On the last weekend in June 2019, thousands of nerds descended on the town of Stuttgart in the southwest of Germany in order to spend a couple of days celebrating their love for comics, TV shows and movies, cosplay, gaming and other geeky hobbies. Comic Con Germany is one of the biggest events of the country and was celebrated for the fourth time this year. Over 35,000 people visited the convention on Saturday and Sunday, many of whom were returning visitors. The con had something for everyone. There were areas for comics, tabletop games, vendors, artists, cosplay demonstrations, photo and autograph opportunities, panels and areas to have photo ops with the TARDIS, Deadpool’s sofa, or a Game of Thrones dragon!
Sadly, I was only able to attend one day but it was a wonderful day nonetheless. So if you’re ready to dive in, I’d like to take you on a journey through the convention in a slightly different style than I usually do. Since there are so many artists, vendors, celebrity guests and cosplayers, it is nearly impossible to pay equal attention to all of them, which is why I’ve decided to pick one or two representatives from each category and tell you a little about my experience and their work.
One Artist: Kit Buss
The reason I became interested in Kit’s work was because I was going through the line-up of invited artists and intrigued about a female artist in a male dominated field. Coincidentally, I found out that Kit Buss not only worked as an official artist for the popular online series Critical Role (about which we have written some amazing articles, check them out here!) but also that the German Comic Con was her first convention outside of the United Kingdom.
Please bear in mind that I don’t follow Critical Role whatsoever, but I can still appreciate great art when I see it. Kit had an exclusive print available for this convention, which she was signing for a couple of hours on both days. She also brought many examples of her work with her, for example collections of all 7 main Critical Role characters in varying combinations as well as prints of her art featuring individual characters.
Kit told me that she often experiences what she experienced with me: a clueless friend purchasing prints or coming to her booth with instructions from a passionate fan who sadly couldn’t make it to the con. She described the Critical Role fandom as very passionate and appreciative of her work, which is always nice to hear from someone involved in a fandom in a creative way.
Kit’s artwork is a wonderful mixture of color, light and shadow, with added highlights adding a dynamic edge to the images she creates. If you’re curious, you can check out her work on her Twitter, Instagram or official website, where she also has digital issues of her comic, Cloven: Bloodlines available.
One vendor: Tsuyonpu
While there was a variety of vendors at the convention, I decided to pick one where I made a purchase. Tsuyonpu creates fanart and original art mostly related to the Marvel Cinematic and Comic Universe.
Their work ranges from sketchbooks to jewelry and enamel pins. There really is something for everyone at their booth. They also sells some of their prints and works online. Check out their Instagram and Twitter for more info!
Getting an overview of the cosplayers attending the con was probably the most difficult, as they were always moving around. There were some professional cosplay groups, for example representatives of the 501st, or the Ghostbusters Germany group who also had a big display representing their organization and offering photos in exchange for donations to charitable causes.
One celebrity guest:
One of the panels I attended was Karen Gillan’s, who is best known for her roles as Nebula in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and of course, as Amy Pond in Doctor Who. I’d met Karen at a convention before and really enjoy the energy and enthusiasm she brings to a convention stage.
She expressed her love for conventions and cosplayers even saying that she’d love to try it herself if she could, and if she cosplayed she’d definitely be a Klingon. Karen talked a lot about her time on Doctor Who, starting with her guest role on Fires Of Pompeii, where she saw Catherine Tate and David Tennant interact and remembered thinking “Catherine has the best job in the world”. Little did Karen know that she was about to become the companion to Matt Smith’s 11th Doctor just a few months later. There was a fondness to the way she spoke about working on the Doctor Who set, especially becoming close friends with Arthur Darvill and Matt Smith (who yes, is her favorite Doctor – but she assured everyone that she loved David Tennant and Peter Capaldi too). As a goodbye gift, Karen “stole” a pair of binoculars from the TARDIS after her last day on set had wrapped.
