Saturday, Oct. 20 from 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. and Sunday, Oct. 21 from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Edmonton Expo Centre (7515 119 Ave.)
Individual passes $20, weekend passes $30 at the door
Nerds converged on the Edmonton Comic & Entertainment Expo this weekend, hoping to catch some panels and meet some heroes — and dress up as them, too. And if you wanted to know what kinds of nerds were present, all you had to do was take a look at the costumes. Everyone from Pikachu to space marines to various iterations of The Doctor to creepy YouTube star Slenderman were traipsing around and getting photographed. The most immediate impression? A lot of people were very excited to be at this event.
But those large numbers of people quickly revealed the limitations of the venue space. Everywhere inside the Expo building was crowded, from the food area to the exhibition hall to the lines to get inside the various rooms. Once you did get in though, the talks themselves were pretty good. Bioware revealed some new concept art for Dragon Age 3: Inquisition and threw out some hints of what’s to come: the game world will be bigger in scale than a single city, and might sound a little French.
Alongside big names like Charisma Carpenter and Nichelle Nichols, the smaller rooms featured concurrent talks from local steampunk enthusiasts fielding questions about costuming and artist William Stout. Despite his talk only attracting 25-40 people, Stout’s stories about preserving the beauty of Antarctica in paintings after the Antarctic Treaty almost expired in 1991 and accidentally being stuck with a portrait of Satan were as interesting as anything else on offer.
While the event was well attended on the whole, therein rose some of the problems. Everyone in the main panel room was asked to leave after the end of each talk and then line up again to get back in, and the talks themselves were far from convenient to attend. This was apparently done to cut down on camping — attending one session not because you want to be there, but because you want to save some prime seating for a later session likely to fill the room — but it cut down on the incentive to attend consecutive talks for the right reasons.
When it came to lining up, the event badly needed better direction. There were no physical barriers or volunteers to keep line-ups organized, which left it unclear where they started and which events they were for. As well, no information was given about what those with disabilities could do to avoid having to stand for 20 minutes — and the elevator was hidden away in a corner with no signage pointing toward it.
The cancellation of Adam West was announced last Wednesday, but there were several other scheduling changes that were not communicated by a press release. The Impact of Science Fiction on Modern Technology talk, for example, vanished from the updated schedule, and I was told that nobody could tell me why. Dealing with last-minute cancellations is not easy, but when people spend money to attend an event like this, they at least deserve an explanation.
In the end, the guest line up was solid, the exhibition hall was like being in a gigantic nerd store and it’s clear a lot of people were just excited to be among their own in a city usually famous for its hockey and/or cowboy obsession. While marred by poor communication and organization, this year’s Edmonton Comic & Entertainment Expo was ultimately a promising start.
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