This past weekend, Comiccon descended upon the capital once again. I sadly missed the event in its sophomore year, but had attended the very first Ottawa Comiccon in 2012. I was quite excited to see how the convention had grown since my last experience and, I have to say, there was most definitely a difference!
First and foremost, the sheer size and scope of this event was significantly larger than my first foray into the world of Comiccon. Originally only occupying part of the EY Centre (formerly the CE Centre), I was elated to see that this event had now multiplied in a most tribble-like fashion to envelop the entire convention centre, replete with tents outside for people wanting to catch some fresh air and take a break from the press of fanboys and fangirls. The event also spans three days as opposed to two, an addition that was introduced with last year’s convention. While the numbers aren’t in yet, last year’s attendance was around 30,000 people, up from 24,000 in the first year, so I have no doubt that we will see similar growth for 2014’s convention. (UPDATE: there were 38,000 attendees this year!)
I found numerous aisles, which were wider than the 2012 event, containing enough geek swag to drain the savings account of even the thriftiest of otaku. There were far more artists and exhibitors (well over 200!) than the first year I attended as well, which was also a welcome sight. Comiccon is a wonderful opportunity for various niche-market artists and aficionados to interact. Whether you’re a Steampunk, Gamer, Pastel Goth or a good ‘ol fashioned Trekkie (yes, I side with Roddenberry on this one and prefer the term “Trekkie” despite Leonard Nimoy’s opinion), you will find something that catches your fancy. I am SO excited about my new Catbus and Final Fantasy t-shirts, and my Duck Hunt earrings! I was also thrilled to see an entire area set aside for table-top gaming which already has quite a following in Ottawa, with venues like Monopolatte and the Comic Book Shoppe holding regular meet-ups for board-gamers.
As always, I was delighted by the diversity I saw in the crowd. I loved the incorporation of cosplay by parents, people using mobility devices, and even service dogs! I saw more families with young children, in adorable costumes no less (serious kudos to the parents dressed as Pokémon trainers with their kids as baby Pokémon), and generally a larger age-range of attendees. I think my favourite was a lovely lady dressed as a Borg who had also outfitted her service dog in a Borg-style set-up. Awesome. It was actually my first year dressing up (old skool Lt. Uhura style!) and I really enjoyed the secret smiles I shared with other Star Trek-attired attendees.
One thing that hadn’t changed was the amazing line-up of guests this event managed to present. Bruce Campbell, Karl Urban, Christopher Lloyd, Amanda Tapping, Summer Glau and Edward James Olmos were just a few of the fabulous talents on hand for fans to meet and greet. Leonard Nimoy, who no longer travels for conventions, even made a Skype appearance for a Q and A session! I was happy to see that the Panels and Workshops were still on offer as well, with sessions on Geek Music, Costuming and Comic Books to name a few.
I do have one recommendation for the organizers given the growth in attendance. If Comiccon is coming back to the EY Centre for 2015, perhaps organizers should consider running shuttle buses to the convention centre from various Park ‘n Ride stops (South Keys, Carleton, etc.). The Airport Parkway was at a total standstill, with hundreds of cars backed up from the EY Centre past South Keys. Logistically this was a nightmare for anyone trying to catch a plane, let alone attend the convention. Additionally, people had been tweeting that there were no parking spots available, but there was nothing from Comiccon to confirm or deny this, which would have been helpful in terms of planning. Otherwise, I think the changes that have been implemented since the inaugural year of this convention have been well executed.
Overall, it was a fantastic, colourful, noisy, exciting experience which I will gladly immerse myself in again. So say we all.
To view more photos, check out our photostream on Flickr. All photos in this stream by Sarah Gillingwater.