Oh no, it’s the Grim Reaper. Standing right over me. I can almost feel his breath. And ghouls. Several of them. Skeletons with beady eyes. But wait, here comes Batman. Robin’s with him. I can see the Joker out of the corner of my eye over there. I see King Arthur – that makes no sense. Here’s captain Jack Sparrow. Soldiers in combat fatigues and sub machine guns. Darth Vader has just marched past. Here come a dozen bunny girls with big hair and their boobs out. I’ve seen a few Harry Potters, some ladies from the court of Versailles, lots of warrior types from Game of Thrones and some characters I vaguely recognise from manga or Japanese anime. It’s not, as you may imagine, a governors’ meeting from North Surrey’s newest Free school Academy. Nor even one of those dreams, fuelled by late night binging on molten dolcelatte.
It is, of course, Comic con at London’s Excel.
My first time. My in-depth research and preparation comprised, in sum total, watching the episode of Big Bang Theory where they all go to Comic Con dressed as characters from Star Wars. They get so neurotic, they make Woody Allen seem laid back and ‘whatever’.
I think my favourite cosplay is Mad Eye Moody from Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire. He seems to have captured the body language and the stare as well as the outfit. Some of the monsters are good too. Either there’s some trickery involved or there’s a seven foot man inside that costume. And an honourable mention goes to the Greek or Trojan warriors – who may turn out to be specific characters from TV or film, but I’m not familiar with them.
On one level, this event is the most fantastic expression of the weird and wonderful. Where do all these people go in the day time? (Yes, I know, they don’t do cosplay every day, but I like to imagine they do). These costumes are amazing and they really do fire the imagination and transport you to new worlds, albeit ones you pick from a menu.
But on another level, it’s a rather British, almost introspective affair. It’s noisy and somewhat buzzy in its own way, but there doesn’t seem to be lots of interaction between people. It feels like the world’s most overdressed indoor market, staged on a massive scale at a concert venue. I feel rather as though we’re all spectators and we’re waiting for the actors to arrive, not realising, we are the main event.
This must be the reality of the ‘kiddult’ trend I was reading about a few years ago. We’re all becoming liberated from the chains of adult stress to release our inner child. The lure of the dressing up box (or, more realistically, Amazon Prime) is going to save us from the world of bad news, international conflict, war, misery and Donald Trump.
It hasn’t worked very well to resolve the stress, but the costumes are amazing.