Portsmouth Comic Con 2022
Finally it’s Comic Con weekend! After the pandemic postponed & cancelled most events in 2020 & 2021, it was great to be back.
Unfortunately work commitments meant I couldn’t attend the Saturday, which was loaded with panel discussions I wanted to attend. Including ‘Exploring time, space and gender with Dr Who’, ‘Deaf representation in comics’ and ‘Female superheroes and empowerment’. However the Sunday was still awesome. Back were the Funko Pops, cosplayers, steampunks, gamers, artists & more.
This year the Speakers Corner was an awesome addition, with Express FM hosting interview and small panel discussions. I attended the Portsmouth Pride and Go Geek discussions. Both were very interesting, hearing how the last two years have affected their communities and how they are now seeing individual’s benefit from being able to be back in person for events, activities and for the support that their communities offer. I fully recommend checking out both Portsmouth Pride and Go Geek for more on what they are doing in the local area.
Towards the end of the day, I was sitting down to check through some of the photos I had taken and Russell Walks began his reading in the Speakers Corner. At the beginning I was only half listening as I looked through my photos from the day, but gradually I found myself listening more and more intently. Russell's story/ journey was so interesting and well told. Russell was a great end to my Comic Con day. Clearly I wasn't the only one who enjoyed his reading, as a small group of people sat with Russell afterwards to ask more questions and chat.
There were so many comic stalls with new and upcoming artists, collectibles and memorabilia. Despite walking around a number of times, I am sure I still missed some… many. There was one stall/ person though that stood out to me this year. Marc Silk.
Every time I walked past (that was a few times as I roamed around) he was chatting and engaging with almost every single person walking past. Saying hi, introducing himself as a voice actor and his roles. A true entertainer; and almost a welcomer/ host for the main auditorium.
Speaking of entertainment, I don’t know how they do it; but the steampunk tea duelling competition got me invested for a good 15-20 minutes. The Tea Masters from Gosport Steampunk Society worked really well as presenters and hosts. Making something I would not necessary expect to be exciting, really engaging, exciting and at points had easily over 100 watching. They were one of many excellent examples of openness at Comic Con. They encouraged and welcomed people to the stage and to the tea duelling, provided entertainment and enjoyment for the people taking part and those watching.
I attended one panel discussion, which was ‘fantasy and the role of storytelling’. The panel discussed inclusivity and the usual mainstream focus on traditional roles (characters), relationships and lives. And the exclusivity of those stories and endings; focusing primarily on heterosexual cis gendered white western relationships. And the desire to almost always have ‘happy story endings’.
Encanto and Turning Red were mentioned as examples of more diverse characters with increased relatability. One panelist said “I don’t have an arch nemesis, but I do have family issues. And so story’s about that are easier to relate to”.
The purpose of fantasy and storytelling was discussed as potentially a way of escaping our day to day lives, but also with a desire to see and learn life lessons in a safe environment.
I enjoyed the conversations in the 50 minute panel, and it was a nice break from the very busy zones downstairs. I would definitely recommend looking for panels or workshops when you attend events like this; along with the Speakers Corner these experiences really made the day, the day for me. As someone who likes structure, I really enjoyed the day before the event going through and making my own event programme, with the things I wanted to definitely see and structure my day around.
Later in the day the cosplay competition, that’s not really a competition, more a shared celebration, happened outside at the entrance of the Guildhall. There was an amazing array of costumes and descriptions to their creations; from real maximum effort to left over halloween costumes and "I order it on Etsy".
It felt like everyone at the event emptied outside to watch the 45 minute celebration of creativity and community that encapsulates what Comic Con is.
There were things I didn’t see, the one that I really missed out on was the Star Wars Experience. Unfortunately the couple of times I walked round the queue was too long (I hear it was long most of the day, so clearly a very popular experience). I also missed the workshops (you just can't get to everything). The two times I walked past they looked very informative, with a very engaged room of aspiring artists. I didn't even manage to spend any time in the Dice board gaming room, thats how much else there was to visit.
There was one other space I didn't go into, but did see, the Quiet Zone. It was great to see a space dedicated to being quiet and having a moment away from the crowds. I believe having a space like this is so important for making events more accessible for people that may be affected by anxiety, autism or a range of other health illness/ symptoms, who may need to take a break during the day. So a well done and thanks to the team for providing this space.
In summary, Portsmouth Comic Con was a great experience. The cosplay, the panels, the stalls, the experiences; it was just a great day. Once again a huge thank you to the Team at Guildhall and Portsmouth Comic Con for inviting along to take photos on the day, it was a pleasure. I didn't manage to see everything, but I don't think you can at events like this, it really is (from my point of view) building your own event programme if you want to visit the talks, workshops and the shows/ exhibitions. Then in between those things you have the wide variety in stands and stalls to visit and comic pros and celebrities to meet and say hi to. Well, at least thats how I planned my day. If you enjoyed the event yourself or you missed out this time round, don't worry. Portsmouth Comic Con is back on the 6th and 7th May 2023. Visit portsmouthcomiccon.com for more information about next years event.
*This post includes sponsored content, as I was provided with free access to the event. However Portsmouth Comic Con and Portsmouth Guildhall have not seen this post before it is published, nor have they instructed me on what to say. The views, experinces, thoughts and insights expressed in this post are my own.