Oz Comic-Con 2012 was claiming to be one of the biggest cultural expos to ever hit Melbourne, and if that’s anything like The Incredible Hulk, hit it square in the face.
As an attendee of 2011 pop culture expo Armageddon, I had mixed thoughts as to how Oz Comic-Con would go. Whilst Armageddon had plenty of international guests (and an exact replica of the Delorean DMC-12 – NERD ALERT!), that particular event left me with an overall feeling that it was more of an opportunity to sell the fans merchandise, rather than giving them quality time with their pop idols.
Branded as the “ultimate pop-culture and fan expo”, Oz Comic-Con was shooting for the stars, and with major guests including Game of Thrones, Jason Momoa, Trekkie favorite Sir Patrick Stewart, and the ‘Godfather’ of comic books Stan Lee, they certainly gave it every chance.
Like all other fan-boys in Melbourne saving their pennies for a Comic-Con experience, I was somewhat disappointed to learn that Oz Comic-Con is in no way affiliated with America’s biggest expo, Comic-Con International held since 1970 in San Diego. Or London Comic-Con for that matter…or New York Comic-Con…or any of the other 33 events that use the ‘Comic-Con’ name. Whether this convention is using the name to its advantage and to deliberately confuse convention goers is debatable. It’s also worth mentioning that although it’s called ‘Comic-Con’, it is very much a multi-genre pop-culture expo including “gaming, comics, TV and movie stars, anime, Cosplay and sci-fi”. End of the day, as one fan put it, “they got Stan Lee, so who cares!”
Who cares indeed! Stan Lee was brilliant. For a 90-year-old, he had the energy of one of his many superhero creations. Gracious and humble, he must be one of the best granddads in the world. Patrick Stewart was equally engaging. A convention veteran, he was the consummate professional. One of the surprises for me was the double act of Max Grodénchik and Armin Shimerman, who played Ferengi brothers Rom and Quark in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, but have appeared in other Star Trek series. One gave a rendition of Richard III, the other a short snippet of his Star Trek-inspired hip-hop. Surely someone has put it up on YouTube?
A special mention must be made to those in Cosplay. Wow. From a fleet of Stormtroopers, to Optimus Prime, to a litter of Thunder Cats. I mean, WOW! Thumbs up to those who put in a huge effort on a typically shitty Melbourne winter’s weekend.
Oz Comic-Con did leave me feeling slightly underwhelmed. Don’t get me wrong, the guests were brilliant, and I appreciate an attempt was made with gaming, but I guess it felt most of the effort went into running the stages while the rest of the convention was mostly left as standard merchandise selling stall holders.
It’s fair to say the convention organisers may have underestimated the popularity of some of the guests they pulled, and the demand for such events in Melbourne. Having said that, given this was not Hub Productions first foray into pop-culture conventions, the number of pre-sold tickets and the fact that the Oz Comic-Con website crashed almost hourly in the build up to Saturday, you would think they may have been prepared for it. Many fans were left unhappy and unable to get in the door. Trust me, you don’t wanna see comic book fans when they get angry. Sunday seemed better managed, but similar problems due to attendee numbers emerged. Convention volunteers did the best they could, but it was clear that organisers had been overwhelmed.
I gotta say, I hope they give this another crack next year. Given the turnout over the weekend, fans should expect a bigger and better Oz Comic-Con, and having proved the demand, you’d hope the huge crowd won’t be too much of a problem. As it was the first ever Oz Comic-Con, of course you’d expect there to be a few creases to iron out for the next one, and let’s hope they do. Whoever had the job of booking the guests, tip of the hat to you, Sir. How did you do it, and how are you going to top that line up next year?
When Richard Askin isn’t writing scripts and TV shows, he can often be found in TV ads, not to mention his ten second claim to fame in the original Underbelly series.
Marion George has seen every single episode of every sci-fi, vampire, fantasy, period and tween TV series produced since the beginning of time.
Olivia Blackburn is nutty about 110mm film, her new mini Diana camera and her Fuji Instax Cheki. She takes nice photos of the things around her and publishes them to her blog, Photographicamismo.