Fan conventions are a relatively new phenomenon in the UK, and one that I usually have to explain when the subject comes up in conversation. Thanks to the popularity of the sitcom The Big Bang Theory, some are aware of the concept of a comic-con but usually they don’t know that such events take place on this side of the pond too. Maybe I’m selling the Great British public short, but the handful of people who know what I’m talking about when I mention conventions picture the stereotypical bespectacled nerd, probably wearing a scarily accurate Star Trek uniform, arguing with an equally stereotypical bespectacled nerd about how commercial Doctor Who has gotten.
This is an accurate detail of a much, much bigger picture that includes so much more than just die-hard Trekkies and Whovians. I have attended the London Film and Comic Con every year for the last four years, and every year the event gets bigger and more diverse, incorporating more fandoms, both new and old. Some people attend for the chance to meet their heroes, whether that’s to get a comic book signed by the artist, or to have a photo taken posing with their favourite actor. Others are there for the merchandise, from a rare comic book to a life size replica of Captain America’s iconic shield. There are often talks with a panel of people involved with a particular film or tv show (this year there was a Sherlock panel with Stevin Moffat and IT WAS AWESOME!).
I love all the different aspects of attending a con… but maybe your eyes are glazing over a bit at this point. What the hell has any of this got to do with crafts?
I have one word for you. One awesome, totally under appreciated word. Cosplay.
Okay, to some people this just looks like fancy dress with a weirdly specific dress code, and yes, some people are wearing off the peg shop bought costumes, but look closer at the collage above. See the guy in the Spartan/Gladiator costume? His wife made that for him. This time last year that leather was upholstering a sofa! In fact most of the costumes in that collage were handmade, with the obvious spandex exceptions (Spider-man, Deadpool and the Riddler for example).
The amount of skill and dedication it must take to build an Ironman suit from scratch is just mind boggling! There are a couple of cosplay competitions with cash prizes at LFCC, but the overwhelming majority of cosplayers don’t even enter; they cosplay for the love of it, and for the thrill of being asked by complete strangers to pose for photographs!
Every year I see all the amazing costumes and think “I could do that”, but this year I actually attended some of the talks given by experienced cosplayers about how they make their costumes and props. The challenge of designing and making a costume from scratch is very appealing! Who knows, maybe 2015 will be the year a finally take the plunge and go in full costume. I already have a few ideas…
Mr BAM loves LFCC as much as I do, and this year had a couple of high points worth mentioning. First, he managed to pick up an original Atari games console, just like the one he used to play on with his late stepfather. It was such a treat to see him so excited, and I felt like I got a glimpse of what he must have been like as a kid! He also paid for a photo with George Romero, the man who pretty much invented the modern zombie genre, and a perfectly timed technical problem with the camera meant that he had to wait around chatting with George for ten minutes whilst they fixed it!
The big draw this year was undoubtedly Stan Lee, the creator of Spider-man, the X-men, the Incredible Hulk, the Fantastic Four and pretty much every other awesome comic book that Marvel has ever produced! This was his last signing tour in Europe (the man is 92 years old!) and EVERYONE wanted to meet him! We were lucky enough to get photos with him and attend his talk on the Sunday, and it is a memory I will always treasure. (Side note: when I was three years old I had a Spider-man costume that I wore for three straight weeks. My poor mum had to wrestle me out of it to make me bathe and change my underwear. I still have that Spider-man costume! Except for the mask, which my mum threw away because a masked toddler is apparently too creepy!)
Mr BAM was particularly amused that amidst all the film, TV and comic book merchandise, I still managed to find a couple of knitted and crocheted items to admire (and by admire I of course mean buy!)
I instantly fell in love with these knitted zombies, with their detachable body parts! Unbelievably the lady who made them was selling them for only £5 each.
And I couldn’t resist this little guy in his spiffy top hat either!
If you have any interest in movies, cult tv shows, comic books, computer games or sci-fi in general, I highly recommend you give LFCC a go. Just bear in mind that the venue is packed to capacity on the Saturday so you need to buy your tickets in advance, or even better go on the Friday or Sunday.