It is no secret that this intrepid reporter (I’ve always wanted to say that) loves Comic Cons. The Brussels edition, the biggest Belgian event by this organization, is no exception to this personal “rule”, so to speak. So stick with me to find out exactly why this was such a fun event, and why ‘punks of all stripes would be able to enjoy it!
This year a whopping 21 guests filled the lineup, and all of them actually made it, too! The most popular was undoubtedly Robert Englund of Freddy Krueger fame, who regaled listeners with his love for none other than Jules Verne, one of the grandfathers of steampunk, during the Q&A. Boy, did I wish I had known that before I met him in the morning, my question for him would have been a different one!
But I digress. While most conventions feature the same sellers over and over, meaning you see the same wares again and again, CCBX is a bit of an exception. Which is a good thing. They have split up their dealers’ room in two parts.
There are more “big box” dealers in the main hall, and those are definitely recurring stands. But in the other hall, in the very steampunk-style new building, there is a variety of people selling vintage toys, games, foreign food and drinks and small shops. And it’s there you can find some real gems. Many shops also offer custom work, and they are more than happy to hand you their contact information, so you can contact them afterward for a bespoke item.
On top of that, this hall has its own food court, which provides a good alternative to the food truck area outside or in the main hall, which can get very crowded. I’ve personally never eaten at the food court, so I can’t attest to the quality or price.
What I can attest to the quality of, is the food court’s vintage-style photo booth! It’s a pretty tight squeeze for two adults, and I’m not sure how you’ll manage with more, but it’s incredibly fun. And for €3 (contactless card payment only) you get two photo strips! Great fun!
Although there are no specific steampunk or dieselpunk events at the Comic Cons, you can always find several ‘punks roaming the halls, because it’s such a friend event welcoming to all subcultures and genres. It’s also family-friendly and caters to a lot of different fandoms.
There is a lot to do in both halls if you’re not there to shop: karaoke, cosplay catwalks, cosplay competition, Q&As, gaming, wrestling, finding out more about fandom clubs… The program is released beforehand. It can be a bit difficult to navigate the map (and crowds), so make sure to head for the event you want to see or participate in in due time, so you don’t miss out!
One of the strong points of the convention is their strict “no harassment” policy, which is enforced. So creeptographers, the bane of many — especially women and cosplayers — at other events, are nowhere in sight. People will ask for personal posed photos, and every single interaction I had with fellow fans and visitors was outstanding.
They also try to be as inclusive as possible when it comes to accessibility. There is a disability toilet on the ground floor (the regular toilets are basement level in the main hall), they try to make sure that all areas are wheelchair-accessible and accessible for people with other mobility or health concerns. They aren’t always successful, because of crowds and the layout of the buildings, but it’s clear that they are doing their utmost. As someone with an invisible disability that does often come with mobility issues, I am always relieved when I see this organization has put up an event, because it means I never have to justify myself, People will be helpful and never question my need for disability services, which is sadly an exception rather than the rule.
On top of that, there is the vast amount of crew on the floor, easily recognizable by their T-shirts. So if there is an issue, you can at least find a crew member and address it.
To sum it up, if you are looking for a fun convention in Belgium, check out the group organizing Comic Con Brussels (as well as Comic Con Antwerp, Brussels Manga, Helltopia and Elftopia). You won’t be disappointed.
As a side note, I am aware that there were some flaws to this event, like there are with all conventions. As you could make out reading the review, I had a whopping good time, got to hang out with friends, made some new friends, bought some really cool things I had been wanting for a while and got to meet an actor I’ve been a huge fan of since I was 8 years old. If you disagree with me, that’s totally fine, but if you want to see real change in the event, go to their website, leave them a polite message, and that way they know what to improve on in future editions. That’s exactly what I did, too!