Disclaimer: Between the technical difficulties that lost us half the footage and my own scheduling issues, this article is posted later than I wished. I apologise for the delay.
I’ve been attending the Brisbane leg of Oz Comic Con since it first graced our city in 2014. Ever since then I’ve been impressed with its improvement every year. This year is no exception. We interviewed cosplayers and regular con goers alike about their craft and their experience, which you can see throughout this article.
The first thing I noticed was how much bigger the convention was this year. Unless I am mistaken, they hired a whole extra chunk of hall-space in the South Bank Convention Center this year. And this doesn’t mean they simply just crammed a lot more stalls and stores either. Clearly a lot more room for foot traffic was made in the show floor with the aisles being wider, which come as a huge convenience for not just regular con goers but also cosplayers who must often choose between wandering the show floor and a bulky costume.
Speaking of the show floor, the stalls themselves are also are much more diverse this year, whether your interests be comics, anime, board games, model kits, or simply merchandise from your favourite pop culture icons. As an avid model kit builder, a particular vendor packed with Zoids was a highlight for me. The artist alley was also packed with art, crafts, and intricate hand-made baubles. There were also home-grown indie artists promoting their own craft, be it unique comics or expansive sci-fi novels.
Of course, one of the main draws of Oz Comic Con is its celebrity guests. This year we saw, Karl Urban from Judge Dredd and Star Trek, Aaron Ashmore from Smallville and Warehouse 13, Robert Englund of Freddie Kruger fame, Maggie Roswell better known as Helen Lovejoy from Simpsons, and Charles Martinet the voice of Mario, just to name a few highlights. There was also a lot of comic, voice, and cosplay talents guaranteed to excite enthusiasts.
Despite ‘comics’ being in its name, Oz Comic Con won’t leave you in the cold if your nerdy interests tend to be in other areas. For card and board games enthusiasts, not only there were a lot of vendors serving your wants and needs, there was also a lot of tutorials running for different games. Of course, the Magic the Gathering mega-booth, now a mainstay in any major con, was there enticing new planeswalkers into its mana mines. Smaller card games like Yu-Gi-Oh, Pokemon, Dragonball Z, and even My Little Pony also had learn to play sessions set up where volunteers were more than happy to get you hooked on their particular brand of cardboard crack.
Of course, you can’t wander around the show-floor all weekend. Even if your legs don’t protest your wallet most likely will. So when either of them call it quit and you need a place to relax, Oz Comic Con has several choices for you. On the Board game front, Vault Games had their impressive board game library and play space as always. You can rent out your favourite game or that new hot release for free to play in the designated board game area. The Vault Games staff and friendly volunteers are also more than happy to help you learn the games if need be. If party video games are more your speed, the PAX AUS booth also had JackBox’s Fibbage, an 8 player game about trivia and lying, running all weekend. Always a raucous fun time, the volunteers struggle to keep the answers PG while pretending not to find it funny when little kids say (harmless) rude words. If you like your games a little bit more active there is also Johann Sebastian Joust, a game where you are trying to get other participants to tilt their Playstation move controllers before you do.
Another way to kick your feet up and relax was with the many panels and screenings going throughout the day. Celebrity guests all have their own panels, where they regale us with tales of life in the show biz and often answer fan questions. There are also other specific interest panels from industry luminaries and hobby enthusiasts. This is the one area in which I have a small complaint. While the selection is still impressive, some of the panels are starting to feel repetitive for regulars like me. I understand the need to cover a wide range of interests but when particular topics have panels with same heading and guests as last year, I feel I’d much rather go for another round of Fibbage. Though with a wide variety of activities to do and places to see, I feel this is a minor nitpick.
All in all, I’d call this one a rousing fun time and wish it continuous growth, looking forward to the bigger and better things that come with it.