Birmingham MCM Comic Con furries holding Free Hugs sign
A group of furries at Birmingham MCM Comic Con. All phot

Surreal Photos of Furries and Fandom at MCM Comic Con

There is something truly untouchable about a Brummie dressed as a giant Totoro.

Each November they arrive: a joyful horde of comic book connoisseurs, sci-fi fanatics, obscurists, die-hards and enthusiasts line the streets of Birmingham, UK for the city's twice-yearly MCM Comic Con. Brits are well-acquainted with long queues but this one is hard to miss: Pikachu patiently waiting his turn to enter the venue next to a giant computer cursor, Buzz Lightyear in Converse All Stars, and one too many Spider-Men to count. Bug-eyed furries were there en masse offering free hugs; the Grim Reaper tried to spice things up this season with a Hawaiian flower garland. 


Birmingham MCM may not be able to compete with the behemoth San Diego Comic Con in scale, or the renowned New York convention in celebrity guests. But there’s something special about a patient row of Cybermen in the rain, chatting about the weather and Matt Hancock; something untouchable about a Brummie Marge Simpson, or a Grinch tucking into a Boots meal deal. It’s a genre of “British” that is hard to beat. 

The convention is attended by tens of thousands across a weekend at the National Exhibition Centre, and hundreds of thousands at similar events throughout the country – an excuse to slap on some lycra and disappear into the fictional world, particularly when the real one is so disappointing. It's a spectacle of mostly online communities as they come together IRL, bringing their surreal antics with them. For some attendees, only full-on prosthetics and head-to-toe dedication to their favourite franchise will do; others simply throw on a pastel-coloured wig or a crumpled graphic tee. (Come on, guys, do better.) But the goal is always the same: to enjoy, to confuse and succumb to the weirdness. 

VICE photographer Chris Bethell was there this month to capture the scenes – face paint, fishnets and all.

Birmingham MCM Comic Con cosplayers recreating Spider-Men meme
Birmingham MCM Comic Con cosplayer as Pinhead in crowd
Birmingham MCM Comic Con: A soldier hugs someone dressed as Totoro
Birmingham MCM Comic Con cosplayer as Walter White from Breaking Bad
Birmingham MCM Comic Con: Attendees speak through a wire fence
Birmingham MCM Comic Con: Darth Vader asks for directions
Birmingham MCM Comic Con cosplayer dressed as Venom next to an anti-bac hand station
Birmingham MCM Comic Con: An attendee looks at someone in giant panda suit
Birmingham MCM Comic Con attendee asleep on two bean bags
Two Birmingham MCM Comic Con cosplayers as Buzz Lightyear
Birmingham MCM Comic Con as a computer game druid with "Press A to speak" sign
Birmingham MCM Comic Con attendee with rooster head
Birmingham MCM Comic Con cosplayers as Deadpool dancing outside