Event Review: Oz Comic-Con Sydney – Exhibition Centre Glebe Island (26-27.09.15)

Over the last few years there has been a steady rise in the popularity of the pop culture convention. Oz Comic Con Sydney was held over the weekend and we went along to check out the movie and TV star guests, the wares on sale by various exhibitors and artists and the ever increasing numbers of people cosplaying.

This year the event was held at the Exhibition Centre that’s over at Glebe Island. The first thing I noticed was how convenient and easy it was to get to, a free shuttle picking up punters from Central train station or there was a free ferry service operating from Darling Harbour. Using public transport was definitely the smartest and easiest option considering the extremely limited parking in the Glebe Island area. Once heading inside I initially got a little lost. I have to say the venue wasn’t exactly the easiest to navigate around, particularly if you’re a shortie like me. Can somebody please install some hanging signage? Also the layout seemed to have the comic authors and artists mixed in with the vendors who were selling their wares, as well as having the large scale exhibitor stalls. There didn’t seem to be any sort of grouping of stalls which also didn’t help my navigation. But aside from that confusion regarding layout, it’s always great to see the vendors selling their home-made pop culture related wares. Everything from buttons, bows, jewellery, cushion covers to corsets, dresses, shirts, bags. There’s so much variety to choose from and plenty of stalls where you can find yourself spending your money on all the cute things.

Over the course of the weekend we sat in on a variety of Q&A panels including the exclusive Good Game and Animal Logic sessions (Saturday and Sunday respectively). The crazy cats from Good Game talked us through all things gaming and some of their favourite and least favourite games and Bajo was getting into the cosplay spirit by wearing his adorable Sonic the Hedgehog costume. While some of the team from Animal Logic talked us through the creative process of specific scenes they were tasked with making for box office hit films Insurgent and The Avengers: Age of Ultron. The amount of detail and back and forth discussion involved not to mention the length of time it takes to even generate a handful of frames is insane. Also it’s surprising how toast and brain neurons seem to be a popular choice of shape and look for certain graphic elements. Other panel highlights included the Voice Acting 101 session with Dante Basco, Olivia Hack and Rikki Simons, Clive Standen where he talked about Norse mythology and his TV series Vikings, the gents from Lost Girl Kris Holden-Reid and Paul Amos and the Harry Potter panel with Evanna Lynch and Robbie Jarvis.

One of the other highlights about attending Oz Comic Con is getting to see not only the fans who cosplay on the convention floor but those who come for the parades and the Championship round. Cosplay (where people dress up as their favourite fictional characters from movies, TV, comics, games etc) is fast becoming a major attraction and appeal of conventions, and cosplayers use it as their stomping ground to not only show off their skills but meet other like-minded cosplayers. On Sunday was the Australian Championships of Cosplay and featured both the NSW qualifying round and the National round with international cosplay star Yaya Han as one of the judges. Congratulations to Kelui Cosplay who won dressed as the Blood Elf Death Knight from World of Warcraft and was the winner for Sydney’s round. But big congratulations to Major Sam dressed as La Carlotta from Phantom of the Opera, she won the national cosplay championship overall and will be flying to Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo to represent Australia in the World Cosplay Championships. Major Sam’s cosplay took over 350 hours worth of work over the span of 2 months and featured a corset constructed from quilted gold satin and a 1.5kg red silk skirt as part of it, it looked absolutely stunning!

And of course one of the other big drawcards is getting to meet and greet some of your favourite celebrities from film and TV. Some of the other guests included Richard Dean Anderson (Stargate, MacGyver), Jim Beaver (Supernatural) and Rob Maschio and Sam Lloyd (both from Scrubs), And if you’re prepared to shell out some of your hard earned cash you can get professional photos and autographs with the guests. Though I have to say I was extremely surprised and disappointed that the volunteers wouldn’t let us go up to say hi to one of the guests unless we bought an autograph token, even when he had nobody in his autograph line. I’ve volunteered at and been to other conventions (including ones overseas) where the loose policy is if there’s nobody in the guest’s line you could go up and say a quick hi so long as you didn’t loiter around or be a nuisance. It feels like a bit of a cash-grab if they’re insisting you have to buy an autograph token just to say hi, even when you don’t want an autograph.

The only other annoying gripe I had was that during the panels it was often difficult to hear the questions being asked and sometimes even the answers despite having microphones. The large open layout and relatively low roof of the exhibition space resulted in a lot of noise carrying around and things like the PA announcements would sometimes interrupt the panelists. Unfortunately though with the full scale Sydney Convention & Exhibition Centre currently being rebuilt it’s understandable that organisers have to make do with whatever venues are available.
Generally though it seemed that the space they used was enough to accommodate the number of patrons who were there, and never felt like it was overly choked up in places. It was nice to be able to comfortably wander around past the vendors stalls and not feel like you were causing a human traffic blockage.

All in all Oz Comic Con Sydney did a fantastic job of showcasing all the extraordinary and fun things we love about pop culture. From the celebrities of film and TV and voice acting, to the cosplaying and also showcasing all the cool toys and novelty items you can buy. Oz Comic Con will be back next year, kicking things off in Perth on the weekend of 2nd and 3rd of April 2016.

For more information about Oz Comic Con head to their website.