After attending a few conventions and film festivals, I thought about writing reviews for said conventions and festival. It’s a bit unusual, I know, but I’d thought I’d give it a shot. This way I can draw attention to lesser known conventions, tell some fun stories and make me try out more conventions. I will offer some criticism for these cons even if it amounts to nothing. I’ll start with Lethbridge Entertainment Expo, which I consider a good comic con for beginners.
The convention took place in the Enmax Centre in the little town of Lethbridge, Alberta. Beginners get their first experience of a common convention ordeal; finding that damn entrance. Despite the signs, it was hard to find the entrance. It would have been nice if they placed a label on the entrance doors themselves.
But once inside, convention goers can experience the joys of comic cons. The areas were quick and easy to explore, especially most booths in the stadium floor. Speaking of booths, the variety offered with each booth is astounding. There are the usual booths for comic books, toys and video games. How about video games only shown in Japan, or real life Angry Birds game? Or maybe you want to buy a horn you can drink out of? Hell, there’s even a hypnosis booth. For a small convention, the booths were quite unique.
What were hard to find was the panels and photo ops, at first anyway. It would have been nice if they provided a map or signs pointing to the panels. Once you find the panel area and photo booths, it becomes a lot easier. The panels took place on the kind of stage a self-help guru would use, one per hour. Besides the Cosplay Contest, the most entertaining panel was the Scary Clown makeup demonstration by Katt Panic.
The convention comes with surprisingly good guests with the Jay to Kevin Smith’s Silent Bob aka Jason Mewes, Pirates of the Caribbean’s Lee Arenberg and anime voice actor Brendan Hunter, amongst the local comic creators. Each one provides a memorable moment during their Q and As. A nervous Mewes fiddled around with the microphone so much he accidently yanked out the tip. Lee Arenberg talked about how he figured out Pintel’s character just from saying “’ello, Poppet”. But the most fun guests were voice actors Billy West and Phil LaMarr. You could hear these two talk all day without asking a single question. Whether it’s LaMarr talking about how his work on Mad TV prepared him for voice acting or West talking about his and the late Phil Hartman’s love of Radio announcer’s performances, they created the most entertaining hour of the convention.
For this convention, I purchased VIP. It was supposed to guarantee early access to convention, as well as front line access to cards and panels and some goodies. Unfortunately, the VIP seemed useless. All I had got out of it was a root beer mug with a t-shirt and a preview of Renegade comics. As much as I appreciate the mug and t-shirt, there were no other privileges. It may be because it was the volunteers couldn’t tell what tags were VIP tags, but that’s no excuse for having to pay extra. It was kind of pointless anyway since there was usually a small lineup at photo ops and the convention is small enough for you to look at all areas within an hour. Why even have VIP in the first place?
Despite all of the problems, Lethbridge Entertainment Expo was still a fun experience. Canada Cosplay designer Kay Pike pointed out that there is a lot to enjoy in a small convention since there isn’t so much “muchness”. Come to think of it, it does give the average geek plenty of time to breath and offers some time to enjoy the atmosphere. But that could be a disadvantage for some, who would see this convention as not offer much compared to Calgary’s Comic and Entertainment Expo. It depends on taste.