Calgary Comic and Entertainment Expo brings sci-fi a little closer to home

Comic fans in Calgary are getting their costumes — and wallets — ready for the Calgary Comic and Entertainment Expo, hitting up the Round-Up Centre on April 25 with guests from a wide array of fields, including Disney animators and science fiction stars, among those even Darth Maul himself, Ray Park.

The expo is still fresh-faced, starting back in 2006 as a one-day event at the Big Four building on the Stampede Grounds. Styled after San Diego Comic-Con, event organizer Kandrix Foong is very excited for this year’s event.

“We’ve spent more time developing our programming this year, which we’re all really happy for,” Foong says. “There’s a few main events like our costume contest, Ed & Red’s mini-show and the 404s Improv Comedy. Last year was standing room only for those events, so hopefully we can duplicate it this time. We have a lot of smaller workshop-type panels, that’s more for inside tips on working in the industry. If you’re looking to become a writer, artist, voice actor, it’s a great place to get that insight. We also have some kids’ programming, with special appearances from our guests from Disney Animation including [animator] Clay Kaytis and [voice actor] Mark Walton.”

Foong explains that the expo was meant to bring comic book and science fiction lovers together in Calgary, instead of making the long haul out to the holy grail of conventions like the San Diego Comic-Con.

“There was a group of us that really wanted to put together a great entertainment experience, much like the big San Diego Comic-Con in the summer, but smaller of course,” says Foong.

Since it’s still in its infancy, there’s still much to be learned about setting up the event. Thankfully for the organizers, they haven’t stopped learning how to milk out the best experience possible for Calgarians.

“We learn so much every year,” says Foong. “Our main challenges are marketing, financing and organizing an event that’s constantly growing. We always need to reach further out to convince people that we have a great event and you can only do that by doing, hopefully, a good job.”

While the two days are fast approaching, Foong says organizers are beginning to gear up for next year. In the run up to the 2009 expo, it’s a heartening thing to know that they’ll be ready and able to take on whatever breaks at the last minute.

“The show is really year-round,” Foong says. “We’ve already been doing some pre-planning for 2010 months ago, and I think it’s because we really need to have an overall vision of what we want to accomplish. This way we’re not in a complete panic right before the event — although there’s always that last minute panic anyways.”

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