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There is a combined sigh of relief and despair going across the county now as what seemed to be the biggest convention of the year has closed it doors. And I’m well aware that this review is very late in being published,I have no one else but myself to blame on that one, but the majority of my time after the con was spent tearing the place down and sleeping! But I do have an opinion on it, so let’s get into that shall we!

Initial Impressions

I suppose there’s no point in trying to fix something that isn’t broken, so just like Arcade Con Dublin Comic Con have decided to stay in the same venue as last year, the National Show Center in Swords, Dublin! Easily accessible by bus and car, situated next to the airport for people coming up in coaches. Definitely a good spot to hold a convention. They have however, changed the interior, and when I walked in and seen the changes it really did make it feel like a convention. Simple little changes can turn a hall into a con, for example, having carpet this year on the floor made the place feel warmer, the layout was really well done (we’ll touch on that later), and the new banners were the cherry on top!

OK, let’s not sugar coat anything here now, the banner for last years DCC was a little bit….bland. Not in terms of design, I mean the outside banner just didn’t seem big enough to show off the convention. So this year the organizers went above and beyond with the banners for this year, and they looked awesome! Gigantic banners placed on the walls and hanging from the ceiling as you walked in the door really made you feel like you were walking into a real convention!

The layout was great, not too many little choke points, and if there was a problem the staff were right on the job of adjusting certain bits to make sure not only that the con goers could walk by easily and hassle free, but also that all the emergency exits were accessible. This was a vital thing to keep in mind seeing as though near 7000 people flocked to the con over the weekend, selling out the tickets at the door in less than 3 hours after opening!

Courtesy of David Doyle Arts and Photography

Photo Ops, Guests and Lines!

The guests were exceptional, having Kevin Conroy, the voice of Batman, Ernie Hudson, one of the original Ghostbusters and also star of many other cult classics, Al Matthews, Sgt Apone from Aliens, who seemed right at home next to the custom Alien Interactive Set that was designed and built specially for the convention. They were joined by some of the biggest names in 2000AD and Irish comics. The lines for the guests were quite long but the staff did a prompt job of cutting the lines at equal points to assure people could walk by and let others enjoy the con instead of waiting for the line to move along, with this system in place the lines actually went away very quickly and there was little to no lines left at the end of the day, which was great for any vendors and exhibitors that wanted to get a signature and a photo with any of the guests. The pricing for the guests was quite high in my opinion but the other con-goers didn’t seem to mind, they got to meet their heroes and people who have had major influences on their childhood, and 20€ or so for that memory doesn’t seem like that bad of a price.

Then we have the photo ops and activities. This is where, in my humbled opinion, Dublin Comic Con sets itself apart from the rest of the conventions in Ireland. When I think of a convention I think of a place to learn new things,meet new people and purchase some cool stuff, Dublin Comic Con on the other hand seems to add all these factors in but also have the vibe of a great family day out! There were activities up the ying yang, everywhere you look there was something to do. For all fandoms, Stargate photo ops, walking dead photo ops and even a Zombie Survival Camp outside, where kids and teens were shown hoe to survive the apocalypse, then set into a zombie filled area to put their skills to the test! An airsoft firing range to test your aim and reflexes, some sort of archery tag, I didn’t get a chance to go over and check it out, but from the sounds of the people doing it it sounded like good fun! All this with the sounds of the 98FM Thunderbus keeping everything upbeat, although they never fulfilled our request to play Thriller whilst we did the Zombie Survival Camp!

Dublin Comic Con had everything for all the fans, they had gaming areas, both for the console gamers and board gamers. Two separate areas for the gaming made it more manageable for the area organizers too keep the tables free and make sure everyone had a great time.There was reasonably priced food both indoors and outdoors and all these vendors right next to the new marquee and outdoor stage, which unfortunately got a little wet due to the extreme weather that happened over the weekend. But. As stated in my MCM Belfast review, we can’t do much about the weather. All I can say though is that the organizers and volunteers worked ceaselessly before the con opened to make sure it was accessible for the con goers.

Courtesy of David Doyle Arts and Photography

Crafts, Comics and Art. OH MY!!

