Normally about 100,000 fans descend on the BMO Centre for Calgary's annual comic and entertainment expo, but during pandemic year an organizer says that just won't work.
Calgary Expo vice president Andrew Moyes says there are 25,000 tickets this year and when they're gone, they're gone.
"It's to allow everyone to come down and celebrate comfortably and safely," Moyes told The Homestretch this week.
"It's a little more exclusive and a little more curated to allow for more space, for fans to explore safety. Everything everyone knows and loves about Calgary Expo will be there, just on a slightly more exclusive scale."
Last year, the expo took a pass due to the global pandemic, but Moyes said this year it impacted all the behind-the-scenes stuff.
"Planners love certainty and that's been in short supply, but we are comfortable. We've been working with all the key stakeholders —hotels, the Stampede — to make sure we have the latest information so we can all celebrate safely and unite under fandom, because that's what we do."
That's music to the ears of Rodger Bumpass, the voice of Squidward Q. Tentacles in the long-running SpongeBob SquarePants animated series.
He's at the expo Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
"It really is a dream of an entire career to be a part of something that is this long lasting and special to an awful lot of people across the country," Bumpass told The Homestretch.
"It's a great thing to be part of something iconic like this."
Bumpass says SpongeBob SquarePants has gotten to the point — in its more than 20 years of production — where the personalities of the voice actors like him make their way into the show.
"If there's too much improv, the writers and animators don't get what they want on the page. We will do a couple pages of the script as written, then we get to do the crazy take. We get to do whatever we want. Sometimes there is improv, sometimes we go off colour a little bit for our own amusement. Oftentimes, those things will find their way into the finished product," Bumpass said.
"It's a wonderfully efficient and yet liberating way to record, and I am glad the guys came up with that system."
As a Calgary-based comic book colourist, Kelly Fitzpatrick helps bring emotion to the genre.
"A lot of people describe it as a soundtrack to the movie. I get a script and I decide where to add the emotional moments, how to enhance certain panels, how to play with people's emotional subconscious through the colour, the lighting, the rendering, tons of stuff," Fitzpatrick told The Homestretch.
"When we think of sad moments, we think of blue. When we think of action, we think of yellow and red. There are different ways to play around with that to make people feel certain emotions."
Fitzpatrick says she gets her assignments in a black and white, raw form. It takes about three hours a page, and there are roughly 20 pages in the average comic she digitally colours with Photoshop.
"It's completely digital on my end," she said.
"Some of the artists who do the linework, they work traditionally with pen and ink or on the computer."
This type of work brings out her creative side, Fitzpatrick said.
"The creative aspect is the best part because each book is going to be coloured a different way. You wouldn't colour My Little Pony the same way you colour Batman. I get to work with different artists, different styles, different editors and writers. It just makes every project special and unique."
Batman, for one, has served her well.
"My first job at DC Comics was Batman '66 based off the old television show, and I have very briefly coloured detective comics, so I have worked on Batman here and there."
She says her advice to those considering the genre is straightforward: "Read a lot of comics, talk to a lot of comic-book professionals, we are all on Twitter," she said.
"And just make comics."
Fitzpatrick also appears all three days of the event.