Comic Con Brussels

This spring’s edition was a treat for Lord of the Rings fans with Elijah Wood and John Rhys-Davies among the guests.

Hilde Heyvaert John Rhys-Davies Bert Van den Wyngaert
Hilde Heyvaert, John Rhys-Davies and Bert Van den Wyngaert at Comic Con Brussels, Belgium, May 11-12, 2024

From the moment you step out of the train station, it is clear Comic Con has come to Brussels has started, as you can see many enthusiastic fans and cosplayers on their way to one of the biggest pop culture event in Belgium.

This year, the venue Tour & Taxis attracted many Lord of the Rings fans by inviting Elijah Wood, Sean Astin, Billy Boyd and Dominic Monaghan (the four Hobbits of the fellowship), Andy Serkis (Gollum) and John Rhys-Davies (Gimli).

Bernard Hill was also part of this edition, but only a week before the event he sadly passed away. The organizers decided to keep his line open for fans to write a message for him and dedicated the time of his Q&A to an homage.

The other guests, if not part of the trilogy, were just as impatiently expected by the fans: Ross Marquand, Harvey Guillen and Mackenyu where there, along with more stars from movies and TV shows.

The convention was divided into two buildings: one dedicated to the main event, where autographs and photobooths took place, along with retail and lots of activities, and the other entirely given to the artists’ market and other sellers, in the Gare Maritime.

If you are visiting Comic Con Brussels for the very first time, be prepared to face the crowd and don’t overpack! Hydrate (the stage hosts won’t miss an occasion to remind you either) and if you have an autograph or picture booked, make sure to check the plan in advance as the crowd might quickly make you lose all your marks.

Fortunately, lots of crew members will be around, holding signs and directing the constant flow of people to the right lines.

Aside from the meetings and the panels, the convention is in full swing over the weekend and there is lots to see. From handmade creations and illustrations to vintage toys and various pop culture items, you’ll probably find your happiness on the seller side.

There is also a cosplay contest organized over the weekend and if you do’’t find the time to make it to the catwalk stage, you’ll have plenty of occasions to see other cosplayers through the con, this time being obviously the perfect opportunity for Lord of the Rings ones. I came across various Hobbits, a Gandalf and Saruman duo, some Legolas, a really cool Gimli and even Tom Bombadill with his bright blue jacket!

Retro gaming and photobooths were not missing either and were well used on both two days by all the enthusiastic visitors.

After visiting the convention, it was time for Billy Boyd and Dominic Monaghan’s panel. As big as Tour & Taxi is, there was unfortunately no designated room for panels and they had to be held in the same big hall among some of the vendors’ stands and the catching ring. A big/stark contrast to the setup of Comic Con Holland (read Hilde’s review here), where the main stage was away from all that convention noise and even offered seats to rest.

Despite this, the sound was clear enough to hear the guests and Dominic Monaghan even perched on his seat to make sure people in the back could see him. Him and Billy Boyd went on with some comments about their stay in Brussels and several anecdotes about the movies. I am thus happy to report that the story about covering Viggo Mortensen’s trailer in toiletpaper I had read as a kid in a random magazine wasn’t a fever dream. There was indeed a trailer war between him and Dominic Monaghan that kept escalating for a while.

Andy Serkis’ panel concluded this first day of the convention and the motion-capture actor wasn’t short on stories about his career either. The fans were obviously delighted to hear him reexplain how his cat coughing up a furball helped him found the voice of Gollum, and even had the occasion to hear more about his role as the singer Ian Dury in the biopic Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll. He detailed how he approached it, by meeting Dury’s family and even being given some of his clothes to better understand him.

The founder of The Imaginarium Studios then talked more about his motion-capture roles and the physical aspect of it, as well as how he studied apes and gorillas, both in a zoo and in Rwanda, to prepare for his roles as Kong and Cesar.

Sunday, although still very busy, was less crowded, making it easier to navigate through the stands. It was also the occasion to see another round of panels, starting this time with the four Hobbits.

They didn’t disappoint and promptly started to talk about food: when they meet they talk about the food they ate the day before, and then switch to the food they’re going to eat in the evening.

The actors gave an enthusiastic rendition of a scene in which the Hobbits hide under tree roots from the Nâzguls and how they would love to see an animated version of The Lord of the Rings, specifically about the Scourging of the Shire.

Later that day was held the hommage to Bernard Hill on the University stage. The public was this time able to sit in a less noisy and buzzing atmosphere than at the main stage. Following a talk by the host and a tribute video, John Rhys-Davies was invited to give a speech in remembrance of him. He ended by recounting a memory of a beautiful fishing day they had together, and how Bernard Hill would catch more fish than he ever did. The audience was invited by the host to respond to “The king is dead” with a “Long live the king!” to conclude the homage.

The very last Lord of the Rings panel was with John Rhys-Davies himself. The good thing with John Rhys-Davies is that he doesn’t mind the time and will tell you about every story that goes through his mind. From how he treated himself to an old Triumph car after someone who owed him money gave repaid him several years later, including his investigation trough the city after finding that both his favorite car seller and his favorite restaurant next to it had moved, to a full history lesson about human evolution, you’ll surely get more information than what the original question was about.

If you enjoy panels, however, make sure to get to the stage at least 40 minutes early or you may not be able to see anything through the massive crowd.

This could be a nice improvement for the next edition: one room dedicated to the panels only, which could be used as a chill zone as well. The guests would then be allowed to speak for longer without delaying other activities happening in the same space.

Otherwise, you’ll surely find enough activities to fill your weekend at Comic Con Brussels. It is already due to return on October 26-27 of this year.

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