Monday, May 14, 2012

Calgary Expo Report

Or “How the Calgary Expo could improve for next year” and NOT OVER SELL THE TICKETS...

Tunes of the day: Star Trek TNG Opening

I’m back! YAY! So, why isn’t this the new character design series that I keep mentioning? Well... this came to my attention and it really needs to be addressed while it’s still on the news...

See, I could talk about how it was amazing fun, that I got to meet up-and-coming, or already famous artists, like Kate Beaton. That my friends Project God Particle were back with a table in artists ally.

How I found Silent Hill 3 at a vendor's table, and the Art of Alice the Madness Returns at another. How I bought lots of great artwork, how I went to the copyright panel, and the lauriel b panel.

How I got to talk to Lord Zed, Stan-the man-Lee, John Noble of Fringe (who was nice enough to make a recorded message for my step dad), saw some of the faces of the cast of TNG, and actually found a transformers AND a spider man t-shirt in woman sizes that didn’t involve the color pink or the word girlfriend.

How all the costumes were amazing, including an adorable kid with an 11th doctor outfit, while walking around inside a Tardis, which was attached to a backpack he was wearing (now that’s dedication. Pics will be on my facebook page soon)

How I got to see Kirby Krackle and a few other bands, like Septembryo, who played a small concert before the convention opened.

How I decided “Screw it, just have fun!” and am no completely broke.

That it was incredible fun, other then the long lines. Or that I came back home to find that part of my studio had flooded over the weekend, causing my messy place to become even more messy.

Nope, not going to talk about that at all *evil smirk*

Instead, I’m going to talk about something serious that came to my attention during the convention. Those that watch the news coming from Calgary or neighbouring cities probably know what I’m already talking about.

See, not only did the convention OVERSELL the tickets, but the over crowding was so bad, the fire marshal had to CLOSE THE DOORS, keeping anyone from getting inside, including those that had already purchased passes and only stepped out for a minute.

My and my brother were luckily enough to find out just in time. But this was incredibly serious and more then a little sickening. A family who drove 14 hours from Winnipeg couldn't get in, despite prepaying, people who booked hundreds of dollars worth of photo ops couldn’t either. OR one parent who couldn’t get back inside to get his KIDS. That actually happened!

What’s worse is that the con officials keep saying “no we didn’t over book.” What’s their reason? Bad timing. They apparently didn’t expect so many people to show up at once.


Here is a few events going on on Saturday, the day this mess happened:

A larger artist alley then usual
Stan Lee panel
A Fringe Panel
Other guests including Darth Vader, The Weasley Twins Adam-flippen’-West, George Perez, Dan Parent, Michael Benyaer (The original Bob from Reboot), LoadingReadyRun, Tara Strong, Voices from Futurama, Robert Englund (to name a few)

And, oh yeah:

The 25 Star Trek TNG anniversary, featuring ALL main cast members of TNG including surprise guest Garrett Wang and JOHN DELANCIE...



Needless to say, no one is buying the excuse!

Guys, you KNEW that had so many people coming. You KNEW that they had so many people coming out of town. And you knew how many people purchased tickets for extremely expensive photo ops ,autographs and events.

What’s worse, is that there was barely enough room for those already inside the convention area. I’ve been to crowded cons, but this was a mess from people having to shove each other just to get to one section, to not enough food vendors.

So, it’s a few weeks later, everyone pretty much got the word out about how completely irresponsible this was, and the con is issuing refunds to people. Problem solved right?

Not really...Cause what about next year?

Look, I love the Calgary comic con, and over the last few years, I've been seeing a lot of improvements: Equipment was working a lot better, events were separated into better locations, the volunteers were a lot nicer. but at the same time, a lot of really inexcusable things continue to happen. And I don’t just mean the space.

And since, after this fiasco, I have no idea how much money they will have, or what guests will actually come next year, (or even if I'm willing to go next year) here are some ideas as to how they could have improved this year. Please not, this is only for the amount of people I saw inside the convention area. also note that i have no actual experience with planning a con. These are just ideas based on what i saw.

