Cosplay fans lose annual convention as Central Canada Comic Con calls it quits

The capes, corsets and cowls will stay on hangers much longer after it was announced the temporary hiatus of Central Canada Comic Con is now a permanent one.

Winnipeg-based event would have celebrated 25th year in October

Eva Brown, left, and Lysanne Huberdau were among the Winnipeggers who dressed up for the first night of the Central Canada Comic Con at the Winnipeg convention centre in 2018. (Wendy Buelow/CBC )

The capes, corsets and cowls will stay on hangers much longer after it was announced the temporary hiatus of Central Canada Comic Con is now a permanent one.

The annual fan convention in Winnipeg, which began in 1994 as a simple trade show called the Manitoba Collector's Expo and grew into one of the largest celebrations of comics, cosplay, gaming, science fiction, anime, fantasy, horror and pop culture, would have celebrated its 25th year in October.

Instead, it is saying goodbye.

"For the last 25 years I have worked with so many great people. Thousands of awesome volunteers, lots of local clubs and organizations as well as amazing costumers and cosplayers that came out over the years to bring you the best event we could with the means we had," Michael Paille, the event's founder, posted on its Facebook page on Monday.

"But all things come to an end."

Organizers say the Central Canada Comic Con, or C4 for short, attracted 70,000 people annually. (Karim Sahib/AFP/Getty Images)

Paille, who is the CEO of River City Conventions, which organized the comic con known as C4, said the company is "closing its doors permanently" and there will be no future events planned.

"I would like to thank everyone for their support and help in making the last 25 years amazing. I have so many great memories and have met so many wonderful people," he said.

"May the force be with you."

Over the years, C4 has hosted more than 100 celebrities, including William Shatner (Star Trek's Capt. Kirk), Patrick Stewart (Star Trek's Capt. Picard and Professor Charles Xavier in the X-Men films), Ron Perlman (Hellboy) and Dave Prowse (Star Wars' Darth Vader), as well as dozens of comic book artists and writers.

Comic conventions, which happen across North America, are sci-fi, comics and gaming festivals in celebration of self-professed geek culture. (Andrew Harnik/The Associated Press)

Paille did not explain why the company is closing its doors permanently.

In April, Paille posted on the C4 Facebook page that the 2019 event would not go ahead. He cited increases in rental fees and other costs, as well as a lack of local support from businesses and the City of Winnipeg as reasons.

At that time, Kailyn Gregorash, another one of the C4 organizers, said the group was looking for a sponsor to help shoulder the cost of the event, which annually drew about 70,000 people.

Another hurdle, said Paille's April post, was that there wasn't any available space at the convention centre on the dates the event was to be held.

The hope at that time was to bring the event back in 2020, he said.

From left to right, Izzy, Maddy and Taylor Duncan all came to the convention dressed in their favourite cosplay outfits back in 2018. (Wendy Buelow/CBC)

However, even then he didn't sound optimistic, posting what sounded like a eulogy to C4.

"I find conventions like ours in Winnipeg brings families together. I have seen people meet at C4 and then get married the following year," he wrote.

"The comic con was a great place for all fans to get together and enjoy what we're passionate about. It is a place that makes us feel that we belong. It is a community, it is a family. I have so many great memories that I could write a book from C4.

"Watching the convention grow to what it has become, and to look back at where I started, in an 800-square-foot hotel, and now using almost all of the RBC Convention Centre. To say goodbye without a final year feels like a book with no ending."