Ever since I attended my first comic convention in the spring of 2012, I have been hooked. Comic cons or entertainment expos are an extremely unique experience that appeals to all ages, genders, and diverse interests. There are two major cons in Alberta, and both are comparable to some of the best comic-cons in America. Edmonton Comic and Entertainment Expo occurs at the end of September, and Calgary Comic and Entertainment Expo is every April. As a self-proclaimed nerd, I dare to venture to say that it’s fairly obvious that I would feel at home at comic cons, but I truly think that anybody could find something there that they enjoy. Here, I’ll share some of the coolest parts of comic con, my experiences, and some tips and tricks for newbie con attendees. Many people think the biggest draw for conventions would be the celebrity guests, and I’m not going to say any different. I have met some amazing people and had some once in a lifetime opportunities at these conventions. Whether it was me taking selfies with Billy Boyd from Lord of the Rings, shaking Carrie Fisher’s hand after she had glitter bombed her table staff, or giving Jessica Nigria piggyback while taking our photo op, these are experiences that you don’t find outside of conventions. Those examples have barely scratched the surface of all the amazing encounters my friends and I have had. Cons also always have a variety of guests, including movie stars, TV show regulars, voice actors, artists and cosplayers. These guests sign autographs, take photos, and participate in panels where they answer questions and share (often funny) stories.
Second, there’s the shopping. Expos are essentially a giant, nerdy, craft/trade fair. Whether you are looking for rare and collectible comics, t-shirts with any slogan imaginable, unique crafts decorated with insignia from your favourite film, or a plethora of art prints, you will find it at a con. I typically spend a fair amount of cash in the artist’s alley buying prints and supporting local art talent, but I’ve also bought wine glasses, clothing accessories, pillows, tea, and bath bombs. You name it, and you will find it. One tip I would have is that if you are going for the full-weekend-deal, do your shopping on the first day. The first day of the con is typically less crowded and has the best variety. If you wait till Sunday, many vendors sell out of whatever had struck your fancy earlier in the weekend, which is something I have learnt that the hard way.
Lastly (and my personal favourite aspect) are the people you meet and the cosplay you see. Essentially, cosplaying is dressing up as a character from a movie, TV show, anime, book, or comic. Cosplay is for everyone, and you will see a variety of costumes from all genres and made with all skill levels. If you’ve ever cared to stand in line to get your lunch behind Captain America while he chats with Hermione Granger, this would be place to do it. Personally, I have made many friends at cons over our love for cosplay, and some of my favourite memories are cosplay related. For example, one time, I was dressed as Belle, and a little girl yelled out my name, ran to give me a hug, and got a picture. Another time, I was dressed as Rey and was chatting with a friend when I heard a very aggressive, “HEY YOU!” I turned around and saw three small boys dressed as Stormtroopers and Darth Vader, and we proceeded to have a mini pretend battle until they ran off. It’s moments like these that make me fall in love with this hobby over and over again. At the end of a con weekend, I am exhausted, sleep deprived, and likely very hungry. I’ve walked about 20,000 steps a day and have more often than not spent more money than I planned. But, I’ve got a full heart, a full camera roll of awesome pictures, and could probably fill a full 3 hours with stories from the weekend. Comic-con is for everyone. There’s so much to do and so much diversity. With a major convention happening in our own city in September, why not come out? See what it’s all about, and keep an eye out for me, as you know I’ll be there.