Oz Comic-Con has the potential to rival the San Diego event.
Melbourne was host to Oz Comic-Con during last month’s long weekend, and as usual it went off, with cosplayers lining the banks of the Yarra and swarming into Jeff’s Shed like extras in an Ant-Man sequel. The official word is that attendance was up by 25 per cent on last year, making it the biggest Oz Comic-Con to date.
But Oz Comic-Con can get a whole lot bigger! 2015 was my first trip to the mother of all pop culture conventions, San Diego Comic-Con, and while I was expecting it to be huge, I wasn’t prepared for the sheer magnitude of the event.
SDCC isn’t confined to the San Diego Convention Centre – it takes over the entire city, transforming the surrounding area into a four-day street party. Now I know that Oz Comic-Con cannot possibly compete, but after experiencing how this all-encompassing celebration of geekdom impacted and involved even those who’d never seen a Marvel movie, I figure its Down Under counterpart could benefit from appropriating this model.
Although an annual event, Oz Comic-Con is spread statewide over the course of the year, taking in Perth, Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane. It also attracts some pretty high profile guests, too. But how awesome would it be to have just one massive event in a single city (Sydney would be the obvious location, but I’m voting for Melbourne) and bring in even bigger names that people will be prepared to travel to meet and greet – Jennifer Lawrence, Emilia Clarke and Kit Harington, Deadpool (aka Ryan Reynolds), Guillermo del Toro…
There’s also huge potential for off-site events – cinemas could host exclusive screenings, cafés could be customised to reflect sci-fi themes, galleries could display the best in comic book art, there could be a zombie walk, and a horde of volunteers could invade the CBD to promote exciting new films and TV shows with giveaways for all.
And with SDCC injecting upwards of $150 million into the San Diego economy, whichever city is lucky enough to host Oz Comic-Con would profit big time.
Cosplayers are an integral part of the Comic-Con experience, and over the years their dedication has gone beyond paying homage to favourite characters to being a form of performance art in its own right. Oz Comic-Con events currently provide a steady stream of Kylo Rens, Harley Quinns and Imperial Stormtroopers streaming off public transport to the bemusement of fellow commuters, but beyond the immediate vicinity of the venue, they are few and far between.
At the recent Melbourne Con, the adjacent Crown Casino complex should have resembled an Avengers movie set, but all that could be glimpsed were a handful of weary volunteers and someone in a dirty yellow onesie (perhaps some kind of anime character?) in the food court.
So how about it Oz Comic-Con? It’s time to consolidate the event and make Australia a centre of a global geekdom to rival San Diego.