Over the past few years, South Wales has seen a bit of an explosion in the geek convention scene, and it shows no signs of stopping.
Comic Con Cymru is the newest fandom convention to hit the scene – the brainchild of Wibbly Wobbly Timey Wimey (a geek collectibles shop in Cardiff’s fashion quarter).
The event boasted celebrity guests such as Colin Baker and Nicola Bryant (Doctor Who), Gareth David-Lloyd (Torchwood), Virginia Hey (Farscape) and Norman Lovett (Red Dwarf).
The foyers of five floors of St. David’s Hall were packed full of merchandise stalls, celebrity signing areas, movie props, and a few independent comic artists.
Though a two-day event (with a charity auction held by Jesse McClure of Storage Hunters fame), I only attended Comic Con Cymru on the Saturday.
After a brief sweep of the convention floors, I signed myself up for the Jedi Fight Academy, which was run by actor and stuntman Andrew Lawden.
Jedi Fight Academy
Lawden played a Naboo palace guard in Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace, and was also Liam Neeson’s stunt double for the fight sequences.
Armed with a safety lightsaber, Lawden took us through the seven basic fighting stances before guiding us through a staged fight. As one of only two left-handed people in the group, I had the dubious honour of sparring with a kid who was half my height.
Thankfully, the routine we learned was choreographed so my victory was set in stone from the beginning (my opponent was very sportsmanlike in their defeat).
Though largely aimed at kids, the lightsaber academy was great fun, and it seemed to be a very popular event – there were quite a few adults who’d signed up to it too.
Cosplay and panels
There were also a number of panels held throughout the day. I attended a cosplay panel (headed by Madam Bella Cosplays) and a talk by Doctor Who actor Simon Fisher-Becker.
I chatted to Madam Bella at the end of her panel about her process of creating a cosplay:
“I hate drawing, [so] I just use reference pictures from games and TV shows and print them off.
“If you draw out a cosplay idea you might miss something out, so I prefer having an original image in front of me.
“I also tend to make everything from scratch. My Bellatrix Lestrange costume was all made by me, except the shoes.”
Simon Fisher-Becker’s talk, My Dalek Has A Puncture, is a combination of autobiography, stand-up routine and insight into the media industry. Simon talked about his family, his influences and that much of his earliest work “ended up on the cutting room floor”.
There were a number of delays with the talks as one panel would run on, meaning the next panel would either run on as well or have to be cut off early. Having a compere to introduce the guests, direct questions and keep things running on time would have been useful.
Judging by the vibe on the Saturday, Comic Con Cymru was a resounding success. It drew a pretty large crowd of cosplayers and punters alike, and the atmosphere was friendly and welcoming.
Comic Con Cymru was an excellent way to beat the January blues, and it comes as a welcome addition to Cardiff’s growing pantheon of geek events. They’re most welcome to return in 2017.