Belfast Film & Comic Con 2014
Its noon on Monday, and after a hefty lie in I’m still not fully recovered from this weekend’s convention – Showmaster’s Belfast Film and Comic Con. Held in the Odyssey Arena in the Titanic Quarter, the venue was a great place to host the event, and it turned out to be one of my favourite conventions of the past year. Of course, as an exhibitor what makes a convention great for me can be a little bit different than for the average attendee – for us, it’s the actual people we get to talk to, the comic fans and the creators who are just excited to get together and enjoy themselves for a weekend.
Interestingly, this was one of the first conventions where I really started to recognise a lot of the regular exhibitors and attendees, with artists and fans coming over to the booth to say hi and in some cases even let us know how much they enjoyed our books after buying them last time. I guess it really helps to remember people’s faces once you’ve sketched them and turned them into a zombie!
A lot of complaints I hear about conventions is that there aren’t actually enough comics there, instead with too much emphasis placed on merchandise. I didn’t find this to be an issue here, with several stalls set up to cater for every level of buyer, from casual graphic novel readers to hardcore collectors of high grade rare issues. I even managed to find a couple of issues of Dark Tower that I’m missing, that that kept me happy. The only strange thing was that there didn’t seem to be many local creators present. Most conventions have a designated Artist’s Alley or comic village where indie artists can be found by the dozen, but this weekend seemed strangely bereft of such stalls, with only a few faces from the Irish comic scene present.
Lack of comic village aside, I quite enjoyed the layout of the convention – held in a stadium surrounded by thousands of seats helped to alleviate the problem of overcrowding that plagues many shows. If you wanted to take a break or get something to eat, there was always somewhere to sit without having to sit on the floor or get in everyone’s way. It seems like a small thing, but it really made the difference. Makeshift stages were also erected in the seating areas creating great temporary lecture style theatres where celebrity guests and panels were hosted. From anywhere in the stadium you could see and hear where people were gathering for panels, and from the seats you could get a great view of the entire convention floor. Again – its a small thing, but it helped give this convention its own identity.
As always, there was some great cosplay on display, and I snared plenty of attandees for photos every time they passed the Uproar booth. It should come as no surprise that Frozen was one of the most popular among female cosplayers, with several Annas and Elsas to be found. Attack on Titan was again prominent among the Anime fans, and the presence of the Emerald Garrison provided as always some truly fantastic recreations of movie favourites – my personal favourite being this fantastic Ghostbuster uniform – the detail on the proton pack was mind blowing (see slideshow below). I did notice a disturbing lack of Superman though. I’m thinking I might have to remedy that in future. After hitting the gym for a few months of course….
As for us, this was a great convention for all things Uproar. We chatted to dozens of great people and after selling quite a few books have hopefully made a few new fans in the process too! This was a particularly important convention for me – as it was the debut of Conundrum, our new steampulp fantasy series – and my own first printed comic for Uproar! Fortunately, fans were attracted to the premise and we sold every copy we took with us! Here’s hoping we get some good feedback as issue 2 goes into production.
As things wrapped up on the Sunday and the crowds started to disperse we were tired and weary. My pens had run dry, my voice was hoarse and my neck and back were killing me from a weekend of sketching. The train journey back to Derry seemed endless and I couldn’t wait to get in home for a sleep. But would I do it all again? Damn right I would. Heres looking forward to another great weekend next year!
For more comics and videogame related miscellany, and more pics from this weekend’s convention, follow me on twitter @michaelarby