Words and photos by Matt Richards, in Utrecht
Whilst walking through Utrecht Central Station on a Saturday afternoon, it’s fair to say that one doesn’t really expect to pass Kylo Ren from The Force Awakens heading in the other direction.
But this was no ordinary weekend in Utrecht. On the 25th and 26th March the Dutch city played host to the annual Dutch Comic Con. Comic books, video games, fantasy, cosplay (dressing up as a character). Whatever your thing, if it’s ever been called ‘geeky’ or ‘nerdy’, it’s probably catered for here. But with comic book movies now dominating multiplex schedules, Star Wars reinvigorated for a whole new generation, and 30,000 people through the doors this weekend, interest is definitely growing.
Here at Zeitwurst we donned our best ‘reporter’ costume, and headed down to check out what was going on. Whilst there we asked a few costumed attendees what they like about the event and community, where they see it heading in the future, and whether they think that becoming more ‘mainstream’ might have any negative effects.
Frank as a Vault Dweller from Fallout“There are so many problems in this world, and when there is some kind of a fantasy you can escape in, and you discover that the people over there are sharing the same ideas, the same fantasies, then you’ve got something that bonds. I have been affected by my children – they came already and said come along. So after a while I thought okay I’m going to dress up as well.
I’ve been to a couple of Comic Cons now, and it’s getting busier and busier. Yesterday it was so crowded, it was unbelievable. But the atmosphere was still the same. I think it’ll stay the same, because other people will get infected by it as well.”
Lauren (left) as Captain America and Stime as the Winter SoldierLauren – “I’ve been cosplaying for about 5 years. It’s a good way to be yourself and not be yourself at the same time.”
Stime – “It’s fun, it’s creative. The geek community in general, especially the cosplay community, is very open and very inviting. It’s very nice to see cosplayers who are just starting out, just seeing them involved.”
Lauren – “I kind of like that there’s more surface level fans now because it means there’s a bigger audience, which means things like this get more attention and more accepted. When I told my family what I did 5 years ago they were like “aaargh its weird” and then now because it’s gotten so big they think it’s really cool and they wanna come.”
Susanna as Ariel from The Little Mermaid“No one’s judgy – everyone’s really open to stuff. You can be yourself and no one will think ‘oh my god, she’s dressed as Ariel’.
I think there will be more events, more stuff to do around the geek area. I think they will divide it into little bits – Disney convention, Star Wars convention.”
Ferdinand as Link from The Legend of Zelda“You can just jump right into the character you like the most. Coming together with people all dressed as their character, doing your thing, looking for stuff you like. You can throw your eyes open.
As far as I see it now, it’s still growing and growing. I guess many people see it as a good part of getting money of course. And other people, like the geeks and the ones who just like the stuff of the character, just throw money at it.”
Jurgen (left) and Jeffrey as Spidermen, from Spiderman (obviously)Jurgen – “We are not specifically in this culture, but last year I saw people do it and saw videos on the internet and thought why not, let’s do it. If there were less people I’d like it better, the only ones that really want to be here.”
Jeffrey – “I think it’s good [that’s it’s growing] because it becomes more socially accepted, and when its more mainstream it’s easy for people to join in.”
Sam as Storm from X Men“It’s almost getting mainstream. It’s more [about] looking like a model than having fun. It’s 50/50. That happens when a new niche comes around – everybody wants to join the bandwagon. I’m seeing a lot of models coming in as cosplay too. They’re doing all the attractive photo shoots. Everybody can see through it and the real cosplayers are hooked on people who are creative and having fun.”
Jeroen (left) & Maaike as Star Trek Voyager charactersJeroen – “We have an entire community called ‘Star Fleet NL’. We have movie nights, there’s a BBQ upcoming and we will have a massive photoshoot with about 60 Trekkies.”
Maaike – “The geek community has always been a community that’s inclusive to people who were always a bit of an outsider and that’s nice. I think a lot of people don’t like it that it’s getting more mainstream because it gets a bit less inclusive, but on the other hand people who were just in the middle are getting more inclusive in general in society.”
Reported by (as obviously) not Geek-Matt Richards