It has always been a dream of mine to go to a comic book convention
Though I'm still too chicken and self-conscious to start cosplaying, seeing people with common interests converging in one place to share and experience the things they love and are passionate about... it looks like a pretty great environment to be in, to feel connected to a community.
Also, the possibility of getting to meet your favourite celebrities and getting to watch trailers or teasers before the rest of the world, that's a plus too. ;)
By a stroke of luck, I got to check that off my bucket list when we were invited to spend a weekend at the AsiaPOP Comicon in Manila a.k.a. the largest comic book convention in Southeast Asia!
Having made its debut just three years ago, the AsiaPOP Comic Convention (APCC in short) in Manila has made its name as the largest pop culture convention in Philippines and the region as well as one of the largest in Asia.
Since its inception in 2015, APCC has received tens of thousands of comic book fans and pop culture enthusiasts each year. Media companies like Netflix and Disney as well as comic book and collectible merchants are regular exhibitors in the convention, as are local and international artists who are there to showcase their work.
In what is probably its star attraction, the convention has also played host to a number of celebrity guests including Paul Bettany (JARVIS/Vision from Avengers), Millie Bobby Brown (Stranger Things), Ray Fisher (Cyborg from Justice League), and Nicholas Hoult (Beast from X-Men), amongst others.
Obviously, I was HYPED. Without further ado, here's what it's like for me - a comic con noob - to experience the biggest comic book convention in SEA:
1. First things first, the exhibition floor was HUGE. I'll admit that I felt quite lost and overwhelmed by the many, many booths in the hall when I first stepped in.
I'm not even exaggerating. Think Big Bad Wolf at MIECC, but BIGGER.
You have movie studios, TV networks, and even gaming companies and animation studios vie for your attention with interactive booths promoting their latest shows and offerings, but none tested me more than the countless retailers, with their limited edition collectibles (I collect Funko Pops) and assorted merchandise calling out to me (and my limited stash of pesos).
The exhibition floor also features a Walk of Fame, where fans can meet and get up close with invited guests during meet and greet sessions. The roster includes big name cosplayers and comic book artists as well as celebrity guests.
Some Walk of Famers - especially the cosplayers - would occasionally be away from their booths to run workshops, but I managed to snap a pic with Aquaman (Canvas Cosplay) and Ms. Marvel (Vera Chimera) before the crowd started trickling in!
Speaking of collectibles, check out these amazing limited edition action figures that I'd probably have to sell both kidneys to afford:
2. One of the biggest highlights in the entire event - and I'm not just saying this coz they paid for our trip - has got to be the Netflix booth. There's just SO MUCH TO DO!
The biggest and most interactive booth of the lot, Netflix's set-up is framed by a massive Chinatown-inspired arch and features various activities based on Netflix shows like Iron Fist, Luke Cage, Riverdale, and Stranger Things.
I, for one, had a lot of fun "punching" this car. :p
Come to think of it, I did quite a bit of punching in Chinatown. The 270-degree Iron Fist Experience a.k.a. the coolest set-up in the exhibit made my weak punching look super yeng though:
Oh, and I made some new friends at Chinatown too! Folks, meet the new initiate of the Hatchet Gang (a.k.a. me):
Past Chinatown, Netflix also set up the iconic diner from Riverdale and an '80s-style video arcade-slash-the Byers' living room from Stranger Things
There was a lot of lining up involved at Pop's Chock'lit Shoppe as fans queue up to catch Josie and the Pussycats' hourly performance and to take yearbook pictures wearing the Riverdale letterman or Southside Serpent leather jacket.
Over at the Stranger Things set-up, guests can try to one-up the high scores in the video arcade or have their section of the Hawkins tunnel system added to the wall. Yes, I did one, but it's ugly so I'm not gonna post it here.
Apart from the main attractions, there were also plenty of Insta-worthy displays for fans to snap a few pics with. I found myself occasionally wandering to the booth over the three-day event just to join in the excitement (and re-do the 270-degree Iron Fist punch heh).
3. What's a comic book convention without cosplayers bringing their A-game? Apart from the usual Batmans and Spider-Mans, here are some others that I managed to spot at the convention:
A couple of them were preeeetty WILD, you guys. Pika-Thor was simply... electrifying. :)
I am also sad to report that I missed out on seeing some of these in person, coz that Thanos cosplay is SO EPIC and check out that family of Star Wars characters!
4. My willpower was severely tested by the many artists and retailers selling Funko Pops, art prints, stickers, T-shirts, super cute plushies, and even more Funko Pops
I wanted to buy everything, but I'd only brought a few hundred ringgit worth of Philippine pesos to Manila so I had to control a bit lah. I went crazy on the cheap stuff (stickers, badges etc.) but I told myself I'd save the expensive merch for if it's still on display on the last day, because fate.
Ultimately, I think I'm pretty happy with my Comic Con haul. :D
Probably the cutest thing I spent money on is this Eleven plushie I got for my colleague John. :D SHE'S EVEN HOLDING AN EGGO IN HER FINGERLESS HAND.
5. Last but not least, PANELS with celebrity guests! We had the opportunity to attend some of Netflix's panels and true to their promise, there were exclusives and never-before-seen footage galore.
Commonly referred to as Hall N, Netflix's panel consisted of three sessions - Netflix Loves Anime with Adi Shankar (showrunner of Castlevania) and Takashi Yoshizawa (Godzilla: City on the Edge of Battle), as well as two separate panels for the cast of Marvel's Luke Cage and Iron Fist respectively.
To the audiences's delight, Adi Shankar - who grew up in Singapore and Hong Kong - decided to premiere the Season 2 trailer for Castlevania in Manila itself because world premieres "never happen in this part of the world, they would always happen in the US". Yep, we were one of the first people to watch the trailer, so GET HYPED.
Side note: Castlevania is amazing, I'm totally obsessed, and this is coming from someone who doesn't watch anime so please watch it kthx.
Danny Rand and Luke Cage reunited at Hall N's super-powered panels, where not only did they premiere a new teaser for Season 2 of Iron Fist... fans actually got to watch the entire FIRST EPISODE OF THE SEASON.
While we're legally not allowed to tell you what happens nor how we feel about S02E01 of Iron Fist, we can show you the teaser we got to see. Spot the yellow K'un Lun masks!
Oh, and a little blob of my head even ended up on Luke Cage showrunner Cheo Hodari Coker's Instagram! I have helpfully circled it in red so you don't have to squint to find me. :D #notsohumblebrag
It's been over a week since I returned home from the convention, but I still find myself scrolling through the countless photos I took from the convention and smiling to myself
Although I didn't get to experience most of Day Three and missed out on the Meet and Greet sessions with the celebrity guests due to "work commitments", I had a pretty amazing time mingling and wandering around the convention as a fan of pop culture. Maybe next time, I'll go in costume. :p
PS: Look out for our interviews with the cast and showrunners of Iron Fist, Luke Cage, Castlevania, and Godzilla over the next few months!
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