The layout as mentioned above was really well done, if a problem arises the volunteers were quick to address the issues and each area of the con had it’s own specific theme, which meant the stalls you wanted to visit were easy to find. There was a Craft Alley, Artists Alley, Guest Area, Comic Village and Photo Op areas. Now before you jump on me for calling the Comic section a Comic Village I do want to point out that compared to other conventions this year DCC had the most extensive comic area to date. Not only were the big shops involved but there were lots of small independent traders, and it is awesome to see some of the dedication and the devotion in acquiring these immense collections! I’m still quite shocked that i held in my hand a comic that had a value of over 2500€ (possibly more), and there’s also a great feeling of rummaging through those boxes of comics and finding that one true gem, sadly for me there was little love for Galactus, and if there was it was way out of my price range!

The craft section was especially interesting, I had a great time looking through some of the wears that these talented individuals have made. One of my personal favorites was Evan Kennedy’s booth,.#ARTPASTE. I will admit I walked past this booth without giving it a second glance,but after reading the little pamphlets he left out I couldn’t believe the work that was involved. From what looked like a mishmash of colors with a Comic cover in the center was actually a full comic cut up and stuck on the canvas to make either a decorative piece, or a mosaic of the main character done with bits of the comics. One other little quirky thing they were selling and I couldn’t help but pick up one for a friend, they had custom shot glasses with more of the comic strips placed in the bottom. I love these little things, not only because its geeky way to get drunk but also because they can be custom ordered to have whatever character you want in them, I think Graham was quite happy with his Cyclops glass! This was their first convention and I really do wish them the best of luck in the future!

Then we had the Artists Alley, one of my favorite places to hang out and peruse the artwork that these talented people create. Two of the highlights for me this year were two people, well, one person and a group. The group were the great folks behind the Irish zombie comic series Zombie HI, they were selling individual issues of their comic at a set rate or you could buy the whole series in a bundle, and all of them would be signed too. I couldn’t resist! I bought all 9 issues for only 18€, all signed and in a neat little package. They were also doing live sketches of the con goers who purchased a comic off them and make them look they’ve been zombified, all of which were done with a great looking art style which is translated well into the comic itself. I’m still making my way through the issues now so there is a possibility that I will have a review of them in the near future.

The person that i mentioned above was the one and only Brian Burke, why out of all of the artists and vendors do I want to mention him out from the others, well it’s his art style that really caught my eye. As some of you may know, I am a huge Breaking Bad fan (even got my photo with an amazing cosplayer who was the exact lookalike of Walter White) and with this addiction comes a hunger for BB memorabilia and art. But at conventions you start to see the same photos being used in different forms of art and posters, it gets very boring and monotonous. But Brian’s take on the characters really stand out, in my opinion, if you can draw the character in a way that it looks nothing like “conventional” models, but the buyer can still not only recognize the character but even the context that the character is in, that is just truly impressive! Below I have a screen cap of one of my favorite pieces from Brian, you can check out all his work by clicking on the photo below!

Courtesy of Shtuffienhiemer : Art by Brian Burke

Final Thoughts

There was so much to see and do this poor reporter was run of his feet. From taking part in the Zombie Survival Camp, minding tables for friends, doing tactical maneuvers through the convention hall for Grahamedia’s CMV and much more, it didn’t really give me time to do a thorough look through the whole convention. But all that I did get to see really did give off the vibe of not only a truly memorable comic con experience, but also an event that when you got home and sit down, that you would think about all the stuff you seen and done, and just go “wow!” A great weekend, and one that went by all too quickly!

So here’s to DCC 2015, and hopefully next year I will have a proper press pass and be able to interview whatever awesome guests they have lines up. I will do my very best to keep my composure and not act like a little fangirl during the interviews. So with that I just have to say a big thanks to Karl, Derek and Stephen for putting on a great show, all the volunteers and workers that made it run so smoothly, the guests for their time and presence, anybody that put in the time to put up and take down the place before and after. And of course thank you for reading this review and helping me throughout the year!

And of course…No convention would be complete without Grahamedia‘s CMV…..check it out below!

Adam.

More photos of the event can be found on David Doyle Arts and Photography which can be found here!

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