Dutch Comic Con 2016: Bigger and better

It has been a year since we have been introduced to Dutch Comic Con, a Dutch version of the Mecca of geeks: San Diego Comic Con. It’s always exciting to have a new event, but Dutch Comic Con was such a huge success that a second one was planned for the next year almost immediately after the first. And the second one was going to be bigger. Was it indeed another success? Definitely. Dutch Comic Con 2016 is way bigger.

Unfortunately there is some maintenance around Utrecht train station, which means for some visitors it is not as easy as usual to reach the venue. But early in the morning the train station starts to be filled with visitors that are already in their cosplay outfits. Some of them walk towards the Jaarbeurs shivering of the cold, while holding their dresses against the stormy weather. But, when they arrive at Dutch Comic Con, after all the hassle of getting there and the stress of walking outside, plus that preperation of the costume that took many months, is all totally worth it. At Dutch Comic Con the not-cosplayed visitors usually come to check the people out that did have the courage and discipline to make their own gear. And this year that creativity gives the jury of the cosplay contest a pretty hard time on deciding which performance is best.

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The cosplayers of the real cosplay community have been extremely creative, but many other people that visit Dutch Comic Con are either not dressed up, or dressed as Harley Quinn or Deadpool, especially because of the movie adaptations that have come out and are about to come out. On the floor there are also professional cosplayers, such as the Dutch Garrisson of the 501st Legion (Stormtroopers) and the Ghostbusters Dutch Division, in full gear including Ecto-1. You can easily spend a whole day at the convention just watching and photographing cosplayers.

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If you decided not to though, I can’t blame you. In the first place because there is so much to do, but secondly because you would miss for example the stand which has Stefanie Joosten, the Dutch actress that plays Quiet in Metal Gear Solid V. She is not the only famous person on the con though, there is a whole army of famous actors, writers and comic artists. For example the actors:Peter Shinkoda (Daredevil, Supernatural), Eugene Simon and Ian White (both Game of Thrones), Johnny Yong Bosch (Power Rangers) and Doug Jones (The Flash, Arrow).

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You can get an autograph from those actors for upto 30 euros and you can check them out at the panels that are organised. The four Game of Thrones actors take the stage when I am there, and they answer questions from the audience such as: which dead character would you like to see returning to the series? What is your best on set memory? And of course: Who do you think will be on that Iron Throne eventually? It is a very funny and cool panel, especially because not all of these actors are still in the show and as they suggested: one does not die a natural death in Game of Thrones.

There aren’t just panels, there are also presentations. Unfortunately for me the one about the Bechdeltest (did two women of whom you know the names have a conversation that is not about a man?) was cancelled, as the presenters had no voices left after a full day of talking without a microphone. Meh. It is a small disappointment, but not one that you have to walk around with for a long time, cause there is so much to do! (and tomorrow I will be visiting the LGBT panel with Corinne Duyvis, Marieke Nijkamp, Thomas Oldeheuvelt and Vivek J. Tiwary (who made a graphic novel about the manager of the Beatles, pretty rad).

Kids at Dutch Comic Con are more included than last year. There is Hasbro and Disney, there is a small cinema with cartoons and then there is this place where you can play with MyLittlePony. And the Powerpuff Girls treat visitors to free cotton candy (I LOVE cotton candy!). A bit sad though, cause there is a paid cotton candy stand at ten metres distance.. Aww…

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Not everything on this con is free though, cause the retail part is two times bigger than last year. Many stands have returned, but there are a few new big ones with video game merch, superhero comics and cosplay wigs. The room is very big and spacious to handle the busyness at Dutch Comic Con, but at the stands themselves it is obviously a bit crowded because everybody wants to see allllll that merch! Especially the stands with katana are very popular.

There are a lot of stands that offer video games to play, like Quantum Break, Yo-Kai Watch and Transformers: Devastation. There is even a very big stage where YouTubers are commenting on a game they are playing, and where you can follow a masterclass in Hearthstone for example. It really is a lovely convention. Especially watching the cosplay contest is really fun, because it is amazing how much courage those cosplayers have when they are all dressed up. Homemade lyrics, dances and poems: we have seen it all. Thumbs up for Dutch Comic Con, which has become a very solid event in just one year time.

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