The Belfast Comic Con – Second Time’s a Charm

Comic Con came round faster than I expected. It was a month early, but still, it caught me off guard. I wasn’t very enthusiastic about the event this year, after a rather lacklustre experience last year, but I finally gave in and bought a priority ticket for £12. Not a bad price for a day of entertainment. Even if that includes two of the wonderful EastEnders cast. I haven’t watched any of the soaps in years, and I don’t intend to watch them again. Once you’ve broken the spell you’ll never want to go back, particularly as the quality of TV shows have been improving drastically with the advent of Netflix. Production values of TV shows rival big budget movies these days, so there is no excuse to keep watching the weekly tat. That’s enough of a rant for now – back to Comic Con! I had expected the general entry queue to be huge at King’s Hall like last year, but as the first picture shows it was completely empty. I was taken aback. Was anyone inside? What was going on? It was great for me and I didn’t get drenched waiting for the place to open up. I strolled in with my priority ticket, past the crowd of ten or so people waiting for the eleven o’clock opening.

Hopefully the pictures give you a flavour of the event as a whole. There were a lot of stalls selling anime, comic, and game related merchandise, and cosplayers were rampant. Even if I buy very little at conventions, I enjoy seeing the range of stuff that is available. You just don’t see it anywhere else in the country. Costumes, swords from games and anime, plush toys, t-shirts, posters, random accessories, and even rare and vintage games. There’s a lot of tat and unnecessary guff, but we’re a consumerist society so people are going to try and milk every last penny out of you. The Con is an odd experience in general – outside of Q-Con and Comic Con, you rarely see anyone in costume. Yet you can barely move around Comic Con without bumping into Batman, the Joker, Iron Man, or even Hellboy. This event really means a lot to a community who have few opportunities to truly express themselves, and show others what they are passionate about. What appears to be a niche market at first suddenly becomes so much bigger. The atmosphere was great, and that is what I value above all else in these events, but it was not without faults. The guest speakers included Danny John-Jules (The Cat in Red Dwarf), Hynden Walch (Princess Bubblegum in Adventure Time), John Noble (of LOTR and Fringe fame), and Katrina Law (who plays some chick in Arrow, though I’ve not seen it). The Cat started off his panel clumsily tweeting a photo of the audience, though how he managed it with the atrocious phone signal I have no idea. He was a good speaker, though there were serious issues with sound in the panel area. The microphone was playing up and the noise from the crowd on the main floor was maddening. How they had not resolved these issues after last year I have no idea. John Noble was the highlight of the day, engaging with the crowd as only a true actor can, and giving some insight into the ins and outs of his work. Who knew he was Australian? He’s damn good at hiding it the rest of the time. I wasn’t familiar with Katrina Law, and didn’t mind missing most of her panel for lunch.

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At the end of the day I came away with two t-shirts and a couple of comics about the moon. That is, the moon as a detective. Strange, I know, but I thought I would give it a chance. I’m glad I went this year. It was a definite improvement on last year, if only incremental in some areas, but worth a look if you’re into anime or comics. Here’s hoping it keeps improving!

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