Just over a week ago I was at the Calgary Comic and Entertainment Expo. I’d bought my ticket the previous November, the day they went on sale. Michael J. Fox was the first guest announced and I wasn’t going to miss it, my first, and probably my only chance, to meet him.
I won’t go on and on about it, but briefly, I have adored him and looked up to him since I was 11. I was a very scared preteen and boys, in general, scared me. But MFJ seemed kind and safe. Also, he was an Alberta born, BC raised kid who’d had grand aspirations of being a Hollywood actor. While not Albertan, I was a BC kid who wanted to grace the stage and screen and he really inspired me to purse this path.
Things don’t always work out like you hoped. I still have yet to fully pursue a professional acting career and unfortunately, Michael had to cancel his appearance at the Calgary Expo and I did not get to meet him. I understand, I’m not a total jerk, but upon hearing of his cancellation I was pretty disappointed. It would have been a true honour to meet him and while I’m hoping to one day be a working actor of some sort (I mean, paid to act. Technically I am a working actor. I work at a job, and do community theatre on the side so therefore, working actor.) the reality of meeting my biggest hero may not be in the cards.
However, my trip to the Calgary Expo was not a waste of time in any respect. I love cons. This is my third and half con. (I say half because my family and I attempted Hal-Con (Halifax) in 2012, and…it didn’t work out…for reasons that are too long for this post.) I love the feeling of them, the energy of people who are natural introverts (like myself) putting themselves out there and cosplaying as characters that mean something special to them. (Again, like myself.) I love wandering around and looking at the work created by incredible artists and crafts people and finding the perfect piece for someone special. I love going to the panels, and not just the famous celebrity ones, but ones hosted by the creators who come to the cons. Comics book artists and illustrators, publishers and editors, writers, cosplay artisans, voice artists and more. I find everyone’s creative process to be incredibly interesting because they are all different, and you learn that all roads, with a drive and hard work, can lead you to the kind of creative life you want, if that’s your goal.
When I’m feeling brave, I’ll attempt to have conversations other than, “Hi”, with a creator. You can learn so much from them and receive encouragement in ways that will stick with you. When I was at Hal-Con in 2017, I talked for a bit with Conor McCreery who is one of the writers of a really fascinating comic called, “Kill Shakespeare”. I mentioned to him that I was a writer and while I had only recently gotten into comics, I was thinking that writing a comic may be something I’d to explore. He said to me, “If you’ve got a story, there’s a place for it in comics.” That sentence has really stuck with me and every time I think about whether or not I could really write a comic, I think of those words.
By happy coincidence, Conor was at the Calgary Expo. I reintroduced myself to him and over the next few days we had conversations about comics, what we’d been up to since Hal-Con, and my daughter wanting to pursue a career in the arts. I also told him that his words really stuck with me and that I’m still trying to figure out what kind of story I could do. He again was very encouraging and said, in his panel about writing for graphic novels, that a great thing about writing an independent comic is that you can take risks. Again, the wheels are turning and the next time I meet him at a con, I hope to be able to say that I’m working on or have written a comic.
This is my first solo con. It wasn’t a good time for all of to travel and so except for the first evening when my brother came with me, and a brief reunion with one of my cousins, I experienced the events of the weekend as an independent, cosplaying, 45-year-old that has real knack for dressing up as characters that people aren’t terribly familiar with. I was of course surrounded by thousands of people and probably could have made a lot more small talk with people than I did as living on the east coast of Canada for the last 12 years has greatly improved my ability to converse with strangers, but I mostly kept to myself. Sometimes it was a bit hard to not have someone to immediately share an exciting happening with (Like when I got to have a great conversation with Wil Wheaton while he signed something for my husband or when I got to meet Tom Cavanagh or the incredibly wonderful Megan Follows!), but mostly I really didn’t mind being on my own.
I cruised around at my own pace, chatting with vendors and artists if the mood struck and occasionally being asked if I could have my pictures taken. (Ok, quite a bit when I was The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, once when I was Rumor from Umbrella Academy, but NOT EVEN ONCE when I was Number Five from Umbrella Academy.)
On Facebook I’m a part of Nerd mom page that is based out of Calgary and I was lucky enough to meet up with 2 of the Nerd Moms. One of them was running a booth with her Mom (Wonderfully crocheted characters from all kinds of fandoms! Something for everyone. They are called Wool & Needles. Check them out on Facebook or possibly the next Calgary Expo) and the other was tackling the con full on like I was, except she braved it with her wee children. A very admirable feat!) Both Jenn and Sarah were lovely and I’m happy that I got to meet them.
Yes, Cons tend to make me brave: the dressing up and standing out, the meeting new people, the interacting with creators and actors I really admire and then…well…there’s the fangirling.
We’ll explore that in part two of my Calgary Expo Adventure.