Of course, she also talked about her work on several Marvel films in the last couple of years. Karen has appeared as Nebula in the first and second Guardians Of The Galaxy movies as well as the two latest Avengers films Infinity War and Endgame. Regarding the latter, Karen mentioned that she never saw a full script for either of the Avengers movies she was part of, which meant she was constantly surprised about the scenes she shot and never really knew how they would fit into the entire narrative. She mentioned that working with Robert Downey Jr. was one of her favorite parts of being in the Marvel films because he is not only one of her favorite actors, Iron Man is also one of her favorite Marvel characters. She said she had always wondered if RDJ improvised his scenes and then learned that he did that a lot, but it also meant that she was able to improvise with him. She enjoyed the dynamic of working with him and shared that he works hard at making sure the actors socialize and spend time together during their breaks on set – hosting lunches and other events. In relation to Iron Man she also said that while she selfishly wanted Nebula to be the one to kill Thanos, she admitted that Tony Stark deserved a great send-off as the first character in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. She also touched upon the topic of representation and how important it is for everyone to see themselves in film, whether that be gender or sexual orientation, it is vital that we celebrate a variety of people in film, especially in superhero films because this is the genre that has the most impact right now.
Karen also delved a little into her directing work, saying that directing is intense work because it’s not as fun or playful as acting in a movie. She felt more responsibility with the many decisions she had to make as a director, but enjoyed shaping and developing a movie from behind the camera as opposed to following directions as an actress.
Right now, Karen is working with Game Of Thrones‘ Lena Hadley in Berlin, they’re shooting an action movie in which they play a mother/daughter pair and Karen mentioned that she really enjoys working with Lena and also working in Germany, praising the crew and sets she has worked on.
Looking into the future, Karen would love to go back on the theater stage, she expressed the desire to play Shakespeare at some point because that’s a bucket list item for every actor. She’d also love to revisit the world of Greek tragedies, having played Antigone when she was 15, she recalls experiencing the role as challenging and would love to find out how she deals with it now that she has a lot of experience in the acting world.
Having had just experienced a rather short and abruptly ending panel before, I decided to remain seated in the panel area and go over some notes – I wasn’t particularly interested in the next guests, as I have never watched the older Star Trek series (yes, I know I’m getting my nerd card revoked) – I’m this person who only knows Jonathan Frakes because he was on a show called X-Factor in Germany and Beyond Belief in America, where he talked about spooky stories and whether they were true or false. So I went into the panel he shared with Brent Spiner without any expectations – and ended up liking this more than most panels I’ve been to in my convention experience. The pair played perfectly off each other, their dry humor and evident level of comfort with the other person created a light, funny and engaging atmosphere. I didn’t care that I didn’t understand some of the references in the panel, a perfect imitation of Sir Patrick Stewart paired with some anecdotes from other movie and TV sets were enough to keep me entertained. It was refreshing to see these people who have clearly spent a lot of time on the convention circuit still enjoying their time together and with the fans – they showed appreciation and talked about how many fans have talked about the impact Sci-Fi has made in people’s lives over the past decades. I loved watching these two people interact and talk about a thing they were once part of, but also carried until today with shared projects or the future (Frakes talked about directing on the new Star Trek: Discovery CBS All Access series) as well as the past (they shared a story about Stewart breaking character and contributing to a light atmosphere on set that had me cry-laughing for a good couple of minutes).
And to me, this is what conventions, especially multi-fandom conventions are about: I go in for one thing I like, or a guest I want to meet, and I spend the weekend experiencing new things, finding a new thing to love or just appreciating something a lot of people have loved for a long time. Nerd culture may be a lot more mainstream now, but the feeling of inclusivity and the utter joy that comes from geeking about something is still such a private and wonderful feeling that made leaving the convention behind nostalgic, hopeful and a bit sad.
It was a truly wonderful event and I hope I get the chance to go back next year to enjoy it fully. If you are in the area, definitely consider checking out this event, it was one of the most relaxed and well-organized multi-fandom events I’ve ever attended.