Despite the chilly Melbourne weather pop culture fans aplenty (many of whom are in cosplay) make their way to the Melbourne Exhibition & Convention Centre for Oz Comic Con. Slowly trickling into the venue the queues begin to grow as the crowds start lining up to make their way inside.
Over time Oz Comic-Con has turned into more than just meeting celebrities, or buying comics, it’s now become an exhibition that showcases many different aspects of the pop culture fandom. It’s an event where people can show off their cosplay and purchase art or wares from local artists and creators. As always, when it comes to conventions, it pays to be prepared and plan ahead.
In the lead up to the convention itself, Oz Comic Con’s website is the best place to hit up to make sure you’re across the schedule of the weekend. Now that they have implemented online ticket and token purchases, you can even pre-purchase entry tickets and your photograph and/or autograph tokens online before even setting foot in the venue. This has reduced the general waiting and queuing times not only to get into the venue but also to get photos and autographs.
In saying that, it’s still important to keep your “patience hat” on. Particularly when trying to navigate around the artist and vendor stalls where traffic tends to slow to a shuffle as people walk past tables and gaze down at all the goodies and potential purchases in front of them.
We sat in on the ‘Doctor Who Panel’ with Samuel Anderson and Ingrid Oliver. Ingrid seemed to take a genuine delight in sarcastically gloating over the fact that starring in the 50th Anniversary special episode meant she got to work with Peter Capaldi, Matt Smith, David Tennant, John Hurt and Tom Baker. Meanwhile, Samuel revealed that even though he enjoyed the challenge of portraying a Cyberman he wasn’t a fan of being in the restrictive suit for hours on end.
We also saw Robert Patrick’s panel where he revealed that when he auditioned for James Cameron for the T-1000 part he was told to come looking as mean and badass as possible. As an avid motorcycle rider he showed up head to toe in black leathers and dark sunglasses, which Cameron then of course used that exact same outfit for Arnold Schwarzenegger’s iconic Terminator look in the film. He also delivered a hilarious Schwarzenegger impersonation along with discussing several of his other roles including his stint on The X Files as Special Agent John Doggett, and playing Johnny Cash’s brother in Walk The Line.
The highlight of the weekend however was John Barrowman. His panel on Saturday began with him coming out onstage wearing a “Her Universe” cosplay dress of the Tenth Doctor and mary-jane shoes with heels and a brunette wig. One of the things that I love the most about him is how much love and affection he has for his fans, and his entire panel was a laugh-a-minute as he talked about the multiple times his husband Scott had been caught naked in his videos posted to Facebook, or who the better kisser was between David Tennant and James Marsters.
By the end of it I was in tears of laughter and, later, disappointed that I missed seeing his second panel on the Sunday evening. Over the course of the weekend he had been asking fans to bring him packets of Tim Tams, by the end he had reached a Tim Tam tower that was as tall as he was. Which he subsequently used for a game of Tim Tam Jenga during his second panel on Sunday evening.
For young wannabe screenplay writers, or comic artists or cosplay enthusiasts there were also stacks of smaller panels focused on tips, tricks, hints and suggestions on how to get a start on that thing you love.
There was a ‘Writers Workshop: How To Write & Pitch Your Comic’, or ‘Visual Storytelling 101: Comic Book Academia’ or ‘Cosplay Repairs In The Field’ with the famous Captain Patch-It just to name a few. If you have any interest in wanting to get a start in a creative field, these are really great panels to go along to to learn from those already in the business.
Besides the guests and workshop panels, there’s plenty of other things to check out. Even just wandering around on the showroom floor ensures you’ll end up seeing loads of cools cosplayers.
There’s always a really great mix of characters from film and TV, video games and anime costumes to see, it’s just all dependent on how fast you are at spotting them. It’s always important to remember to ask permission before taking a photo and where possible refer to them by their character name as that usually grabs the cosplayers attention.
We saw a pair of Ghostbusters, Immortan Joe from Mad Max: Fury Road, Lana from Archer, Master Chief from Halo, Mary Poppins, and Derek Zoolander. If you’re a huge fan of cosplay there’s always the Australian Championships of Cosplay competition that’s held on the Sunday afternoon.
However, we all really know it’s the Kids Cosplay competition that wins our hearts. Who doesn’t love seeing all the little ones dressed up as their favourite characters?
Alternatively, if you’re more into arts, crafts and fan made goodies there’s loads of exhibitors and stall holders selling their wares. From prints of their fan-art, or clothing accessories like badges and brooches or jewelry, to books and comics and plenty of toys to keep kids happy. The convention has now become a great place to purchase some unique gifts and presents for those who love pop culture.
The only thing I find tricky with going to conventions is trying to cram in everything I want to see and do. I know that if my feet are tired and my face hurts from smiling by the end of each day I’ve done a lot of walking and seen a lot of great things. Once again Oz Comic Con Melbourne has left me a very happy con-goer.
Oz Comic Con Melbourne was held Saturday 11 and Sunday 12 June at Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre.
Oz Comic Con Sydney will be held Saturday 10 and Sunday 11 September at Sydney Exhibition Centre Glebe Island.
Oz Comic Con Brisbane will be held Saturday 17 and Sunday 18 September at Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre.
For more information and to purchase tickets go to the Oz Comic Con website.