Arts Featured

Edmonton Expo

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J August Richards is living the surreal life. As a fan, a comic-book collector, he spent his childhood fantasizing about superheroes he is now surrounded by.

“To be able to participate, it’s one of those full-circle moments,” he says on a break from filming a new bravo series, Girlfriends’ Guide to Divorce. “It’s pretty hard to digest.”

He knew he was living the dream when he saw the first trailer for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.. “I saw myself as Mike fly out that window and catch that woman,” he describes. “I thought, I’m done, I’ve done everything I came to do.”

But of course, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. had more in mind for his character Mike, now Deathlok. And Richards has some hopes for the character who began the series as a father, acting for the best interests of his son.

“I really connect to him as a human being before the super powers got involved,” Richards says. “His intention has never changed and I would love to see him have a moment where that is redeemed.”

Richards’ enthusiasm for working in the genre today is clear, even over the phone. The sci-fi comic-book scene is experiencing a renaissance in the mainstream and at the same time managing to satisfy a hardcore audience that can be the toughest to serve. Guardians of the Galaxy’s release this summer shows that even a lesser-known comic book can draw people out and satisfy the nerds.

“It’s attracting the best talent in the business in terms of directors, writers and actors,” he says. “It’s interesting to watch a Robert Downey Jr interpret Iron Man, something you imagined as a kid.”

Richards is a full participant in fandom. His twitter feed is littered with retweets of fan art of his characters from S.H.I.E.L.D. and Angel.

“I love them. I honestly do,” Richards says of visiting fan expos and comic cons, like his upcoming visit to Edmonton Expo. “I love to travel, number one, and then number two I love to meet people and interact with people.”

Richards will join Summer Glau, Mads Mikkelsen and others at Edmonton Expo’s third year this weekend. According to organizers, Edmonton Expo is growing at a faster rate than its elder sibling, the Calgary Comic Expo. Now in year three, organizers say the Edmonton Expo is at an equivalent size to what the now decade-old Calgary Expo was in year six.

“We admittedly made a lot of mistakes with Calgary as it grew,” says spokesperson Emily Expo. “We learned from the mistakes and applied those lessons to Edmonton.”

In addition to the media guests, the Expo has maintained a focus on local artists and workshops. The two-and-a-half-days of programming are filled with workshops put on by local artists, comic-book creators and fellow nerds, including Mayor Don Iveson, who is presenting on “Building a Future City.”

“We would like to promote the art of the local artists whenever we can,” Expo says. “It’s the same as the programming: who better to learn about how to break into the comic book market from than a professional in your city?”

Fri, Sep 26 – Sun, Sep 28
Edmonton Expo Centre, $20 – $60

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