Kit headed off to the True Believers Comic Festival at the Cheltenham Racecourse this year. Here’s what he thought!
Mission: To put the comics back into Comic-Con!
Do you like comics? Well you’re reading this so I’m going to assume that yes, yes you do. With that in mind you really need to check out the True Believers Comic Festival. There are many conventions around the UK, you can go to the likes of MCM Expo, which although fantastic and a hell of a lot of fun is not for the faint of heart. I have many fond memories there, but also less fond memories of being stuck in queues for entire mornings or being caught in a crush of people trying to get to the loos. If you want something similar, but on a smaller, far more relaxed scale then True Believers is for you. It’s only been running for two years, and I’ve had the very good fortune to have been to both cons so far.
It’s based in Cheltenham at the beginning of February each year, located at the Racecourse. When my partner, Charlie, and I got there (her in cosplay, a dress down Black Cat and looking fantastic… I was lazier this year and didn’t dress up myself…), 15 minutes after opening we were greeted by a packed entrance hall! There were a lot more people there than last year (no figures to back this up, but it certainly felt like this!) but once we’d hacked through the small crowd to the entrance we made our way in. The main hall itself was full of stalls with plenty going on around each. There’s collectible figures, merchandise of all the mainstream comics, there’s artists, cake and my personal favourite – indie comic books!
One of the things I love about attending True Believers is the time you can spend chatting to the indie artists and writers. They have a great chance to promote their work here and are naturally very passionate about it. When you pass a table and something catches your eye take the chance to talk to them and next thing you know you’ll be even more intrigued by their work, will be the proud owner of a new comic book and a few pounds worse off. I’ll be doing my next few comic reviews based on the comics I picked up at True Believers.
We attended one of the main panels, Celebrate Cosplay lead by GCC, Kurostyler, Limegreenjelly and Tris Trinket. They talked about all things cosplay, they gave advice, spoke about their experience and answered questions. The whole atmosphere was fun and relaxed, plenty of people in the audience felt comfortable asking things or contributing themselves. They promoted a very positive attitude towards cosplay, focusing on enjoying it whoever you are and discouraging elitism.
There was also a new table-top gaming area, where anyone could step in and play a board game and get to know other con-goers. There were group meet ups (Charlie joined in the Marvel and DC group) and some incredible costumes.
There was also a real family friendly environment, plenty of kids dressed up as their favourite character and enjoying themselves.
The main event in the afternoon was the cosplay catwalk. I didn’t take part this time, but Kurostyler did an excellent job MCing it. He kept the crowd entertained and introduced all of the excellent costumes.
All of the people working there, from organising the big events to shepherding people into the convention, work really hard, and as a note if any of them are reading this – thanks a lot for putting on a fantastic event. We’ll definitely be back next year!
Anything they could have done better? Well as the convention is growing, the demand for panels and other activities (maybe a video game area) is going to grow. So basically yeah, the same again please, but even more!