Everybody loves a sequel. Sometimes they are ok and sometimes they should not have even have been attempted! The sequel to the Portsmouth Comic Con, which I have just got home from, was the greatest sequel. It had more guests, more talent, more things to do (and buy!) and so much more heart! Everything that made it a huge success last year, but with added extras.
Last year, when I found out that my hometown would be getting its first major Con, I was excited and a little nervous. Could my town pull off this great venture? Would they be able to pull in the talent? Would the Con be accepted by new guests and veteran Con guests?
I should have had more confidence in my own personal Metropolis as all my doubts disappeared as soon as I arrived at the Portsmouth Guildhall. Each and every floor had something new and interesting. Computer games, artwork, crafts, celebrities, comic artists and writers and so much shopping! There was something for every geek. After that weekend I was tired, happy and proud of this Con’s introduction. It put their name on the map and showed the world that the big and successful events don’t have to just happen in London and other bigger cities.
I made my way to the venue on May the fourth. Star Wars Day! The commute was heavenly as I only lived 30 minutes away! Normally I have to travel to London or further to geek-out with like-minded fans so to be able to travel with ease was a huge bonus! I got there early, as always, grabbed a coffee and watched all the visitors arrive. Some in cosplay, some in their heroes designs. Families, friends and fans. The excitement was building and you could feel it!
It was definitely busier than the year before and the organisers were ready for it. More structures were built to help cope with the lines and more of the square was used. This meant that even though more people were coming, it was still easy to make your way around. I was dodging heroes with ease while I was trying to explore!
I did a tour of the whole venue to get to grips with what and who I wanted to see and that took some time as the layout really did use up all the space. The Portsmouth Guildhall has many rooms and floors and almost every one was used. I also love the fact that the rooms normally reserved for serious mayoral and council meetings are used for some of the panels. The guests got to sit in the throne like chairs and spoke about the careers and passions to halls filled with fans.
Entertainment was everywhere, even when you walk from hall to hall and floor to floor. One area had a Stan Lee memorial and visitors were encouraged to leave kind words. It was very touching to read all the comments and I even left one of my own. I was at the Con with Kibla Ahmed Art, a fellow blogger and good friend. After I wrote my message I turned to see Kibz drawing a sketch of Stan Lee and a small crowd was watching him create. It was a memory that I am glad I was able to capture.
At several points throughout the two days I took some time to chill out at various places. One of the best spots for this was the steps of the Guildhall. This became a gathering point for the masses! It was fantastic to see so many fans of all fandoms and ages all sat together and watching the entertainment on the main stage. While people were eating their lunches and taking a moment to relax they were able to watch Cosplay competitions, dance shows and there was even a Jedi training program. Fun for everyone and it was great to see so many people having such a great time. The same hometown pride I had last year was back with a vengeance.
I sat down here to have my lunch on both days. The weather was perfect on both days and the steps made it a great place to people watch. New friends were being made, cosplayers were being stopped for photos and the air was filled with positivity. Everyone was having a great time.
There was lots of food options available at the event. Classic burgers, fries and hot dogs and were being served and also Piecarumba! were in attendance. Rob Litchfield and Phil Linssen run the business and have two restaurants but also attend corporate events and cons. When I found out they would be coming I knew where I would be eating!
Their pop up restaurant was busy all weekend and they were both in cosplay. That’s dedication! Delicious pies and mash were being served to the masses by Marty McFly and Doctor Emmett Brown! Just like in the restaurants, the pie choices are very punny! On the Saturday I had a “Kylo Hen” which had chicken, ham and leek and on the Sunday I tried the vegan option and had a “Not Dog”! Both were delicious and with hearty food such as this it gave me the much needed energy to continue my day!
Just like last year, the guests who had booked to appear at the Con were impressive, and that must have been a big appeal for the die-hard comic book fans who would be coming. So many comic artists and writers were in attendance and Artist Alley was as busy as it was last year, but with much more organisation. Visitors were told that if they had more than ten comics to get signed then they could get ten signed and then make their way to the back of the line. This gave everyone a chance to see their favourite creators, get their comics signed, and have a chat as well.
I didn’t go with any comics to get signed this year, I went with my copy of “Masters Of Comics” by Insight Editions. Joel Meadows, who wrote the book, was at the Con and so were a few of the artists who feature in it. Joel is also a co-producer of the Portsmouth Comic Con so I knew I had to pass on my thanks at the event and also chat about the book. He was charming and we talked about his work and his plans for the future. It was a pleasure to speak with as he was so passionate about the comic community and I hope to speak with him more in the future.
Now, the shopping… As always, I go to a Con with a budget. I spend some of the day looking at what is on display and taking mental note of what things I like. That only lasts so long. When I started diving into comic boxes and toy piles, I soon began noticing my backpack getting heavier! Every different Zone had stalls to shop at, all with something different to grab your eye.
Vintage toys, Funko Pops, comics, books, clothes, cushions. Everything! I ended up getting a pile of comics at very good prices. Comics that have been on my pull list for a while. There are not too many comic shops near to me so to get the chance to dive into multiple boxes and find some gems was a treat.
As this Con was so close to home, on the second day I was able to take my eldest Niece Of Steel with me. This was a very proud moment for me as she was also going to be blogging and reporting from the event. We spent the whole day exploring all the booths, panels and Cosplay competitions. I was very happy to be able to show what her “Geeky Uncle” gets up to on his adventures but also let her see what a Comic Con can and should be like.
We toured rooms, played retro video games, admired art and posed with all the heroes and villains we could find. I was proud to get to show her how a Comic Con works and the dedication that goes into making a success and I hope this won’t be the last event we attend together.
This Con has truly grabbed a hold of my heart again and this “sequel” was a smash hit. My legs are still tired from all of the walking but I am still smiling from the memories and the pride I have for my hometown and the success of this event.
While I wrote this love letter to the Con I got the amazing news that it will be back again next year and I am sure that it will be even bigger and better. I have already planned my weekend as I would not miss this for the world!
Portsmouth Comic Con, and everyone involved with this event, thank you so much and I will see you next year!
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