1. Train your volunteers better

I get it, their volunteers, they aren’t being paid, and we should treat them with respect. And I will say that the volunteers this year were a heck of a lot nicer then the ones I meet a few years ago at my first Calgary comic con. But many of the volunteers knew even less about things then me. One person told me that he had asked a volunteer some whether or not he needed to pay beforehand to see Stan Lee. She said no. After waiting in line for some time, he found out he did need to pre pay. I also had trouble getting a straight answer to some questions, even after asking multiple volunteers. Something simple like giving EACH volunteer a means of communicating with each other, like a head set or a walky talky so they could confirm information would help with not only info problems, but help deal with any problem attendees they come across. Heck, everyone seems to have a cell phone these days. Why don’t you just let people text each other?

2.  More room please

Even after the lock-down, it was still too crowded. I’m a little claustrophobic, but I can normally handle large crowds such as on the train. But here? Every time I saw an open space, I leap towards it and let out a gasp for air.

Stop laughing.

The crowds were worse in the autograph area, the photo op area and the food area. All of which was RIGHT NEXT TO EACH OTHER. Didn’t help that it wasn't a very big food area. Now for the guests this year, the photo ops area could have been put in a different area, but, honestly? It probably wouldn’t have had to if the food area was moved.

3. More food please

In the main convention hall, there were a few small food vendors set up, but the guest/photo ops area was where the MAIN and largest food vendors were.

This was a baaaad idea. The line up for the main food vendors were as long some of the guest lines.( I’ll give props to the con organizers who set up signs and traffic lines on Sunday though.)

First, put the food in a separate place. Then, bring in other food vendors, and more seating so it doesn’t take an hour to get food and find a place to eat (not kidding. My brother was able to get through the extremely long line to see Stan lee before I finished buying food and finding a seat) Heck, if it wasn’t over sold this year, I would have said to put it outside and set up tarps so people won’t get rained on. That way, traffic would be moving in and out of the building (once again, this would have worked if the con was no over sold.

4. Prepays were a good idea

in order to see Stan Lee or Sir Patrick Stewart or a few other guests, you needed to prepay for tickets. This was a good idea. No really. It cut down on how many people lined up, and then you wouldn’t be standing in line for an hour, only to get to the front, and be denied. I seriously think they should expand upon this. Have more events have prepay tickets to cut down on lines.

Oh and lets not forget one more key thing...


Overall, ya, I did have fun. Not as much on Saturday due to the crowds and just how many lines I had to stand in just to do, well, anything, or how many crowds I had to wiggle through just to get to food. Or buy a t-shirt.

Will I go again next year? Well, probably. I hope I see some improvements. But hopefully, I'll be sitting at a table next year, so I won’t be doggy paddling through crowds of nerds.

 Tegan Dumpleton aka SlugLady28


now that I'm back, i'll be continuing with the two week scedual. This has more to do with me trying to get other projects up and running then anything else. Art Slug will still be updating weekly, however.

Pics from the con will be posted on facebook soon. 

Here are the main articles I read during research (alot of people just copied and pasted the same one and then added an extra edit)

And by the way, I love how the opening line on most articles reporting this was “wow, comic conventions worrying about being popular, who-du-thunk-it?” as if this was actually something new. It’s normal for some comic cons reach into the 100 THOUSANDS, guys.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the mention! If you haven't yet, you can download some of our songs for FREE and also purchase our debut ep at

    I enjoyed your recap and agree 100% with your sentiments. We hope they can resolve these issues and improve on these areas in time for next years Expo.

    We hope you were able to wash off all the nerd residue and were able to get your apartment leak issue sorted out. Need to borrow a blow dryer or bucket?

    Have a great summer and keep in touch!

    - Mickey Valenz of Septembryo

    twitter: @Septembryo