Recently the My Fangirl Life team attended the Edmonton Comic & Entertainment Expo. This annual convention ran from Friday, September 25 to Sunday, September 27 2015. I thought I’d review it. I mean, we want you (as our loyal readers) to know whether this convention is worth your while. Before I start I will let you know about my Comic Con habits. I love walking around and looking at everything, but I’m not a big buyer… not enough disposable income, to be honest. I love how much there is to learn about at panels, but I choose the select ones I really want to see to attend… not everything. This is because my main draw at a comic expo is cosplay. I love cosplay. I love dressing up. I love seeing other people’s costumes. I love having people admire mine. While I enjoy all of the aspects of Cons, cosplay is where it’s at for me. That being said, let’s review:
The ECEE is held at the Edmonton Expo Centre at Northlands. It’s the best venue in the city for an event of this scale. There is a large floor plan for vendors, programming, etc, and a great ice rink-style hall with ample tiered seating (for large-interest panels). I appreciate the fact that the convention has been able to grow here, opening new halls each year. This Expo has definitely seen growth; the attendance for the four years of its existence have been 15,000 in 2012, up to 25,000 in 2013, which increased to approximately 35,000 in 2014, and finally 50,000 this year. Even though the biggest attendance spike happened for this convention this year, the crowd control was the best yet. Not only were more halls open, creating a bigger footprint to disperse people over, but additional pathways between halls were utilized to keep the flow of traffic.
My one complaint centers around food (because food is very important to me). I love that food trucks are invited to participate in this annual gathering of the geeks, and I didn’t mind that they were moved this year, but there just aren’t enough. Especially on Saturday when attendance peaks, there needs to be more options for food. Perhaps offering trucks at both ends of the venue, even for that one day? Just a suggestion.
Edmonton Expo 2015 Venue – MFL Rating: A-
The Edmonton Expo programming was varied and exciting this year. The panels & workshops, put on by mostly local Albertans, had something for everyone. There was educational content, discussions, children’s activities, and something from most any major fandom… you name it, ECEE 2015 had it. I like the idea of offering both solo Spotlights and ones grouped by fandom, such as this year’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer panel with James Marsters, Eliza Dushku, and Amber Benson. Holding Spotlights on all of the big stars in the large arena means everyone can see their favourites without worrying about getting a seat (even if it’s far away). During some of the Q&A periods I wished there was a question vetting system, that makes sure people (a) only ask one question and (b) don’t ramble on for 5 minutes before or after the question with personal stories. There are very few situations where we, the audience, want to hear about other audience members over listening to the featured celebrity. However I don’t know if pre-authorizing questions is a realistic system, or if it’s always needed. In Stan Lee’s panel it definitely was, but in Jenna Coleman’s I found most question-askers to be quick & concise.
I can tell the Alberta Entertainment Expo group (who puts on Edmonton Expo, as well as cons in Calgary & Saskatoon) tries to provide fun opportunities for something a little different each convention. This year it manifested in a concert by Billy Boyd’s band Beecake. While it was extremely cool to see the band play and they sounded amazing, the set-up of this show leads me into my major programming concern: nightlife. The concert was an hour long and had the attendees seated in neat rows of chairs. Where was the dance floor??? This was an opportunity to provide actual “after hours” activities and ECEE squandered it. I knew, as a regular attendee of Alberta Entertainment Expo conventions, that I would be asked to sit if I had tried to stand & dance. Which is sooooo not in the spirit of a concert. I’d love to see fun, dancer-friendly concerts in the future. Or perhaps a costume party or cosplay ball in the evening? Just because the vendor floor closes at 8pm doesn’t mean the fun has to stop!
Edmonton Expo 2015 Programming – MFL Rating: B+
Watching Edmonton Expo 2015’s guest list was a roller coaster. First no one good was coming. Then they announced EVERYONE. Then there were a bunch of cancellations. Only to settle at the end with a very decent roster of celebs. My favourites were Jenna Coleman, who is too cute to handle, and Stan Lee, because as a nerd you must worship at his feet. My friends had other favourites from other fandoms, proving to me that variety is the spice of life. As Edmonton is a rather “remote” location compared to most other North American conventions, the star power it can pack into these three days always impresses me.
