Review: Oz Comic-Con is an inclusive celebration of pop culture

Thirty-thousand fans descended upon the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre this weekend to celebrate everything related to comics, games, science fiction and general nerdiness.

The name ‘Comic-Con’ is primarily associated with San Diego Comic-Con International, which routinely draws over 150,000 people each year. While a smaller version, Australia’s Oz Comic Con – first appearing in 2012 – held its own in terms of passion and enthusiasm.
Those attending a comic convention for the first time would be immediately struck by the abundance of cosplayers dressed up as their favourite character from any number of media franchises. A cursory glance would reveal figures like Harley Quinn, Thor, Harley Quinn, the Joker, Attack On Titan’s Mikasa, Harley Quinn. Really, there was a lot of Harley Quinn going on. With that one exception though – the diversity was impressive.
Though less immediately striking, the positivity that surrounds the culture at Oz Comic Con and other similar conventions made itself apparent. From the surprising abundance of attendees in wheelchairs or with other physical disabilities to the general diversity of the crowd, the culture was incredibly inclusive.
Peddlers of nerdy goods were present in equal force and diversity. From cosplay repair stations to PokéBall terrariums to stalls with all possible anime resources including full-length waifu body pillows, stalls selling goods and services of all sorts and sizes abound. There was even a tattoo joint, just in case physically suffering in full view of a costumed crowd is your idea of fun.
Mixed in with the retail stalls were activities of a more official nature. There was an anime lounge, where punters could rest and recuperate while catching up on Yuri!!! on Ice or Death Note. The manga library had a similar function, replete with beanbags and all. A personal favourite was the Marvel tent, where attendees were handed headphones with a selection of audio channels to choose from. The chilled out tunes of the ‘blue channel’ DJ were the choice of the day.
It wouldn’t be much of a convention without celebrity speakers. There was a wide assortment of guests, including the cast of iZombie, Shannon Purser from Stranger Things and Jason Momoa. To be honest, the assortment was a little niche and one needn’t be ashamed of being unsure of why a given guest was famous. But that’s not wholly surprising considering it is a niche convention.
It would be a difficult feat to have attended Oz Comic Con and not walked away entertained. There was plenty to look at, and an impressive amount of energy and passion coming from the other attendees.
By Sam Gaffney