Red and White Calgary Comic and Toy Expo 2010 Review

Star Wars shirts, vintage comics and memories abounded for collectors at the 2010 R&W Club Comic & Toy Expo, held Sunday, October 17, 2010 in Calgary, AB.

For one day each year, Calgary’s Red & White Club is transformed into “geek heaven” for fans of vintage comics, toys and collectibles. 2010 marks its 16th year, making this Calgary’s oldest comic expo.

Artist Alley Provided Relaxed Atmosphere to Chat with Guest Artists

This year’s special guests at the Red & White Comic and Toy Expo were comic illustrators Cary Nord and Riley Rossmo. Nord is well recognized for his work for Marvel Comics and Dark Horse Comics. His illustrations have appeared in Ghost Rider: Crossroads, Star Trek: The Next Generation and Conan the Barbarian.

Rossmo has worked for AIT/Planet Lar, IDW Publishing and Image Comics. His credits include Proof and Cowboy Ninja Vikings. He graduated from ACAD and got his start doing generalist illustrator.

“I really love comics and migrated from there to comic books,” he said during a brief chat with Suite 101. His first break in comics was in 2006 for Seven Sons, a graphic novel.

Although he has been to other comic book conventions in Calgary, Seattle, Toronto and San Diego, Rossmo prefers the laidback atmosphere at the R&W Comic & Toy Expo. “I have more time to just relax and talk to people. I don’t have to rush.”

Contests and Giveaways at the Red & White Calgary Comic and Toy Expo

Nineteen fans, representing a diverse mix of shows, comics and ages, entered this year’s costume contest. They paraded around the 13,400 square foot room for all vendors and visitors to see.

Among the entries were Black Canary (Jessica Lowe), Aqua Man (Dave Cunningham) and Wonder Woman (Katie Herrington). This was the second year Herrington and Cunningham attended the show, while 2010 marks Lowe’s third time.

“I planned this since Comic Con,” said Herrington, who began making embellishments and improvements to the original Wonder Woman costume she purchased in the summer. The belt was her pride and joy.

“I found out about this last night,” admitted Bailey Parker, who cosplayed a Timelord from Dr. Who. She spent 18 hours making the ornate headdress out of craft foam and hot glue. Although her costume is a work in progress, it was good to earn an Honorable Mention.

Viking Venom also received an Honorable Mention. Third place went to Batman & Robin, while two Halo marines snagged second place. First place went to young Aurora Quilliams, who portrayed Dalek from Dr. Who.

All of the cosplayers acted for the camera while independent filmmaker Phil Spink (The Godchild) captured the action. Spink also conducted on-site interviews with visitors and vendors.

A variety of door prizes were awarded throughout the day. These were donated by the vendors.

A Treasure Trove of Video Games, Cool Shirts and Old Comics

There was an eclectic mix of comics, toys and collectibles up for grabs at the R&W Comic and Toy Expo, including Pac-Man belt buckles, Kingdom Hearts tee-shirts, mint condition issues of Battle of the Planets and an old LP featuring the original Spock from Star Trek, Leonard Nimoy. Gamers could buy old computer and video games, such as Tetris and Street Fighter, as well as old game systems.

John Quong, owner of the Treasure Cove, has been a vendor at the Comic & Toy Expo since its inception. He left his career in criminal law to take a brief sabbatical to indulge in his passion, comics and toys. “All of a sudden, the two-year sabbatical turned into 23 years in the business,” he chuckled.

His experience has been extremely positive. “This is my love. This is my era. I love dealing with this stuff and the people that know what it is and appreciates it just as much as I do.”

For Sid Olivier, 2010 marks his debut at the Red & White Club Comic & Toy Expo. He sells old collectibles and toys at Where on Earth Did You Get That?, Southern Alberta’s largest antique mall. “I have a personal fascination with what I call the “hunt”. The thrill of the hunt,” he explained. “Making the find has always been a kick. I love the history. I love the research element to it.” One of his unique finds on display was an old Ronald McDonald phone that was given only to store managers.

Although there was a voluminous selection of comics new and old, there was a limited selection of anime and manga merchandise. “We didn’t see much in the way of anime,” remarked Alina Zaitsoff, an anime and manga otaku and first-time attendee at the expo. “A few random figures. The only one that popped out was Vash the Stampede but it was poor quality.”

The Red & White Comic ad Toy Expo – No Hollywood Glitz, Just a Place to Buy Stuff

“A lot of the shows are veering off into celebrities, autographs and photographs and that’s fine,” said Michael Pavlic, one of the organizers of the Calgary Comic and Toy Expo. Pavlic, who owns Purple Gorilla Comics, joined forces with Ben Falconer of Phoenix Comics this year to organize the event after Steve Fuller stepped down.

“There is a demand in this town, in Southern Alberta for folks who want to come and buy some comics and toys. They don’t care about autographs; they don’t care about any of the rest of that stuff. They’re here to buy some swag. That’s what we’re all about.”

Like many avid comic collectors, Pavlic’s love for comics goes beyond being a hobby. “It’s been a lifelong passion, not hobby. Passion.”

Pavlic’s passion for comics was fueled by a childhood memory. “I was visiting my aunt who was at university at the time,” Pavlic explained. “One of her room-mates had a bunch of comic books. He handed them to us and I looked through one. There’s this one image in this issue of Fantastic Four that burned into my brain.”

He never forgot the experience of looking at that one illustration. When he began collecting comics years later, he set off to track down that issue. “It took me eight years to find out which one it was.”

Final attendance figures for 2010 are 850, comprised of 600 adults and 250 kids. In previous years, the Red and White Comic and Toy Expo entertained between 500 – 700 attendees a year. This year’s event, which took place on October 17, 2010 at the Red & White Club featured comic artists Cary Nord and Riley Rossmo. Vendor tables triggered waves of nostalgia with cool shirts, old computer and video games, vintage comics and figurines.

Originally published on on October 21, 2010. All rights reserved by Rhona-Mae Arca.