Having had so much fun at Preston Comic Con this year, I quickly signed up for Blackpool Comic Con – it was the first to be held in Blackpool, and boasted a long line of high-profile guests.
This time round, having gotten so attached to the Daredevil series on Netflix, I decided to put together a Daredevil costume. I already had a suitable top and trousers; I made a mask by cutting up an old T-shirt; and I cut a cardboard wrapping paper roll in half to make dual weaponry. The obvious problem with the costume is the lack of eyeholes; cut eyeholes into the mask and you look more like the Dread Pirate Roberts. I could see through the mask to some extent, but with the crowds at the event making movement difficult even with perfect eyesight, I spent most of my time with it up.
I happened to meet my friends Neil and Rebecca on the bus to Blackpool. Among the things we talked about was what kind of cosplay you tend to see at these events; in particular Neil and Rebecca like to count the number of Harley Quinns, Poison Ivys and Lolitas. There was, true to form, no shortage of those at this one.
When we arrived nice and early, there didn’t appear to be a queue, so we headed for a coffee shop. Eventually, after watching several people in cosplay go by, I decided there must be a queue by now and went out to join it. It turned out there was indeed a queue – round the corner from what we thought was the entrance, and it was already fairly substantial. I stood in it for a little while, wondering why it seemed to be moving when it wasn’t the official opening time yet – then I found it was actually the VIP pass queue. The general admission queue was hidden on the other side; it now stretched round another corner, and down the other side of the building.
It was about 10:45 when I got in – and because of that visit to the coffee shop, I spent most of my waiting time desperately needing the toilet. And I was one of the lucky ones: other people who arrived later had to queue for substantially longer.
I had expected the event to be a bit chaotic, having heard that tickets had already sold out, but even the spacious Winter Gardens was absolutely packed. At the peak, it was very difficult to move around, and uncomfortably hot. It was clearly a struggle for the various staff and volunteers, who weren’t all able to answer questions on locations and procedures. Any future events will definitely have to work on their organisation.
But I was determined not to let these things spoil my day. First I looked at the stalls: after enjoying Reaper’s Rhythm, I got the next two books in the series by Clare Davidson, and also got a sci-fi novel named Zero by J.S. Collyer. I went for a wander around the autograph tables. First there was Miltos Yerolemou, who played Syrio Forel in Season 1 of Game of Thrones. When I told him that I was still waiting to find out his character didn’t actually die, he signed his photo the only way he could: “What do we say to the God of Death? Not today.”
Sitting together on the other side were three actresses from the Harry Potter films: Afshan Azad (Padma Patil), Anna Shaffer (Romilda Vane) and Georgina Leonidas (Katie Bell), who were also kind enough to pose for a picture.
Sarah Louise Madison, the Weeping Angel I’d already spoken to at Preston Comic Con, was also there, so I said hello and we talked a bit about Cops & Monsters, the web series in which she plays a vampire.
Then there was the one I was really looking forward to: Jenna Coleman, Doctor Who star and Blackpool native. When I went for an autograph, there wasn’t much time for chat but she was still lovely. When she asked me how I was, I replied, “Terribly starstruck.” “Don’t be!” she said, and then complimented my costume for being minimalist! Later, I saw Jenna again at her photoshoot, where I got a bit distracted saying something to her and was almost caught off guard by the cameraman. Still, the picture turned out fine.
I went to two of the panels. First was Game of Thrones: some of the actors I had seen at Preston were back, plus a few extras, including Robb Stark himself, Richard Madden. After going clean-shaven for Cinderella, he now had a light beard back.
Later, Afshan, Anna and Georgina sat down together for a Harry Potter panel. This was a really fun one: years after the last book was published and the last film was released, there’s still a real passion among Harry Potter fans. The three panelists, who answered plenty of questions relating to both the films and the books, clearly had a great love for the series themselves.
By the end of the day, I was feeling quite weary, but there was no time to rest, as I had one last thing to attend: the Water Dancing class, a class on swordfighting given by Miltos Yerolemou himself. This was definitely a unique experience. With rolls of wrapping paper serving as our swords, Miltos proceeded to show us how to judge distance when attacking and keep the sword in a good position to defend yourself; where to aim on the opponent’s body; how to block; how to disengage; and how to evade. One interesting point he made was that fights like this should end in as few moves as possible; the longer a fight goes on, the more likely it is that both combatants will die. The guy I was partnered with was a relentless attacker, and I was forced to practice a lot of evasion. Miltos felt that we put a bit too much energy into our clashes, to the point that we were pretty much wrecking our “swords”. When examining my style, he also placed focus on me keeping my eye on my opponent, rather than following the sword everywhere.
After that, I finally headed home, after a chaotic but mostly satisfying day.