Blue on Black: Hello, Calgary Comic & Entertainment Expo, My Old Friend

2006 was a big year for me – I turned 20, got married, got pregnant, and had my daughter. It’s a year that stands out on my life’s timeline. It just so happens it was that same year that I read Preacher for the first time and got into the then-strange and nerdy world of comics that I’ve since come to know and love. That spring, only a few weeks after finding out I was going to be a Mama, I went down to Calgary for some kind of comic convention I’d heard about. Little did I know that every spring (and one summer) after that, I would take that same drive down for that show, with so many different people and with so many other adventures along the way. This year was my tenth year at the Calgary Expo, and not only has the show grown to something incredible, but it seems I’ve grown right along with it.

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I don’t remember much about the 2006 Expo, I was new to that world and it was a fairly small show back then, definitely compared to what it is now. But I had fun walking around, my then-husband telling me all about this comic and that comic, pointing out the various guests I didn’t recognize but whose names he did. I was intrigued. Here were all these people who had driven here from who knows where to shake hands with or get autographs from people I’d never even heard of. Here was an entire world I hadn’t explored yet. Anyone who knows me knows that feeling is my Christmas morning. I’m a fiend for new anything when it comes to knowledge or experience. So I was hooked. I knew the following year, 2007, I would have a baby of only a couple of months, but I knew that wasn’t going to stop me. And it didn’t.

We arrived the following year, 2007, at the show carrying an infant seat which we took turns carrying. My daughter slept the entire time and we had a chance to wander around a bit. By the 2008 show, my girl was walking so I was really looking forward to taking her. Well, when she learned to walk she also learned to run, and I spent the majority of 2008’s Expo chasing her around and avoiding many close calls with several artists’ works, which my little one found touchable beyond self-control a few times. But I don’t remember a moment that weekend when I didn’t have a smile on my face. We had a zombie portrait done by [a very talented artist whose name has slipped my mind and documentation somehow over the years – If anyone knows, let me know!] which still cracks me up even now.

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That was also the year my mom and little brother (who live in BC) met us down there for the weekend, since Calgary is the halfway point between us. Jim Mahfood (Clerks, Grrl Scouts, Ultimate Marvel Team-Up) was at the Expo that year and drew this little sketch of my daughter, my brother and a robot – because robots are awesome!

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2008 was apparently a big year in my Calgary Expo history. Throughout one of the days that weekend, we kept seeing a gentleman dressed up as the Joker. My daughter ran over to him at some point before I could stop her and he got down on the floor and said hi, smiling, very friendly. He was one of the nicest people we’d met that day and I asked if I could take a picture of him with my little one because she seemed so taken with him. He obliged. I didn’t know his name or anything about him, but when I later posted the photo on Facebook it was with a caption along the lines of: “This guy was so nice! If anyone knows who he is, tell him to message me! I want to be best friends!”

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Life is a funny thing. A couple of months later, I happened to be strolling through a shop in my hometown, and someone comes up to me and asks, “Hey, were you at the Calgary Expo?” and I said yes, and he tells me, “I was the Joker.” My jaw nearly hit the floor. We ended up exchanging info and though we don’t see as much of each other lately have remained friends since that year and he is still one of my favourite people. So thanks for introducing us, Calgary Expo.

Sadly, I don’t seem to have a lot of photos from the 2009 show so the details have slipped away from me over the years, but I do have a couple from 2010 when I met the one and only Mr. Lloyd Kaufman, who asked he could ‘borrow’ me from my (ex)husband for awhile, all in good humour of course.

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He also wrote this amazing note in our Poultrygeist DVD sleeve (“To Mac – Stay clucked up! Lloyd Kaufman PS – TroMandy is a goddess! I worship her!”):

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Meeting Eric Powell (creator of The Goon) was another highlight of 2010. Sadly, no photos.

2011 was another year that stood out. I went down with my friend Pete (the aforementioned Joker) and after running out of gas on the highway and being rescued by strangers, we attended a ball hosted by one of the loves of my life, Elvira (Cassandra Peterson). Doug Bradley (Hellraiser’s Pinhead) was also there, and all around it was just a phenomenal evening. I will say I drank (much) more wine than I should have, and am thankful for the hundreds of photos I took that night because my memory is, shall we say, less than reliable in regards to that particular evening. That being said, none of those photos will be shared today… Next day, hungover as hell, I had a photo taken with the Mistress of the Dark. You will notice I’m holding on to the chair leg, partially due to my being starstruck and partially due to my head still spinning at full speed from the previous night’s consumption.

