You, guys, East European Comic-Con is AMAZING! I had such a great time!
Honestly, it was a lot better than I expected. First of all the con is absolutely tiny. And I do mean tiny: It was about 30-something vendors and another 30 or so artists on Artist’s Alley. Even so the con occupied three halls in Bucharest’s biggest convention center. One hall for the main stage (which was good, because everyone had a seat even on Saturday afternoon), a hall for the vendors, artists, actor photo-ops & signings and a secondary stage and a different hall for the HUGE gaming area (board games, and computer games, and everything in between).
Now, I’ve never been to a con before, so I have no idea what it’s actually supposed to be like but the atmosphere awesome and friendly. Manu Bennett was bound to pop up out of nowhere on his scooter (I have a feeling his assigned security guy was a bit exasperated), incredible cosplayers everywhere and general good times to be had. HBO turned up with a replica of the Iron Throne and this other GOT archery game, and there was a TARDIS replica as well.
The most impressive thing about this con was the guest actor line-up: Manu Bennett (Deathstroke!), Kristian Nairn (HODOR!), John Noble (Walter Bishop!!!), Robert Knepper (From just about every sci-fi TV show you can think of), Dan Starkey (Strax!) and Osric Chau (from Supernatural).
I got to see all the actors at least once (with the exception of Osric Chau who I’m not familiar with and wasn’t interested in and Dan Starkey who only had one panel). All the panels were just questions from the audience, which was great because a lot of people got to ask some pretty interesting questions. John Noble answered a lot of technical questions about acting and directing. Robert Knepper actually visited Romania about 30 years ago to do a play so he talked a bit about that and then he got a bit political and about how media is at least a little bit responsible about shaping the world. In the panel I saw he said wouldn’t answer any more Prison Break questions, because that’s pretty much all he talked about the previous day. Kristian Nairn talked about GOT and synthesisers and his main job of DJ-ing and his face tattoo, though I think people didn’t really know what to ask him - his was the only question queue reached the end.
None of them were asked who the biggest prankster on set was, but was asked to share a funny story from set, and what was the funniest prank from set. Actually it was Kristian Nairn who got asked both of those - in his two panels. . He dodged the first one somehow, but answered the second one. I’m really glad the panels were all audience questions, because from what I’ve seen online sometimes the moderator questions aren’t very interesting, or they’re very general and things you’ve heard before.
Manu Bennett was the absolute highlight of the con. He crashed the cosplay contest final and probably made the Thorin’s cosplayer’s year, and the end of Robert Knepper’s panel. He had two panels: one Saturday and on Sunday and both times he got the audience to do a haka with him. The first time he had about 30 people on stage, the second time he had so many people on stage he did on-stage tribe vs. audience tribe. It was amazing. I think he answered about 6 questions combined on both panels, but he did it so hilariously and entertainingly that I don’t think anyone minded. It was such fun that half the audience for the second panel had been there the previous day. Yes, I was at both - I wasn’t supposed to be, because I had to be at a garden party on Sunday, but it rained and I regret nothing! If you’re a fan - it’s absolutely worth going to see him at a con!
All the panels are gonna go up online, so I’m gonna post links when they are.
Other than the actor stuff there was variety of cosplay panels, various Romanian youtubers, one Romanian TV show and some artists panels. I didn’t attend any of them because my schedule was pretty full as it was. (Also, I didn’t do any full 9 am to 9 pm days.) There was also a a quiz contest (which apparently was pretty unbalanced on the anime side). There were also the ESL South East European Championship some other gaming contest - but I’m not much of a gamer myself, so I kind of avoided the gaming hall.
The con also hosted a regular cosplay contest and the Cosplay World Masters qualifier with three Romanian cosplayers and three Bulgarian cosplayers qualifying for the next stage of the contest. The judges were cosplayers Tine Marie Riis and Shappi I saw the cosplay final and it was pretty awesome: lots of cosplay from The Witcher, Assassins Creed, a very wounded Superman, Poison Ivy and lots more. You can see photos from the cosplay final here. And like I said, Manu Bennett crashed this bit:
The only thing I was a little bit disappointed with was the variety of merchandise on sale: the exact same stuff you can buy in the online stores the rest of the year, but with (sometimes higher prices). This means the usual logo on black T-shirts, general fancy dress wigs and masks, common metal on a black string jewellery, some figurines and Funko Pop. FUNKO POP EVERYWHERE. And even then most of it was Superman, Batman, Iron Man, The Flash and Game of Thrones. Almost nothing of heroines: very little Black Widow, Wonder Woman and no anyone else. Not even Doctor Who stuff. And mostly officially licensed stuff, very few original things. This isn’t necessarily the organisers’ fault - they don’t have any control on what merchandise the vendors show up with, but it would be nice if next year we’d have more variety. They had a lot of actual comics on sale, though, which was pretty awesome. Those really are a bit hard to come by around here. Artists Alley was pretty good too: some Romanian artists and some European artists as well, including Puiu Manu - Romania’s oldest comic artist who did comics way back when communism was still a thing. No one immediately recognizable to me, though.
Overall everything was very well organised (and all the actors also praised the organisers at the end of their panels on Sunday) and whole lot of fun. It was nice to be able to identify all the geeks in this city by their armbands for three days straight. and Seriously though - if you’re from Europe and you like quest lists it’s absolutely worth attending. And you can’t beat the price - I paid ~12 euros (13$) for general access for three days (all panels + general areas) with early bird booking, but even so the last price for the full 3 days was ~18euros (~20$).