It has lately become part of my activities to attend comic book conventions (like ComicCon Asia 2018) as a way to relieve stress and possibly meet new people. Pretty sure most of you readers have already attended one especially the spectacular San Diego ComicCon where most of the fun stuff happens.
The recently concluded ComicCon Asia is just the fourth convention attended by yours truly, and the first one I attended in costume as the un-transformed Robbie Reyes Ghost Rider and I must admit, being in costume, even at my age, is quite liberating. Easy enough costume to put together which I’m happy many recognized. Thanks to my short haircut. I could have gone there as Supernatural’s Castiel had my hair been a little longer. But what happens when cons fail to meet expectations? Compared to the last two cons I went to; ComicCon Asia seems a dismal failure. This was the Asian ComicCon where none other than Stan Lee was supposed to participate.
ComicCon Asia started out as an announcement that another comic con was happening, and it was going to be big. Stan Lee was going to visit the Philippines. So a lot of people were onboard. A lot of geeks and Marvel movie fans. Not to mention other geeks in the South East Asian Region who can’t afford to enter the US but can travel here. The convention was organized by an outfit called PSTL Entertainment. Must be pretty big to be able to get Stan’s attention.
Anyway, I booked my ticket online, fighting the urge to buy a ticket for Stan Lee’s Q&A which cost around fifty bucks while ordinary tickets cost twenty. The full Excelsior package composed of the Q&A, the meet and greet, autograph and photo-op cost 300 dollars. I remember Asiapop charging around ten bucks a pop. I brought my daughter along with her friend and me, just like the last time. The decision was made for me when Stan Lee cancelled due to his battle with pneumonia which has been going on for about a week back then. It was disappointing but understandable. The moment Stan was announced as a guest; I’ve had my doubts, but it was exciting nonetheless. I’ve marveled at how someone his age might handle an intercontinental flight.
You’d think it would be over with that cancellation, but the organizers scrambled to announce other guests at the 11th hour. Then they announced that Hayley Atwell who played Peggy Carter in Captain America: The First Avenger in place of Stan Lee. Unfortunately, two days before the convention, she cancelled using a very controversial excuse that there was political unrest in the country, as announced by the con organizers. The political situation here is basically the same as in the United States. It’s a love-hate relationship with the chief executive but no brewing powder keg I knew of. I guess SHIELD intelligence knew something we didn’t. She then backtracked saying her reason was scheduling issues. Nice save Peg. We’ll fondue later. Other guests to tide the crowd included the voice actors for the popular game Overwatch; popular foreign cosplayers like Vampybitme (she was gorgeous as Daredevil character Elektra) Walter Jones, the original Black Ranger and Dacre Montgomery of Stranger Things.
The cancellations were the first things to go wrong with the convention, so there were refunds galore. It’s a wonder the convention went on. Anyway, we finally get to the convention center and find a very long line. It was as expected. Not sure if any nerds opted to camp out. Many would have if Stan followed through. Unfortunately, the line was several hours long. We were in line for four hours before we managed to actually get our entry badges. The ones after us probably got in after a pathetic six. Organizers should send the badges by courier next time for those who bothered with the online purchase. This goes to other convention organizers as well. Hear that guys? What’s the point of going online if we still have to wait in line? A simple hash code that uses the phone’s number would have sufficed to prevent any gatecrashing. Plus, their system needed to connect to an online database that made the verification process awfully slow. A simple spreadsheet that contained all those who registered would have done a better job. It was amazing how the line stayed somewhat organized until we got in.
When we got in, however, the place looked a little…dead. I thought I got into an expensive nightmare. HistoryCon was probably the liveliest convention I visited with plenty of exhibits, lights, and sounds. KITT and the other muscle car exhibits alone made going worthwhile. But the ComicCon Asia convention hall lacked lights and overhanging banners, and the lack of people didn’t help. A lot of them were still outside. The place got livelier though when they finally got in.
There wasn’t much in regards to exhibits and booths, unfortunately. Only half as many retail and artists’ booths compared to Asiapop ComicCon. Some artists even cancelled their attendance due to convention ambassador Manny Pacquiao’s stance on the LGBT community. Asiapop had double the number of artist booths. Some major nerd toy retailers didn’t also attend anticipating low attendance due to Stan Lee’s absence. He did make it there in spirit.
Two of my favorite fandoms were unfortunately absent. Supernatural and Star Trek except for one representative of each. And lastly, it wasn’t much of a comic book convention. As mentioned, there weren’t many retailers and artists present. Only two comic book retailers were present, and one was shunted somewhere where I almost couldn’t find it. But there were still plenty of comic-book-based cosplayers present.
Well, we tried to make the most of it by doing photo ops at various exhibits as well as having selfies with other cosplayers which was a lot of fun. I also had fun looking at the various toy exhibits present. I was prepared to spend in case I came across some Supernatural Funko or another Marvel Legends Ghost Rider but just couldn’t find any. The highlight of our day was mainly the cosplay elimination which was great and entertaining. Kudos to Thanos and the following guys and gals who dressed as Voltes V, Perfect Cell, Mr. Satan, Kung Fu Panda’s Kai, Zoids’ Deathsaurer, Wonder Woman, Tekken’s Josie Rizal, Iron Man, Iron Punisher and Deathstroke.
We left there practically satisfied, but hopefully, it could have gone better. Next time, I’ll start recording videos and grab a couple of battery packs for that. And in case the organizers try to pull one off again, they’ll probably learn from the experience and complaints from the attendees on their Facebook page. I leave you with some nice Cosplay pics. Cheers.