I appreciate the social aspect of playing games with others, but at times it has been hard to find people in real-life that are as interested in these games as I am. This is one of the reasons I first decided to go to Comic Con in 2015; to meet people with similar interests to me and share my enjoyment of video games, comics and cartoons with others.
I’ve been to Comic Con five times since then, and I feel that going to this event has helped me to increase my confidence, experience new things and become more able to communicate with other people.
So what is Comic Con? The phrase ‘comic con’ stands for ‘comic convention’. There are many different comic conventions around the world, but the official name of the event I go to is the ‘London MCM (Movie Comic Media) Expo’, which is held at the ExCel Centre in London’s Docklands. This event was founded in 2001 and is held twice a year, in May and October.
Although some people may think comic conventions are a more modern or niche phenomenon, this isn’t the case: the first one ever, called the ‘First World Science Fiction Convention’, took place in New York in 1939 and was attended by just 200 people!
More and more people visit Comic Con each year, as the event becomes more popular. In October 2010 around 50,000 people attended, in comparison to over 133,000 people in May 2016.
There’s a lot to see and do at Comic Con, with many stalls, products and activities that appeal to a wide audience.
There are stalls that sell books, magazines, posters, video games, DVDs, comics, graphic novels, manga (Japanese comics), anime (Japanese animated shows), figurines and other merchandise.
There are lots of things that children will love, too – including ‘plushies’ (soft toys), sweets and cakes, as well as products related to children’s cartoons such as Adventure Time and Despicable Me and video games such as Mario, Legend of Zelda and Splatoon.
Many people visit Comic Con to ‘cosplay’ (costume play). Visitors are encouraged to dress up as popular fictional characters from their favourite TV shows, film franchises, comics, anime etc. and many ‘cosplayers’ put a lot of time and effort into making authentic costumes.
For example, at the most recent Comic Con in October 2017, I cosplayed as Monkey D. Luffy, a character from the pirate manga (Japanese comic series) One Piece.
There is a food hall that sells world foods such as Japanese, Korean and Chinese cuisine. There are also stalls selling interesting snacks you can’t easily buy in the UK, such as Pocky biscuits and spicy wasabi KitKats!
Celebrities from the world of sci-fi, fantasy and superhero programmes appear in order to promote their latest products. Recent guests at Comic Con include Catherine Tate and Billie Piper (from the BBC’s Doctor Who), Warwick Davis (from Star Wars and Harry Potter) and some of the cast and crew from The Walking Dead, Humans, Da Vinci’s Demons, Thunderbirds Are Go, The Man in the High Castle and Mr. Robot.
Personally, I appreciate being able to explore Comic Con to look at things that I wouldn’t regularly see anywhere else, and I also enjoy looking at the artwork and memorabilia which are exclusively sold there.
I additionally enjoyed cosplaying as Monkey D. Luffy during my most recent visit, which made me feel more confident interacting with other people dressed like me.
As a result of going to Comic Con, I am more confident around groups of people – initially I felt overwhelmed in such large crowds. Now I generally feel more comfortable navigating through crowds without feeling stressed or lost.
Before I started going to Comic Con, I would be too nervous to talk to people on my own. My ability to communicate with others also depended a lot on my mood and the situation. At Comic Con, I feel more able to approach others because I’m sure we have similar interests, such as video games and movies.
People often assume that playing video games is a very anti-social hobby. There’s a stereotypical image of a teenager sitting in their room all day, alone, glued to a screen. However, events like Comic Con prove that, in reality, people of all ages can enjoy more ‘nerdy’ hobbies in a sociable way, in real life instead of exclusively online.
The next London MCM Expo will take place from 25-27 May 2018.
Exposure is an award-winning youth communications charity giving young people in north London a voice. Please support us to continue our work. Thank you.