Published on June 10th, 2023 | by Chris O'Connor
Oz Comic Con Melbourne 2023 @OzComicCon
It’s been ten years since I last went to Oz Comic Con Melbourne. I was fortunate that time to win a competition which I believe asked the question “who are you most looking forward to seeing at Oz Comic Con and why?”… my answer was “Ron Perlman…. because it’s Ron freakin’ Perlman!”
Back then it was in the Royal Exhibition Building, but now… ten years later it’s bigger and better and has expanded to the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre. By a quick visual estimate I’d guess it’s about four times the size now and it’s not just the number of exhibitors that has increased… a quick look at the first image here (from Oz Comic Con 2013) and the following image shows the density of the crowds… it is packed!
Naturally the 501st were in attendance (is it a Con if they aren’t?) so I got my fix of R2 not long after entering… a nice way to start any event I think.
Walking the aisles it is often shoulder to shoulder so it can feel a bit overwhelming… fortunately the organisers have considered this and there is a dedicated section just for chilling out, beanbags and all. Other points around the floor do provide some space to compose yourself but it is certainly nice having dedicated space to escape the crowds for a moment. Along with the chill out space is the inclusion of a queer/LGBTIQA+ area and the notion of inclusion is really a key part of Comic Con. One stand had a sign saying “Don’t be a d*$K, Cosplay is for everyone”. Looking around the Con floor that is abundantly clear, gender swap characters are mixed in with store bought costumes and hand made works of art. No one is judged and plenty of people are just thrilled to see others with the same fandom as their own.
For those wanting to rub shoulders with their favourite celebrities the photo/autograph/meet and greet section is up one end of the hall and seemed well organised. Near there are some areas for talks which were scheduled throughout the day and with the new Flash movie being the biggest comic film at the time of the Con… it was well represented. The creator section of the Con felt more inclusive this time… ten years ago it was on the outer section of the con floor and felt a little pushed to the side… here it’s right in the middle of it all which gives the artists a chance to really have their work seen and engage with the public more.
We spent, I think, close to three hours looking around and it was nice to know that around the outer edges are some food options (there are a few within the main section as well… in case you can’t escape the flow of attendees). Prices are about what you’d expect from pop up/mobile food stands but it was nice to have some variety… we opted for icecream but I was tempted by the hot donuts. Speaking of prices… there’s actually a good range of prices throughout the show floor… those with deep pockets can go for the really fancy big ticket items… but for those with less money to flash around there are some decent offerings still to be had from fan art to blind bags and model kits and the like.
Much like ten years ago there is a pretty significant gaming presence as well with plenty of opportunities to jump in and try some gaming. I noted some PSVR and Quest VR gaming on offer… funnily enough I think Oz Comic Con 2013 is when I first got a personal look at consumer VR via the Oculus Rift (the pre-release running the roller coaster demo)… that was enough to start me on my VR journey… so clearly it’s a good place to display your wares. Board games were also big and an opportunity to sit down and roll some dice was available to tune out of the throngs for a while.
All in all it’s a fantastic day out. I was accompanied by two of my children and a friend of one of theirs and from all reports it was a fun experience. I really do appreciate just how accepting and supportive the Comic Con community is… everyone seemed genuinely happy to be there and just soaking up the atmosphere sharing their fandoms and perhaps picking up new ones.
If you have any interest in Comics or Pop Culture in general, I highly recommend making your way to an Oz Comic Con near you!