Dr Dom Holland, no less…

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To the uninitiated, a Comic Con really needs to be explained – because a convention for comics does not do it justice at all.

Firstly, it is much broader than the comic world and encompasses all areas of entertainment from film, games, TV, sports, online, comics of course and everything to do with fame and celebrity more generally.

Also, the Comic Con is very much an immersive experience with the attendees themselves becoming part of the attraction and contributing greatly to the atmosphere.

By which I mean that the majority of attendees dress up as their favourite characters creating what is essentially a giant fancy dress party. It is certainly something to behold standing in behind Darth Vader in the toilets.

And what a huge commitment on the part of these fans. The time in getting ready. Pulling on the tights, shawls and head-gear. Applying the make-up and picking up the axe, shield or light saber and presumably enduring a compromising journey to the convention if it involves public transport and not to mention the very considerable costs involved.

These are the Super fans I guess – and the day does have a competitive feel to it, although not explicit and without prizes – although judging by the queue of people for selfies for the best turned-out characters is a prize in itself.

I am intrigued by the gestation of an ordinary cinema goer in to such a fan and especially since the demography is so broad; both male, female and people of all ages.

As a father of four boys, nobody needs to explain to me the excitement of dressing up as one’s hero. Paddy was Indiana Jones for so long that he completely wore out at least two full costumes. A genuine rites of passage thing. An adorable and innocent phase of childhood and I suspect less acceptable and more frowned upon when it extends in to adulthood – and this might explain the ever-growing popularity of the Comic-Con.

And I get this because don’t we all imagine ourselves being heroic?  Absolutely I wanted to be Marty McFly when I first saw those remarkable films. And the Comic Con is just an extension of this. It allows our unlikely dreams to be fulfilled and realised in an atmosphere that is kind, inclusive and non-judgemental. Which is why the whole thing feels more like a congregation than just a gathering.

I know people love their Marvel films. Sitting in theatres across the world, captivated by what is presented to them on the screen. Cheering when Thanos is finally vanquished and crying that this victory came at the cost of Tony Stark’s life.

But that said, I am intrigued and interested in the point in a movie goers life that they decide that they will don an outfit themselves? Loving Spider-Man on the screen is just not enough anymore. I need to become Spider- Man myself.

I imagine that it is incremental. A love that builds and a yearning that evolves and as yet, it has not occurred to me and I arrived on Saturday in sober jeans and tee-shirt – and even then I was immediately judged and as it transpired, quite flatteringly so as well.

On a foul Saturday morning then, with our car packed to the gunnels, we set out for the convention centre in central London. Arrived safely, we unloaded the car and I left Nikki and our friend Jenny to set up while I drove off to get parked.

I nudged the car back in to the heavy rain and immediately I knew that I was in the right place as I saw multiple Hulks, Thors, Spider-Mans and rather appropriately, an Aqua-man queuing politely outside.

On the day that we attended, there were two conventions taking place – the Comic Con – and The World Forum for Anaesthesia with presumably eminent medics attending from across the world and I would guess that these attendees dress more soberly.

Having parked my car and hurrying along in the rain, a shouty security guard was spotting attendees and demarking them for which convention they would attend and pointing them to separate queues.

Some were obvious of course and easy to pick. The man dressed as Chewbakka was unlikely to be an anaesthetist – but in my jeans, trainers and jacket, I presented much more vaguely.

I could be either – and so I was delighted when the shouty man looked me up and down and stated confidently…

“You’re a doctor, right?”

I was so flattered and delighted, I almost passed out which would have been highly appropriate and comic.

But I didn’t of course.

Nikki and I attended the London Comic Con this Saturday for The Brothers Trust, with signed posters to raffle off and various wares for sale: dog collars, tee-shirts, copies of Open Links and Eclipsed - with all proceeds going to the BT.

We had a great day, raising just shy of £1,400 for our charity – which is much less than we can make through our online events and raffles – but great fun to meet the fans who support us.

Thank you to everyone who came along to our impromptu stand to say hello and especially those who bought merchandise or raffle tickets. And congratulations to our two winners, from France and Israel.

And my apologies to the two adolescent girls who came to our stand. They were nervous and anxious and so I was quick to allay their concerns and put them at their ease. And what better way to engage with them than to discuss their outfits and who they might be.

Because I am a man of a certain age and not well versed in the comic world, no harm whatever in not recognising their chosen character.

