ICELAND’S FIRST ALL INCLUSIVE EVENT
We didn't know exactly what to expect once we arrived on Friday to set up our exhibit at Laugardalshöll, Reykjavík's largest sporting arena. I mean we've been to several comic-cons around the U.S., but this was international! We were in Iceland, one of the most beautiful countries in the world! Would it be any different than any other event we've attended?
We've been to Iceland a couple of times as tourists. Some tourists tend to focus on the experience of being in a new country. The visuals take precedence with culture playing a major role in a land like Iceland. It’s jet black sand beaches, iconic moss, basalt rock formations, glaciers, countless extraordinary waterfalls and let’s not forget it’s beautiful wild horses.
It's been my experience that many tourist forget the biggest and most important part of traveling and visiting a new land, and that is the people you meet along the way and those that call that land home. The experience, to me, is all about the people and Iceland has some pretty amazing and friendly locals.
It was the locals that made us feel welcome and at home. Midgard 2018 had a very attentive and welcoming staff. Even at their busiest, Sven van Heerden (not pictured), the event manager, and his wonderful staff made time to answer all of our questions. There was staff present that actually walked us to our assigned area, giving us some history on the event space along the way. They all spoke with much excitement and pride. Needless to say we were very pleased. The giddiness began! Our cheeks hurt from smiling so much. This time felt even better than the last two times we were here. Especially since that same night we got to see Aurora Borealis in full affect; dancing about in the dark abyss of the sky also seemingly welcoming us with it’s ghostly green hand waving. Sonise squealed and we both were in awe at such an amazing sight, even though this was not our first time witnessing it.
Then there was another celeb present, with his photograph booth across from our exhibit. The 6’6” Spencer Wilding a.k.a. Darth Vader in Rouge One, was in the house. All the ladies beamed smiles up at him, gushing for a photo opportunity. He dropped by our exhibit to see what the hooplah was all about (we had a gathering of quite a few visitors listening to Sonise and my take on participating at various events. There was a gathering of teenaged girls mesmerized in particular by Sonise’s art work. She motivated the girls to pursue their dreams and reminded them that they could do anything in life; the first step is believing in themselves and trying). Well, Spencer has a big personality to go with his height. The guy is larger than life and we can see why he is such a presence in any film. He's quite funny and has a brilliant sense of humor. We joked for quite a bit and spoke about our previous visits to Iceland. We suggested a few "must do's" before he headed back to working on his next film.
MIDGARD 2018 CELEBRITIES
Event day was super exciting. There was never a dull moment. We were actually very busy with the amount of amazing locals and guest that visited our exhibit to include the most excellent and talented comic book writer for both DC Comics and Marvel, Dan Abnett. He is also an accomplished novelist. My sister Sonise is a huge fan. We were very humbled when he hung out and spent some time getting to know us and our work. What a gent! Charismatic, intelligent, honest and direct. He was there as an invited guest speaker for Midgard 2018. We enjoyed everything he had to say. Not surprised by his cool and nurturing persona, he stopped by to say hi and see how we were doing on day 2 of the event and even picked up one of our t-shirts for his lovely wife.
We came across a well clad group of warrior Orcs, Dwarves, Elves and Knights, fighting over Middle Earth as we know it. So much enthusiasm and Icelandic pride radiated from each and everyone one of them. Íslenskt LARP (Kvikspuni) is a group of young men and women who make their own battle dress from steel, aluminum and leather as well as whatever they could find around the house to add to their dress. Intricate patterns on arm shields and cloaks. Extraordinary belts and head gear. We soon learned that many of the Icelandic locals were very skilled in old time arts such as leather crafting and armorers, with blacksmiths being dominant.
One warrior in particular stood out and it was not because of his battle dress. Stefán Logi Guðmundsson, while modest with his cosplay compared to his Orc counterparts, was big in personality and can write the book on Icelandic Viking history.
Some of you may not know this but I've been studying Viking history with Norse mythology being a main focus. This is something I've been studying on my own, no classes or anything like that. Stefán and I compared notes. I was amazed at just how much information he confirmed along with other information that I was not aware of. We spoke about Berserkers, Loki, Fenrir and Thor in depth! We also spoke about Viking poetry as well as the Viking series on the History Channel. He then went into detail explaining to me about how and why certain protective wear was made and worn. This guy knew a lot and got me even more interested in delving deeper than I already have.
Needless to say, Íslenskt LARP (Kvikspuni) took home the grand prize for the best ensemble cosplay. They totally earned it.
One other thing I’d like to add is about the beautiful green sweater that Stefán wore beneath his chainmail armor shirt. He mentioned the long history behind it and how an aunt of his made it. I believe it was a great aunt. It was 100% wool. I could not believe just how well it held up, almost looking brand new to me. Add intricate knitting as well to something that continues to be practiced today in Iceland.
To learn more about this band of talented Viking warriors you should visit and like their Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/groups/233218166872939/.
Then there was Bill The Something. Quite an interesting man with a great mind for telling stories. He showed us a sample of his skills and we appreciated it so much that we gave his story a feature. Tell us what you think.
We also met an amazing mother and son team. He of course had a VIP ticket and she, supporting him, couldn't possibly be his mom, so we thought. She was very fair and angelic in presence. She looked astoundingly good for her age, especially with her son being 19 years of age (her youngest), but then she mentioned the 32 year old daughter! If I had coffee I would have spit it out! What's in Icelandic water?!!! Here was another example of the amount of creativity we experienced. In addition to attending events like Midgard, he handcrafted intricate patterns into jewelry. Absolutely breathtaking. His mother proudly showed us the various bracelets he made her.
The mother and son pair were also very liberal in discussing the politics of their country vs. those of the U.S.; some very well informed individuals speaking passionately about the rights for others as well as their pride for acceptance. We enjoyed them and they enjoyed us, so much that they stopped by on day 2 and gave us a comic called The Deacon of Darkriver, one of Iceland’s oldest and well-known folklore’s. The story takes place in the north of Iceland but its origins and author are unknown. We were pleased and very appreciative.
There were lots of families in attendance. Young children and adult children with parents; aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents. Midgard 2018 was indeed a family affair with an international flare! We met people from the U.S., Denmark, Sweden, England, Scotland and Namibia! If Midgard 2018 was not on your radar, we hope that it is now! It is definitely worth the visit to Iceland.
I must add that on our off day we met up with some really cool and very charismatic Icelandic “Vikings”, as noted in one Instagram profile. We didn’t want to leave each other, but alas, our return to Iceland to meet again may be sooner than we hoped! Until then, thank goodness for social media!