The Eek! Comic and Pop Culture Festival launched for its inaugural year on May 31 and June 1, hosting two full days of exhibitions, shows, and plenty of shopping for the nerd culture-inclined. Despite being the first of its name, the Eek Fest drove plenty of traffic to the Servus Place facility in St. Albert, where two halls were dedicated to comic books, Lego, collector items, artists and creators, and much more.
The special guest was Stephen Amell, star of CW’s Arrow. Fans who were able to make his Q&A session at Eek Fest were treated to an inside look at the elusive man behind Oliver Queen…and pull-ups, of course.
the pulp magazine shared a booth with the Northern Nerd Network this year and, when we weren’t giving away Spiderman candy or convincing people to enter our WIN COMICS contest, we both got the chance to interview a number of artists, creators, exhibitors, and more throughout the weekend. Here are our highlights from the show.
Cherry Sauce Clothing
Cherry Sauce is a clothing company run by Mike Gaboury and Jason Soprovich, who started the business six years ago. They’ve been doing conventions for about five years now and average around eight to ten conventions per year.
“We had a serious video game addiction and decided to start a business so that we felt more productive,” said Gaboury. “We started making shirts and selling them at Warped Tour music shows, but didn’t like the direction it was going, so we went video game and geek-based and we’ve been at conventions ever since.”
The shirts feature incarnations of your favourite classic video game characters with a weird twist, such as Link with a nosebleed, or a zombie Mario kingdom. Both Gaboury and Soprovich keep Cherry Sauce going as a hobby and are regulars at the Calgary and Edmonton Expos. Their first experience at Eek Fest was a positive one.
“Every first convention that we’ve been to is relatively small,” said Soprovich. “[Eek Fest] is better than we were expecting for a first year convention…it’s going well.”
You can also find live streaming and video game reviews from the guys at filthycasual.tv.
Octopug – Cute Stuff and Whatever
For goth pastel trinkets and inspired artwork, check out Nikita and Hannah Gushue’s Octopug store, where you can find anything from a Fight Club cameo necklace to tie-dyed winged sneakers. The two sisters come from a background in film, photography, and stage makeup, and they’ve used their creativity to start a business based on their own passions.
“It’s kind of the spawn of 5 years of working in the film industry,” said Nikita. “I did photography and [Hannah] did a lot of creative, crazy makeup and special effects. We both wanted to work together on something colourful and crazy—much like what we did back then.”
Nikita and Hannah Gushue recently celebrated their one year anniversary in the business. Eek Fest was their second convention so far.
“It’s been going really great,” said Gushue. “Nikita does mostly fan-based stuff and I do my artwork, but both of us have been really conceptual and we’ve been getting a lot of positive feedback from people. It’s been really refreshing; really friendly.”
Octopug celebrates the underground elements of pop culture; specifically, elaborate fan art and swag, cute culture, and video game paraphernalia. The sisters are inspired by the pastel goth/pastel grunge culture of the new generation.
“Kids these days that are being goth and punk…they’re very happy and very go-lucky, which is opposite from when I was a kid,” said Gushue. “Happy hardcore, colourful, and candy. I like to see that and I like to see them shop here!”
Kaytlyne: Pop Culture Artist
Kaytlyne Dewald is a mixed media pop culture artist that takes fan art to the next level. Her booth at Eek Fest was lined with stunning canvas pieces depicting characters from well-known pop and nerd culture media, painted beautifully over a layer of comic book page cut-outs.
“I take the comic book pages and use a gel medium to adhere them to the canvas, and then I do a black and white portrait painting on top,” says Dewald. “I work on quite a few at a time—that’s just how I work—but I’d say [I spend] four to 10 hours per painting, depending.”
Dewald has been exhibiting at conventions such as the Calgary and Edmonton Expos for the past two years but has been selling her artwork since the age of 14, starting out at the St. Albert Famer’s Market.
“St. Albert’s awesome. The community here is really, really great. [Eek Fest has] been a good show—I’m hoping they can do it next year!”
Steampunk/Gothic Jewelry and Accessories by Madame Nadine
If you’re a comic convention regular in Alberta, chances are that you’ve seen Madame Nadine tightly-corseted up and selling her steampunk jewelry wares. Madame Nadine has been exhibiting at the Edmonton and Calgary Expos ever since she made the move from everyday jewelry into steampunk wear.
“An author, Judith Graves, contacted me—I made more everyday jewelry then—and asked me if I’d like to do something to go with her book, like bookmarks and chokers,” said Madame Nadine. “She said to me, ‘it’s steampunk,’ so I thought I’d give it a try. I made her something and I just got hooked to it…and that was it! It’s different, unique, and I love it.”
Her experience at Eek Fest, though quieter than the larger festivals, has been a good one.
“I like the way it’s been organized; it’s nice to see all of the artists in one place. It’s quiet sometimes, but that’s normal.”
Madame Nadine’s steampunk designs can be found at the upcoming Saskatoon Blitz and the 2014 Edmonton Expo.
Check out some of the show’s cosplayers!
You can see Northern Nerd’s coverage of the festival below:
Finally, congratulations to Corey Hicks, the winner of our WIN COMICS contest!
Have fun with your Happy Harbor swag, Corey.