More a revelation of my ignorance than their unconvincing outfit – and in their case, a rather bland outfit that included Whigs and odd glasses.

“Hello, girls, who have you two come as, then?” I asked warmly.

“Peter Parker.” They answered.

“Oh... sorry,” I floundered.

*

 

Finally, a big thank you to Showmasters London Comic Con for allowing us to attend and without any charge at all. To Jill and Davey, for making us feel so welcome.

 

 

 

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11 Comments

  1. Daniela F March 2, 2020
    Reply

    That experience would be like going to Disney too. Children dressed as princesses, Adults and children dressed as Star Wars characters. I confess that I am always tempted to dress up as Rey. I think this is incredible and I imagine the work and love that people have to do cosplay.

  2. Crystal March 2, 2020
    Reply

    It was so lovely meeting you on Saturday during my brief time there. I started reading Open Links on my flight back, thank you again for the books! If NYC ever happens, I’d happily volunteer.

  3. Faaiz March 2, 2020
    Reply

    Lol I never thought I would dress up as a super hero. Growing up my heroes were a bit different and so was my imagination in how I would see them. I guess they would be more real and live. But if I did have to choose a fictional hero, it would probably be someone from DC world. Although I am a super fan of spider-man and the incredible actors who have played this character, I’m not really that crazy for marvel stuff… Sorry Tom.

  4. Suzan March 2, 2020
    Reply

    I have friends who cosplay. I am in total awe of them the effort and cost they go to make their costumes. Searching the net to make sure it’s perfect and have all become amazing at sewing. They get fully into their characters. Mostly from TV shows. I’ve been to a few comic cons in my time, loved every minute there. Like you I dress more casual. They are great experiences I told my friends check out your stand. Unsure if they managed the time to do so. Glad all team had fun and thanks for attending, bet there were a lot happy people who went away from going stand not just the two winners.

  5. Liz R March 2, 2020
    Reply

    So happy to see a blog post today, and as usual, the humor did not disappoint, Dr. Holland! 😀

    At my daughter’s request, I took her to the New York City comic con for her birthday a few years ago. They were working on the Javits Center at the time and had some areas closed off, so the space they had, while huge, was jam packed full of people. It was really cool to see the work and creativity people put into their costumes, though, and we thoroughly enjoyed a panel done by Myth Busters’ Adam Savage.

  6. Pamela March 2, 2020
    Reply

    Sounds like loads of fun was had by all!! So my kids were into Harry Potter! We would dress up (including me) stand in line for hours to go to the midnight showing of each and every movie the night of its release! When the 7th book came out, my daughter and I attended the party at our local book store! It was great fun!! I would love to attend a comic con sometime and dress up because it really is a lot of fun to do!! Love that you were mistaken for a doctor! You do look the part!

  7. Lorraine March 2, 2020
    Reply

    Looks like you had a good day on Saturday Dom. A nice way to meet some fans and congratulations on the amount raised. Fantastic photo of you with Hagrid!!you could join forces to form a new act!! Well done on the new title too Dr Dom☺️

  8. Paul March 2, 2020
    Reply

    The last time you and your wife went to a fancy dress party, what did you go as?

  9. Paula C. March 2, 2020
    Reply

    Hello, Mr. Holland, my English is not very good, but I will do my best to give my opinion.
    Comics, anime, movies teach us that we can be strong, kind and that with the effort we can achieve what We set out to do.
    I think We dress up because we have to remind ourselves that We are brave, powerful, intelligent and important.
    We also feel that when the author introduced us to this “fantastic” world, He gave us a place where We can give ourselves a break from the problems We face and that as it is in this “world”, the heroes will win.
    I am sorry if that is not the best comment, but English is not an easy language.
    Regards from Colombia.

  10. Paula C. March 2, 2020
    Reply

    Hello, Mr. Holland, my English is not very good, but I will do my best to give my opinion.
    Comics, anime, movies teach us that we can be strong, kind and that with the effort we can achieve what We set out to do.
    I think We dress up because we have to remind ourselves that We are brave, powerful, intelligent and important.
    We also feel that when the author introduced us to this “fantastic” world, He gave us a place where We can give ourselves a break from the problems We face and that as it is in this “world”, the heroes will win.
    I am sorry if that is not the best comment, but English is not an easy language.

  11. Regina March 3, 2020
    Reply

    I will forever enjoy the touches of irony that seem to populate your life.

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