Sydney has their fair share of large conventions and events. But what about the cities outside the metropolitan area? Central Coast Comic Con, in association with Regional Youth Support Services is back for another year. Celebrating alongside with the worldwide event, Free Comic Book Day, it’s a celebration of geek and pop culture, even if you are young at heart or growing up with it as we speak. I had a quick catch up with Kim McLoughry – CEO of RYSS and CC Comic Con – on the convention itself and the importance of cosplay within the central coast geek community: young and old.
I have only heard of this event for about roughly three years now since returning to the cosplay and convention gauntlet. What makes you decide to hold a convention away from Sydney?
Central Coast people were going to Sydney for their OZ Comic Con or obviously, up to Supanova and other places. Two years ago, a local Rotary Club actually took it on and put a smaller comic con in one of the local clubs. We went on and support it, [and] from there afterwards, for the first time – loved it. So it works out really well with out demographic and that it’s also a fantastic family event as well. Year two, we were handed the event.
Regional Youth Support Services (RYSS) have become the lead agency for Comic Con and is a registered charity. The reason we are doing it is probably a little bit different. Because we are a regional area, located in the central coast between Sydney and Newcastle. We really wanted to see something different and new happening for the Central Coast. It has fantastic potential. So many people are keen and interested to get involved locally. We want it to be local beach all event that is unique. We will never be a commercial comic con. Anything like that we are quite different we just love – to me, is a celebration of pop culture. So we really love it, as it fits quite well with our youths service and it brings lots of businesses together with community groups for a really good family day. We are doing it with the agenda of a profile in the community for a really good event which is important with the organisation as well.
Central Coast Comic Con is convened around Free Comic Book Day. As you are aware that most attendees – cosplayers especially, mainly head into Sydney to attend the major stores because they are hosting similar events as you mentioned before. What has been your biggest challenge to bring the locals and travellers to come to the Central Coast?
Our challenge – well, we’ve only held one ourselves [laughs]. We went pretty well with having over three thousand (3000) visitors for our first one we have been involved in.
Three thousand – I couldn’t imagine less then a thousand to attend but that is impressive.
It is quite exciting. We were pleasantly surprised. The nice thing I get from the majority of people were local and probably experiencing a Comic Con for the first time which is great. Obviously, we have committed cosplayers and people traveling from Newcastle, Sydney and Parramatta come to our event because it was a smaller, interesting local event so that was nice as well. [And] It encourages our local cosplayers to really get involved and as a youth agency, we got a number of young people that are volunteers and users of our services that have fallen into cosplay.
We have got them really active and they are also part of the organising committee the whole time. They are getting really good business skills and currently undertaking marketing course for young people. We really want to build it as a community event. There’s a blessing and a challenge, I guess is the amount of community involved we had has been phenomenal and this year, we have been doubled in size in the event. Also, you got the volume of communication, organisation and management teams. It has grown to a new level which is great.
We have been able to involve people who deal with fixed tents [marquees], running our merchandising this year, another through the Central Coast Council – and they have come on board to become our first official sponsor. We have local Hoyts – but our Gold sponsor is Bendigo Bank which is a local bank of five branches around here. So you can imagine the excitement from the branches asking about the tickets to our event – which is quite exciting . We really want to build it with community groups, participation but the businesses are backing that.
The costs are low – we want it to be an accessible and affordable day, so locals can come. [And] not just be an audience, but be a part and participate it, especially in terms of cosplay becomes the main attraction, really. Everyone comes in, love it and continue to build on it. This year, for all the local cosplayers, we have got a cosplay area, Q&A, we have several panels and guests coming up from Sydney. As they are professional and organised committed cosplayers to take it to another level and to give the Central Coast people a huge experience.
Will we be expecting something exciting coming to Central Coast Comic Con?
We have almost doubled in merchandise and past vendors from 2017 are also coming – a couple unfortunately can’t. The amount of interest has been phenomenal so we’re now at a point that we are absolutely full. We have a lot of new people coming on board and all our info will be up on both our Facebook page and also, our website. We have a diverse group which we have a dedicated to the illustrators and authors which has grown exceptionally which I loved and they are all local artists. A lot of original producers, which is something really unique and very coastal.
With a common ground interest – geek wise, we will be expecting a lot of bigger things happening at Central Coast CC. Like any conventions, there is a cosplay competition coming up.
That’s right. This year, we are formalising the cosplay competition – so we have a senior and a junior one. The judging panel which will be a lot better organised. Lots of prizes and we want to focus the cosplay event as it should be.
We have fun stuff happening such as anime screening, a lot of workshops happening and this year, we have an apocalyptic village with a Mad Max theme happening, including the two who worked on Fury Road. They have muscle cars – even Mad Max cars. It’s got a little bit of everything for mums and dads, kids and all ages. We also have a children’s area – especially for the little ones, interactive games and gaming as well. There is a VIP gaming area which is packed full of games and an orchestra.
As the one day convention continues to grow at it’s speedy pace, we will see more to come from a small event with growing potential. As the words from Spiderman’s Uncle Ben, “With great power, comes great responsibilty.”
Central Coast Comic Con is at Gosford Showgrounds on 5 May 2018.
Photos provided with permission from Central Coast Comic Con and RYSS.