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August 18-31
VOL.14 ISSUE. 26
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Zap! Pow! II: The Revenge!

Chris Morin
Published Thursday September 18, 06:01 pm
Saskatoon Comic and Entertainment Expo gears up for its sophomore show

SASKATOON COMIC AND ENTERTAINMENT EXPO

Sept. 21-22

Prairieland Park

It’s been just under a year since the inaugural event but fans are already getting excited for the return of the Saskatoon Comic and Entertainment Expo, a comicon-style event that brings stars, cosplayers and fans of all things sci-fi and fantasy together under one roof.

No one is more excited than Emily Expo, one of the promoters who helped to bring the convention from Alberta to Saskatchewan.

We’ve been really happy that we made that move to Saskatoon,” says Expo. “There are definitely a lot of challenges involved [with] being based in Calgary. But during our events [in Alberta], we paid very particular attention to the demographics of the people who are attending our shows in Edmonton and Calgary. We track these things as the shows grow — and there were certainly a lot of people coming in from Saskatchewan, so there was definitely a demand for this.”

And there’s plenty to be excited about. In addition to the exhibition and panels, a wide variety of celebrity guests are being flown in. Fans will have the chance to mingle with the likes of Robert Englund, who played Freddy Krueger in the Nightmare on Elm Street series, Brandon Routh, star of Superman Returns, and tons more.

I’m really interested in Dino Stamatopolous of Community,” says Expo. “I think his character on that show was really clever. I’m also really excited for Lance Henriksen (Aliens) — we’ve had him in Calgary a couple of times and he’s a really nice guy and really wise. He has a lot of great stories and he’s awesome to talk to.”

Expo stresses that promoters of the convention are hoping to appeal to a broad range of sci-fi and fantasy fans by bringing in celebrity guests from a wide variety of genres.

It’s psychologically standard for these types of events to view people as one entity and not as a group of individuals,” she says. “But I try to look at what individuals are into in terms of pop culture; not everybody is into The Walking Dead or X-Men or what have you. So we try to include as many different facets from these worlds as possible, so that everybody has something to enjoy.

From there, we start contacting the agents to see who’s available, and that’s how we build our lineup.”

In addition to the big names, the Saskatoon Comic and Entertainment Expo has also stacked the schedule with plenty of hometown heroes. Comic illustrators Tom Grummet (who’s worked on Superman comics) and Riley Rossmo (who has contributed to Marvel’s Daken, about the son of Wolverine) will be making appearances, while guest Tyler Mane, known for playing Sabretooth in X-Men and Michael Myers in Rob Zombie’s remake of Halloween and its sequel, Halloween II, was also born in Saskatoon.

I think it’s an important part of these events,” says Emily Expo. “I started out as a freelance writer and it is really hard putting your stuff out there. People will criticize it, and it’s hard because you don’t know whether you will fail or succeed. I see a lot of artists out there who are working hard to get recognition and I think it’s why we try and include these local elements with every show that we do.”

 

NANA VISITOR

Its run ended nearly 15 years ago, but Deep Space Nine is still regarded as one of the best-produced shows of the Star Trek universe.

That pleases Nana Visitor, who portrayed Major Kira Nery on the series. It was a defining role for her, and the character continues to command an audience.

The reason a lot of people will come up is because of Major Kira, and how that helped define their life at that particular time,” says Visitor. “They want to know how the show worked, and how we all got along together as actors. They want to know where things arrived from, whether it came from us or the writers — and for the most part, the writers and the actors all held hands and danced out into the water to find a way of making everything stay afloat.”

Kira was a fascinating character, especially as she took on more leadership responsibility (not to mention canoodling with Odo the shape-shifter). Visitor says that the role literally took over her life, which made the cancellation of the series that much harder to take.

It was seven years of 16-hour days, with 26 shows per year. So suffice to say, I lived more as Major Kira during that time than I did as Nana. The people that Kira was surrounded with literally became my tribe. It was such a defining time in my own life. I always hear that it defined the lives of those who watched it, and it certainly was that for me as well.”

Visitor, who has also appeared in Knight Rider, Dark Angel, CSI, Battlestar Galactica and as a voice actor in Family Guy, says that she doesn’t necessarily have an affinity for one genre over another, despite performing mainly in sci-fi and fantasy shows.

I’m a hired gun as an actor,” says Visitor. “I’m lucky in what’s come towards me. I’ve never gone after anything specific, and every role has been a wonderful opportunity.”

 

PHIL LAMARR

He’s not exactly at liberty to discuss the particulars but Phil LaMarr, the voice of Futurama’s Hermes Conrad, is brimming with excitement over this fall’s Simpsons and Futurama crossover episode.

According to reports that were recently leaked online, the plot of “Simpsorama” involves Bender traveling back in time in an attempt to kill Bart. The two series share a common creator, and LaMarr says that the crossover was a natural fit between the two crews.

It was a wonder to be a part of,” he says. “Since Matt Groening runs both shows, [the Futurama cast] used to read our scripts together in a room at a Fox studio, and it’s the same room where they read the scripts for The Simpsons. So when we came back to read this crossover, it was like going back to the house you grew up in, but that someone else was living in now. Like, ‘Oh, I used to sit where Nancy Cartwright is sitting. I guess I’ll go find a different chair.’

It’s a really funny episode, and I’m looking forward to seeing it.”

LaMarr has kept busy with multiple voiceover gigs (in both animated series and video games), but there are those out there who still think of him most fondly for his role as Pulp Fiction’s Marvin, the guy who Vincent Vega (John Travolta) shoots in the back of Jules Winnfield's (Samuel L. Jackson) car. It might not have been a star turn, exactly — Marvin has roughly three lines in the entire movie — but it was definitely memorable, and one more brick in what’s become a solid career.

I’ve done a bunch of different things that don’t necessarily cross over, so I’m not famous, but maybe I’m popular,” laughs LaMarr. “People who watch a lot of cartoons may not know my other stuff, or someone who saw Pulp Fiction might not know anything about Futurama.

A middle-aged guy will come up with his teenage son: he’ll be a Pulp Fiction fan, and the son will be a fan of the Metal Gear video game series. And then his wife will realize that I was in the MADTtv series. It’s great, because it means that I get to meet a really broad range of people — although it also means I’m never sure who anybody wants me to be.”

LaMarr has also appeared alongside Paul Reubens as Cowboy Curtis in The Pee-wee Herman Stage Show, as well as voicing many, many characters in various video games and animated series. When it comes to his prolific résumé as a voiceover actor, LaMarr cites his childhood love of comics as an early inspiration.

“I’m a comic book guy from way back, which I think gives me a natural affinity for those roles. I’m not sure if it helped me land those parts — I doubt it — but it certainly made those jobs a ton of fun,” he says. “Years ago, our neighbours had a teenage son who was moving out, and he gave me all his comics. I was lucky to get those, along with a bunch of MAD magazines that were older than I was. Batman was a big one, and so was Spiderman. And it’s funny, because I wound up playing Green Lantern in an animated show, but I was never a reader.”

He has several new projects on the go, but if you get to talk to him at the Expo, please don’t ask him to spill any juicy details on unreleased material.

The worst thing about this job, especially with video game stuff, it’s like working for the CIA,” says LaMarr. “You audition, and they won’t give you the whole script and everything has code names, and you get the job and you still don’t know what game you’re working on. And if you Tweet about it, they’ll have you killed.

That said, hilariously, there are a couple of games I’m working on where some developers are talking about [them] online, so who knows?” /Chris Morin 

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