The world of the eccentric fantasist is fit and well - and thank goodness for that.
On Saturday 24th October I visited my first ever Comic Con at the Excel in London. Over three days, 100,000 fans of comics, science fiction, TV and film, computer games and everything else geek-related converge on this huge warehouse on the Isle of Dogs, and quite simply fill their boots with everything they love in this world of make believe.
Clearly they love this world - and what's not to love? MCM Comic Con is about FUN. It's about escapism. It's about stepping out of the boring modern life and embracing the colour of the one within our heads. And boy is it colourful! Everywhere there were blood reds, garish yellows, bold blues. And that was just what people were wearing.
I'll admit to feeling really rather under dressed in my normal clothes when I first turned up, looking about myself at the superheroes and fantastical beasts next to me and masking a private laugh at their expense - these young (and not so young) people dressed in more latex and lyrca than a Soho cycling club. But then, after about twenty minutes into the event, I realised it was in fact ME who was in the minority and the awkward one. The one to be laughed at. I looked like grandpa whilst they looked amazing. And really they did look amazing.
The effort, ambition and skill of the costumes (Cosplay, as it is called), it quite honestly breathtaking. You find yourself looking at zombies, Tuskan Raiders, the dragon from 'How to train your dragon' and wondering if you're looking at the real actors and outfits from the film. The official 'Back to the Future' car and McFly's jacket looked fake in comparison.
One quickly remembers that this is an expo and expo's primary intention is to SELL THINGS. So two thirds of the exhibition hall consisted of stalls selling everything and anything from the world of the strange. I've been to plenty of boring old IT expo's in my time and the difference between them and this was stark. This was a party, one great big party with 40,000 people invited all at the same time.
I'll admit to being hugely jealous of the younger generations. There was never anything like this twenty years ago.
"Ten years," a helpful young woman, dressed as a well endowed scantily Japanese superhero with a thick Yorkshire accent told me as we stood at a T-shirt stal. "It's been going about ten years."
Ten years, but still Star Wars is massive (why did I sell all my original figures for beer money when I was 18?), Manga is even bigger (probably about half of the expo was Japanese-related), and I still struggle with Star Trek.
After exhausting myself measuring the miles of walkways and aisles around the stalls, and squinting over the radioactive green of the carpet of the signing area to see which celebrities from TV and film were working their way through the long snaking queues of autograph hunters, ducking under the grasping hands of zombies advertising the next new thing in zombie films and games, whilst staring open mouthed at the outrageous and mesmerising outfits people were wearing, I reached the right hand side of the hanger and the area set aside for the comic book writers and readers.
Read about meeting the comic book creators here >