Just got back from the London Film and Comic Con at Earl's Court. I hadn't been to anything quite like it before, but some friends bought me a ticket and comics and movies and sci-fi are things I enjoy, so why not?
It turns out some people take this stuff really seriously.
The queue outside reached around nearly three sides of the building but once the doors were opened it moved pretty quickly. Our first sight on entering the hall was Ecto-1, the ghostbusters' preferred mode of transport.
The content of the convention seemed to break down into three main areas - talks/seminars with famous/semi-famous people, stalls that sold stuff, and people you could meet and get autographs from. Most of the talks weren't of interest or you had to pay to get into them, so we decided to skip those. There were a lot of stars in attendance to sign autographs, but to be honest I've never been particularly interested in meeting actors, even from my favourite shows. It was still strangely exciting to find myself within sight of people like Danny Glover and Avery Brooks, although the scale of celebrity was a little extreme. At the top end there were people like Peter Dinklage and David Hasselhoff, who you had to pay to see. At the other end... well, let's put it this way. They had the lady who did E.T.'s arms.
Walking along the rows of autograph tables trying to spot the loneliest looking person (the E.T. lady was doing surprisingly well) and browsing the various stalls took up an enjoyable chunk of the afternoon, but by now a fourth area of the convention had become apparent - costume watching.
I'd been surprised by the number of people outside who'd dressed up for the event but there were even more inside. Despite my initial urge to quietly mock them, there were in fact some excellent costumes, but like the celebrities, there was quite an extreme scale. For example, the first costume we saw was a guy dressed as Bane from The Dark Knight Rises. His costume was highly accurate, but more importantly, he fitted the role perfectly, in that he was bald and utterly massive. He even did the voice quite well. However, there were a few other Banes wandering around who were less suited for the role. One had an okay costume but had to wear a fairly obvious bald wig and was quite skinny - he didn't look the part. My friend Kate christened him 'Lame Bane'. Another one had a slightly better costume but was far too short. A Bane-ett, if you like.
Some other brilliant costumes... the guy dressed as Arkham City Robin, who'd brought his 6 year old kid dressed as Batman. The Lord Farquah from Shrek, who had tiny false legs glued to his pelvis. The whole family who had come in a Harry Potter theme, led by the husband who not only looked like and was dressed as Snape but seemed to stay in character the whole day. Watching him storm through the cafe area, frown fixed in place and cloak billowing behind him, was an odd sight.
There was also an entire platoon of marines, Aliens and Predators, several Iron Men and at least two squads of wandering Judges. Some more worth a mention included...
- the Female avengers!
- a range of Doctor Who impersonators. Indian Doctor Who was a bit unconvincing
- Princess Leia in a slave bikini, every teenage boy's dream. I still can't work out who'd convince someone to dress up like that, though
- Indiana Jones, accompanied by the woman who stands next to Indiana Jones but otherwise is someone in forties period costume
- a range of manga guys with gigantic cardboard props, swords the size of surfboards
- the woman with the gigantic dragon on her shoulder, and the woman in the same costume with a tiny toy one (that's got to be embarrassing. You spend all this time working on a costume then someone else turns up with the same one as you - and it's better)
- a portal 2 guy (yay)
Having spent several hours observing the various outfits, I started compiling a list of requirements for a good, practical comic convention costume...
- It needs pockets. Nothing ruins the illusion of a high quality Batman outfit like a rucksack over the shoulder, and a good Gollum costume isn't going to have anywhere to keep your keys.
- Remember that you might have to take public transport to get to the event, so keep clear of any costumes that could be mistaken for not a costume but something worth calling the transport police about.
- It mustn't cause you to overheat. Full head masks, face paint, body paint, or anything furry are a no-no.
- Prop guns are cool for about ten minutes, but after that you're going to need a holster or a shoulder strap.
- At some point you will have to go to the toilet. Think about that.
Personally, I'd go for a costume that I could easily stash in a bag for the train ride home, or something big enough to completely hide in. So that's probably... Clark Kent or the Tardis. Interesting.
Until next time, convention fans!