Comic con: a con-siderable success

Chicago_Comic_ConPICTURE the scene: 7.25am, Aberystwyth train station. The air is calm and the noise is dead. Barely ten other people are waiting: a small red-haired girl in a Spryo onesie, a giant in a green cloak and a girl dressed as Armin from Attack on Titan are also waiting for the train. On any other day this would be quite a peculiar sight; today, however, was Birmingham Comic Con, and despite being the only few dressed up at the station we would soon find ourselves among the thousands in cosplay. Today was a day where weirdness and peculiarity were not only allowed, but actively encouraged and praised.

Unsurprisingly, getting up early for Comic Con was much easier than getting up for lectures; the chance to cosplay, meet like-minded members of fandoms and break the bank at the many memorabilia stalls was a welcome change to constant studying, so we were enthusiastic to get out of bed and on with the day.

After the daunting three hour train journey (or three hours of catching up on sleep) we finally arrived at Birmingham International. With no actual idea of where we were supposed to go, we followed the swarm of random cosplayers through countless stairs, corridors and those level escalators for lazy people. Before long the event became clearly signposted and we hurried through random checkpoints, among Doctors, Pokémon trainers and a tiny Slenderman (Slenderchild); we knew the line was going to be long, but we had no idea how monumental it would be.

Each hall at the NEC essentially looks like it could fit a 747, several double decker buses and a Snorlax (which is roughly 6ft11” and 1014.1 lbs), so witnessing the ticket line filling one of these halls before lining up at the very end was a little soul crushing. However, we soon regained hope as the line began rapidly shifting along and we found entertainment in the professional Star Wars cosplayers, as well as a dancing reggae Predator with a boom box.

Our patience paid off and we arrived at the ticket office, paid our fees and made our way to the entrance. One of the greatest parts of these conventions the moment you first walk through, where months of waiting, cosplay planning and various train journeys all pay off and you have finally made it inside a world of possibilities and wonder. We wasted no time and dived straight in.

6Comic Con is basically a huge market celebrating ‘geek’ culture, selling merchandise from anime, video games, television and film. There are countless attractions, like photo opportunities with the TARDIS or Back to the Future’s DeLorean, and a chance to meet special guests. Throughout the day there are a variety of talks, events and special screenings of the amazing stuff the studios decide to send down. The art zone is an exciting opportunity for budding artists, who have the opportunity to rent stalls in order to showcase their talent, and are always great fun to browse.

Today was not only Comic Con, but also my payday and there was a very real possibility that I could be poor again within the first few stalls. There were lots of great things for sale, but we resisted at first and explored the convention. The first purchase of the day came ten minutes after our arrival: Dragonball Z Coke Zero and Hello Panda biscuits. The Coke Zero tasted like supermarket cola but with Vegeta on the cover. That’s worth £2.50 a can… right?

We continued to rifle through the many shirts, figures, accessories, sweets, posters, books- hell, you name the object and series and it was probably there in some form or another. Marvel Comics super-soft blankets? Yep. Dalek plushies? Absolutely. Attack on Titan pocket watch? Of course. How about a giant 30ft inflatable Minion from Despicable Me 2? Hell yes.

After several hours of torturing my wallet it was lunchtime, and we were due to meet up with fellow Attack on Titan cosplayers from a UK Facebook group. If you do plan to cosplay at a convention I would recommend looking up cosplaying groups online who are also planning to attend the same convention. We met up with a group of 20, maybe 30, people at the convention site and they were very nice people. We all had lunch and chatted about everything under the sun, not just cosplaying and the convention.

We continued to explore; meeting new people, browsing the stalls and being visually mocked by what we couldn’t afford. This continued well into the evening, and by the time we caught our train we were exhausted and thankful just to sit down again.

ComicconOverall, it was a very enjoyable experience. If you have any interest in comics, sci-fi, anime, cinema, art or TV I couldn’t recommend attending one of the Comic Con events enough. If you plan to attend any of these events let me offer some useful advice:

  • Thoroughly plan out your train/bus/car journeys
  • If you are taking public transport be sure to know how to get from the station to the convention beforehand
  • If applicable, double check the details of your accommodation stay and where it is located
  • Set a spending budget and draw out that amount BEFORE you arrive at the convention; there is always a massive line for the cashpoints and this way you can ensure that you stick to your budget
  • Make sure to fully charge your phone and have the number of each person in your group
  • It is honestly so important that you bring some bottled water, there are lots of people and it can get very warm-bring two bottles if you’re cosplaying
  • If your cosplay has no pockets, ensure that you have something safe to store your belongings, like a backpack
  • If you don’t mind waiting in line, then the early advance tickets don’t seem worth it- just make sure to arrive slightly earlier to get a good spot in the queue if you decide to purchase your tickets on the door

If you do decide to attend then I am more than positive you’ll have a great time. There are lots of interesting things to see and people to meet. Further details can be found on the convention’s website. Have fun!