Following its prominent weekend appearance in the capital city of Victoria, the annual Oz Comic-Con has farewelled Melbournians with a super-heroic wave, imprinting a diverse programme and unique style for 2019. But while teleportation to the Australian states of Brisbane and Sydney to anticipate the event’s September arrival would again, be rather exciting, let’s dig deeper into the experience in Melbourne, witnessed and enjoyed by an array of pop culture fanatics (including us!).
In preparation for our debut at the Oz Comic-Con, we had the unique opportunity to speak with film, television, and stage actress (and not to mention host extraordinaire) Clare Kramer about her career and all things ‘geek’. Clare’s career really kicked off with her roles in Bring it On (2000) and the Buffy the Vampire Slayer series (2000 – 2002)where audiences saw her play strong roles as Courtney and Glory, respectively. Clare described her passion for playing characters with developed stories. “I do gravitate towards the characters that are interesting – whether they are strong or bitchy,” she said. She even hinted at returning to the stage in the future, stating “I really want to go back and do a piece of theatre”, but that’s not all to anticipate from Clare – her online project Geeknation is something to look forward to resurfacing at the end of the year. She describes the site as “my love letter to pop culture and geekdom.” In anticipation for the weekend, Clare teased the many panels she would be hosting and the “intimate” interactions fans will be able to have with their favourite artists. The self-proclaimed geek describes her passion for hosting at Comic-Con, saying “I am in this business and especially this hosting business because I am passionate about film and television.”Moving to the event itself – and aligning with its globally recognised name – the Oz Comic-Con saw wide inclusion of the concept of comics, not only in the written and fine art mediums, but also in the bold and striking form of cosplay. As an entirety, it was significantly pleasurable to immerse oneself within the rows, stands and valleys of colourful and quirky comic books. Whether the comic books were old and archived or new and freshly printed, this experience of browsing through a plethora of titles, genres and pop culture marvels (pun definitely intended) was fascinating. There was often an accompanying gasp or squeal of delight as favourite pop culture characters were recognised through the interaction with numerous comic book front covers. These sentiments transcended to the witnessing of fine art collections by national and international artists, each showcasing particular pop culture realms and titles. Appearing at their fifth Oz Comic-Con, illustrators and artists, the Goblin Girls, described the creation of their ‘fan’ art as “a way to give back to what has been given to us”, aligning with the nature of the event as an entirety. On a visual scale, the fine art observed throughout the exhibition was diverse and eye-catching. Particular favourites included character portraits from StewART (the art of Stewart McKenny) and disassembled character art prints from Carlos Pantino.
Pioneering fan excitement was the various celebrity meet and greets and panels with characters from a huge range of shows. From Supernatural to Arrow, Lucifer to Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Shadowhunters, Oz Comic-Con was brimming with international stars. The weekend timetable boasted panels and picture opportunities from the morning until the afternoon. Fans cosplaying as their favourite characters could be seen lining up in anticipation for the opportunity to speak with the actors behind their beloved heroes. Lining up for the Supernatural panel with stars Alexander Calvert (Jack) and Osric Chau (Kevin), it was clear the attendees donning pentagrams and trench coats couldn’t wait to get in. The panel began with questions from the self proclaimed ‘geek’ host Clare Kramer in which Calvert and Chau spoke about their characters on the show and what it was like to be a part of the coveted series. Fans were then able to ask questions of their own, bringing the show’s massive online presence into reality.
Shifting focus to the anticipated form of cosplay, it’s safe to say there wasn’t disappointment in the variety or visual spectacle of the characters who appeared on the front steps of Melbourne’s Convention and Exhibition Centre. From the beloved Scooby-Doo gang to the notorious Pennywise, our favourite team of Avengers (assembled of course!) to the numerous wand-wielders from the renowned Harry Potter franchise – the cosplay captivations were continual and enthralling. Speaking to Marvel Comics illustrator Wayne Nichols, he highlighted how seeing “the amount of detail put into the costumes and [the characters] being brought to life” through cosplay has been a significant inspiration for his own work. While many of the cosplayers had to be ready for photos to be taken and poses to be struck, it was great to see positive interactions in regard to this area throughout the experience – we even had the chance to test it out in a team photo with the Avengers #newrecruits
When we asked the veteran pop culture lovers at Oz Comic-Con for advice for newcomers, they all had their own perspective. Most said to drink water and dress up, but there was one thing that was consistent with all answers – there is something for everyone. With all the stalls, meet and greets, costumes and workshops, it’s clear the weekend is something to be appreciated from all angles. Next year, we can’t wait to dress up and truly immerse ourselves in the pop culture capital!