My first comic book convention - Features - Books - The Independent

My first comic book convention

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

 

Despite being a lifelong fan of Science Fiction, I have never been to a comic book convention. As someone who watched ‘Doctor Who’ as a child (Sylvester McCoy was my Doctor) and played ‘Star Trek’ in the playground aged 12, it might seem odd that I have not yet attended a convention let alone an expo.

I suppose my excuse would be that they were pricey and as a teenager I couldn’t find anyone who shared my passion for SF. Consequently, I was left to indulge my love by watching episodes of ‘The X-Files’ and daydreaming about meeting my hero, Gillian Anderson who played FBI Agent Dana Scully.

However, things have changed a lot since then and there has been a phenomenal growth in the popularity of science fiction and fantasy. The genres have moved into the mainstream and now geek is most definitely chic. In a bid to make up for lost opportunities and find out why these events are so popular, I decided to join the legions of adoring science fiction and fantasy fans who descended on the ExCel Centre for the MCM Expo London Comic Con last weekend.

On the train over to the ExCel Centre I overhear someone saying that the carriage is “like someone’s imagination has exploded” and it is certainly the case when I arrive. Where else could you see Lady Gaga rubbing shoulders with the Joker or Spider-man hanging out with Soundwave from ‘Transformers’? From ‘Doctor Who’ to ‘Disney’, ‘World of Warcraft’ to ‘Dragon Ball Z’, there is a vast array of costumes and no limits on what you can dress up as. Although only half of those present are in science fiction garb, I suddenly feel quite under-dressed for the occasion having decided against wearing a costume. There is a great sense of camaraderie between everyone and I see people complimenting each other on their outfits.

I was expecting to see the stereotypical Trekkies and ‘Star Wars’ fans but to my surprise, the majority of costumes are inspired by manga and anime, Japanese comics and cartoons. Several attendees who are dressed in manga-inspired attire tell me that the appeal of it is the level of creativity; compared to the west the Japanese imagination seems to be uninhibited. Whereas British and American cartoons are generally aimed at children, the Japanese produce films and comics that can be very adult with dark and disturbing themes. For example, the incredibly popular manga ‘Death Note’ is about a schoolboy who finds a notepad, known as the ‘Death Note’ which kills people if their name is written on its pages. However, there is a wide spectrum of Japanese anime and at the lighter end there is ‘Spirited Away’, ‘Pokemon’ and ‘Power Rangers’.

I ask a young man dressed as Domo, a mascot for the Japanese television channel NHK, why he decided to dress up as that character: “I was trying to choose something that would be slightly different to dress up as and so far, I haven’t seen anyone else dressed up as Domo - so fingers crossed.” He explains why conventions have grown: “It’s just that so many people love the different cartoons and there are now cult followings of Japanese comics. Also, the comics that come from America and England, people just fall in love with the characters and they love to show that they can also be creative in their own way by doing this sort of thing.”

As I make my way through the crowds, I stumble across two Roman centurions who share their thoughts on the increasing popularity of conventions. The Commander tells me: “It’s because of the internet and the growth of forums. It’s a good way for people to socialise and get together. Someone will come up with a great idea of going to an expo and the next thing you know, you’ve got a group of 50 people wanting to join you. I’ve noticed that it has become quite common in many kinds of fandoms, like ‘Star Wars’ fans and now re-enactment fans.” The Sub-commander adds: “I think one of the major factors is that people like to kick back and have some fun... so next time we can bring a legion.”

I continue to weave in between the stalls selling Hello Kitty soft toys and action figures. I notice a number of individuals dressed in Victorian outfits. They are standing by a stall covered in all manner of objects that look archaic and yet ahead of their time. I am quickly pointed in the direction of a gentleman in a military-looking outfit and a well-manicured moustache. He explains that this subgenre of science fiction is known as ‘Steampunk’ and it comes from the writing of H.G. Wells and Jules Verne, mixing Victoriana with science fiction. He says: “It easily started in the 1990s but it has gained ground over the years and really got big in 2005 onwards. It’s really gained a good following all over the globe.” The emergence and expansion of Steampunk shows the scope of the science fiction and fantasy genres, even the new ‘Three Musketeers’ film has a Steampunk feel to it.  

