Norwegian Comic Con and the Power of Positive Fandom
Each year, in late Fall, an event is held on the outskirts of Oslo. This is SpillExpo (translated: Games Expo), or, as it is also called: Norwegian Comic Con. And as with other Comic Cons around the world, this event celebrates a wide range of fandoms, games, cosplay and related stuff.
The event lasts for three days, and last year I was there for just one. It really hit me then how positive the fandom there was, and I decided that next year I would be there all of the three days to really spend time with fans, learn about their various fandom, their passions and see alot of great cosplay.
And I did. After three walking around the event area (my feet really hurt after that…), I’ve seen the best of what Norwegian fandom has to show. And I’ve watched alot of Fortnite gameplay, in an effort to understand the hype and enthusiasm around this game. I will have to work more on that particaular fandom.
Heading out to the convention, I was prepared to spend the first day observing the fandoms and stands on display, and the next two starting research and delving into the details. And there were alot of them. This year, the event had doubled down on cosplay and offered half price on tickets to everyone who would come in cosplay. Many were amazing, with fans clearly having spend hours and hours on their costumes. While others had just stapled on some props from their local hobby store and called it cosplay.
An example of great cosplay was the guy doing Pennywise the Dancing Clown. I noticed him last year and was impressed then, but this year he had actually improved the costume, most likely inspired by the second chapter in the movie versjon that was recently released. He even had his “victim” with him, another cosplayer in yellow rain jacket with blood all over him, minus an arm. Teaming up with another cosplayer, going as the Joker from the Joaquin Phoenix film, they made quite a pair.
On a lighter note, another cosplayer I really liked was the person dressing as the dragon from the animated films “How to Train Your Dragon”. It wasn’t so much costume itself, although this was very good, with full body suit, wings, claws, mask and a long tail, but it was the positivity that came through this costume. The girl wearing it seemed to have a grand time, running around having fun, and it really came through the costume itself. Sadly, I didn’t get a good picture of the dragon, as she was always on the move. But it was a joy to see fandom manifest in this way.
So there were alot of great cosplay this year, but an event like this would not be the same without the biggest costuming organization there is. This is The Nordic Garrison and the Rebel Legion, parts of the international 501st Legion. There are thousands of active members around the world, with film accurate Star Wars costumes, mostly of villains from the franchise, but also heroes and other good guys. With the motto “Bad Guys Doing Good”, they participate in charity and other events all over the world, having Disney’s and Lucasfilm’s blessing to do so (so long as it’s non-commercial).
Personally knowing some of the members of the Nordic Garrison, I was lucky enough to join them “backstage” to talk to the troopers about their ideals, thoughts and of course, their passion for Star Wars and cosplay. For as long as I’ve been interested in fandom, Nordic Garrison has always inspired me, and maybe, if I didn’t research fandom the way I do, I might have joined them in costume. The friendliness and cameraderie is a big part of this inspiration.
So there where alot of great cosplay, but there were also other surprises. I met the small game developer Surrealist, who is developing a game about the Norwegian, world famous violinist and composer Ole Bull, one of Norways first pop stars. Ole Bull was born in 1810, and died 70 years later. One might call Ole Bull a genius, a narcissist, or both, but this guy would sell small, mass produced busts of himself, or even bottle his own bath water and sell it to rabid fans.
So if you think the Bull name sounds familiar when reading this blog, that’s because he’s one of my ancestors. Or rather, I’m directly descended from Ole Bull’s younger brother, Knud, who was, some might say, the black sheep of the family. Knud was a rogue, a swindler and a con man, trying his hand forging money and art before being exiled to Australia.
So having a computer game about something that feels in many ways as close as Ole Bull and his family, is a very special feeling. I can’t wait to see how the game turns out when it is released in 2020.
I also met the author of Norwegian super hero comic The Urban Legend. Created by Josef Tzegai Yohannes, The Urban Legends tells the story of a black, crime fighting superhero. A classic superhero character, The Urban Legend is the first of its kind coming out of Norway. It is drawn in an iconic superhero style, with stories of inspiration, education and anti bullying.
So, after three days at Norwegian Comic Con, I’m writing this with alot of strong feelings and a whole lot of inspiration. I think the best of it all is the sense of friendship and community. We’re not just here as spectators or customers. We’re here to be with others who share our passions.
I look forward to next year’s Norwegian Comic Con. And then, maybe, just maybe, I will be in my own costume. But what would that be? Suggestions?
I’ll leave you with another example of amazing cosplay. Just because I can’t really finish this post without adding it. Just look at Spidey!