Over 100,000 attendees flock to Stampede Park to see their pop-culture favourites

The Calgary Comic and Entertainment Expo has always received prominent guests over the years, and this year is no exception. Successful comic book artist Stan Lee, creator of Marvel comics, and Steven Yuen, best known for AMC’S The Walking Dead, will both be attending.

There will also be many comic book artists and creators giving fans opportunities to interact with their idols. Along with Lee and Yuen, Tom Felton (The Harry Potter series), Steve Blum (X-men), and Peter Mayhew (Star Wars) will be attending the show. The media guests will be doing photo ops, giving autographs, and speaking on panels about the characters that they portray or have created. Fans at this year’s Expo also are welcome to participate in cosplay, dressing up as their favorite characters to attend.

Expo spokesperson Lindsay Thomas, who goes by the professional name Emily Expo, says the Expo celebrates imagination. She says its aim is “to really create that hub where everyone can come and celebrate these amazing things of the imagination… a lot of folks have latched on to that.”Cosplayer dressed up as Red Skull from Captain America: The first Avenger. Cosplay is encouraged on the part of fans attending the 2016 Calgary Comic and Entertainment Expo April 28-May 1. Photo courtesy of Howard Kong

The Calgary Comic Expo showcases the art of comic books, animation, film and television. When the Expo was launched 11 years ago there was a modest 3,000 dedicated comic book fans in attendance. Last year there were more than 100,000 attendees, making it one of the largest Comic Expo events in Canada.

John Tinkess, owner of Calgary comic book store Another Dimension Comics, says comic books and their offshoots in television series and movies are enjoying a major boom in North America.

“As comics have become a bigger part of the pop culture landscape, they have gained a wider acceptance to a much larger audience and that translates across the board to movie ticket sales, TV ratings, comic book sales and attendance at comic conventions,” Tinkess says.

Even though Calgarians have been going through trying times because of the economic downturn, people have not stopped giving attention to their favorite icons. Michael Bower of another Calgary comic book store, Phoenix Comics, says “the local economy has been a negative factor for sure, but even in the face of that overall we are still seeing growth.”

This year’s four-day Calgary Comic and Entertainment Expo will take place at the BMO Centre at Stampede Park April 28 – May 1. Tickets and more information on the many big names appearing are available through the Expo website.

Thumbnail by Kat Slump courtesey of Calgary Expo

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The editor responsible for this article is Dan Ball, dball@cjournal.ca