How I Accidentally Met C3PO: A Magical Comic Con Adventure

Every year, I attend the Calgary Comic and Entertainment Expo in Calgary, Alberta.

This. I attend this. 

For those of you who aren't familiar with the event, the Calgary Comic Con is a sweaty, writhing, costumed festival of panels, bootleg Walking Dead merchandise, celebrity geek royalty, unknown comic artists and tens of thousands of starry-eyed and socially graceless nerds flocking to Calgary's BMO centre like they're making a religious pilgrimage in a spandex Batman costume. In other words, it's pretty much the closest you can get to heaven. 

Drink it in, people.

Just like your college experience or your childhood tap dancing lessons, you get out of comic conventions what you put into them. Sure, it's fun to wear your street clothes, wander around for a bit and drop $20 on a Spider-Man t-shirt, but it's even more fun to deck yourself out in a handmade, movie-accurate costume, get bombarded by fans with cameras, unload hundreds of dollars on rare, hard-to-find merchandise, collect autographs from your favourite obscure webcomic artists and finally get dragged away by security for pelting a terrified Summer Glau with locks of your own hair. 

You're scaring her even more than her post-2002 career.

The first thing you have to do if you're attending a comic convention is dress up. Pick a character, any character - if you choose someone popular and well-known, you'll be fawned over by the masses, and if you choose someone obscure, you get the sweet, sweet satisfaction of looking down on the uncultured peons who can't tell Nocturne from Mystique. Either way, you win. 

The first year I attended Calgary Expo, I did not dress up. I was too self-conscious, too broke, and too rushed for time to throw together a costume. It was fun, but every time I spotted some lucky convention-goer swathed in an ungodly combination of Lycra, leather and tulle, I felt a deep pang of nerd envy. Next year, I vowed, I would show them. I'd show them all, with my own fabulous costume. And I did. Every year since, I've gone to comic con decked out as some sort of fictional character. 

Admittedly, some of my costume choices were more unfortunate than others.

Which brings me to this year. As a college student with a tight budget and a tragically fruit-shaped physique, I needed a costume that could be put together quickly and worn out in public without driving passing pedestrians to fling themselves into traffic. My boyfriend ordered himself a custom-made Jedi robe, which meant that we were aiming for a Star Wars theme this year. That's when inspiration struck. 

It was this or R2-D2.

I'm not an enormous fan of fainting, so any plans to go in a full fur suit were quickly and unceremoniously scrapped. Instead, I found a simpler way to do things. I dug a heinous, scratchy swath of burnt-orange curtain fabric out of the bargain bin at Fabricland, and finagled it into an Ewok hood. My mom unearthed a long-forgotten box of fake fur that had once been fated to become either a giant teddy bear or the ugliest wall-to-wall carpet of all time, and we fashioned ears, sleeves and furry leg warmers out of it. A bit of eyeliner on my nose finished the look. 


The first day at the Expo went off the way these things normally do. I spent a lot of money. People asked for pictures of me. I immensely regretted my choice of shoes. I ate food-shaped globs of trans fat that a concerned doctor will be pointing out to me on an MRI of my heart valves in 40 years. And I decided to wander into a showcase for Mr. Anthony Daniels.

You probably don't recognize him without a metal mask stapled to his face.

Daniels is best known for playing C-3PO, a timid, tottering protocol droid with mismatched legs and the ability to speak more than six million languages. He's also notable for being the only cast member to appear in all six Star Wars movies (soon to be all seven), and for fading into post-Star Wars obscurity that rivals that of even of Mark Hamill. I had seen Daniels in person once before, when he acted as the MC for the travelling Star Wars: Live in Concert show, and I knew him to be a very funny man. So on that fateful day, my travelling companions and I crowded into the back of a tent with a thousand other people, expecting to hear Mr. Daniels make a few jokes and then answer questions from the unwashed and under-diagnosed masses who wished to share uncomfortably personal stories with their idol and ask about the finer details of pooping in a 1970s robot costume. 

There's a reason everyone referred to R2-D2 as a 'can'. Just sayin'.

So there we were, in our little seats near the back of a very large room, when Anthony Daniels hops off the stage and starts pacing up and down the aisles. He would walk along, and every now and then he would spot someone in a Star Wars costume and single them out to ask them about their emotionally stunted, Star Wars-dependent childhood. He strolled past us, but since we were so far into the aisle, it seemed like he would have gone right past us without humiliating me in front of an enormous crowd of people. And he would have, if not for these two:

Thanks, guys. You're the best.

The man noticed my friends frantically pointing to me, stopped dead in his tracks, and asked "Is that an Ewok? Get over here." One does not simply disobey nerd royalty, so I trudged out into the aisle, expecting him to grill me about how a child born in 1992 comes to dress up as a 40-year-old sci-fi teddy bear. Anthony had other plans. The man seized my wrist, and began gleefully dragging me down the aisle with him. He had me up to the front of the auditorium before I realized we were headed for the main stage. 

You seriously can't make this shit up. That's me, being interrogated by Star Wars' most persistent cast member.

If you remember your original trilogy Star Wars - if you don't, you need to set aside the next 371 minutes of your life, it's very important - the Ewoks had sort of a 'thing' for C-3PO. In fact, they were just so gosh-darn fond of the man that they worshipped him as a God. As it turns out, that was Anthony Daniels' favourite part of the movies, and he wanted to recreate it. Right there. With me. In front of a thousand frigging people.

This man fought a crooked Empire onscreen. Now he's fighting a crooked costume.

What do you do when you unexpectedly find yourself on stage with nerd royalty, in a homemade costume, and you're asked to demonstrate your best Ewok worship? You fling yourself down and get worshippin', that's what. I did my best bowing, scraping and eerie Ewok singing, which I, thankfully, don't think anyone captured on film. By the end of it, Daniels passed me a microphone and I led the audience in an Ewok sing-off, the likes of which may never be seen again at a comic convention. 

It's like the photographer was trying to get my bad side.

Eventually, Daniels ran out of time and released me to scurry back to my seat, but the damage was done. I'd been seen. For the rest of the comic convention, people hurried up to me with cameras, wanting to know if I was the Janel the Ewok they'd seen kowtowing to their idol on the big stage. And since I was the only one at the comic con to choose such a costume (I pleaded with other Ewoks to make themselves known while onstage), and I had to confirm that I was. It was a magical glimpse into nerd superstardom that lasted all through the weekend. And, perhaps, for the rest of my life. 

So that's the story of how I unexpectedly and forcibly met Anthony Daniels. If you were at the 2014 Calgary Comic Expo and you have pictures or videos of this event, please get in touch with me and send them my way. 

What's your favourite comic convention memory? Let me know in the comments!


  1. What a fantastic story! I wish I had a cool comic-con story to tell from the few I've gone to, but I don't so I made one up! Check it out ->

  2. Soo funny and entertaining, Janel! I mean your story, but I am sure everyone in the convention audience, and Anthony Daniels, are still saying that about you and your fab costume too!


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