What happens at a comic con?
Stars and Stripes July 13, 2023
I was flustered and blaming Google Maps for my problems when my daughter and I rounded a corner and found the entrance to the Messe Dortmund conference center. The area was full of fellow fans and people in cosplay, so my parking frustrations were quickly replaced with excitement and nerves. We were finally walking into our first comic con!
German Comic Con began in 2015 as a Europe-based alternative to the famous San Diego Comic Con. The original vision for German Comic Con found the convention taking place in Dortmund, Berlin, Frankfurt and Munich. Following its cancellation during the COVID pandemic in 2020 and 2021, the convention started up again in 2022 in Dortmund. It is organized by the We Love Conventions GmbH company who also host various other small and niche conventions throughout the year at other locations.
So, what happens at German Comic Con?
I had no idea. Beyond the occasional reference to the San Diego Comic Con from “Big Bang Theory,” I was clueless about what people did at one of these conventions. Nonetheless, my daughter was eager to jump into the fray.
So, ignorance in tow, we got in line with our printed-at-home tickets. There were two entrance lines available outside the convention center: one was full of folks in cosplay and the other were people in modern attire. We fit the second description, only my daughter’s “Stranger Things” shirt alluded to her fandom. Bags were thoroughly checked, and anyone cosplaying with a weapon had it strictly scrutinized by the detailed Cosplay accessory rules.
After entering the massive hall, we grabbed a map and a schedule and realized that this was huge. There are hourly discussions and guest panels with famous individuals and film or TV actors on the main stage. Plus, there were talks on the smaller stage that ranged in topic from props to the psychology of Star Trek. During panels, an open microphone on stage right was open for audience members to ask questions of the guests. Both my daughter and I participated in a fairly stunned way to find that our favorite actors were all too happy to answer our questions!
You can also pay extra for brief meet and greet session with the actors. Read about the experience in “Meeting famous people at German Comic Con.”
In addition, there was a massive marketplace where vendors sold all kinds of items related to comic culture, film and TV, and gaming. There were T-shirts, Funko Pops, collectors’ items, comic books, cosplay outfits and even realistic weapon replicas. I did, of course, find that Link’s Master Sword was calling to me.
An entire section of the convention was dedicated to cosplay with sets created for attendees to take their picture with. Using most of them was part of our entrance fee, while a few had small additional fees for extras like a photo printout. I was happy to pay one euro for an ice cream cone (a real one: I ate it) to go with our shots in the recreated Scoops Ahoy.
It took us a while to understand that pictures were welcome from personal cosplayers as well, and we just needed to ask. After that, we took selfies with every Jedi, superhero and Genshin Impact character we came across.
Another large part of the convention is dedicated to an artisan’s market. We spent a lot of time perusing the booths and made a few purchases from very talented individuals. My daughter was shocked to find and speak with an artist she follows on Instagram and was so happy to buy a keychain and get a selfie. There were jewelers, painters, digital artists and crafters all with their own style and take on film, comic or game art.
At some point you will get hungry, and there are plenty of food options. A variety of food trucks are placed throughout the convention center, plus there was a food court with picnic tables and seating. We did run into a few food vendors who would only take cash, so I recommend bringing some. There is an ATM in the convention center, but the line was quite long.
You can attend, too!
Interested in going to a comic con? There are lots of options throughout Europe. Look for our monthly article “CON together” listing future pop culture events and conventions.
Visit GermanComicCon.com for details on the next large event in Dortmund. German Comic Con is held at the Messe Dortmund conference center. The German Comic Con Dortmund Winter Edition is December 2-3, 2023, and I’m already excited to go.
Beginning in 2024, German Comic Con will be rebranded with the expanded name “German Film & Comic Con.” The spring event takes place May 4-5, 2024, and the winter event will be December 7-8, 2024.