Last Saturday the Games vs Play team checked out the Melbourne leg of Oz Comic-Con 2015, held over two days at the Melbourne Convention Centre. This was my first ever venture into the convention scene (Falk and AB are old hands), and although I’m a proud nerd both by genetics and inclination I was feeling a little apprehensive. Would people sense I was a con noobie? Would they point and stare? Would they somehow know that I didn’t know who Jewel Staite was?
AB reassured me in an email that everything would be fine. “Don’t worry dude,” he wrote. “You’ll be among our people.” And then he added a list of adorable emojis that I thought might be saying something like “Help, I’m having a minor hernia” or “This visa stamp is faked.” See? I’m a noobie at a heap of things.
I needn’t have worried. The folks at Oz ComicCon – fans, cosplayers and organisers alike – were all super cool. The festive atmosphere was a cross between a massive Halloween party, a mid-grade university conference (the kind that dedicates a full half-day plenary session to decoding the semantics of Allan Moore comics), and that dance party scene in the second Matrix movie when Morpheus shouts “Tomorrow we may die, but tonight we party!” and then everyone goes crazy except for Neo and Trinity who are having a romantic moment in a burrow somewhere nearby. (Well, ok, maybe not that last bit about the burrow).
Soon after arriving we got ourselves miked up, set the camera to “record” and went for a stroll in the exhibitors’ hall where we met many cosplayers. Some of these costumes were truly fantastic – the amount of work and imagination that had gone into them was staggering. Standouts included Princess Leia, the characters from Batman: The Dark Knight and a surprise visit from three of the Avengers – Iron Man, Captain America and Thor. Talking with the cosplayers was a real highlight for me. To everyone who made the effort to come in costume to Oz Comic-Con – well done! It’s people like you who make these events so awesome.
Guest panels are of course the other major draw at cons, and we saw three of them (although AB and Falk had seen Paul Blackthorne and Rila Fukushima from Arrow earlier that morning, while I was still at home pushing a pram for a couple of hours. Yes, with a baby in it). A pregnant Jewel Staite (Firefly, Stargate Atlantis) was looking great in her first trimester, if a trifle jet-lagged. Despite insisting that she was nothing like her character Kaylee from Firefly, she did in fact come across as quite sweet-natured and easy going. Jason Momoa, whose star is on the rise playing a string of wild-haired barbarian heroes (think Conan, Stargate Atlantis, Game of Thrones and Aquaman), swaggered onstage like a rock-star. Aside from his upcoming roles he seemed happiest talking about his activism for the rights of fellow Native Hawaiians, and his love of freaking out cast members on Stargate Atlantis by flashing his bum-hole and reputedly “making it wink.” Uh, ok.
Finally, Bruce Campbell of Evil Dead fame looked and acted pretty much like a large (and not very realistic) animatronic doll of himself. Oh, behave! His onstage shtick was shtuck in wise-guy mode, a style first imported to these shores by visiting luminaries such as Joan Rivers and Frank Sinatra. “What’s so f#@king great about Melbourne, anyway?” he kept heckling the audience. “How come you losers get to be the ‘World’s Most Liveable City’?!?” Finally, after he’d rejected the audience’s cries of “coffee!” and “street art!” I discovered a hitherto untapped reserve of hometown patriotism and shouted “Melbourne was founded by Batman!” (Which is totally true. Even Wikipedia agrees: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Batman). I’m proud to say it was the only audience comment that actually seemed to stump him for a moment. Yeah, go history nerds!
All in all Oz Comic-Con was a fantastic first introduction to the world of conventions. If we interviewed you, thank you and watch this space for the video. If we didn’t interview you, scratch the “thank you” bit but watch this space anyway. We’ll see the rest of you again soon, maybe at the next convention and remember – if you’re game, we’ll play.