Monday, June 20, 2011

Down-home hospitality at Calgary Comic and Entertainment Expo

Wonder Woman finds a home with Wonder Girl
The Calgary Comic and Entertainment Expo (June 17, 18, and 19, 2011) proved to be a busy and fun show for me and Ronn Sutton (Honey West, Elvira, Mistress of the Dark, Fear Agent). We were both kept busy talking, doing commissions and talking about comics, TV and movie to the many fans who passed our tables. And a lot came by!

"The convention was terrific," Ronn agrees, saying, "We were seated in guest area. We each had a table to ourselves and in a bit of terrific synchronicity, Leonard Kirk was seated next to us and David Ross right across from us. Other comics guests included Neal Adams, Michael Golden, Tim Sale, Mike Mignola, Joe Jusko, etc. I had a nice conversation with Bo Hampton, whose work I've always liked. I was pleased to find out he knew some of my art, too. Movie star guests included William Shatner, Jonathan Frakes, Doug Bradley (Pinhead). Guest George Romero had to cancel out until next year."

Calgary luggage handlers
It was our first time attending this comic-con, and our first time in Calgary. We had an inkling that it was going to be an interesting weekend when we got off the plane at the Calgary airport and saw cool model displays at the baggage pick-up featuring realistic dinosaurs ripping up luggage.

Ronn comments about Calgary, "It was funny to see all the police officers walking around wearing cowboy hats as part of their uniform. There were sculptures everywhere. Not abstract stuff either. Lots of sculptures of lifesized cowboys on horses, etc. Great park benches supported with a wagon wheel on each end. I was surprised at the number of large art galleries and performance/dance theatres. Calgary is a big money town (oil)."

As for the show, we heard that the crowd was around 35,000. Maybe it was because it was Father's Day weekend, or maybe it was just Calgary, but  there were lots of families (parents and kids) at the show, including a little Wonder Girl who bought a piece of my Wonder Woman art.

Gil is pleased with his Zatanna art
I did many commissions, like female heroines Zatanna and Batgirl. But I also did some fun animal-themed ones like Super-Monkey, My Little Pony (in high-heeled shoes) and a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle.

Darren displays his mighty shield
Ronn and I signed lots of souvenir books, but one of the oddest requests for me was to sign a Captain America shield that also boasted (real) celebrities like Jonathan Frakes. It's going to look great handing on the wall. 

Ronn says, "The con staff were just terrific. They were constantly coming around handing out bottles of water to guests and bringing food." This was a relief but also very strategic, because it kept us at our tables!

Leonard Kirk and Liana K.
We went out to dinner after the show with friends and fellow comics pros Leonard Kirk (X-Factor), Dave Ross (Star Wars) and Dave's wife Judi. "Saturday night Judi wanted to go to Vietnamese restaurant," Ronn says. "What a comical time. The staff didn't have a clue what they were doing. Everybody was missing half their cutlery, and after they prepared our table half of us had plates and half didn't, including Dave Ross who got a saucer instead. The waiter came to table with dish he identified as "pork chops," which in fact was Judi's order of lemongrass chicken. Man, what a place. The food was good, though. We had a fun time. When we exited we noticed the name of the place was the 'T & A' Restaurant."

Speaking of which, there were plenty of fetching women dressed in costume at the comic-con, including TV personality Liana K., who scandalized Calgary police with her "faux nude" sci-fi gaming character costume.

Our ride back to the airport on Sunday night was also memorable. The convention was kind enough to provide a shuttle service for us -- and that turned out to be an adventure.

Ronn Sutton on the limo bus
"We're taken to the bus and the driver is there," Ronn recalls. "He's dressed in black cowboy hat and black tailored formal cowboy suit looking like a cross between Ronnie Hawkins and Santa Claus, with a big white beard and long white hair and huge rings on every finger. He ushers us on to bus. Holy cow! It's a limo inside!  There are long couches, mirrored ceiling, a bar, hardwood floors, and blaring sound system. We sit almost half an hour because he's waiting for more people. Finally he says they've called for a smaller car to take us. As we get off bus, actors Adrienne Barbeau and John Amplas (Dawn of the Dead) show up. So it's back on the bus and he takes us out to airport."

So Calgary put on quite a convention. Lots of down-home hospitality and great people. Thanks, Calgary!

-- Janet Hetherington

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