Hundreds of kids, kids at heart and self-proclaimed geeks will beam into the John D. Bradley Convention Centre May 9 to take part in CK Expo 2015.
Billed as Chatham-Kent’s first pop culture show, the event will feature dozens of vendors, board gaming, video gaming, comics, wrestling, cosplay, and special guest Tyler Mane.
Mane is a Canadian actor who has appeared in such movies as “X-Men,” “Troy,” and “Halloween.”
Chris Bullard of The Game Master’s Emporium, who is a driving force behind CK Expo, said landing Mane was a coup.
“It was kind of lucky. I was just looking for someone who was Canadian. He’s from Saskatchewan but lives out in California,” he said of Mane. “He gave us a really good deal. He seemed to be really enthused about doing something for charity. He’s just a really nice guy.”
The expo is non-profit. All funds raised after costs will go to Big Brothers, Big Sisters; and Habitat for Humanity, Bullard said.
The expo has evolved out of the C-K “Cause” Play event that took place last March. Where “Cause” Play took place at a local legion, CK Expo will occupy the much larger convention centre.
“It’s ambitious. We hope for 800-1,000 people,” Bullard said. “I’ve looked at other communities and they’ve been able to do this kind of event. We’re trying to draw in some tourism and raise some money for charity.”
It’s hip to be a bit geeky these days, hence the interest in such events as CK Expo.
“Once Hollywood started putting real money into superhero movies, you got A-List actors,” Bullard said. “Good writers are involved in comics and these movies – quite a bit better than there were in the 1970s.”
Tickets to CK Expo are $10 each, and children under 10 get in for free.
Bullard would like to see CK Expo draw heavily from outside the municipality, but he estimates, initially at least, 80-90% of the people who will attend will likely be local.
“Like any event, it’s hard to draw from outside the community. There’s always a little bit of snobbery from larger communities,” he said. “But I have people involved from Sarnia and London, so we have a chance to draw from there as well.”
In terms of people showing up in costume, such as cosplay performers, Bullard is hopeful as many as 20% of participants do so. Cosplay is an abbreviation of “costume” and “play,” meaning people not only dress up as a fictional character, but they take on the persona as well.
“When you see a group of people in costume, you tend to think everyone is in costume,” he said. “Some people spend an awful lot of time putting their costumes together.”
Bullard said the vendor section of the event is sold out, as there will be upwards of 60 tables on site, showcasing games, comic books, you name it.
There will also be a board gaming area. Bullard said such games are “bigger than ever” despite the strength of video games.
“Games such as ‘Settlers of Catan’ – that’s where it came from. It’s still relatively simple to play but has big replay value,” he said. “That’s what I do with my friends in my spare time now. I haven’t touched a video game in five years.”
That isn’t to say video gaming won’t be well represented. Bullard said there will be a video game room, with eight 32-inch TVs and about a dozen different gaming consoles.
Another attraction will be an art duel between comic artists Johnny Desjardins and Tony Gray, Bullard said, where the audience will yell out what they want to see and the two will get right to work.
To learn more, visit ckexpo.ca.