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  • Mark Shupe

We hoped the Calgary Comic Expo would be Shuper but it turned out to be a con.


(The C-Train: more powerful than a locomotive.)

(Or how despite my best intents, my spouse refuses to become a nerd.)


Sometimes events get too big for their britches. Or maybe I was in a grumpy mood when we went to the 2023 Calgary comic expo. Or maybe I had my fill of comic books and comic related things.

If you know me at all, you know that last thing ain’t true.

But we did not have a good time at the Calgary expo this year. No we did not.


Comic books, and comic related things have been a mainstay in my life for 49 years, longer if you go back to my love of the 1960s Batman TV show.

We had gone to our first Calgary expo in 2006 when we had first moved to Calgary with the kids. Everybody loved it. I had gone several subsequent times, maybe not every year, but enough. It’s where I bought my green lantern bathrobe, where my wife got comic cover earrings. It’s where I got my Flash hoodie.


In my most memorable experience, its where I meant the 12th doctor, Peter Capaldi, who was the nicest celebrity I had ever met. And it was where I got a picture of me and the man. Stan the Man. Stan Lee. He was less energetic than Peter, but he was gracious when I told him how much his work had meant to me.

Calgary comic expo has one of the best reputations for a Comic/fantasy/sci-fi convention in the world. It attracts an amazing number of movie, tv and comic celebrities. You have to pay to get autographs and have pictures taken with the celebrities, but that’s the rule these days. It’s worth it

though if you get meet someone who has really entertained or inspired you. This year the actor who played Daredevil and kingpin were to be there. And Sam Rami, who directed the original Spiderman.

So I was Shuper excited to go to the 2023 Calgary comic expo.

My wife and I put on our Superman t-shirts with Shuperman and our date of becoming shuper people on the back. This was before the days when our new Shuperstar logo and costume was born. (Wait til you see how I look in real life in the Shuperman uniform!!!!)



We boarded the c-train, and took selfies in the reflective glass. We talked to other people going to the con, some even nerdier than me if you can believe it. (My wife disagrees on that point by the way.)

The trouble began when we got off the train, about 8:45. We had made sure we got there in advance of doors opening, so we could get in early. We knew this was a popular and crowded event. From past years, we knew which doors to enter. Except… We were unaware and unprepared for the extent of changes and construction activities at the BMO Centre, the key convention building. Roads were diverted, entrances blocked, including the one we typically went in. And there was not a single sign to say where you should go. Our tickets had been bought on line and said you merely needed to show them to enter. So we walked all around the BMO center, which was now an immense structure. The only doors we could see that looked like they might be the entrances, said “Re-entry.” What the hell does that mean I asked my wife? I suppose that meant you could get in again, if you were a four-day ticket pass holder, which carried a premium. None of the four day pass holder’s looked unintimidating enough to ask.

Superman getting older.

We continued around the other side of the building, and got trapped. A gracious volunteer with a golf cart looked at us as if we were threadbare hobbits and said “You need a ride.” She didn’t know where the entrance was either, and did not know what re-entry meant.

She took us to the re-entry gate saying, “If that doesn’t work, I will you to the admin building, you may

Shuperman getting younger.

have to trade your electronic ticket for a badge.” The re-entry doors were still not open, so she took us to the admin building which had a long line. The one good thing about this was she hurriedly got us to the admin building as she careened the cart down a pathway that was blocked by cement flower barriers. ( She told us, “I can’t careen down here like this later in the day, there will be too many people.”)

I wasn’t sure if having to get a badge was correct. I had been to about 18 countries in the last few years, and had bought tickets online for everything from museums to opera to guided tours and entry to evil Witches’s coven headquarters, and everyone had a bar code to allow me entry. (please don’t ask me if I have any warts.)

It didn’t make sense I would have to turn my bar code into a badge. Spouse got in line and I was fuming. There were still no signs. We asked several expo officials, volunteers or paid staff, I couldn’t tell. All were friendly, but had not gotten any kind of briefing of how the tickets and entry process worked.

It was past nine, and the line was not moving. I went to the start and there was a security guard. I asked him when things were opening. “I’m just waiting for someone to tell me to open the doors,” he said.

A few minutes later the doors opened, and the line rushed forward as if it was 1964, and the Beatles were behind the door. In the chaos, we jumped from line to line behind different wickets until finally we made it to the front, where indeed we had to have our bar codes scanned, so we could be given a badge. I may have spent too much time in my life working process issues because this additional step drove me crazy. Like some of the people dressed up as the Joker.


You need nerves of steel to activate this badge.

But that wasn’t the last step. Now you had to activate your badge. If you were in costume, you better have a pocket for a smartphone, cause you needed one to activate your badge.

You also had to have nerves of steel to center your camera on a QR code that refused repeatedly to activate on my phone.

When it finally did, after my spouse steadying my elbow, there appeared more questions than a Roman era census.

Luckily my translate function includes Latin.

And a statement on privacy that I wasn’t too thrilled about. To activate badge, you needed to give far too much information. I am unsure whether my Dental Hygienist’s name and favourite past time were really necessary. Were they expecting my teeth to get particularly filthy at the expo?


