A couple of Sundays ago I lost my Comic Con virginity at Birmingham Comic Con. My husband went to it last year without me (because I was being snowed on in beautiful Edinburgh with my mum) and told me of the wonders. So this year, I was eager to try it myself.
For those of you who don’t know, a Comic Con is a comic book convention, but it is so much more than comic books. There are stalls, lots of stalls, and panels where famous people answer questions. You can get signed photographs of your favourite geeky celebrities, and engage in a little Cosplay.
The biggest and most famous Comic Con is in San Diego. Have you seen the movie Paul? It’s pretty much explained in that. Where the stars of The Walking Dead and Big Bang Theory sit on panels and discuss the upcoming season, or sign photos and take photos.
Birmingham Comic Con is a littler…smaller.
There were lots of stalls filled with cuddly toys, clothes, posters, action figures and collectables. These included some wonderful stalls where crafters sold their handmade geeky jewellery and amazing artists sold sketches and paintings.
It took us most of the day to weave in and around these stalls against the back drop noise of Robot Wars happening in the corner. There were some excellent bargains to be had, but it was also easy to get swept up in the day. Suddenly film posters looked as if they were made of gold, and £20 for two seemed a bargain. Thankfully I had three thrifty men with me who whispered in my ear and prevented me from making any purchase mistakes.
Beyond the stalls were the ‘celebrities’. We walked around but none of the names or faces rang any bells (apart from Herr Flick and Helga from ‘Allo ‘Allo). There was a panel where an attractive American sat talking about his new US show to a bored looking audience of ten.
So the ‘celebrities’ were a miss. But they weren’t the real star of the show. I went for the shopping but the surprise was in the Cosplay.
Cosplay, or ‘costume play’, is basically people turning up to events dressed up, perhaps for a competition, to play out scenes, or just for the pure joy of it. I hadn’t really thought about it. Not until we arrived and I got out of the car at the same time as Captain Jack Sparrow and his pirate wench (who looked incredible). We followed them in, past a green girl who must have been from Star Wars, one of about twenty Harley Quinns, and a little Minecraft child.
It was surreal. To be stood admiring a pair of earrings, turn around and come face to face with a wookie.
Some of the costumes were laughable – wearing nothing but purple shorts is not enough to make you the Hulk, mate.
Some were adorable – the little ones dressed as Disney princesses, Spiderman and Hulk.
Some were strange – the My Little Pony…enough said.
Some were formidable – there was something intimidating and strangely arousing about the group of Judge Dredds.
Some were hilarious – Dangermouse on crutches…oh come on!
Some couldn’t decide what they were – are you Batman, the Joker or from Star Wars? I’ve never seen Batman with clown make up using a lightsaber before.
Some were repetitive – I agree Harley Quinn is sexy, but there were so many.
Some were empowering – a lot of women came as male characters (Darth Vader and Wolverine were impressive), because male characters are often just better.
And some were just mind blowing – Predator with Alien on a lead were incredible. I doubt they got to see much of the convention because so many people were stopping and asking for their photo. There was also a Mad Hatter who looked amazing, trailing thread and ribbons behind him as he strolled around the stalls.
We left Birmingham Comic Con very tired and hungry, and I left quite poor. While it wasn’t quite what I was expecting, the atmosphere was electric and addictive. My husband and I went for a carvery afterwards and I felt instinctively shocked to not see Harley Quinn having a roast with Shredder. It was liking coming back to dull reality with a bump.
Suddenly Paul and that Big Bang Theory episode were the boys are abandoned in the desert in their Star Trek costumes made alarming sense.
Comic Cons are like another world. For us geeks, it’s a wonderful world of acceptance. It’s something you don’t realising you’re missing until you go, and then are forced back into the real world.
My Comic Con virginity is truly gone (although not well and truly, I’m not brave enough to dress up), and I can’t wait until my next one.
Cardiff maybe, in November?