Plymouth Comic Con 2022
16 Nov 2022

There was a time when geekiness was a social drawback. When one’s interest in the fantastic, the techie, the monstrous and the magical marked you as a bit of an outcast. All of that was in a time before the nerds took over and established their business empires, dragging us all along with their technology. Visiting Plymouth Comic Con for the second time, it became clear to me just how very mainstream Geek culture has become.

This is a good thing. Geek culture has broad appeal. You see a cross section of ages, types and (character) classes – with parents enjoying the outing as much as their kids, older folks who never leave their basements except for once a year, traders, actors, authors, cosplayers, role-players, enthusiasts and fans.

Cons – as in conventions – are commercial events set up for fans. As far as such events go, Comic Con, while pricey to attend, is worth the trip. There are autographed pictures on old movie posters, a variety of gadgets, goodies, toys, figurines, books, comics, cards, dice and games. There are vintage games being played. There are dress ups to standards that the movie industry would be proud of. Actual movie personalities to meet and greet. The Iron Throne or the Wall from Stranger Things to sit on and take your picture at.

For the casual visitor it is a fun – if somewhat bizarre – outing. For the true fan – it is a goldmine of truly special goodies to buy and pick up. It is an absolute must for kids and those who refuse to let their childhood go – a bustling festival of both imagination and commercialism – which somehow strikes the right balance to keep everyone happy.

There is plenty to do – and perhaps that is the best part of a Comic Con – not the things that you can buy, but the experiences you can have. A few live role playing sessions were underway. Some veteran boardgamers were sharing their pastimes with newcomers. Vintage video games. Virtual reality duals. Lightsaber fighting. Laser gun shooting galleries. Do it all, and the Comic Con offers quite a heavy dose of activities.

But apart from the things you can buy – some of which are impressive – and the experiences you can have – some of which are fun – the atmosphere is worth experiencing even if you just walk around a few times. A guy in a fox suit sees me snap a picture and points his toy blaster my way – though I am an adult, though I’m not in costume, though I’m dressed in my stock standard bland kind of fit in anywhere drag. Little kids have gone to a lot of trouble to look the part – and some adults have gone all out. And there is an energised, carefree vibe in the air.

I feel this year’s event was bigger than last year’s, though I do not have the stats. And if you’re around when it’s on, it’s certainly worth a visit. I’ll certainly show up next year.

There is a certain kind of snobbery in the geek world that would lament the big tent – demanding that only True Nerds should have access to the fantastic worlds, stories, characters and beasts that fill our dreams. And perhaps I share their disapproval of the plastic, and the mass manufactured magic with which so many of the gatekeepers and corporate controllers insult their audiences with, these days.

But even at a commercial convention, you can’t help but pick up on the genuine spirit of playfulness and willingness to explore. You meet a wide variety of folks and all of them want to be wowed, they want to be transported. It is among these regular fans that I find my kindred spirits, and it is also among them that I find my hope and inspiration. There may be some absolute rubbish coming from the studios these days, but a strong current of actual wonder and awe runs beneath it, underpinning the industry.

And that’s worth holding on to, and indeed worth celebrating.