Last weekend, the three of us descended on the inaugural Portsmouth Comic Con for a weekend of cosplay, comic book geekery, and board games. Nearly a week later, we’re all still exhausted, which is why it has taken me so long to write it up.
The two-day event was held at the Portsmouth Guild Hall – an impressive building just outside the city centre next to the station with a large open square in front of it across from the Council offices.
Lady M and I opted to stay at the Premier Inn just across the road – while Lady S was on dog-watching duties at her home in the evening with most of her family away. We approached the weekend with a mixture of excitement and trepidation as it was the first convention we’d gone to as a throuple (I guess that’s a word now). Everyone has their own way of engaging with conventions, so part of it was a concern that we’d be pulled in too many different directions – and there was also a small fear about how we might find any stress about being out and about in public together. As it turned out: none at all. We did, admittedly, confuse some people in restaurants and local pubs, but that was more to do with our being in costume rather than anything else.
We were very pleasantly surprised at how well the event was run. First-time conventions have a reputation of suffering from problems as part of a steep learning curve. We were happy to find instead efficient and courteous security and ticket management staff – and a well laid-out floor plan that was accessible and made good use of the wonderful building it was housed in. Food and drink was reasonably priced – though on the first day there were huge numbers of crowds which made for long queues.
Even so, everyone we spoke to agreed that it was really well done and great fun to be at. What differentiated it from some of the bigger Cons, like MCM, was the focus remaining on comics and creators. There were loads of big name artists and writers, with a strong focus on independent creators. In many ways it reminded me of conventions I went to in the early nineties – in a good way. It was friendly and felt a celebration of pop culture rather than just an opportunity for big names to show off merchandise and upcoming features. That, as much as anything else, made it memorable and fresh – and we were overjoyed to hear on the Sunday that the event had been so successful that it would have a follow-up next year.
We all went in cosplay on each day. Saturday I took the work in progress that is my Captain Jack Rackham (based on the pirate featured in Black Sails), Lady M went as Rizzo of the Pink Ladies from Grease, and Lady S went as Kitty Owens – a gender-bend play on a WWE wrestler called Kevin Owens. With the addition of a set of kitten ears, gloves, and a tail bought from one of the stalls inside, this cosplay became Kitten Owens.
Sunday saw a switch around. I reprised my old favourite: Harley Quinn; Lady M brought her work in progress Mad Hatter; and Lady S donned a wig and gown to grace the stage as Lady Sansa Stark from Game of Thrones.
On the Saturday we’d discovered the free games tent in the grounds of the Guild Hall, but Sunday we settled ourselves there for a good portion of the afternoon as we were all pretty tired from our wanderings and exertions on the first day. Joined by Lady B (a friend of Lady S), we played the Plague Inc board game and spent perhaps a smidgen too much money on new board and card games to share with friends and family in future visits.
I won’t go into how much we spent, but let’s just say that Lady M didn’t have to haggle hard to get a discount each day we were there.
As if that wasn’t enough excitement, Lady M and I took leave of our senses and entered the Cosplay Masquerade competition. This involved getting up on stage in front of a hefty proportion of the Con while we were in costume and talking about ourselves and why we cosplay. We didn’t win, but we did have fun, and that’s absolutely the whole point of the exercise.
The Masquerade was run by Go Geek, and all credit has to go to their Master of Ceremonies for running a smooth operation of getting upward of thirty people up on stage, interviewed briefly, and then off stage again to make room for the next with a seemingly unending stream of patter and humour that made it a delight both to engage in and to observe.
It was a blazing hot weekend – the first May Bank Holiday – and those wearing wigs or hats (most of us at one point or another) were very glad to find well ventilated and shaded areas through the day. From our conversations with various guests and fellow convention-goers we were not alone in this. Paradoxically the only place that didn’t have shelter was either side of the main stage where we queued for the Masquerade.
It made the decision to slip out of the event and retire to the nearby Wetherspoons pub very easy. There, we engaged in the traditional cosplay activity of confusing everyone by not acknowledging that we were dressed any differently from anyone else. Its a tough job, but somebody has to do it…
So – a successful weekend with plenty of laughter and fun. Now the focus is on getting ready for MCM London at the end of the month. In particular we’re working on our group cosplay based on Black Sails – the poly triad of Jack Rackham, Anne Bonney, and Max. Its going to be great.