Seeing these stars was a piece of cake. Yes, volunteers reminded you there was “no stopping” in the walkways of the autograph area, but the ample space allowed you to loop around 2 or 3 times to soak up the beauty of your top stars. Plus celebrities all had multiple autograph and photo times, making sure everyone got the opportunities they wanted. Moving the photo ops to their new location his year really improved the flow and, although it was a bit rushed, our photo with Jenna involved very little waiting around, which is something all attendees appreciate when there is so much to do & see in these 3 short days.
Edmonton Expo 2015 Guests – MFL Rating: A-
Going to the same conventions run by the same people each year can get a bit repetitive. At April’s Calgary Expo I was feeling kind of “over” all of the vendors. I’d seen that. I’d shopped there. So Edmonton’s Market Place surprised me with its new vitality. There were shops I’d never seen before mixed in with the standard ones… And so much local talent! There’s nothing like knowing a show is offering support to local artists, creators and entrepreneurs. We met multiple people who were offering beautiful artwork, independent comics or goodies that were too cool to walk past without a second glance. My Fangirl Life is excited to announce that we will be spotlighting a few of these vendors that really caught our eye in the upcoming months. Watch out for profiles, giveaways & coupon codes! Because Christmas is coming up fast… and you can never buy yourself too many presents ?
Edmonton Expo 2015 Shopping – MFL Rating: A
You can’t credit the Expo for the actual quality of cosplay that was on parade. This credit goes to the awesome Albertans (and visitors) who put countless hours and their blood, sweat & tears into their costumes… And there were a lot of amazing ones! Here’s where I want to give a shout out to the awesome members of the Edmonton Cosplayers Group who arranged some cool meet-ups, including the epic Game of Thrones one My Fangirl Life attended on Saturday.
What I can review is the experience for a cosplayer at this particular convention. My personal experience was better than last year, when I had my Hawkeye bow taken away by weapons check after they had told me it would be ok the day before… not fun. This year I had a redesigned “weapon” and it flew through check with no issues. As did all of our other props. Oddly Edmonton Expo had extended Weapons Check to Props & Weapons Check. Not odd in itself, until you hear what kind of props they made us check. Our princess baskets, for example. Instead of carrying purses or bags as princesses, we like to carry all of our necessary items in costume-appropriate baskets. And apparently this was concerning as the volunteers in the lobby area actually flagged us down to make sure we went back to get these approved. Prop checking my basket was equivalent to prop checking my purse (which was much heavier on Sunday than Friday’s basket… it could have done a lot more damage). And while looking at our baskets the volunteer made Justine check her baguette…??? I appreciate attempts at safety but this was taking things a little far. That being said, the Prop Check line went quickly and didn’t take too much time out of our day.
Overall my experience as a cosplayer was good, but I’ve got another suggestion to make Edmonton Expo even more enjoyable for those of us that really contribute to the atmosphere of the event by showing up in costume – offer us bonuses! I mean, you know Edmonton Expo wants all the awesome cosplayers to show up in their awesome costumes. Why not reward us for all the time, effort, and money we put in to making your event awesome? It could just be some sort of voucher you could pick up from an information booth… tickets to an event, discount coupons, entry to a private cosplay reception, access to a free short photo session with prints to ensure everyone can get a great photo of their costume… my list of suggestions goes on and on. I think this is something that would really up the ante and make amazing cosplayers want to ensure they attend this comic expo.
Edmonton Expo 2015 Cosplay – MFL Rating: B-
Now you know how I feel about each of the aspects of the con, but what is my rating for the overall experience? I’ll quantify it using My Fangirl Life’s handy fangirl-appropriate rating system. Here’s my rating for Edmonton Expo 2015:
8 out of 10 Feels: ?ﾟﾑﾸ?ﾟﾑﾑ?ﾟﾑﾽ?ﾟﾘﾃ⚪️⚪️
Were you at Edmonton Expo 2015? If so let us know what you thought in the comments! Or you could let us know what your favorite Con is so maybe we can stop by next year!
Love & Luck,