Fantasy Basel 2016: Superheroes and series stars

Published on 5/2/2016 by Christoph Spangenberg

Stars from Game of Thrones and The Big Bang Theory, gaming competitions, elves and trolls: from 5 to 7 May, the second Fantasy Basel – the Swiss Comic Con – is being staged in five exhibition halls with the focus on comics, games, cosplay and films. An interview with organiser Martin Schorno on the exhibition that has doubled in size and the booming scene behind it.

Fantasy Basel (MCH Group)

Series stars from Game of Thrones and the Big Bang Theory, well-known YouTubers and eGamers – you have succeeded in engaging a number of famous members of the scene for Fantasy Basel 2016.

Martin Schorno, CEO of organiser FantasyCon AG: The Big Bang Theory and Game of Thrones are two of the most successful series worldwide at the moment. With Kevin Sussman (Stuart from The Big Bang Theory) and Kristian Nairn (Hodor from Game of Thrones) we have two international stars on-the-spot for all three days, who are also participating in panel discussions, are available for interviews and photo sessions, and will also be giving autographs.

The visitors naturally expect stars at a Comic Con. Our concept is fundamentally to have fewer celebrities, but high-quality ones! What makes Fantasy Basel interesting for both visitors and guests alike is its multi-faceted  nature – the mix of games, film, series and cosplay, with a high quality prevailing in each of the sectors.

What's new at Fantasy Basel 2016?

This year, Fantasy Basel will be occupying twice as much space. We thus have correspondingly more sales stands, more artists, live art and more gaming suppliers. Big names such as Universal, Warner, Disney, Nintendo, HP, Asus, Intel, Nintendo, PlayStation and Samsung will be there, enchanting visitors with their offerings.

"Indiana Jones exhibition and gaming tournaments"

In addition, exhibitions will give visitors insight into the world of Indiana Jones or into the history of robots. This year, the Swiss Gaming Challenge is being held at Fantasy Basel for the first time. This will be the biggest gaming and eSports meeting point in Switzerland. Visitors to Fantasy Basel will have the opportunity to play in small tournaments at different gaming stations and win prizes. On an eSports stage, matches will be played between the best players in Switzerland who have qualified online beforehand. Internationally renowned players will be available for show matches, panel discussions and autographs.

In the gaming field too, with xPeke, AKAWonder and Spo, we have three high-calibre, international e-sportsmen who will be delighting their fans at Fantasy Basel as part of the Swiss Gaming Challenge.

Last year, 20,000 visitors came, and we are expecting as many as 30,000 this year. What do the visitors find so fascinating?

The areas depicted at Fantasy Basel are recognised as contemporary cultural heritage today and also feature in the culture sections of the media. Even mature business people in their prime play games, watch animated films and are interested in cool pictures of cosplays. We in Switzerland are also close to this world, particularly as far as films and games are concerned, because Disney Research is located in Zurich, for example.

"Game design is an industry all of its own"

As the media are repeatedly reporting, game design is now regarded as a new economic sector, and one that is covered at universities, familiarising students with the subject. This naturally increases their interest and fascination  for game design, which then spills over into other social groups.

Many of the visitors come in impressive costumes that they have spent many hours making and which have cost them hundreds of francs.

Cosplay has become very popular worldwide and, for a few years now, the Swiss Community has also been making its mark in terms of the quality and popularity of its cosplay. In the run-up to Fantasy Basel 2015, we looked into this topic and the corresponding communities in great depth. Switzerland has huge potential and talent and we are pleased to be able to say that it's not only the professional cosplayers who dress up in their delightful hand-made costumes over Ascension Weekend. Most of the visitors also dress up as their favourite characters from films, games and series, etc., having fun and sharing their good spirits, and naturally providing excellent photo opportunities!  The big Cosplay Contest that we stage on a daily basis has already achieved a good reputation internationally and attracts correspondingly good cosplayers.

How do the Swiss scenes rate in an international comparison?

The scenes in Switzerland have undergone massive changes over the past few years, getting bigger and more popular. In terms of quality, the Swiss cosplay scene is certainly up to par.  The artists in the comic and streetart fields, for example, as well as the graphic and game designers, are internationally linked and correspondingly top-rate. In the eSports field, Switzerland still has a great deal of development potential; we are intending to make a contribution here with the Swiss Gaming Challenge and help to make eSports better known.

Fantasy Basel is a niche exhibition with a great deal of potential. What are your plans for the next few years?

We will certainly be developing Fantasy Basel further. In future too, we will be attaching great importance to ensuring that we offer both quality and variety.  The aim is not to become as big as possible, although there is, of course, a great deal of potential to be tapped. At the moment, we are concentrating fully on making this year's Fantasy Basel into a highlight for the visitors in every respect, and are looking forward to welcoming many happy faces.

All the information on Fantasy Basel 2016: www.fantasybasel.ch

Christoph Spangenberg

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