Over the past weekend, the time was here again for the cosplayers, fans and families to gather at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre for Oz Comic Con. The annual showcase of Film and TV, Gaming, and Literature featured the usual line-up of actors, writers, artists, publishers, community organisations and stores, as well as some newer changes to improve the attendee experience and answer the age-old question of “But what is there to do at a convention?”
This year’s Film and TV guest line-up was an interesting one, bringing in stars from shows such as Riverdale, True Blood, Arrow, Lucifer and even Hunt for the Wilderpeople. Missing were the usual classic franchise stars, such as Star Trek, although the inclusion of Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s Clare Kramer and Stargate SG-1’s Corin Nemec can be seen as filling that gap, given that both franchises are around 20 years old now.
Melbourne’s own Leigh Whannell, co-creator and co-star of Saw and creator of the Insidious franchise, dropped by on the Sunday to promote his upcoming film Upgrade and upcoming Australian film Occupation and some members of Foxtel’s Wentworth cast were also on hand to promote their work.
The Comics Guest area of the convention continues to showcase some of the best work being produced by local artists, including Tom Taylor (Injustice, The Deep, X-Men: Red), Ryan K Lindsay (Chum, Beautiful Canvas, Negative Space), and Paul Bedford and Henry Pop (The List), as well as Australian author Alison Goodman (Dark Days Pact, Lady Helen & The Dark Days Club) and international guests Jai Nitz (Suicide Squad: Most Wanted) and Andrew Griffith (Transformers).
Over the last couple of years, Oz Comic Con in particular have been reaching out to the cosplayers through the inclusion of Cosplay Guests, Andycam Cosplay and Miss Sinister for this show, and gaining partnerships with Spotlight, Singer and other crafting companies to provide product demonstrations and tutorials, as well as the opportunity to have professional level photos taken of your costumes and see some professional creations up close and in person.
Of course, any mention of the Cosplay areas of the show have to include the one and only Captain Patch-It and his Patchiteers in the Cosplay Repair area, providing expert assistance when a cosplay begins to break or just doesn’t go right.
On a similar note, Oz Comic Con have been expanding their comic and anime offerings over the last couple of years to provide options for people to take a moment and watch or read some screenings or from the communal library collections. The Comic District area also features scheduled cosplay meetups along themes such as DC, Marvel and Deadpool to connect cosplayers and people looking to take photos of them away from the main aisles.
For those looking to get some practical advice from some of the artists and writers, the panels scheduled for the weekend were far more directed in content than simply linking together the common factors of the guests, including some hands-on tutorials for drawing Manga (with Queenie Chan), Drawing in Marvel style (with Wayne Nichols), and for Creating a Comic Cover (with Dean Rankine and Stewart McKenny).
Of course, for the convention newcomers, particularly families, Oz Comic Con have created a new team of volunteers called the ‘Tour Guides’ to provide an introduction to the show and its attractions. They also have a large family area for young kids to engage in more hands-on child-friendly activities.
From the perspective of having attended, worked as a volunteer, and helped organise conventions, it was great to see so much work going into having activities for attendees beyond the stores, autographs and photo booth sessions with the guests. The addition of some new tech in the guest areas and a more streamlined photo collection process provides some much-needed relief for the more tedious aspects of the ‘traditional’ con experience.
As ever, Oz Comic Con provided the experience expected by convention veterans with some major improvements, while also making it more accessible to newcomers and having enough to do that the show would be a ‘day out’ instead of somewhere to ‘drop into’.
Oz Comic Con will be in Brisbane on 22 & 23 September and Sydney 29 & 30 September 2018. For tickets, venues and guest information, check out the Oz Comic Con website.