Adventures in the Comic Con Sun
Now it’s ninth year, Malta Comic Con has become a fixture of the country’s social scene for nerds and norms alike. There is a positive buzz around the show from people all over Europe, especially the UK, and the chance to get away from the cold winter weather blasting at our faces to some warm (ish) sun in the Med was not something I was going to miss.It was my first year taking part in this show, having seen friends go on about it I figured why not give it a shot? It’s always good to try something new, and considering that I want to head out to more European conventions in 2018, why not start as you mean to go on?
The show is organized by the crew at Wicked Comics, a tight nit group of friends who genuinely love comics, games, movies, and all things nerd culture, and it shows. The convention is a proper, home grown event, with it’s roots buried in the love for what conventions should be.
In the last few years, many of the bigger shows in the UK have lost something of their vibe, the feeling of love for what they are doing and creating for the nerd community has given way to the stalls selling the same expensive tat, often fakes or rip offs, and stopped supporting a lot of the creators that depend on the shows. They are more interested in the money they can get for big stands and celebrity names than building and supporting the community of creators. Unlike many of the more commercial shows that we have in the UK, Malta Comic Con is very much a community driven show.
With it’s large gaming section, cinema and many open talks, it encourages people to get involved and be open to ideas they may not have had before. From the point of view of a dealer, they also make sure you that you feel very welcome and part of the family, setting up events for people to get to know each other (karaoke, tours of the area and the like) to build that sense of community, something that is often lacking at shows now-a-days I feel. The staff, guests and dealers all muck in together to bring about a great show. By the end everyone knows everyone, they are supporting each other and holding up the event by returning every year because they truly believe in it’s family atmosphere and open minded acceptance of everyone no matter how much or little they know about the nerdom.
The variety of stands and sellers was amazing. People were teaching Japanese, some were selling homemade crafts, others 3D printed pieces, artists of all styles from all over the comics spectrum, books for kids and adults, brilliant interesting collectors merch and not a freaking pophead in site! God I hate pops. As I mentioned before there was a gaming area for competitive gaming, vintage gaming, card games, whatever you can think of they seemed to have it. This show may have been small but they managed to fit everything and the kitchen sink in. No matter what you like you were going to find something to interest you and something to buy.
This being said, it lacks some of the organization that comes with the more commercial shows, timing and running late being the biggest on, along with needing a more coherent program (or a better PA system) and a lack of information on the website for pretty much everything, but for the most part these issues could be easily ignored and I feel will continue to be worked on, however there was one issue that I feel does need some attention. The Cosplay Competition.
As a cosplayer I actually really enjoy competing, it’s something I’ve been involved in pretty much since I started cosplaying many moons ago – not that I was very good back then. I’ve been a competitor, a judge and an organizer and a cosplay comp is something that often draws the big crowds a convention. So I decided to take part. Easier said than done.
My first issue was, like I said above, a severe lack of information on the website, facebook and twitter pages on how the competition worked and how it was being run; I had to talk to the organizer to get a lot of answers. This is so easily rectified, all you need is an easy to follow set of instructions on how to enter with all information about times, requirements and fees.
Secondly, the prejudging was something of a shambles, with all the cosplayers told to arrive at a certain time, but nowhere for them to stand and wait, no communication from the staff as to what was happening (as it was running late) and the judging was done on the con floor, not away from the rest of the event which meant that the cosplayers were blocking a lot of space. Personally I would have given time slots for each cosplayer, so that even if there is a lack of space for the judging, the cosplayers aren’t waiting around and getting in the way and they can still enjoy the con without having to give up an hour waiting to be judged. If that isn’t do able, then a waiting room out of the way so that there isn’t a crushing bottleneck in the middle of the convention floor.
While we’re talking about the pre-judging A+ guys, the judges were great and really knew their stuff, I have never had my costume gone over like that, they flipped my seams man! It was hard! Super impressed by that.
Thirdly (and probably finally) for the competition itself they did not line the cosplayers up in order to go on stage, simply had them sit in the audience and were called up. With the crush of people watching the comp, this was completely impractical and I was honestly surprised that they didn’t line the cosplayers up outside of the stage area (or in a side room) ready to go. It means not only does every know what’s going on, they also have time to prep and get in the zone, and it means that there is more room for people to sit and enjoy the show, as there were many people standing. I think, honestly it’s just helpful from a practical point of view and keeps everything going smoothly.
The thing that really stood out though and actually made all of these problems seem much smaller, was the cosplayers and cosplay organizers themselves. The Malta cosplay community was completely open and welcoming to me as an outsider, really making me feel at home and part of the group. They are incredibly talented, I have not seen such high standards in a comp at a domestic show outside of the large London shows, and they love their craft, all putting in 100%. Their attitude to cosplay was utterly refreshing compared to the often drama filled waters of the UK scene, these guys all have each others backs, all getting involved and enjoying what each was creating. I want to say a massive thank you for being so lovely and letting me be part of your community for the briefest of moments.
Overall I loved my time at Malta Comic Con. I feel that I was pulled into the world of people who completely love and cherish what a convention should be. They have created a supportive, honest, open show with so much heart that I would encourage everyone who can to go. I think that, despite it’s small size, Malta Comic Con has a big future ahead of it.
Written by Holly Rose Swinyard