“What’s not fun about getting to dress up?!”: Inside London Comic Con Spring

We head to Comic Con Spring at London Olympia for an afternoon of comics, cosplay and community.

“What’s not fun about getting to dress up?!”: Inside London Comic Con Spring
Words and photos:
Chris Bethell

Where in the world could you high-five a Wookiee, cuddle a Pikachu, and run scared from Jason Voorhees all under the same roof? That’s right, we’re at Comic Con; and more specifically, London Comic Con Spring at Olympia London. As daylight beams down through the exhibition centre's glass ceiling, rows and rows of original boxed action figures are illuminated across the stalls, while the hordes of impressive cosplayers cast otherworldly shadows throughout the hall.

Comic Con has a long history in a variety of forms, starting its life as a small collection of comics, movies and science-fiction fans under the name The Golden State Comic Book Convention in 1970, which has since become the 150,000 capacity San Diego Comic-Con. In 50 years it has grown into an international cultural phenomenon, bolstered by a multi-national community.

We headed down to London Olympia to see what it's all about.

Sian and Michael

Hey Sian, who are you here today as?
"I’m here as Samara Morgan from The Ring – the 2003 to 2004 version."

And what about you Michael?
"He’s been in character all weekend."

Why have you come as Samara?
"I’ve never done Samara before, and I don’t think anyone has ever done it here before. We also have a cosplay horror group, so I wanted to do a female horror character everyone recognises. It was a hit yesterday so I thought I’d do it again today."

Do you relate to Samara in any way?
"I think in a way she is misunderstood. She [became who] she was because of the abuse she went through."

And do you relate to Michael Myers in any way?
"He’s not a talker."

How many years have you been coming to Comic Con?
"Since my college years, in maybe 2018 or 2019. I keep coming back for the love of it, but also because people understand what you like – geeky stuff and all other genres. Outside of here, people don’t understand. You tend to see the same faces, all of my horror film friends love the same stuff so we keep coming back together."

Will you be coming back next year, Michael?
"Yes, he will."


Who are you here as today?
"Yesterday I was Umbrella Security Service and today I’m UBCS. I’ve been playing Resident Evil since the first one on my Playstation One. Don’t watch the new film, though, it’s terrible."

Is this your first time here?
"This is my first Comic Con in London – I’m from Birmingham. I only started coming last year to the MCM Comic Con there."

Wow, you’ve really nailed your costume for a second-timer! What do you love about it?
"I spent most of yesterday getting stopped for photos. The more of us that congregate together, the more you are stopped for photographs. I think I bumped into another three or four UBS yesterday and we were encouraged onto the stage for a load of photo opps."

So it’s a bit like you’re a celebrity?
"Well yeah, it’s better than my normal job. I usually deal with the people that take too many drugs and have to go into hospital, some of them getting violent. I don’t want to be a goody here because I have to do that at work."


Hi, Batman. How come you decided to come here as this particular character?
"Because my friend who is six-foot-four has a bunch of really cool costumes. Last night I tried on Superman and I was like, ‘Gimme!’ But then I pestered him to steal his Batman costume in the morning. I’m five-foot-four in a six-foot-four man’s outfit and it feels really good!"

It’s a great fit! What do you like about Batman?
"The voice! (Rasps) I’m Batmaaann! I feel as though I’m Robin after going into Batman’s cave, putting on the outfit and pretending to be Batman because the head wobbles about."

How long have you been coming to Comic Con?
"I’m a veteran of Comic Cons! I’ve been going since 2014. It’s the people that keep bringing me back – and also being able to be a complete idiot. It seems to make people really happy, so I love making an idiot out of myself just to see a grin on someone’s face. You tend to meet a lot of new people as well, which is great! But obviously you also get the chance to see all your friends again that you’ve met before."


Hey, Chewbacca! Do you mind if we call you Chewie?

Great. So, Chewie, what is it about Comic Con that you like so much?

That's a great point, it does feel like a really welcoming space. How long have you been coming?

Hundreds of years? Wow, we didn't know it had been going so long. Thanks, Chewie!


Who are you here as today?
"Groundskeeper Willie. He’s one of my favourite characters from The Simpsons."

Do you relate to him at all?
"No. I’m not Scottish, first of all. I do just generally hate people, though!"

Is this your first Comic Con?
"It’s my first one of this year, but I've been coming for six years. I love coming along and meeting up with friends every year."

What are some of your favourite past costumes?
"Lego Aquaman, Lego Sloth from The Goonies."

What has been your favourite bit of this event so far?
"Meeting the Friday 13th guys, the horror cosplay group. They were really fun. I got a load of photos with them and they wanted selfies with me as well. Yesterday I was Lego Jason Voorhees."

It's incredible that everyone’s costumes are so high-quality and most people have a costume for each day.
"It’s a nightmare! But we love it."


Who are you here as, Geoff?
"I’m here as a generic Resistance X-wing pilot, specifically from The Last Jedi. I just like the look; it’s got a kind of helicopter pilot, slightly Vietnam feel about it. I think it’s got a bit more style than the original pilots."

And who is this little guy?
"This is Finton, my porg. They wouldn’t give me a BB droid so this is what I got instead."

Oh, he dances and everything! How many years have you been coming to Comic Con?
"I’ve only been doing it myself for about four years, I’ve had a bit of a hiatus for obvious reasons. But my group is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, so we’ve been doing events since the dim and distant past. I got involved as it was a bit of a bucket list thing for me. Star Wars costumes are quite cool. My wife bought tickets to Celebration in 2016 and said, ‘Should we dress up?’ So I put together a sort of Endor trooper because I liked the look. I worked on it and got an approved Endor trooper as my first costume, and it all went from there. My wife didn’t bother getting dressed up in the end though, so I got stitched up big style."

James, Toby and Amy

Who are you all here as today?
"I’m here as Emperor Joker from DC."
"I’m Batman: The Animated Series' Scarecrow."
"And I'm the Batman: Arkham Asylum Scarecrow, but with my own take."

Were you all in the same costumes yesterday, too?
"No, I was Red Death from Phantom Of The Opera."
Toby: "I was Iron Fist."
"And I was Oogie Boogie in a ballgown!"

It's really impressive the effort that people go to here…
"Two costumes in a weekend is actually not a lot for us, I can do four or five in a weekend!"

That’s amazing. How long have you all been coming for?
"I’ve been coming since 2004 and had a resurgence about seven years ago. It’s pretty much taken over most of my life at this point. The friendship and the creativity is what I love the most and keeps me coming back. My resurgence happened after a lot of weight loss and I found comfort in being Emperor Joker."
"It’s been about four years for me, I keep coming back for the community. There’s some great campaigns they promote like the end of bullying. It’s helped a lot with my mental health."
"I’ve been coming for years but I started cosplaying in 2015. In 2016 I started my own cosplay group, which was kind of an accident. I only started it for my friends and now we have over a thousand members. So we come to things like this with our stand – we’re called Somerset Cosplayers. We promote cosplay because it’s an amazing place for people who don’t fit in. You can just be yourself, be a bit of a prat, and all these guys are the same. We all get to dress up, and what’s not fun about getting to dress up!"

Read this next:

Now read these

The best of Kerrang! delivered straight to your inbox three times a week. What are you waiting for?