Heroes and villains coming to Red Deer’s first comic-con

The heroine from Deadpool, a world-renowned Star Wars artist, and Jason from Friday the 13th will join other pop-culture celebrities at Red Deer’s first-ever comic-con on June 11 and 12.

The heroine from Deadpool, a world-renowned Star Wars artist, and Jason from Friday the 13th will join other pop-culture celebrities at Red Deer’s first-ever comic-con on June 11 and 12.

Up to 15,000 people from Central Alberta and beyond are expected to attend the two-day Red Deer Comic and Entertainment Expo at Westerner Park, said organizer Ben Marasco, CEO of Calgary-based Brasco Exhibitions.

Since an interest in popular culture is now considered cool — considering the mass popularity of comic-cons in Calgary and Edmonton — Marasco, former vice-president of the Calgary Comic Expo, invited “everybody (to) come down and let their inner nerd out!”

Brasco Exhibitions is starting a comic-con in Red Deer, as well as Vancouver, this year.

Why Red Deer? “Because — why not Red Deer?” said Marasco, whose market research found a central show would not only draw people from the region, but also from Edmonton and Calgary.

The local expo was a year in the planning and will take up three indoor spaces — the Prairie, Parkland and Stockmens Pavilions. It will offer opportunities for cosplay — or just watching celebrity cosplayers such as Nicole Marie Jean. Patrons can also peruse 150 vendor booths, participate in industry discussion panels and gaming tournaments, as well as have brushes with celebrity.

“People can get their pictures taken, get their autographs, or just go up and meet them and shake their hand,” said Marasco.

The celebrity roster includes Vanessa from the movie Deadpool (Morena Baccarin) and one of the Jasons from the Friday the 13th film series (Kane Hodder), as well as actor Michael Berryman who was in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, The Hills Have Eyes, Star Trek: The New Generation and a litany of B-horror movies.

Actors from TV shows Species (Helena Mattsson), and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D (Chloe Bennet) will also be attending. Taryn Manning of Orange is the New Black recently had to cancel her previously announced appearance at the expo due to filming obligations.

But show organizers are bringing in renowned visual artist Robert Bailey, whose work is collected by Stan Lee and George Lucas.

Bailey worked alongside Lucas on the iconic 1977 Star Wars film and is also a licensed Disney and Marvel character artist. He will be exhibiting his artworks, alongside Alberta artists Mike Sass (World of Warcraft and Dungeons and Dragons cards) and Kyle Charles (Image Comics).

Marasco said all the celebrity guests will take part in industry panel discussions and question and answer sessions, which are free to show patrons and offer behind-the-scenes glimpses into the worlds of film, TV and comic books.

“It’s a great opportunity to sit down and have a conversation with a celebrity about TV or film,” he added.

Patrons who like gaming can choose from a couple-hundred different board games, as well as 650 free “old-school” arcade games, and various Xbox and Wei selections. “We’re also having a big (Super) Smash Bros. tournament running all weekend,” said Marasco, who believes the Red Deer Comic and Entertainment Expo will truly have something for everyone.

The trade show area will offer goods from vendors from Canada and the U.S., including T-shirts, action figures, posters, books — even food. And there will be a Kid’s Corner with bouncy castles, activities and games.

Tickets ordered in advance are $29 for both days from www.reddeerexpo.com. Tickets purchased at the door are $25 for each day.

lmichelin@bprda.wpengine.com