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On the 26th July I attended my very first Comic-Con. Unfortunately I’m too poor to go to San Diego so I had to settle for my home town of Manchester. For all self confessed nerds, such as myself, attending Comic-Con is high up on the bucket list. My friends have always considered me to be a book/film buff (which is always useful in pub quizzes) and I adore anything fantasy or superhero related. While Manchester Comic Con is only in its 4th year but is already an incredibly popular and exciting event, that comes strongly recommended.
It was a wonderful experience from the start. Restraining myself from taking home a replica of Ned Stark’s sword, I wandered through the huge collection of stalls. As expected there were stalls selling comics, games and film merchandise but I was surprised at how many independent sellers were there selling their home-made products such as jewellery, cushions, hair accessories, sculptures and furnishings to name just a few. Once again it took huge resolve to not buy something from every stall. What was really special about much of the merchandise was the fact that they had been lovingly crafted by hand and therefore could not be bought anywhere else. While the prices remained steep, the opportunities to own such unique items more than justified the cost.
One of the big draws of Comic Con is the special guests who are usually actors from popular TV shows and films. I was disappointed with the lack of high-profile guests – the most well-known being Sylvester McCoy who played the seventh Doctor Who and Radagast in The Hobbit films. I felt that the autograph and photo session prices with the special guests were extortionate and slightly exploitative for the hundreds of fans who had already paid to attend the event. However, this was a minor complaint for an otherwise brilliantly organised convention.
A vital part of attending any Comic-Con is the cosplay. Some of the home-made costumes were genuinely awe-inspiring and it was lovely to see people of all ages and genders completely immersing themselves in the Comic-Con experience. I came dressed as my favourite Marvel film character, Gwen Stacy, and it was a great feeling when someone complimented my outfit. I saw a couple dressed as Daenerys Targaryen and Khal Drogo from Game of Thrones as well as a family consisting of dad as Batman, mum as Catwoman and their young son as Robin. Life and relationship goals right there!
My favourite section of the convention, which was often overlooked, was the Comic Village. Each year skilled, independent comic artists and creators showcase and sell their wonderful work which can come in the form of comic books or individual pieces of artwork. Some of the artists even did commissioned pieces where they would sketch you in your outfit for a small fee. Some of the sketches were truly stunning and while, once again, the costs remained high, it was a small price to pay for something which I will treasure forever.
All in all the Manchester Comic-Con was a fantastic experience with an electric atmosphere. It was wonderful to be in a safe environment surrounded by people who share the same interests and passions. It is upsetting to find that there still seems to be a stigma surrounding Comic-Cons and so-called ‘nerd culture’ because seeing people having a great time expressing themselves through costume and just sharing their love of something is amazing.
I am currently the Vice President of the Lancaster University Harry Potter Society and whenever I tell strangers this they always seem to do a double take; I’m sure they wouldn’t react like that if I said I was on the exec of a sports or academic society. Harry Potter star, Daniel Radcliffe was recently quoted as saying: ‘If you’re going to be obsessed with something, being obsessed with a book or film is pretty good. Some people are obsessed with heroin.” I couldn’t agree more.