I have been a Doctor Who fan for as long as I can remember and if I didn’t know any better I would wager a guess it was my first word. There have been moments in Who history that I thought I would never see and events I would never get to go and Gallifrey One is such an event. For one reason or another things never worked, or the stars just never lined up but for the first time the sky opened up and the Towers Sang and just this one time all was right with the world.
The question that always plagues me when dealing with cons that focus on just one show; will there be enough to do and enjoy? With the larger cons that I have been to over the years there has always been an assortment of different geek loves to indulge in from dealers room, panels, celebrity guests and artists. The rising levels of cons that center on just one niche is as awesome as it is scary wondering if the life of the con will survive as the big cons continue to consume both guests and attendees. You have Supernatural and Walker Stalker Con that have come along over the years but don’t have the benefit of the amount of years on the air that Doctor Who has. As I sit in the lobby typing this I watch the groups start to take form and then I start to think to myself…What’s there to worry about, Doctor Who will go on forever.
It is amazing the fandom this show has been able to generate over the last five decades and just what it says to all the different people. Each person walking through the door identifying with different aspects of the show and different passion and a different way the show has touched them and continues to do so as the Doctor travels through space and time. I have been to many cons over the years but I have to say this is the most unique as the evening gets underway and everyone pulls out ribbons. Most everyone in attendance has their own ribbon with different phrases and images on them to trade with other people at the con that sick to the pass and as the night progresses you can amass a very large collection. By the time the end of the weekend comes you have a ladder of ribbons that could reach the second floor of the hotel from the ground. It’s not just the fans that take part in this ritual but the celebrities that are attending participate as well. Michelle Gomez and Ingrid Oliver actively trading their own ribbons as you go through the autograph lines even the restaurant having one of their own to contribute. Listening to many of the return attendees talk about their collection from years past begins to sound like a few conversations I have had with comic collectors as they must collect them all.
The advantage of the smaller cons as always is time with the stars and a chance to chat for a moment or two with them. The layout is simple enough and the crowds not pressed against one another gasping for personal space. The different autograph tables set up in the dealers room makes it simple and easy to see the guests and even with the lines it seems to move a lot faster than I have experienced at other cons. Being able to chat up John Hurt was fantastic, I wish I could have been able to do a full on interview but being able to just talk to him before being pushed along was refreshing. The picture lines were a different animal entirely but I would recommend that team to any con on how they dealt with the volume and people while coordinating with the rest of the celebrities schedule (Opal you rock). It’s not only the celebrities that are being pulled for photos, there are still wall to wall cosplayers and it’s hard not to turn your head and see a Weeping Angel or one version or another of the Doctor walk by a few radio controlled Daleks but no kid in a gasmask. The best part of the con for me has to be the moments with John Hurt at the autograph table and on stage as he took questions and recalled tales of his past projects. You could see a particular love for his moments on the Harry Potter set as Ollerander the wand shop owner then came the opportunity for him to read some of the other Doctors lines. Most significantly for me was the Peter Capaldi speech at the end of Zygon Inversion delivered War Doctor style give it a listen.
I have seen small cons grow to unimaginable sizes pulling people from across the nation, even different parts of the world. I have seen them disappear in a blink or swallowed up by a larger one or different owners. Is there a con bubble? Will the goliath model win? Is there room for both? As long as there are fans, an unwavering love for the characters I doubt that it will change much just your choices of where to go and who to see. Like most cons the days fly by and before you know it the tear filled goodbyes begin. It’s a little bit different than most as some feel more like family that you look forward to seeing again rather than acquaintances that you run into year after year at the different cons around the country. Where it’s everyone’s love that’s the focus and not just the culture or just one specific guest from the dozens making an appearance. There will always be the big name draws of course but at the core of it all there is just one name, one love and it’s the Doctor.