After two years of postponing the Wicked West Comic Expo due to the pandemic, organizer and founder Todd Jones is busy preparing for an influx of comic artists, writers, vendors, exhibitors and more as the event kicks off at 10 Saturday at The Ranch Events Complex in Loveland.
Jones, an independent comic writer who lives in Fort Collins, is a coordinator for the Fort Collins Comic Con and has helped at a comic convention hosted by a Colorado State University student.
“When I got involved with the guys that put on the Fort Collins Comic Con, each year I kept wanting to do a show myself, as well, and I always thought The Ranch would be a nice location,” Jones explained.
Not wanting to interfere with the Fort Collins Comic Con, Jones chose a different time of year as well as location for his Wicked West Comic Expo.
“I’ve gotten to know all these great people from different conventions and most of us are looking out for each other and try to give others tables at our event to help promote their event,” he said. “It doesn’t feel like a thing we should be in competition with one another. As a friend of mine has said, ‘a high tide raises all ships.’”
The expo will feature around 14 different guest artists, writers and creators as well as more than 100 vendors and exhibitors from across the state and U.S. that attendees can meet and talk with.
“We are trying to focus mainly on comics and animation,” Jones said. “All of our guests are either involved in comics or animation in some way or are prop builders.”
Jones himself has been involved in making comics since he was a kid, often basing characters in his stories off of friends and neighborhood kids. He has been professionally writing for comics since 2010.
“I learned to read from comics and it has always been a big part of my life,” he said. “I used to think that the only way you could write comics, was that you had to get in with Marvel or DC. But now self publishing has made it an entry point for everyone.”
Attendees at the expo will have the opportunity to meet a variety of comic professionals including Greg Guler, an animation character designer who worked for Walt Disney Studios for 27 years.
Guler is the creator behind a variety of popular television show characters such as “Phineas & Ferb,” “Mickey Mouse Clubhouse,” “Lilo & Stitch” and “Buzz Lightyear of Star Command.” Guler is currently working on designing characters for a new Apple Streaming series by Loren Bouchard of “Bob’s Burgers” fame.
James Powell began in the publishing world writing obituaries for the Coloradoan. Since then, the Fort Collins resident has become best known for his “House of Fear” series published by Dark Horse.
Visual effects artist Matt Haslam will be in attendance both days at the expo. Over more than 25 years in the movie industry, Haslam has created props and pyrotechnics for movies such as “Matrix: Reloaded,” “Spiderman,” “Blade” and “Godzilla.”
“I think there’s always a love for good characters and good stories and I think that is what you see with people making comics now,” Jones said. “They are able to do so much more with the stories they want to tell than they used to be able to.”
The work of Denver artist, Daniel Crosier can be seen on the walls of WeldWerks Brewing Co., 508 8th Ave., Greeley as well as on Greeley’s 2021 OktoBREWfest collector steins.
Crosier and his wife, Elise, are a creative couple who are in the process of publishing their comic book, “Stanley Kaiju & the Subterranean Bunny Defenders.” Crosier is also the co-founder of the Denver Independent Comics and Arts Expo and Colorado Festival of Horror.
“Comic books are another way of storytelling and that’s what you are doing, you’re creating your world and your stories and your mythology and adding it to the mythology everybody knows and consumes and participates in,” Crosier said. “It makes life worth living and having fun. It just adds to that fantastic pop culture.”
Attendees will also have the opportunity to get their photos taken with Lucy the velociraptor and step into an iconic scene from “Star Wars: Return of the Jedi,” check out a variety of movie-inspired cars and more.
“From a vending standpoint, events like these are a great way to do direct sales. Meet your audience; cultivate your audience; put a face to your audience,” Crosier explained. “Also, you’re not being faceless yourself; you’re able to connect. It’s also like group therapy. For artists, so many of us are introverts so this is great therapy for us.”
For the full list of artists, vendors and exhibitors attending the Wicked West Comic Expo, go to https://bit.ly/3DAw329.
In addition to artist booths, vendors and exhibits, the expo will feature panels hosted by some the industry’s top writers and illustrators.
Some the scheduled panels include:
- “Storytelling, a Talent or Skill?” with Ron Fortier, Zane DeGaine and Olivia DeGane at 11 a.m. Saturday
- “38 Years in Walt Disney Television Animation” with Victor Cook and Greg Guler at 2 p.m. Saturday
- “Gargoyles” with Victor Cook and Greg Guler at 4 p.m. Saturday
- “Ohh, The Horror!” with Joshua Werner, Dan Crosier and Abrahm Akin at noon Sunday
- “Kickstart Your Comic” with Matt Campbell at 2 p.m. Sunday
- “So You Want To Be An Animator?” with Greg Guler at 4 p.m. Sunday
To see the entire list of panels for Saturday and Sunday, go to https://bit.ly/3Lr4hYk.
Cosplayers of all ages are welcome to attend in costume with some guidelines.
All costumes must be family-friendly and all private parts covered. Shoes must be worn in the venue at all times. Prop weapons must be rendered completely inoperable and all props will need to be peace bonded by expo staff.
For the full list of guidelines for cosplayers, attendees and rules for the exhibitor area, go to https://bit.ly/3tNT6D4.
While the expo was created to help artists connect with their fans and showcase their talent, Jones will be donating a portion of the proceeds to an Alzheimer’s foundation in memory of his father who died from the disease.
If You Go:
What: 2022 Wicked West Comic Expo
When: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday
Where: The Ranch Events Complex, 5280 Arena Circle, Loveland
Cost: $15 per person age 12 and older, $5 per person age 11 and younger
For more information, go to www.wickedwestcomicexpo.com