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265563_10150634633375144_2131240_o2011 was also the year I met the lovely Felicia Day (and other cast members of The Guild). My cats all have nerdy names – Fizgig from The Dark Crystal, Tulip from Preacher and Codex from Felicia Day’s character on The Guild. Needless to say I’m a big fan and it was fantastic to meet her, she was sweet as could be.

266437_10150634586225144_7530786_o2012 again is a year that’s slipped by me a little bit, primarily because I attended the Expo with someone who wasn’t great company and it was a bit of a rushed trip. I do remember seeing (but not meeting) various cast members of Star Trek TNG though, because no one could forget that.

The 2013 Expo was a blast. I got to introduce my current boyfriend to the show, and though he is not really into any of this stuff, he’s a good sport about it and appreciates it for what it is and what it means to me. We saw Gillian Anderson, Nathan Fillion, Peter Dinklage, Lena Headey, Cary Elwes… it was a great year. We met some incredible artists, spent too much money on pieces still worth more than we paid, and had a great time all around.

In 2014, we met Giancarlo Esposito, aka Gus Fring from Breaking Bad. That may as well be all that happened, because it was so (so so SO) awesome. Unfortunately, our photo with him is the worst photo of us ever taken (the camera added about 7000 pounds for some reason) so I will not be posting it here, but I will be posting a photo of the David Redon (Ads Libitum) print that Mr. Esposito signed for us. He had never seen the print before and even took a picture of it to show his daughter. He was in no rush despite the seemingly endless lineup of people waiting to meet him and took time to chat with us and make us feel like he was genuinely happy to be giving us his time. I still kind of got the creeps when he pulled a box cutter on my boyfriend though…

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2014 was also the year I met James O’Barr (creator of The Crow) for the first time. I will never forget that, and will never forgive myself for being too shy to say anything other than “Thank you” to him. I said a few more words the second time I met him (in Toronto), but not many. Hopefully the third time will be the charm.

Two weeks ago, I attended the tenth (and MY tenth) Calgary Expo with my first ever Media Pass, thanks to Biff Bam Pop. We were only down for one day this year instead of the whole weekend due to other commitments, but what a show. A lot has changed in 10 years. What was once the tiny Expo that could, is now the second largest convention in Canada and had over 100,000 guests this year. We saw several Beverly Hills 90210 cast members, some familiar faces from Game of Thrones, recognized some big names in the comic book world including Bruce Timm and Ben Templesmith, and Tom Kenny (voice of Spongebob Squarepants) did a personalized video for my SB-superfan daughter. But most memorable for me was finally meeting Garth Ennis. As a longtime and diehard Preacher fan, this was a huge deal for me. I showed him my ‘Until the End of the World’ tattoo, told him about Tulip the cat and it was one of those things that you realize you’d thought about a million times, how cool it would be, and suddenly here it is happening. It was just one of those moments, something to cross off “the list.”

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This year was also a big art year for me. I saw and met some absolutely staggeringly talented people who I would love to just throw money at and have them draw me pretty pictures all day long. Sadly with bills to pay and an adult to be, I was more responsible than I would’ve liked, but did pick up some neat pieces just the same.

Luke McKay did this cute sketch of my daughter riding her favourite My Little Pony. He was so friendly and kind and happy to take on this idea for us, and my girl loved it. It’s now framed and hanging in her bedroom.

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We also picked these up for an insane $20 from the cool guy in a Famous Monsters t-shirt, Rik van Dyke.

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Rik will be kicking off his new project “The Rik van Dyke Show” on May 24th, so make sure you check it out! Here’s a teaser:

The extraordinarily talented Patrick LaMontagne also happened to be at the Expo this year and as soon as he showed us his “One in Every Family” piece, we knew we had to pick it up for the little one. It is also now framed and hanging in her room.

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We also bought this. Because… Well how could we not?

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Last but not least, and as a reminder of the CineCoup project ‘Comic Book Wednesday’ I mentioned a few weeks back, check out this totally kickass Cosplay Music Video by the CBW team and the YMM Podcast gang:

PS – Don’t forget to vote for Comic Book Wednesday (or your project of choice) over at CineCoup.com!

I guess that brings us up to speed on my journey with the Calgary Comic & Entertainment Expo. Where the hell did 10 years go? I’m glad that over the years, as my marriage ended and my career changed and my baby girl grew bigger and bigger, that I had something constant. I’m glad I went back year after year and had something to grow with me, something that changed my path and allowed it to cross with people who would change my life in many ways over the years. I have so many fond memories of the show, so many fun road trips down to Calgary, so many hilarious stories, so many handshakes and smiles and autographs, so many long lines and new friends… Here’s to 10 years, Calgary Expo. Thanks for having me.

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