What was it that made a Star Wars fan, proudly sporting a NERD lanyard, visit ArtÓ on the very same day as our limited-edition series of nine reimagined Star Wars posters arrived back from the framers into the gallery? If Obi-Wan Kanobi is right and ‘there’s no such thing as luck’ then it must have been destiny. Or the force.
And she was called Laya, a different spelling but the same pronunciation as Princess Leia. You can’t make this stuff up. Visiting Stow-on-the-Wold for a wedding dress fitting, Laya soaked up our Star Wars memorabilia including original Funko POP! figures of Luke Skywalker, Boba Fett, Chewbacca and a Stormtrooper and a framed Dark Horse Comics Boba Fett edition #1/2. A Lego City addict, she was also taken by our Lego minifigures installation (and let us in on her tricks for identifying them inside their foil packets).
Along with her fiancé David, Laya is a regular at MCM Comic Con, which was founded in the UK just after the millennium and has grown into a celebration of cosplay, collectibles and pop culture with major events in London, Birmingham and beyond. More than anything though it stands as a symbol of having the freedom to be yourself, fire up your enthusiasm and indulge your interests in the company of other people doing exactly the same thing.
We love the fact that MCM Comic Con Birmingham, which takes place at the NEC from 11-13 November 2022, features a free to use Cosplay Hospital. Here a potential costume crisis can be swiftly averted thanks to the skills of dedicated volunteers deftly wielding glue guns, needle and thread or duct tape. What better testament to the community spirit of MCM Comic Con can you get?
But there’s more. Attending MCM Comic Con is to be part of a family both figuratively and literally. Alongside the characters, comics, gaming, anime, manga and screenings there is The Treehouse family area. It offers not only a wealth of activities perfectly pitched to youngsters but somewhere for them to retreat to if they get overwhelmed. Another example of how MCM Comic Con is a supportive environment.
The event is about the little moments as well as the big experiences and at its heart is still an ode to the comic. As avid collectors at ArtÓ we find it pretty awesome frankly that a whole world of entertainment has been created thanks to this artform – which has reached cult status but still manages to be remain essentially accessible – and the talents of the illustrators and storytellers that created them.
We count ourselves lucky to feature Cheltenham-based illustrator Martyna Sabadasz, a huge fan of anime and manga, on the walls of ArtÓ. Her limited-edition lino print #3/5 ‘Blue’ is inspired by her hand-stitched comic of the same name. It’s an allegorical fantasy exploring one's mind on a journey to a tranquil space. A short wander in a hectic world. What would happen if we stopped? This comic lives next to the framed Boba Fett limited-edition comic in our much-loved ‘cabinet of curiosities’.
You’ll also see a love of the artform in ‘Comic Strips’ by Candy Canvas, a collective of internationally exhibited artists. Cunningly constructed from comic book extracts and spines into a barcode-like image and a riot of colour, ‘Comic Strips’ is a 120cm x 80cm artist-embellished boxed canvas which speaks to the comic book fanatic young or old.
Like the lovely Laya, at ArtÓ we're proud to be nerds. When we have a passion we pursue it and we love encountering people who can spend an hour discussing Star Wars, Lego, comics or whatever genre of art piques their interest without anyone drawing breath. We'd love to be a fly on the wall at MCM Comic Con to hear the conversations that will be taking place from one enthusiast to another.