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This is what springs to mind for many people when they
think of comic books. Campy tales of good versus evil,
packed with action, romance and men in tights.
But step inside Impact Comics in Garema Place and you'll
soon find there is more to the store than just superheroes.
Colourful collectables, from tiny figurines to life-sized
cardboard cutouts, adorn the walls. No matter what sci-fi
film, cartoon series, anime, manga or video game is your
secret passion, something will catch your eye and have you
embracing your inner geek in no time.
The most committed even bring their inner geek out
and proudly share it with the world by taking part in the
fantasy-in-real-life phenomenon that is cosplay.
The store is currently gearing up for Otakufest, an anime
and cosplay event held every year in October.
Cosplay, short for costume play, originated in Japan but has
taken off all over the world, and Canberra is no exception.
"It's exactly the same idea as your traditional idea of
dressing up as a superhero for a convention but taken
to ridiculous detail," Impact Comics co-owner Mal Briggs
Serious cosplayers spend years and thousands of dollars
trying to create the most accurate costumes, adopting the
look and the persona of their favourite characters from
comic books, anime, manga, movies and video games. But
the ultimate goal of cosplay is to have fun.
Sophie Sloane, founder of Canberra cosplay society CanCos,
AMELIA DALE talks comics and cosplay at
one of the city's most beloved stores.
COS WE WANT TO
PEOPLE & PLACES
says Canberra has a strong community of cosplayers that is
growing every year.
"It started off really minimal with only a couple of cosplayers
going to the first Otakufest, which was in 2009. Ever since
then it's really picked up in numbers," she says.
There is no shortage of opportunities for cosplayers in
Canberra to strut their stuff, with an annual convention,
the cosplay masquerade ball, Cosplay on Ice (as part of the
CBD's Skate in the City event), and of course, Otakufest.
"Essentially it's a very informal costume competition,"
"We have a bit of fun with it. We want it to be a welcoming
sort of environment where it might be people's first time
participating in something like this so they don't feel
Attendees of Otakufest can expect a whole day packed with
costumes (with prizes for the best dressed), outdoor anime
screenings in Garema Place and, of course, comics.
The sheer volume of comic books stocked at Impact is
Yes, you can find all the campy comic classics of your
childhood, as well as the latest installments from the Marvel
and DC universes, but there is also a huge range of deep
and gritty graphic literary works you've probably never
"People will stumble in and be in the shop before they
realise they're in a comic shop," Briggs says.
"And then there is a level of education -- a lot of people think
that all we have are old comics and don't realise that we
have hundreds of new comics every week. It's an ongoing
Briggs explains that people's expectations of comics are
really starting to be subverted, thanks to a spate of popular
movie adaptations in the last few years, including Scott
Pilgrim, Watchmen, V for Vendetta, 300, Sin City, Persepolis,
and television series The Walking Dead.
"When you tell people those came from a comic book,
people get quite surprised because in their head comics are
Superman," he explains.
But what you'll find after a few minutes browsing at Impact
is that comics can (and do) tell stories about absolutely
"That's one of the strengths of comic books, that it can easily
be just one person working by themselves with a pen and
a piece of paper and they can tell a story with an unlimited
scope, an unlimited special effects budget, an unlimited cast
of characters -- it's pure creativity," Briggs says.
In the nine years the store has been in its iconic Garema
Place location, it has become more than just a specialist
retailer. Impact hosts a range of events throughout the year
that allow Canberrans to come together over a shared love
of all things geeky.
Otakufest is in Garema Place in October. For more
information, including the exact date, visit closer to the
A: 16 Garema Place, Canberra city
P: (02) 6248 7335
CanCos cosplay society founder Sophie Sloane at Impact Comics.
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