It was time for Oz ComicCon to hit our nation’s capital. This year more crowds gathered than ever to Epic Showgrounds to see what this year’s cosplayers and the tremendous amount of stalls had in store. As for myself, I am not part of any specific fandom, and I don’t feel a particular passion for any individual piece of media, but upon walking into the front gates, I found the excitement was contagious. People of all ages were free to explore hundreds of stalls, and on one side there was plenty of merchandise to go around – whatever the heart’s desire. Whether it was silly t-shirts, realistic weapons, comics, costumes, manga, you name it, all of it was on sale here, conveniently in one place. There was a Just Dance booth, and photoshoots were available for attendees to pose with professional cosplayers with many photos being taken throughout the day.
At the other section of the building were hundreds of small businesses, authors and artists, who were sharing their beautiful work with the public. I met illustrator and writer Daniel Reed, who has made a name for himself with the most deliciously gruesome graphic novels. There were thousands of books for sale. I met with multiple small business owners, like Larrisa Cook, a digital artist whose work is extremely colourful and playful. At the Luck of Kings stall, the artist made his own custom cards and guitar picks, with unique characters printed on them. However, Guzzardi Art took my breath away. A business run by twin sisters Shanae and Mel, with paintings and prints that look like they take hours to create.
I was lucky enough to speak with the crew of the Starship Enterprise and it came as a big shock to me that they had no quarrels with the Star Wars booth next door. Many members of StarFleet actually really enjoy the films, even the crap Disney sequels! As I did with other stall holders, I asked them what their favourite thing about the Trekkie franchise was. One Terry Scott replied that “Star Trek is a very utopian future, and that’s a nice thing to see.” I couldn’t agree more! As a cyberpunk fan, I am bombarded with dystopian concepts, and even though that is very much the reality of our future, I too like to trick myself into thinking that we live in a much brighter world. The booth was also accompanied by a replica of Kirk’s captain’s chair in the bridge – if only my boomer Dad could have been there.
Next door at the Star Wars stand, I was very lucky to meet cosplayer Andrew Price, who had spent actual time working on the Star Wars set, in addition to the film premieres, close to Harrison Ford. He explained to me how he was approached by the producers to take part in the events dressed up in his Stormtrooper costume. I asked him what made cosplaying so special to him. His response took my breath away. He remembered when he had been asked to visit a zoo in cosplay, where, upon seeing him, a child with down-syndrome burst into excitement. Andrew said that he was lucky to have a helmet covering his face so the child’s Mum couldn’t see his tears of pure joy. Andrew expressed his observation that these moments demonstrate times when people who aren’t in the cosplay community share their sudden acceptance and gratification for what people like Andrew accomplish, while at other times he is subjected to judgement.
At the Wargrounds booth, its walls and tables were covered in medieval armour and weapons. It was quite a site to the untrained eye! This group specialises in bringing people together, suited up in armour and harbouring swords and shields, and battling it out in fields to get a real taste of historic fighting. I really considered joining, just so I could get a good look at it for myself, as seeing people taking each other on in broad daylight was not something I was used to – but I live on the southside, so that’s not entirely true. He told me I didn’t have to join in, as they were doing a showcase outside, meaning I could experience it for myself. I said, “No thank you!”
At the community stage, there were multiple talks going on, where hosts were discussing topics from the demise of marvel movies (an idea that I love!) to overcoming stress and anxiety – I definitely attended that one! Next to that was the gaming room, where heated matches of Dungeons and Dragons were taking place.
Due to the writers’ strike taking place in the ‘States I was not able to conduct any interviews with the celebrity guests attending on the day. However, I managed tocatch Legends of Tomorrow’s Matt Ryan on his way outside, and in a totally informal, non-interviewer manner, I asked him about his favourite aspect of being an actor, to which he replied “I get to explore different walks of life, to be me is boring.” I personally can’t imagine such a tremendous talent ever being considered boring.
During her Q and A, the actress Rebecca Breed voiced her love of Aussie fans as opposed to American fans as they are much nicer. When someone in the crowd asked her what she would like to cosplay as, she expressed her undying love for The Lord of the Rings, and her ever-growing need to one day dress up for Halloween as a Hobbit. Rebecca Breed is starring in the new Stan original series C.A.U.G.H.T.
The best thing about the event for me was how nice everyone was. I was completely new to the community, but I was taken in with open arms. When the event was over and my un-licensed self was waiting for a ride, I asked a group of kids leaving the event their reasons for attending ComicCon. One brave kid dressed up as an anime character replied, “It’s the only place where I can meet people like me and we won’t get hate-crimed for dressing up how we want!” For me this completely summarised the event: it is a safe place for people to come together and openly share their love for pop-culture with no chance of hate or judgement. If only the whole world was one big ComicCon.