This weekend sees the first ever HamCon – the Halifax Anime and Manga Convention (Saturday 5th July and Sun 6th July 2014), organised by young adults but not exclusively for young adults… but the Tour de France, which starts in Yorkshire today, might make getting there if you’re not already a bit difficult.
A two day event devoted to the Japanese comic and animation form that has a cult following across the UK, following a screening of ‘Abridged’ animated features, the heart of Hamcon will be an exhibition hall of nearly 50 market traders selling Manga comics, DVDs, board games, figurines, collectors cards etc. To many adults much of this material (Naruto, Bleach, Yu-gi-oh!) will mean little but there is also typically an overspill of cult TV items from Doctor Who to Star Trek.
The Viaduct Theatre at Dean Clough will provide a stage for Cosplayers to show off their dress making and enacting skills. There will also be various workshops on the art of cosplay. Meanwhile, the Crossley Gallery at Dean Clough will feature both sealed and open Yu-gi-oh! card playing tournaments, and there will be drawing workshops and competitions.
Other conference rooms will feature Nintendo DS Pokemon competitions, a Tekken Tag 2 computer wrestling game and a chance to play classic computer games from the past 15 years (some of them on projected screens) – including a Wii dancing session. There will also be various displays of wider Japanese cultural items, including (from London) the ‘Maids of England’; a Kendo display, and a range of specially selected goods from Harrogate’s ‘Japanese Shop‘ that range from Kimonos to wasabi peas.
“For parents, there’s an event entitled ‘Parents Guide for Manga’ (and children under ten are welcome for free if accompanied by a fee-paying adult,” said event spokesperson Hayley Roebuck, noting some might find the events above teenage-oriented. “But we hope this will be the first of a regular HAMCON event and that future Hamcons will broaden the traditional ‘Convention’ format to embrace a broader cultural map that includes feature films, literature, prints (the Manga comic book legacy comfortably stretches back to the 18th century)… and cooking!”
You might be asking, why on earth would anyone put on such a huge event during the long-anticipated Tour de France, when getting to Halifax will be difficult? The Tour organisers have warned for some time now about road closures in Yorkshire during the cycling event. Although the rail networks are operating with extra capacity, as far as roads are concerned, it will be virtually impossible for people North of Leeds to reach Halifax on the Saturday; and similarly difficult for people West of Halifax (ie Huddersfield) on the Sunday.
“HamCon is part of the Halifax Festival and it was impossible to avoid the ‘marketing behemoth’ that is ‘Le Tour’,” Hayley explains. “Hamcon is primarily concerned with the neglected audience of imaginative, young people who generally disdain sport and the competitive ethos and who take a delight in cultural exchange: There is not much audience crossover.”
• Hamcon runs today, Saturday 5th July and Sun 6th July 2014 from 11.00am to 5.00p at Dean Clough, Halifax HX3 5AX. £10 per day or £15 for a weekend pass. Under tens free with a paying adult. Book on 01422 255266 or (on line) www.deanclough.com
Streaming details on www.hamcom.weebly.com (also Facebook)