Event Review: Oz Comic-Con Melbourne 2017 was a mixed bag of vampires, zombies, superheroes and the supernatural

It’s freezing in Melbourne, my BOM app is telling me it’s like 2 degrees outside so I know I need to rug up even though I’m only a 5 minute walk away from the Melbourne Convention & Exhibition Centre. I throw on my warm jacket over my dress / leggings combo and make my way over to the venue. It’s a nice brisk start to the day as I make my way in, passing Stormtroopers and Wonder Woman and Wolverine and Master Chief from Halo. You know it’s a pop culture convention when you’re passing by all these fictional characters and it’s considered “normal”.

I decided I was going to approach my weekend by splitting the days up, Saturday (Day One) would be my key panel day. While Sunday (Day Two) would be my day to get photos with the guests and have a look around the stalls and try to catch up with some of the various friends I’ve made along the way as a convention goer. I love live-tweeting panels, it’s a challenge to try and listen to a guest’s response, quote or paraphrase it, include hashtags and keep it all under 140 characters and do it on the fly as they’re talking. I also love being able to share their responses with social media audiences.

We kicked off our tweeting sessions (you can check them out on @TheIrisAU on Twitter) with Eugene Simon and Daniel Portman aka the Game of Thrones panel where they discussed the show’s violent and brutal nature and how its villains are something that make it so special and watchable. Sylvester McCoy best known for his role as the seventh Doctor from Doctor Who ended up moderating his own panel pottering up and down the aisles of the panel room answering fan questions. One of the big drawcards for the day though was the iZombie guests – Rahul Kohli, Robert Buckley and Aly Michalka with a very busy panel room and lots of laughs as they casually discuss whose brains they would want to eat and why.

Sylvester McCoy playing the spoons,
Oz Comic Con Melbourne 2017

A surprisingly popular guest who also had a lot of attendees in her panel was Shannon Purser, best known as Barb from Stranger Things. Her fans posed some great questions and all repeatedly thanked her for portraying such a real and relatable character onscreen, which you could see Shannon was grateful for the adoration. Zach McGowan is one of those actors who you see in plenty of shows, including Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, The 100 and Black Sails and was surprisingly frank about how he’s the sort of actor who really wants to do his own stunts, even though oftentimes the powers that be would rather he don’t for insurance purposes. We closed out our first day with Alyson Hannigan, a perennial favourite from Buffy The Vampire Slayer which is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. Even 20 years on though the fandom is strong with a packed out panel room and plenty of questions being fired at her, we even got a bonus Tom Lenk, fellow BTVS costar crashing her panel for the last 10 minutes or so.

Tom Lenk & Alyson Hannigan, Oz Comic Con Melbourne 2017

Sunday Day Two started out much the same way except for a minor mishap relating to trying to acquire a Jason Momoa photo token only to be told they had all been sold out online with none being made available to buy in the morning for his photo session that day. Note to self, maybe look into the occasional pre-purchasing of tokens for a guest who has limited appearance times. After that I head on over to check out Daniel Gillies’ panel, a guest who I was rather surprised at how popular he was. Clearly I’ve totally missed that fandom train for The Originals and The Vampire Diaries but the Canadian born New Zealand raised actor’s dry sassy sense of humour and occasionally sarcastic responses to questions were not lost on his audience. We finished off our panel tweeting sessions with Elden Henson, you might recognise him as Foggy Nelson in Netflix Marvel’s Daredevil, or as tough guy Mighty Duck Fulton Reed, the irony being the latter role is nearly 20 years old and yet its fans are still asking questions about the movie trilogy now.

Daniel Gillies, Oz Comic Con Melbourne 2017

After my live-tweeting duties I had some down time to get some photos with guests, and check out some of the exhibitor stalls selling their wares. But the thing about conventions is that depending on your interest, there’s so many other things to see and do. Comic book artist Wayne Nichols who provided one of the main murals for the ‘Marvel: Creating The Cinematic Universe” exhibition currently on at Brisbane’s Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA) was partaking in live drawing demonstrations. The Anime Station studio area was screening a variety of anime series like Yuri On Ice and Boruto: The Next Generation. And there’s the cosplay parades held on Sunday afternoon as well as the Championship of Cosplay event. It can be a challenge to try and fit it all in but planning and scheduling and time management is the key.

The weekend was shaping up to be a great experience, that was until the photo collection debacle of the afternoon occurred. I’d bought myself tokens to get photos with Daniel Gillies, whose only photo slot for the day was at 3:15pm. However his line was so large that by the time I got into the booth itself for the photo it was 4pm. At around 4:15pm the photos from his session slowly began trickling out and being stuck up to a board in the collection area. With me having to leave the convention for my return flight back to Sydney at 5pm I ended up leaving without being able to collect my photos. Something that was both frustrating and upsetting as I had to recruit friends to collect them on my behalf. As somebody who has attended Fan Expo (the third largest convention in North America behind San Diego Comic Con and New York Comic Con) and Supanova, who both use a token / scan / print / collect system the OzCC system is antiquated and outdated and unable to handle high volumes. Patrons should never be leaving empty handed for an item they’ve paid for because of the convention’s inability to provide an efficient service. And don’t even get me started on the health and safety risks of having a photo collection area that’s not properly line managed or has enough space to accommodate hundreds of people all trying to cram in to find their photos stuck to a board.

Overall though, besides the disaster that was the photo collection area, the convention was once again another success. With a great variety of guests from both new and nostalgia genres and plenty of interesting panels to see as well as things to do and cosplay to admire. Plus I still adore the fact that this is held in a proper Convention centre with comfortable seating in panels that have proper audio and video facilities. I’ll be looking forward to attending the Sydney event in September now that it will be housed in the brand new ICC Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre.

Oz Comic Con Melbourne 2017 was held Saturday 1st and Sunday 2nd July 2017 at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre.

Oz Comic Con Brisbane will next be held 23rd and 24th September at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre. Oz Comic Con Sydney will be held 30th September and 1st October at the ICC Sydney. For more information, please visit the Oz Comic Con website.