The London Comic Con has grown and evolved out of a collectors’ event which took place in May 2002 and was attended by approximately 10,000 people. Guests at the very first event included, Michelle Trachtenberg (Dawn Summers from ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’), Walter Koenig (Chekov from ‘Star Trek: The Original Series’) Robert Picardo (the holographic doctor from ‘Star Trek: Voyager’) and Anthony Daniels (C-3PO from ‘Star Wars’). This year there are a host of celebrities, including several cast members from the ‘Doctor Who’ spin-off ‘Torchwood’, Anthony Daniels, Tyler Posey (Scott McCall from television series ‘Teen Wolf’) and Warwick Davis (Professor Filius Flitwick from ‘Harry Potter’).

It’s apparent from the expo that these genres have become more accessible and continue to expand at an extraordinary rate. Science fiction and fantasy have spread out across all mediums from film and television to novels and comic books to computer games. Last year around 53, 000 people attended the event and seeing all these people here, I no longer feel embarrassed about admitting my love for science fiction. Who knows, maybe the next time I go to a convention or an expo I might dress up. Perhaps I will attend as roving reporter April O’Neill from ‘Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles’ or intrepid journalist Lois Lane from ‘Superman’, the possibilities are endless.
 
For more information about MCM Expos across the UK visit: www.mcmexpo.net

Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke's video for 'Blurred Lines' has been criticised for condoning rape

Robin Thicke admits he didn't write 'Blurred Lines'

music
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Matt Damon as Jason Bourne in The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)

film
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black

Review: Cilla, ITV TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch star in the Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game

film
Arts and Entertainment
Kanye West is on his 'Yeezus' tour at the moment

Music
Arts and Entertainment
Rob James-Collier, who plays under-butler Thomas Barrow, admitted to suffering sleepless nights over the Series 5 script

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence star in new film 'Serena'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Some might argue that a fleeting moment in the actor’s scintillating, silver-tongued company is worth every penny.

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Colin Firth stars as master magician Stanley Crawford in Woody Allen's 'Magic in the Moonlight'

film
Arts and Entertainment
U2 have released Songs of Innocence in partnership with Apple

musicBand have offered new record for free on iTunes
Arts and Entertainment
Brad Pitt stars in David Ayer's World War II drama Fury

film
Arts and Entertainment
Top hat: Pharrell Williams

music
Arts and Entertainment
Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum star as undercover cops in 22 Jump Street

film
Arts and Entertainment
David Bowie is back with fresh music after last year's hit album The Next Day

music
Arts and Entertainment
Keith Richards is publishing 'Gus and Me: The Story of My Granddad and My First Guitar', a children's book about his introduction to music

music
Arts and Entertainment
Calvin Harris has generated £4m in royalties from the music platform

music
Arts and Entertainment
Jenna Coleman stars as the Time Lord's companion Clara in Doctor Who

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Time and time again: the popular daytime quiz has been a fixture on Channel 4 since 1982

TV
Arts and Entertainment

To mark Tolstoy's 186th birthday

books
Arts and Entertainment
Rachel McAdams is reportedly competing with Mad Men's Elisabeth Moss for a major role in True Detective

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Sam Smith returned to the top spot with his album 'In The Lonely Hour'

music
Arts and Entertainment
Steve Backshall is set to dance with Ola Jordan on Strictly Come Dancing. 'I have a friend who's a dancer and she said to me 'You want Ola because she's a fantastic dancer and she can make anyone look good' meaning 'even you'!' he said.

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Sting and Paul Simon on stage together at Carnegie Hall in New York

music
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    The Imitation Game, film review
    England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

    England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

    Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week