By Christine Leonard
CALGARY — More than a cavalcade of dog-eared comic books and cosplay fanatics, Calgary’s Comic & Entertainment Expo plays host to a wide range of artists and authors, inkers and illustrators. One stroll down the event’s infamous Artist Alley will have you running the gambit from the whimsical to the grotesque. Capable of shining brightly, even when surrounded by the hottest stars in the galaxy, the show’s guest artists and creators never fail to impress with their larger-than-life artwork and the appeal of a personalized touch.
An Expo veteran, artist and writer, Nat Jones has always enjoyed exhibiting his riveting comic book work in Calgary. His mind-blowing Vietnam zombie epic ’68 and stunning contributions to Frank Franzetta’s Death Dealer and Spawn never fail to garner a reaction from the fans who are lucky enough to visit his booth.
“I have been attending cons for over 20 years, most of those as an artist,” says Jones. “I’ve done a lot of shows all over North America and Calgary Expo is definitely one of the best shows out there. From my first year in Calgary the organizers and volunteers have always been amazing, going above and beyond to take care of the guests and fans. But it’s the fans that are really the heart of the show, you just can’t beat the passion that the people of Calgary bring.”
Jones praises the Expo for the face-to-face interactions it affords him, but doesn’t hesitate to site seeing Mr. Carl Weathers as the highlight he’s most looking forward to at this year’s event.
Across the floor another ink-slinger awaits with whisky-baited breath. Local scribe Axel Howerton has made several names for himself as a journalist, author, editor, and the co-creator/manager of the Coffin Hop online horror event and book press. He has recently curated an anthology entitled Tall Tales of the Weird West. A wild and wicked collection of short stories that dovetails perfectly with the dramatic surroundings of the Calgary Expo.
“I’ve been a fanboy my entire life, I’ve been going to Expos for years and have enjoyed some exciting times at San Diego Comic Con, but this will be my first year as a presenter and guest,” says Howerton. “I will be presenting three Writing 101 panels with a few different writers. Building a Mystery will take place on Friday, and then two on Sunday; Maintaining a Dialogue and Editing Yourself and Others.”
Eager to share his experiences as a contributor and editor of deliciously dark fiction writing, Howerton embodies the collaborative spirit of the Expo in the manner in which he sources and venerates the work of his fellow creators.
“Most of the writers featured in Tall Tales of the Weird West are friends of mine from the southwestern United States. My friend and co-editor Rick Overwater also brought in a couple of people he felt would be good for the project. Whether you’re a fan of sci-fi, horror, humour, or trashy drive-in movies you’ll get a kick out of the genre-crossing short stories in this spaghetti western of a compilation. It’s incredible literary stuff.”
Tall Tales of the Weird West release party happens at Owl’s Nest Books April 16th, at 7 p.m. Come meet authors Axel Howerton and Rick Overwater. Readin’, refreshment and rock ’n’ damn roll!AB, Alberta, Axel Howerton, books, Calgary Comic & Entertainment Expo, Calgary Expo 2015, Nat Jones, Owl's Nest Books, Rick Overwater, Tall Tales of the Weird West