MCM London Comic Con (convention review).

October 29, 2013 | By | Reply More

On October 24-26, over 80,000 fans of comics, science fiction, TV and film converged upon the Excel Centre in London and I was right there in the middle of it.

As an early birthday treat, my wife brought me to MCM London Comic Con on the Saturday for a day of all-out geekiness. This was my first time at a comic convention and I certainly wasn’t disappointed.

Two-Face at Comic Con

Two-Face didn’t need a coin to decide to come to this year’s London Comic Con

I was expecting a large crowd at this but I was astounded by the number of people there. Show organisers said they reached the 77,000 mark for the event in May this year and expected to ‘sail past’ this figure. Speaking to the owner of one of the stands, he had heard that over 80,000 tickets had been sold for the whole weekend, smashing event records.

Also, the effort they went to in dressing up in costumes was hugely impressive. Aside from the usual DC and Marvel costumes, plenty of steampunk, Manga, World Of Warcraft, cosplay, video game, Star Wars and Star Trek characters were in attendance. An extremely polite Two-Face was one of my favourites.

Crowds outside

The large crowd outside the Excel Centre created a party atmosphere at Comic Con

The crowd really made the convention an enjoyable experience, with everyone joining in with the good fun. Even outside the Excel centre when we were leaving, there were 1,000s of people milling about with music playing to create such an amazing atmosphere which I imagine goes on all evening.

The show was broken up into loose zones, with my personal favourite being the comic village where independent artists showcased their wares. With four aisles of artists and writers, there was plenty of variety for everyone and a good opportunity to pick up something new, direct from the author. This is a great opportunity to speak to writers and artists about their work, get some signed comics and support independent comic creators. If you’re going to this show in the future, I’d highly recommend making this area a priority as it’s a chance to get up close and personal with them.

Artist at work

The Comic Village gave visitors a chance to meet artists and view them at work

Other areas included a video game zone where you could queue up to play a demo of the new ‘Arkham Origins’ game as well as meet voice artists Troy Baker and Roger Craig Smith, a Japanese area with food stalls and all the Manga you could ever want. Dotted along the front of the hall were stalls with collectibles, T-shirts, posters, DVD and games with a board game zone with plenty of tables for a quick roll of the dice.

This was my first comic convention, so I went in with no real plan in mind and no idea of what to expect. To be honest, I don’t think planning ahead would have helped that much anyway as there’s plenty of time to see everything you would want to. There was a potentially interesting talk by the ‘Arkham Origins’ voice actors but it was taking place a little too late in the day for me.

The guest portion of the convention was saved by a last-minute appearance by Danny John-Jules, otherwise known as Cat from ‘Red Dwarf’. Looking in great shape, it was easy to see why he was cast in the role as he didn’t stand still for a second and seemed to be keen to engage with fans queuing for an autograph.

Danny John-Jules at Comic Con

Danny John-Jules was a hit with fans

Other guests on the Saturday included ‘Punisher’ Thomas Jane, Alexis Cruz of ‘Stargate’ fame, Kai Owen from ’Torchwood’ and ‘Under The Dome’ stars Samantha Mathis, Mackenzi Lintz and Colin Ford, who all attracted plenty of attention from fans. Autographs cost £15 a pop and the queues weren’t too long for any of the stars.

Cost-wise, it’s all actually quite reasonable. Although a gift, the early entry day pass was £16.50 and the weekend pass was £29.50. Buying tickets on the day would set you back £20, although I really wouldn’t risk leaving it to the last minute as there was a lot of disappointed fans. There’s really nothing as heart-breaking as a teen-age girl in a Princess Peach outfit crying because she can’t make it into Comic Con.

Pic G

Some handsome devil channeled his inner Marty McFly and went ‘Back to the Future’

Since I’m a lowly-paid journalist, I set aside £50 spending money for the day and that was plenty. I picked up two signed issues of British comic ‘Moon’ for £6 and a very cool ‘The Shining’ T-shirt from Dead Reel for £15. As an added treat I also got my photo taken in a DeLorean decked out like the one from ‘Back To The Future’ for £5, perhaps a tad pricey for what it is but what the hell, it’s Comic Con! With so many stalls, you could just keep spending and spending in there, so any future visits should come with a budget or else the credit card could take a signigicant hammering.

Early tickets are essential for an enjoyable experience. We got there just after 10am and still had to queue for almost an hour. However, getting in that early meant the place wasn’t too full and there was a bit of space to move around and explore the stalls on offer. People buying tickets on the day had to queue up for these as well which looked like it was quite slow-moving. But in fairness, the crowd kept their spirits up with beach balls being thrown around and cheers every time the line moved forward significantly.

Pic H

The event was well-attended by fans meaning early booking is a must

Once it hit mid-day, though, the crowds milled in and some areas were too uncomfortable to enjoy. In fact, I imagine some of the stall owners in one area were a bit peeved that the walking space was too narrow where they were as it was just too busy to stop and look at everything.

Checking out social media later that evening, a lot of people seemed to feel the same way and that more space should be given to the event. A show guide would have helped as well. While it’s fun to wander around exploring, a small map with a list of exhibitors wouldn’t have been much work and would have probably prevented congestion as people were just following the crowd rather than heading straight to where they wanted to go. Perhaps, more personally, I almost missed out a second, smaller hall with theatre area had I not happened to pass by it on the way out. Some advance information on the screening and theatre areas would have been beneficial rather than just chancing upon an event. The schedule was available on the Comic Con’s website but that’s of little use when you’re there.

Overall, it was a great experience and one I’d highly recommend to any genre fan who is considering it. There’s such a great atmosphere at it and everyone gets involved in the fun. I definitely would consider going again but perhaps not twice a year as per the schedule. It reeks a little of cashing in, and it might take away from the novelty of the event.

(c) Aidan Fortune 2013

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Category: Comics, Culture

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About AidanFortune

Once called a "fountain of useless pop culture knowledge", Aidan is an unashamed geek, grateful that he is allowed share his opinions on a global scale. A journalist by trade, Aidan is a massive fan of comics and recently set up a comics group in Brighton in order to engage more with like-minded people. His home is subject to a constant battle of vintage paraphernalia and science fiction & fantasy toys.

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