Brisbane 2017 Oz Comic Con

Considering the amount of stages holding events and panels, the sheer number of stalls and activity areas, and the many friends and soon to be friends you’ll meet at a convention, you need to resign yourself to the fact that you might not be able to do everything. I constantly think about this when I remember a panel I was supposed to be at several hours before, or a celebrity signing I’ll have to go to on the Sunday since my alarm just didn’t inform me. That’s why I’ll generally cover things at a convention that are available to see or do all weekend, rather than events that occur only once at a specific time.

Comic Con is a widely known name for pop-culture conventions, so much so that even those that do not partake are familiar with the term. People from all over the world make their way to the American ones (that aren’t associated with each other) as they are packed with events, big name celebrities, and popular stalls. So when Comic Con came to Australia in 2012, bringing one of the most well known names in comics, Stan Lee, it was a big shift for Australian nerds.

I only started going to conventions in 2010, and only twice have been out of state. Truly, I’ve only been really analysing them since I started writing for Pixel Pop. So when I say that Australian conventions have changed significantly in the last few years, I only mean in my limited reference.

Back in 2010, I would not have thought of, nor would have expected a convention to be advocating for people to be treated with respect. Oz Comic Con are known to have the more respectful and caring nature. They are more common in the recent years, but a lot of conventions have quiet rooms which are to help people wind down in an excitable environment. It’s not always thought of, but there are so many people who are grateful for these, and it is staffed with people who want to help.

They advocate that ‘Cosplay is not Consent’ which I wish was around years ago. I feel safer at conventions now that I know harassment will not be tolerated, and I imagine many others agree. It doesn’t put an end do it, but knowing you won’t be turned away when reporting these things is a big deal.

There were many areas on the show floor where people could sit down but still be involved. Among others, there was a library area, comic creating tables, and a kids play zone that seemed to attract kids of all ages. There was an interesting booth where there were so many bean bags and fancy gaming headphones, all tuned into a large tv screen. Passers by could see the comfort and fancy experience, but not what was on the screen.

A rather innovative part about the convention is that all of the stages are inside the showroom area. There were several stages – all set away from each other – which held panels to big name celebrities. For the largest stage, the happenings were also projected high over the stage so that it could be seen from around the hall. It involves the patrons more, and it’s easier for vendors still enjoy these parts of the convention. Since most of the convention took part inside the show hall, it seems that it would be very full on and hectic, but for the most part it was pretty well organised and the crowds, while huge, weren’t too overwhelming (but the Quiet Room accommodates for that). It’s a bit hard to remember all of the other things going on at a convention when the stages are spread out and in other areas, and I feel it brings people together.

Rather than escorting celebrities in closed off back areas, paths made specifically for them, they just walked the hall with staff. Back in 2014 when Robert Maschio came to Brisbane, he just walked around the show hall giving everyone high-fives.  It’s interesting to see them enjoying the convention, knowing they’re huge nerds just like us.

There is a whole area dedicated to cosplayers where intricate costumes are on display, there are backgrounds setup for quick photos, and a free photographer booth where you can get your photo taken by the best in Brisbane.

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This year there was a whole area dedicated to Star Wars fans with a full sized X-Wing. If you had the time, you could line up to get a photo with or in the spectacular vessel. There was also a setup where you could pilot miniature droids, including a little BB-8 unit! The staff at that booth were also exceptionally friendly and nerdy, trying their best to entertain those waiting in the long line.

As usual, the Brisbane Comic Con (as I figure the same goes for other states) staff are generally quite lovely. At my first Comic Con, I made a Mera cosplay in two days because I didn’t realise Jason Momoa would be there (back then he was only rumoured to be Aquaman). Something happened (relating to that) where I thought all hope was lost, but they came to my rescue and really saved the weekend. I always think back to that when I hear other people recount their tales of heroic Comic Con staff.

However, on a very different account, it seems that this year, many vendors thought otherwise. I find it fun to chat to vendors of stalls and artist alley booths, generally because they are also enjoying the convention and want to know how others are also experiencing it. This year it seemed that many felt rushed and forgotten in the haste to get convention together. Many of them did not get information about the setup until the Thursday or Friday before the convention, which seems very odd. This is something I won’t look further into until I attend other Brisbane conventions to see how organisation compares. Hopefully this is also a one off situation.

I only have the perspective of an attendee, and asking others this year it seems like generally positive feedback. The best part of any convention, for me at least, are the times enjoying it with friends. It’s a really uplifting experience for any nerd, and getting to revel in all of it with your people is a truly unforgettable memory.

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