By Dylan Haslam
The Edmonton Comic Expo, which takes place annually on the second last weekend in September, is home to a variety of nerds from all parts of Alberta. Nerds from all walks of life, nerds of all races, and genders. Nerds each containing their own unique backgrounds and origin stories. These nerds gather at the Expo Center for one reason in particular. They gather in order to fully express who they are. The Nerd community in Alberta has many subcategories ranging from comic fans, to gamers, to those who like anime, and even those who like to create art. No matter what your particular fandom may be, there will always be a place for you, and you will always be welcomed with open arms. The nerd community encourages everyone to come and express their unique passions. These passions even allow for bonds to be formed amongst nerds.
There were many highlights that made this weekend spectacular. These highlights included nerd speed dating, celebrity autograph signings, photo op, and even a costume contest. This past Expo, we were visited by some big-name celebrities: Veronica Taylor, Jason David Frank, George Takei, Robin Lord Taylor, Wallace Shawn, Cary Elwes, Mark Meer, and Sean Astin. It was truly an honor to meet each and every one of them. These big names in the industry draw in a large crowd. Thus, every year, our once-little Comic Expo grows in size. This year, due to an overwhelming crowd, they implemented an actual badge system like that of San Diego Comic-Con International as opposed to the wrist bands they used in previous years. Overall, this past expo was quite exceptional.
I was fortunate enough to talk with Veronica Taylor, also known as the original voice of Ash Ketchum from Pokemon. When asked what being a nerd meant to her, Taylor had this to say: “I think that everybody has to find a way to be themselves, and I think nerd has come out to mean people who are focused on things that aren’t quite popular, and yet those things are becoming popular. How many people are nerds, but they’re scientists, and discovered the cure for something or they’ve discovered a planet, you know. So I think nerd is ultimately a compliment, because it shows that you have a deeply invested interest in things, and without a deep invested interest in things, the world, or we as humans, wouldn’t move forward.”
When asked if she had any advice for nerds today, Taylor replied, “I think, you know, be yourself. That’s the whole thing. You have to be yourself; you have to be interested in others and the world around you, and you have to find different ways to express yourself within it. That’s where we have Dungeons and Dragons you know, that’s people searching for something that is not common, but the fantasy is where we all excel.” Talking to Veronica Taylor was the highlight of my weekend. It is one thing to talk to a star from your childhood and someone you have always looked up to, but to have them treat you with such kindness and compassion is truly an indescribable feeling. She truly captures what these Comic Expos are about. She knows the importance of expressing yourself and embracing your passions. Much how her character is always aiming to be the best, I find she mirrors that in real life as she proved to be the very best like no one ever was. It was truly an honor to meet her and talk to her.
This past expo was unique in that is has grown since the previous year. The staff and volunteers did an excellent job of accomodating a few last-minute cancelations, and they found a way to please everyone. Through various sales vendors, attractions, and a heck of a celebrity roster, it was a truly unforgettable experience. Well done.