Hal-con marked by wild costumes — and lineups

Atlantic Canada's sci-fi convention proves too successful

Three Hal-Con guests all dressed up for the big event. (Photo: Rachel Bloom)

This weekend, for the fourth year in a row, the World Trade Convention Centre was packed with comic fans decked out in capes, cardboard suits, prosthetic ears and more stage makeup than a pint-sized beauty queen wears in an episode of Toddlers & Tiaras.

Hal-Con, the annual sci-fi, fantasy and comic book convention, returned and proved it’s actually popular to be “geeky.”

Too popular, it turns out.

Organizers charged $60+ for day passes to access the second and third floors of the convention centre and had decided this year to open up the first floor to the public for the first time. However, a line of comic enthusiasts grew steadily on Saturday, trailing down the street to the Grand Parade after the building reached capacity quickly.

After many complaints, organizers decided on Sunday to close off the first floor from the public and permit only ticket-holders to partake in Hal-Con.

With people coming from out of town, filling the centre to the brim, it’s hard not to wonder: why is Hal-Con so popular?

“You will not get anything better in terms of people-watching then going to Hal Con,” explains Cassie Williams, media relations manager.

Williams says people work on costumes for months and most of the costume creations found at the annual convention put store-bought Halloween costumes to shame. Hal-Con’s costume contest is a big deal and Williams is always impressed by how detailed the outfits are.

“Last year’s winner spent six months making a robotic functioning steam-punk wheelchair with a box that he could tuck his legs into and it looked like he was cut in half,” Williams says.

This year, handmade costumes ranged from giant robot costumes constructed from cardboard and spray-paint to anime schoolgirls decked out in funky wigs to superheroes outfitted in spandex, tights and homemade masks.

And just because some guests didn’t dress up, doesn’t mean they weren’t just as into it.

“I could’ve probably thrown together a very lazy ‘cosplay’, but I can’t help but feel that it would be a bit insulting to those who have worked 364 days of the past year putting together something incredible,” says Ariana Potichnyj, a first time Hal-Con guest and fourth-year student at Dalhousie University.

Potichnyj was one of many students who attended. For students interested in sci-fi/fantasy culture, Williams says Hal-Con is a place where fans are free to express themselves.

Over the three days, strangers quickly became acquaintances, bonding over costumes, posing for pictures and geeking out together while waiting in line to see one of the many guests on this year’s line-up.

Notable guests this year included Billy Dee Williams (Star Wars), Garrett Wang (Star Trek: Voyageur), J. August Richards (Angel), Richard Hatch (Battlestar Galactica) and Vic Migogna (Digimon).

Though many people were miffed about the over-capacity crisis on Saturday, for guests like Potichnyj, the weekend was a smash success.

“I can safely say I’m not intimidated by cons anymore and plan to go to many more,” says Potichny.

(Photo: Rachel Bloom)
(Photo: Rachel Bloom)
(Photo: Rachel Bloom)
(Photo: Rachel Bloom)
(Photo: Rachel Bloom)
(Photo: Rachel Bloom)
(Photo: Rachel Bloom)
Garrett Wang from Star Trek: Voyageur (Photo: Rachel Bloom)
(Photo: Rachel Bloom)




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