautiful city of Edmonton. We grabbed a bottle of Forty Creek Spike Honey Spiced whisky to have at our hotel for our post expo nightcap. I thought the name was fitting since I’d be seeing Spike over the weekend. I generally don’t care for flavoured whisky because I’m not a fan of sweet sticky alcohol but this flavoured whisky is perfect. It still manages to taste like whisky and not something from a candy shack. The honey compliments the whisky as opposed to drinking something that’s more like honey flavoured with whisky.
Once at Expo we opted to explore the exhibitors and artist alley. It’s easy to drop a lot of money at a convention and there’s lots of tips out there for not going broke. One good tip is to only take out as much cash as you’re willing to spend. We do that but we also don’t immediately buy things we desire. We walk around the entire hall then at the end whatever items we wanted that we can actually remember we will go back to buy because if you can’t even remember a particular item, chances are you’re not as into it as you thought. So we ended up with a beginner TARDIS cross stitch from Stitched Pixels, some clothing from Love Making Designs, and more art prints from Kaytlyne. Was really hoping to find some art of David Tennant crying in the rain but maybe next expo!
A highlight of Friday was talking to Kurtis Wiebe, writer of Rat Queens, who signs books with the greatest of wit. When asked what kind of whisky he enjoys he mentioned Spicebox flavoured whisky. It’s definitely a whisky his sweet toothed character Betty would drink. Then we attended the Geek Girl Gathering that had an assortment of Valkyries, women who work at video game developer Bioware and feature guest comic writer Gail Simone, known for her work on Red Sonja, Batgirl and Secret Six! It was wonderful to hear about female experiences from an array of geeky industries.
We finished off the evening at Edmonton’s Denizen Hall barcade. If you haven’t been to a barcade I highly recommend looking to see if there’s one near you! It’s just as it sounds, a bar with an old school arcade. We played classics like Donky Kong, Metallica pinball and WWF wrestling (aka smash all the buttons).
Person I’d most like to have a whisky with from Day 1: Gail Simone
After filling up on pie at Vi’s For Pies we made another trip to the creators area to fine Jonathan Luna and Sarah Vaughn to get volumes of Alex + Ada signed. The story is about the relationship between a human man and an android that is gifted to him. He decides to go against the law and makes her sentient. Later at their panel they discussed the importance of having the relationship between Alex and Ada be one in which Alex doesn’t feel like he has ownership of Ada, so her name is something that she chooses.
Afterwards we went to the Bob Camp panel, co-creator of Ren and Stimpy. I absolutely loved that show as a kid although I probably wasn’t supposed to be watching it. He has so many fun stories to tell about his time working on the show and how people were hesitant to hire him afterwards. Although much was censored on Ren and Stimpy they still managed to get away with so much that he had no hard feelings. The episode “Ren’s Toothache” almost wasn’t aired because the studio thought it was too disgusting and disturbing, but Bob Camp quickly lied and said it would be great because it would encourage kids to brush their teeth. Strangely enough it actually did because he said many fans tell him as much.
For our final panel of the day we saw the legendary, one and only, marvelous Stan Lee! He’s your typical old man grandpa type and is absolutely hilarious. He got in many obligatory jabs at DC, talked about his start in comics and let us know he preferred Toby Maguire as SpiderMan. The funniest part for me was him talking about the creation of Iron Man. At the time, he said “the hippies” were against arms dealers, millionaires and extravagant lifestyles. So he wanted to make a character that had all those qualities and make people like him.
Before heading to the costume contest, we dropped into the Edmonton Science Theatre 3000 commentary of an old black and white sci-fi film where these two astronaut couples somehow manage to park a rocket on a planet that looked surprisingly like Allberta, bears included. Best comment of the evening “I hope Matt Damon shows up to kill them all”. The costume contest opened with a performance by the local Saber Guild, it’s a show I’d describe as West Side Story with light sabers. Then our host of the evening, Edmontonian Mark Meer and voice of Commander Shepard in the Mass Effect games, opened the costume contests by introducing the judges. I can’t imagine having to judge this event, everyone was so awesome and there was even a marriage proposal!
Person I’d most like to have a whisky with from Day 2: Stan Lee
We began the last day of Expo with a panel featuring Indigenous comic creators Patti Leboucane-Benson and Kelly Mellings (The Outside Circle) and Northwest Territories author Richard Van Camp. The discussion focused on how they’re using comic books to not only to raise awareness of aboriginal issues but to teach aboriginal youth about important subjects like sex education in a manner that’s relevant to their culture. I absolutely love how other cultures and groups are taking what is generalized as a “white boys” artistic medium and making it their own. Diversity in comic books gives the majority a view into the lives of other people while also allowing minorities to have their own voice.
Then the panel I was most looking forward to, Buffy the Vampire Slayer with actors James Marsters, Amber Benson and Eliza Dushku. Buffy was and still is a very important show for me and this was my first ever chance to see anyone from the show, so I was stoked! James Marsters has been focusing on his music with the band Ghost of the Robot and even sang for the crowd which was absolutely beautiful. They were asked if there were any incidents during fight scene filming and, after emphasizing how important it was for no one to get close to Sarah Michelle Gellar’s face, Eliza told a great story about accidentally hitting her in the face. The moral of the story, don’t sneak up behind Eliza. Amber Benson described joining the Buffy cast and how she was only supposed to be Willow’s friend for a few episodes but after having such great chemistry with Alyson Hannigan got to stay for more to become part of one of TV’s most beloved lesbian couples. I then got to have my photo op with the actors not long afterwards and said random and hopefully coherent sentences. Calling them sentences might be a bit of stretch though.
We managed to catch the end of the panel with BJ Britt who played Trip on Agents of SHIELD. He was having so much fun interacting with the crowd it made me miss his SHIELD character all over again. The final panel of the day for us was Doctor Who’s Jenna Coleman who plays the current companion Clara Oswald. She is every bit as adorable in person as on screen and is very sad to be leaving the show this season. Her and Peter Capaldi get along so well they’re like kindergarten children on set. When asked about her character’s bisexuality she played it rather coyly saying “that she loves Jane Austen, and that’s open to interpretation”, so I’m hoping that means Clara’s sexuality will be explored more this season. The best part, when asked to compare Matt Smith’s and Peter Capaldi’s portrayals of the Doctor Jenna said “Peter Capaldi is like a space Gandalf”.
Person I’d most like to have a whisky with from Day 3: James Marsters