Comic Con Gent, formerly known as Starcom, struck down in the ICC for the third year in a row. And boy, what a convention it was!
This is one of these conventions that started slow, but pleasant, and keeps on looking at past editions and improve upon them. And it not only shows, it works.
Stick with this review and find out just why Comic Con Gent is one of the best conventions Belgium has to offer.
First of all, due to the terror threat, events in Belgium have become a little cray cray when it comes to security. There’s always police present (you may not see them, but they are there) and bag checks are mandatory.
CCG could have made this unpleasant by having a security firm come in, or make outrageous demands for see-through bags and doctor’s notes so people could justify having their meds on them, but no. Instead they opted for a very friendly member of staff to just calmly, politely and good naturedly explain that he was legally obliged to check all bags. And he did, had a proper look in them, and sent you on your way, wishing you a great day. Which is how it should be. They could have made getting in very unpleasant, but instead they did it right.
It’s not the only thing they did right. Knowing that the convention can get boiling hot on warm days, they had made sure to have two bars open, with a drinks/food coin stand next to them. The prices were a little steep, but for an convention, they weren’t extreme, which was something. And well, they were only a bit steep for some things, others were reasonable.
There were three food trucks outside, one of which was vegan. It was especially nice to see them specifically catering to vegans/vegetarians. It also needs to be said that the ICC is within walking distance of at least 2 pizza places, a falafel place and a Delhaize supermarket (open on Sunday) so even those that couldn’t find what they wanted at the event (despite the numerous food vendors carrying Japanese or American candy and the one place selling only smoked sausages), still had options. That was, if they hadn’t brought in their own lunch.
They might not have had quite as much seating space on the floor as they used to, but it was a glorious day and the park right outside has plenty of benches and spots to sit and picnic. That aside, they still did have their little “quiet” corridor upstairs, which is a super nice addition for people simply wanting a breather. Aside from that, there was plenty of room to be found to sit down for a moment throughout the entire event building.
This year, CCG had also grown in size, having a whole extra room. Unlike many conventions, they didn’t just fill it up with more vendors. Don’t get me wrong, there were a LOT of vendors, but there were also Q&A’s retro video games, a cosplay contest and catwalk, karaoke, speed dating and more fun things. And of course, it wouldn’t be a convention without guests, who you could meet and have a picture taken with (for a fee, as per usual). Unlike most cons, they had a pretty god schedule on both days, not just on the expected busiest Saturday.
Set-up wise, CCG did a good job on their set-up and diversifying.
There were quite a few vendors selling vintage toys, and a lot of them did only carry the really popular fandoms, but if you looked around, you could find some real gems, both amongst sellers of official toys and in the young creator’s section. But aside from that there were some shops you’d initially wonder what they were doing at a pop culture con, but in the end of the day, it’s great they were there because it’s a popular culture con, it’s not just about comics, or superhero movies. It’s about all of the popular and geeky culture, and that includes the Japanese culture crowd, the geek fashions, steampunk and LARPers and everyone else. And THAT is what Comic Con Gent understands and makes happen.
For more photos of the event, click here.
The same organisation has two more events coming up this year: Elftopia, Belgium’s own fantasy fair which is returning for it’s second run, and for the first time ever, stepping in the in incredible legacy of the previous most amazing convention of Belgium Antwerp Convention: Comic Con Antwerp. No doubt in my mind they’ll do great. And I really look forward to both events, because Comic Con Gent was completely on point as far as I’m concerned.