My dental hygenist. Her hobby: Collecting pine combs.

We still didn’t know where the entry doors were. All doors everywhere said either exit or re-entry. None of the volunteers did either. We rushed back to the main BMO doors. Somehow, we had arrived before 10 am and the doors weren’t open. I was sure I had checked carefully yesterday and learned things opened at nine.

I was of course wrong. They opened at 9:38;26, which is maybe standard time of a hobbit’s second breakfast. (only thing I can think of)

We were fortunate to have a very tall, but friendly comic expo pro behind us, and he explained the gates only opened at 10, but sometimes they opened early. How nicely whimsical is that? He also explained that the complicated protocols related to the expo dated back to one of the events a few years ago, I think the one where the entire cast of ST The Next Generation had reunited, and the event was partially shut down by the fire department as being a fire hazard with too many people. He said he had come down that day, and when they reopened, they laughed at him when he tried to buy a ticket.So now they scan you in and out, so they can know exactly how many nerds are in the expo at once. (And how many of them have dental hygenists). I’ve been to other conventions, other trade-shows and none of them needed these procedures. I always find it odd. People used to make fun of me when I was 12 for collecting comic books. Now its more popular than RVs, and beerfest, and Calgary boat shows, which are oddly popular in Calgary, given, you know, no water.


We got into the show and despite not elaborate costumes, I was surprised by the number of people who said nice t-shirts. I think the fact that we were both wearing the same T-shirt made us stand out. Or maybe many people were impressed a comic nerd like me could even have a girlfriend, let alone a wife. There weren’t many people there at first, so we were able to look at the exhibits without crowding. Only there weren’t any exhibits, not really. In past years, there was the original bat-mobile and other things to look at. This year it was all shopping, and a few artists. (But I’m always scared of artists, ‘cause I just get celebrityitus in front of them).


A Funko Pop in its natural habitat.

The theme this year seemed to be Funko Pops. Now I like a good Funko pop. I even have a few. I prefer fancy elaborate statues and action figures, but I’ll take a Funko pop if you give it to me. The third booth we saw had an interesting collection and we perused it with interest. Until we noticed the pricing. 70 dollars and up for Funko pops!

Yikes.

And then we realized Funko pops were the favourite item for sale. There was booth after booth of Funko pops. It was if the national immigration policy was solely focused on Funko Pops. There was other merchandise for sure, but the variety wasn’t the same as in the past. The amount of Doctor Who and cyber punk merchandise was sorely lacking. There were lots of comic books, but not very many I hadn’t read. Okay there weren’t any I hadn’t read. Thank you online reading comic apps!

I have a bit of the case of FOMO, so I had to go up and down every aisle. To see if there was anything different.

To be fare there were some things of interest, but I was so hungry and grumpy, and kinda broke from travelling, and nothing quite hit my eye, so we ultimately started to exit the building.

There are a number of panels at the comic expo, but I hadn’t really researched them, being more interested in getting some cool gear, but we did go to one panel.

An evil queen whose real name is Lana.

With Lana Parillia, or as I like to call her, the other evil queen named Lana. (Yes dear, how big a flower bouquet would you like?)

We got in late, and though she seemed to be friendly and answer a lot of questions, the acoustics were a bit difficult, so we moved on. Or tried to. Getting out from the BMO center was like trying to escape the minotaur in a labyrinth.

We definitely could not go out the abilities exit, even though there was not a single soul getting in and out. We really need the extra kilometer of walking anyway.

We got outside finally and then had the best part of the expo experience: Eating from a food truck while watching cosplay people parade their costumes. We saw ogres, and transformers, and batmen, and elves, and a lot of Raven from teen titans. It brightened our day. We went into the big four building which was focused on artists and had lego structures. It was the best building of the day, but we tired soon, and left, still a bit deflated. The whole experience would have been better if it had just been a bit better organized.


I was so ticked off at this whole experience, I swear I will never go to another Calgary expo again.

Until, of course next year. As I just bought an early bird four day pass.

See I just noticed my green lantern bath robe is starting to fray a little and I may need a new one…


In brightest day, in blackest night,

Let no evil escape my sight,

Beware my power,

Green Lantern’s Might!


(I didn’t have to even look up the Green Lantern oath, cause I know it like the back of my hand.)


Next week back to the 2022 travel countdown! It’s Octoberfest and Mad Ludwig’s castle y’all!

If you liked this post, please leave a comment or a like, or better yet share it. If you didn’t like it, there will be a different one next week!

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3 Comments


smbutland
May 06, 2023

Oh poor Lana, the Queen of your heart. She will have memories to spare and mementos to remember the cost of. Glad you were able to break through walls and see your nemesis... so you could complain about it and invest in an annual event. Eager to hear about it again this time next year. :) Sarah Butland

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sue slade
sue slade
May 06, 2023

You better get Lana some chocolate to go with her flower bouquet :)

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smbutland
May 06, 2023
Replying to

Chocolates and a "yes, Lana" next time she asks you to attend something you think is bizarre! Sarah

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