There was a large “Harassment Policy” poster displayed very prominently at the entrance to this years London Super Comic Comic Convention. An interesting point that I will return to later. Blessed with unseasonal but very welcome sunshine, there was a lot more activity both inside and outside the Excel Centre than usual. As ever with such events there’s far more going on than the traditional boxes and boxes of comics (although apparently not the Lone Gunman edition of X Files Conspiracy No 2 with The Lone Gunmen on the cover. Sorry, Neil). London Super Comic Comic Convention is the UK fans prime opportunity to meet and greet their artist heroes, especially since Mark Millar’s Kapow! Comicon seems to be on indefinite hold.
London Super Comic Comic Convention caters to a variety of interests from main stream publications to small press and web-based enterprises. Fans of Adventure Time could meet artists such as Josceline Fenton and zombie groupies could track down Charlie Adlard, artist of The Walking Dead, to name but two. Away from the comics there were opportunities to pick up a wide range of T-Shirts from retailers such as Plastichead.com from whom I purchased a very reasonably priced Weyland Yutani long sleeve T-Shirt. There were also more esoteric vendors present, such as www.heylucky.co.uk who produce “collectible limited edition screen prints of classic and contemporary films”.
As usual there was no shortage of costumed heroes and villains wandering about, with the Cosplay elimination competition being the main attraction. I managed to get a seat in the second row back from the stage and if I had to move once to let someone with a camera go in or out, I had to do it at least twenty times. Before you start speaking (not unreasonably) of glass houses, you need to consider that whether these folk had Press Passes or not, there were people who had paid good money to see a Cosplay Competition, not the backs of people. Having said that, the stewards were on top of the situation, especially as the LSCC Harrassment Policy does mention “pushing, shoving” and “that which in any way creates a disturbance”. Overall I suppose this is a consequence of the continuing growth of interest in Cosplay.
The competition itself has moved on a lot from last year with many Cosplayers lip syncing to pre-recorded audio tracks (Frozen seemed to be a popular singalong source) and having props or indeed mini sets in the case of Castle Greyskull. In the slightly surreal world of these events there were way more people dressed up in the audience than appeared on stage. It was during the judging, by CosPlay stalwarts Yaya Han, Riddle and Tabitha Lyons, I spotted my favourite of the day, which was a Joker. There are always lots of Jokers but this one I thought was excellent with a most sinister smile. The audience also provided my “oops” moment of the day, where I learnt that not all redheads in leather trousers are Cosplaying Black Widow, but in fact might just be dressed that way. The lady was a good sport about it though and was happy to allow her picture to be taken anyway. I also learned that not all pirates are Captain Jack (sorry Blackbeard).
One thing the casual observer may be unaware of is that many Cosplayers don’t just get some fancy dress costume off Amazon, but display an amazing amount of dedication and tenacity to get things “just right”. This can range from Judge Dredd carrying round a surprisingly weighty metal Lawgiver all day because his holster broke, to one lady with a custom leather suit costing over £3000. I had an excellent conversation with one Hawkeye who explained the level of effort that had gone into his costume, which included custom boots courtesy of his wife and the same carbon fibre bow used in Avengers and a custom quiver, all of which came in at well over £700. Now, the casual reader may say “Who would know if it was the same bow?” but I can assure you in the Cosplay world, a lot of people would. I also admire the fact that any old quiver wasn’t good enough. One had to be specially designed and engineered (out of sheet metal). You have to respect this sort of dedication. Hawkeye’s long standing next project is a particular type of Hulk and I suspect it will be well worth watching out for!
Cosplay events have a great spirit of inclusivity, friendliness and fun. Regardless of who you are or what your background may be, there is a great sense of comradery. As this social activity has grown in popularity, it has attracted a great deal more mainstream media coverage. As a result Cosplay is frequently represented in the mainstream press in a somewhat skewed fashion. There is a gender and aesthetics bias that is all rather predictable. I happen to think that all people who have the bottle and dedication to Cosplay deserve a bit of respect. Furthermore this should be reflected in the media. I always ask express permission of everyone before taking any photographs and endeavour to cover as broad a range of subjects as possible.
Finally, on the subject of “discrimination”, Jonathan Ross was present at London Super Comic Comic Convention. Readers may be be aware of his widely reported withdrawal from presenting the Hugos at the World Science Fiction Convention in London later in 2014 and of the abuse his wife received on Twitter (his wife? Was she presenting? WTF?). If you’re interested you may wish to checkout what Neil Gaiman thought of the matter. Contains Moderate Peril has no specific association with the man in question but I would like to point out the following. After a very long day, at 18:00PM Mr. Ross was still having a word with each person who queued up to speak to him or get something signed. He wasn’t just “conveyor belting” them along whilst looking at his watch. He was actively engaged with fans and also very happy to pose for pictures. It is nice to see such genuine goodwill between “celebrity” and “fan” and I salute such a positive attitude.
All photos copyright of Paul King (Twitter: @thephotomerge)