Superheroes, stormtroopers, warriors and anime characters. Mark Graham finds geek heaven at MCM Comic Con
Blessed be the geeks, for they have inherited the mirth. Suppressed screeches of excitement, ecstatic jumping up and down on the spot, and hands clasped to the face in expressions of shock -joy were the easily read body language at MCM Comic Con in the RDS – and that was just the middle aged men. Stormtroopers patrolled the aisles of overflowing comic stalls, Predators prowled through rows of tables where animators plied their trade, anime divas queued for autographs from TV fantasy faces, and creatures of unknown origin were cajoled to pose for sci-fi selfies. Jim Corr would have been in his element.
The effort and detail displayed by dedicated cos-players was impressive. Massive papier-mâché skulls, real-life rainbow-clad anime characters, super-heros, arch-villains, fluffy beasts and sword-wielding warriors milled merrily amongst the gawping muggles.
“You should’ve seen the looks we got on the Dart when I walked in to the carriage with a chainsaw and he followed me with a sword,” some dedicated follower of fantasy told me. “I went with Rorschach from Watchmen today, because he has less accessories and it’s easy to walk around in the costume.” Still freaky if you have to sit beside the ink-masked trench-coater on the Dart, though.
John’s hoodie was emblazoned with the “Geek Ireland” logo, a crowd responsible for running “Ireland’s Yellow Pages of Geekery”, a site detailing other Irish conventions and geekly goings-on. The lads I met wear their geekdom as a badge of honour and get distressed by anyone who feigns the lifestyle choice in pursuit of geek-chic. “It’s like people who wear a band T-shirt without knowing who the band is. Who would do that? That really f***ing annoys me!” I liked these boys.
DRAWING THE CROWDS
MCM are no daws: they know that there’s money to be made from the hordes of dedicated gamers, cos-players, comic worms and sci-fi fiends who flock to these conventions; an estimated 6,000 of them in the RDS last Saturday alone. The economics are reflected in last week’s box office receipts: Captain America: The Winter Soldier pushed Marvel Cinematic Universe to the top of the highest-grossing film franchise charts (Harry Potter and Star Wars are in second and third place). The finances involved would freak out Stark Industries’ accountants. When Black Widow kicks Captain America to the kerb and gets her own feature length, I’ll be contributing heavily to the comic book coffers myself.
The economics were easily ignored in the RDS, where the enthusiasm and sense of innocent fun was infectious. This was a space for people to throw themselves fully into their passion, without fear of being judged or embarrassed. For the duration of the convention, the costumed cohort became the heroes and the legends. Festivals that have this streak of passion running through them bring together like-minded people to celebrate the thing that floats their boat. And you could have fueled the Serenity on the collective effervescence that fizzed through the RDS at Comic Con.
Passions of a different flavour were sizzling in Dungarvan, Co Waterford at the West Waterford Festival of Food. Last Sunday somewhere in the region of 17,000 people grazed their way through the fabulous food market that occupied the centre of the town. As you approached the square, even the breeze that carried the promise of delights to come was fattening. A magic carpet ride of a meal at Eunice Power’s Middle Eastern Feast, Mick Quinn’s Michelin-star experience on the street in the shape of Baa Blaas (Comeragh Lamb in a Barron’s Blaa), Mark Hartrey’s onion bhajis and BBQ Joe’s lamb kofta rolls with mango salsa have all led me to one conclusion: next year I’m going to have my own stall in Dungarvan and I’ll make a fortune – selling gastric bands. The gastric bands will be black vulcanised rubber, perfect for doubling up as Dark Knight utility belts.
Safe travels, don’t die.
COS WE WANT TO