Darth Vader and a battalion of Storm Troopers provided a high security presence as one of Blackpool’s newest celebrations marked its official launch.
Drawing crowds of families and sci-fi fans outside the Promenade’s Beach House bistro, the Star Wars’ stars were joined by fellow fanatics in the guises of Indiana Jones and Spiderman ahead of the first Blackpool Comic Con.
The event, a celebration of all things comic - as well as film and TV franchises such as Harry Potter and Game Of Thrones, will take over the Winter Gardens on Saturday, September 12.
Already on the line up are stars including Verne Troyer - Austin Powers’ Mini Me and Harry Potter goblin Griphook, Game Of Thrones’ Julian Glover and James Cosmo, and wrestling ‘legend’ Al Snow, in a UK exclusive deal with the event’s organisers, as well as behind the scenes stars, such as former Marvel comics writer Tim Quinn.
Chester-based Luke Williams and Paddy O’Hare have launched the Comic Con Co, with Blackpool as their first event, after attending other comic conventions around the UK.
Luke describes himself as a ‘retro games geek’ as well as a fan of fantasy-type TV shows, such as Game Of Thrones and Waking Dead, while Paddy O’Hare is the film buff as a fan of Star Wars and other sci-fi flicks.
Of course there will be the costumeers, who are professionals that attend the events, like the Star Wars characters we have here tonight, but cosplay is about the fans
And the dynamic duo plan to deck out the Winter Gardens with props from the big and small screen, including the classic Batmobile from the original Adam West Batman TV show, the Ecto 1 vehicle from Ghostbusters, James Bond’s Lotus Esprit from The Spy Who Loved Me and even the Weasleys’ Ford Anglia from Harry Potter.
Fans will be able to enjoy a host of activities on the day, including photo shoots, panels, autograph sessions and stalls full of memorabilia.
An added highlight of the event will be the ‘cosplay’, where event goers dress up as their screen heroes and heroines, with one of America’s biggest names in the cosplay community Kristen Hughey heading for Blackpool.
Luke said: “Of course there will be the costumeers, who are professionals that attend the events, like the Star Wars characters we have here tonight, but cosplay is about the fans.
“Kristen is huge. Everything she shares on social media just goes mad.”
Colin Wilby, from Chorley attends events as Indiana Jones.
His fandom extends to storing his Indy leather jacket in dry rice to keep it looking dusty and spending £600 on his desert boots - sourced from the same shop where Harrison Ford’s real costume pair came from.
“Blackpool is perfect for a comic con,” he said. “I’m really excited to have something like this so local.”
And explaining his invovlement in the conference scene, he added: “I loved the Indiana Jones films as a kid, my dad loved them and it was a family thing - we’d all get together at Christmas and watch them.
“Then in 2005 I went to Florida and went on the Indiana Jones ride, and I bought a $50 hat - which I thought was brilliant. “But after I researched it and realised it was actually pretty terrible, so I wanted a proper one.
“As a film fan, I wanted the memorabilia - it’s like a kid who loves Star Wars having a light sabre.”
Luke and Paddy are still adding to the line-up, with regular updates on their website and social media outlets, and there’s a hope this year’s event will extend to a second day.
They have a four-year deal with the Winter Gardens, and next year’s Blackpool Comic Con is already lined up for a full weekend.