Cyprus Mail
Entertainment What's On

Geek culture goes mainstream

Two years ago, in September 2014, I wrote this: “There are literally thousands of us. I’m squeezed between a Batman and a Joker, a Daenerys and a Lara Croft – and pass a couple of Jedi coming the other way…” Now, a dyed-in-the-wool escapist I may be, but this was no mere flight of fancy; no foray into the further reaches of a writer’s tortured imagination. It was the very first Cyprus Comic Con (CCC). And it was utterly mind-blowing for those of us who adore all things geek: the cosplay was sensational, the organisation impeccable, the fringe festival a delight. The special guests were brilliant, the artists fascinating, and the crowd was on fire – almost literally, when Daenerys got her dragon going!

feature3-2Comic Con 2015 was even better: suddenly, we had bigger premises to roam, more activities to try and thousands more guests in attendance. There were games rooms and comic stalls, competitions and bands, weird foods and crazy sub-cultures – and Miltos Yerolemou, Game of Thrones’ Syrio, holding a master class in swordplay with a select few. And now here we are in 2016 and the event we’ve all been waiting for is nigh; for those of us who are dedicated followers of all the cultures and sub-cultures that surround the ninth art – sci-fi and fantasy, anime and manga, video games, TV shows and movies – it’s like Christmas in September. Only more successful!

“People of all ages, backgrounds and cultures have really embraced the idea of CCC,” says Tony Michaels, the event’s PR and Communications manager. “And while everyone has their own reasons for attending, it seems to appeal to anyone no matter their politics, race or religion. It’s pure fun: the one place where everyone who loves the ninth art and pop culture comes together… and there are a lot of us out there, believe me!”

In 2014 3,000 people crowded through the doors; by the second year, numbers had more than doubled to a staggering 8,000 individuals. And while almost 70 per cent of visitors fell into the under-35 age bracket, a good third were in their late thirties and above, proving the true inclusivity of CCC. “It’s an incredibly all-encompassing event,” Tony explains. “The last three years have seen a real community forming – and Comic Con is a great way for those who have shared passions and interests to meet up.

“When I was younger,” he adds with the experience born of being the manager of renowned comic book emporium ANT Comics for many a year, “this sort of thing was often dismissed as childish, something for kids. But as geek culture has moved into the mainstream, celebrated in film, on television and in the press, people have begun to realise that this is a real, serious art form, valid and valuable, which involves a lot of work.” He’s not merely referring to the efforts that go into creating an incredible event year after year (though the 10-member team behind the non-profit CCC slave tirelessly to achieve their vision for nigh on 12 months of the year – without pay and in addition to their regular jobs) but also the endless labours put in by those who attend the con. Especially the cosplayers.

Basically the highlight of the event, cosplay is ‘costume play acting’, and those who indulge take it very seriously, whether they’re vying for top prize in the CCC competition or just attending as their favourite character. “Cosplayers work on their costumes for months; it’s an opportunity to dress, once a year, however they like and become whoever they want,” Tony clarifies. With the numbers of aficionados escalating year on year (70 entered the competition in 2014, over 140 took part in 2015), and a world-famous professional cosplayer both attending and judging the 2016 event, audiences are set to enjoy even more of this incredible art form.

“I’m always blown away by the work that goes into the costumes,” Tony enthuses. “The regulations stipulate that at least part of the costume must be hand-made by the participant, but most create their entire outfits themselves.” Last year’s third-placed cosplayer – Chris Peppos, dressed as Big Daddy from the popular video game series BioShock – boasted a costume that took six months to create from scratch; as was the Ezio Auditoie ensemble worn by second-placed ‘Nyree’.

“In fact, so professional are our cosplayers,” Tony reveals, “that the CCC Cosplay Competition is now a EuroCosplay Championship Qualifier, meaning the overall winner will be competing on a global stage at the biggest Comic Con on the continent, the October 2016 MCM London Comic Con!”

Of course, while the cosplayers are a major draw, and certainly pull in the biggest crowd, there’s a whole lot more to this year’s CCC… “We’re constantly working on upping our game and improving the experience for our visitors,” Tony says, explaining the reasoning behind the expansion of this year’s event. “The two days of Con will include online gaming, table top gaming, artists, a bazaar, a film festival, shops, bands, music, competitions, a fringe festival, workshops, a PopGen Asia section, community groups, and even a live stream of all the happenings on our dedicated YouTube channel. Then we’ve got special guests in attendance: British pop culture DJ Shirobon will have a booth and be playing at the after party; YouTube sensations 2J and Axel will be in attendance; as will Italian Louca Pizzari, who works for Marvel, and American Stephen B Scott who’s lauded for his work with both Marvel and DC Comics…

“It’s going to be incredible,” he concludes with a grin. “In three short years we’ve created something huge; a very, very successful platform for both promoting and sharing the ninth art. An event that appeals to everyone, and is set to draw over 10,000 people through its doors…”
Cyprus Comic Con 2016
At the Filoxenia Conference Centre in Nicosia on September 3 (10 am to 7pm) and 4 (10am to 8pm). Tickets cost €3 for a one-day pass, and €5 for a two-day pass. For more information visit www.cyprusComic Con.org or the Facebook page ‘Cyprus Comic Con’, or email [email protected] Con.org

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