Manchester Comic-con closed it doors on the 30th July after yet another memorable two-day extravaganza, and once again delighting both casual fans and hardcore comic-book aficionados.
Around 36,567 people descended on Manchester Central, comprising of comic collectors, sci-fi fans, movie buffs and anime enthusiasts, with people of all ages eager to unleash their inner geeks. Whether it was fulfilling dreams of meeting childhood icons, or exploring a world of super-heroes and fantasy for the first time, there really was something for everyone and fans that turned up were treated to a star studded line up of guests and theatre panels.
Screenwriter, actor and voice artist David Hayter, best known for voicing the legendary Solid Snake in the iconic video game franchise Metal Gear Solid, made his Manchester Comic-con debut at the event and had fans queuing up for hours in search of his signature.
Elsewhere, Star Wars and Harry Potter legend Warwick Davis put in an appearance alongside other stars such as Lou Ferrigno (The Incredible Hulk), Denise Crosby (The Walking Dead) and Johnny Yong Bosch (Power Rangers). Visitors to the event were also greeted with packed theatre panels, hearing from the likes of Sunday Times best-selling author Simon Scarrow as well as being able to listen in on a recording of a new episode of the Alan Partridge fan podcast, “Monkey Tennis”.
Events such as the annual Manchester Comic-Con have become commonplace and are now an established cornerstone of the gaming industry. San Diego Comic-Con, now one of the largest multi-day media bonanzas in the world, attracts some 150,000 people as well as major corporate sponsors and movie studios – a far cry from a gathering of an estimated 300 people at its inception in 1970.
It is estimated that the annual July San Diego event generates some $140m in economic impact for the region and ticketing website Eventbrite reckons that fandom conventions in North America alone grossed $600m in 2013.
Part of the reason for the exponential growth of the comic convention market is the rise in popularity of superheroes and the success of their respective film franchises. Recent efforts such as Guardians of the Galaxy, The Batman Trilogy and Wonder Woman have proved to be massive commercial and critical successes, with the latter holding the impressive title of DCEU’s highest ever earning film. In addition to this, the wider impact of super-hero films seems to have a lasting effect on their audience, with the most successful efforts often spawning a wide range of merchandise, games and spin-offs films.
One of the most widely anticipated upcoming superhero films is DCEU’s Justice League, which features an amalgamation of fan favourites such as Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman. Whilst this is scheduled for release in November, there is already an abundance of merchandise relating to the film, a video game currently in the works, and even a Justice League slot game available at online casino where players must use their wits to battle Steppenwolf and his army of Parademons. In addition to this, the success of the Batman film franchise featuring Christian Bale, lead to the release of the Batman: Arkham Asylum video game series which is still widely considered as one of the most successful action games of all time.
The cultural impact and increased interest with regards to superheroes has left an indelible mark on events such as Manchester Comic-Con and has lead to similar festivals popping up all over the world.
The success of the aforementioned film franchises have had a huge role in the continued rejuvenation of the comic book industry but at the same time, Manchester Comic-Con and similar events also give the more hard core element a chance to revel in the spirit of the genre and by dressing up as their favourite characters for example, they create a unique experience and atmosphere which will hopefully be around for many more years to come.