Yesterday we spent the day drinking coffee at London’s huge Excel convention centre, whilst our son availed himself of the multiplicity of pleasures to be fond within the 6 monthly Comic Con. We are obviously not the target audience but it was nevertheless an illuminating experience and one that left us surprisingly animated (sic) and with much greater insight into the world of comic fantasy.
To start at the beginning, the queue to buy tickets which was without doubt the longest queue I have ever endured filling up an entire exhibition hall, with a long line of people snaking back a forth over the entire floor area. It occurred to us that this could only happen in Britain, a nation reknowned for it’s fondness for queuing, anywhere else there would have been a riot. Still, after nearly three hours of orderly shuffling we were the proud owners of a ticket and the (by now exhausted) teenager found renewed energy and launched off into the mayhem that was the actual exhibiton hall. We, on the other hand made for the nearest purveyor of fine coffee, grabbed a table and glued ourselves to the seats, to enjoy the wonderful pageant of weird and wonderful creatures that streamed past us in all directions.
For those who are not familiar with this event, it is a huge gathering of people who all have one thing in common: Comic and comic fantasy. They are mostly but by no means exclusively young and are all equally enthusiastic for their chosen genre be it Manga, Anime, Sesame Street, Marvel etc etc. The event itself is actually a kind of trade fair but in reality and like so many cultural events the real activity is outside the hall on the fringes. It was a glorious day so the garden outside was thronging with oddly dressed people and the music (Death Metal when we arrived and some kind of Deadpool rap as we left) was loud
It was interesting to watch these people stride by and even more interesting to try and understand the driving forces behind such groupthink. On one level one can understand that this was a very safe environment to be in, where everybody will accept you no matter how outlandish you look. On another level, participants also had an instant connection and bond with others and together this reminded me of what going to church may have been like a few decades ago! Certainly everybody was evidently looking for something bigger than themselves and for a sense of community and belonging.
From a photography point of view I found it interesting too because whereas in my normal work life I am constantly aware of privacy and not shooting people who might not want to be in shot etc, here photography and being photographed is really part of the game and to not take pictures would have been somewhat odd.
So from my position glued to the chair outside Costas, I snapped a few of the passersbys, there wasn’t much light and the coffee certainly affected my hand-holding ability but here are some of the people who walked past my field of vision yesterday. A great day was had by all!