Every now and again, it’s good to go on an adventure and Comic-Con is undeniably that, especially if you join in the fun and dress up, you won’t feel at all out of place I can guarantee it. Even if you go as you are and only want to soak up the atmosphere and maybe bump into a few favorite characters from films, comic book heroes in costume or say hello to movie stars.
If you want to get an autograph or photo together with a star of film or TV, this is the place to be. Birmingham was closer to drive to for us, but London Comic-Con I hear is amazing too and much larger. This was out first experience of a Comic Convention and it didn’t fail to meet expectations, the atmosphere was electric and the fans of comic hero’s and all variety of film came fully dressed for the occasion, such elaborate outfits, mostly handmade with lots of care in the detailing, make up perfected too.
Once we’d arrived, everybody started heading off to the NEC venue from the enormous car parking area, as though in some kind of grand procession of superheroes, anime and comic characters combined with lookalikes from film and TV.
Once inside the NEC Birmingham venue, we lined up and filed into the arena in an orderly fashion. All props were checked by staff members to ensure they were imitation and made of plastic, cardboard or similar kind of harmless construction. Tickets were checked and admission tags handed out with a stamp on the back of the hand for good measure. I found it interesting to watch all the various characters queuing together, Pikachu standing beside Batman, The Walking Dead’s Darrell next to Harlequin and Darth Vader. Such eclectic mixes of genres and everyone having fun even while queuing.
We had an early admission ticket and so arrived inside the halls before the crazy rush later in the day, I’d say it’s well worth opting for the early ticket because you can browse the stalls well in advance of the crowds and kind of get settled in. It does make for a very long day especially if you’re in costume, it gets rather hot after a while inside a costume so remember that when you plan your day.
The variation of stalls is amazing, and you can buy anything from costumes, comics of course, board games, clothing, comic art, collectables, food of all kinds and everything else in-between. Stars of screen and stage attending will of course change each time, and you need to book in advance to see them for photo shoots, and autographs will usually be on a queue up basis, first come first served.
Most of the characters you’ll meet will be quite happy to pose for a photo, and if you’re in costume yourself, don’t be surprised if you get asked for a photo, it happened a lot on our visit. We enjoyed the lookalikes at the stands, Star Wars was extremely popular, with the Storm Troopers marching around in unison and stopping people randomly in full character mode.
R2-D2 and C-3PO were on display even if only models, plus lots of fans in well-constructed costumes, from Princess Leia, Darth Maul and Chewbacca to name but a few. The Back to The Future stand was a big hit and I asked for a photograph, the details were great, a detailed and well-constructed setup with the DeLorean and all!
By lunch time we’d decided to pop outside for fresh air as a second wave of ticket holders arrived. We bought coffee and lunch to eat outside and cool off, it is a long day on your feet, and we were getting a little overheated, all the family were in costume including myself with a wig too! Sitting on the grass not too far away obviously outside for the same reason, cooling off, were a whole bunch of Pokémon characters, I just thought to myself, “Gotta’ Catch ‘Em All!”
We headed back inside where at one end of the hall was a wrestling match in the wrestling ring, in a pop-up theatre was a Q and A session and chat with one of the stars attending Comic Con. A giant Game of Thrones chair was available to sit on for photo opportunities behind the gaming area, where all kinds of consoles were set up with a variety of games to play. We stayed for another couple of hours and I kept snapping shots as we walked around the stalls and variety of stands taking in the fun and camaraderie that just flows there, such upbeat vibes.
Towards the end of the day is the costume judging event, if you so wish to enter. I have no idea how the judges manage to narrow down the finalists because boy are those outfits and props elaborate not to mention the work going into the make up too. As we made our way back to the carpark area, a greater distance than I’d remembered, the costumed contenders were still arriving. The experience of attending Birmingham Comic Con was an inspirational one. I milled about through the crowds in full outfit and wig and not a care, also having my photo taken with my daughter and another group who wore cosplay from the same anime series, something I wouldn’t have dreamed of doing beforehand, but the event was so relaxed and fun, we had a laugh a minute and enjoyed every single moment. This was in 2016 and since experiencing Birmingham Comic Con, my daughter and I have gone on to visit Anime North, Toronto and again had a fabulous time.
I think our very first visit to Comic Con here in the UK set us on our path to being open-minded and to having more adventures. More recently my youngest son and I attended a local event called EM-Con in Nottingham and had a wonderful experience. We had the chance to meet Danny John-Jules, who most will know as the character called The Cat in Red Dwarf sci-fi series and had a chat with David Bradley, star of many films including Harry Potter (caretaker, Argus Filch,) Hot Fuzz, Worlds End, among many others, and stared in the Game of Thrones series, I shook his hand asked of his favourite roll and discovered that although he had thoroughly enjoyed every one of his rolls in their own way, one of his favourite rolls was portraying William Hartnell in the Doctor Who docudrama An Adventure in Space and Time. My son had a photo shoot with David Bradley too, and we came home with lots of souvenirs, but above all else so many amazing fun memories. 😀