“Looks at all these nerds”
Screams a young hobbit and he and his hairy feet scurry past my friend and I into a sea of other beings not of this world. A group of Stormtroopers march their way through a gathering of Pokemon favourites such as Ash, Pickachu and Team Rocket. Ken and Ryu chat idly with Ironman, Batman and Lara Croft. I stand with my friend, a weirdo by comparison. Converse, jeans and my beloved 16 year old Autobots t-shirt are no match for the array of incredible custom made works of art of display at the MCM 2013 London Comic Con. Boyed by some ‘interesting’ news surrounding a similar event in Norwich just a few weeks previous (Star Wars and Doctor Who fans clash at Norwich convention), getting to the venue proved easy enough despite a couple of hundred thousand Germans relocating to the English capital for the weekend for the UEFA Champions League final. Getting into the venue on the other hand proved to be a nightmare. My friend was a little worse for wear after a heavy Friday night and a 2 hours queue was not what he needed, but that was the reality. I can only assume that the organisers had no idea of the level of interest a London based Comic Convention would generate. They had erected a mere 10 cash desks to serve the masses descending on the Excel and those 10 were clearly never going to be enough. The queue’s stretched back for what seemed like forever and for those two buzz sapping hours we paced up and down, up and down, passing the same people over and over until it became pretty awkward. Some people kept themselves amused with high fives, free hugs and by simply screaming at the top of their lungs and hoping others would follow suit, but all I kept wondering was if we’d actually ever make it in – due to the volume of people, would some of us be turned away? The ticket system was nothing short of a farce, and it was no wonder that it all fell apart as people pushed through and jumped barriers. But anyway, we made it in eventually and the queue wasn’t the point of this post so I shall press on.
Once inside it was nerdvana, and I mean that in a non offensive, positive way. Nobodies four eyes knew where to look first upon showing security their hard earned stamp and entering this wonderland. There were costume contests, Q&A panels with special guests, autograph signings with TV stars, fighting arenas (for card based games), computer game preview exhibits, a comic village where fans could meet their favourite artists and a whole other heap of other cool stuff. In fact it was all rather overwhelming. Whilst a fan of sci-fi and certain animated series, I felt like a complete novice, a dumbass, in effect a loser. You see, whilst I am a fan, I am not a superfan and I think if I was to understand and enjoy fully what comic con had to offer I needed to up my geek-game. I was engaged in conversion more than once about Transformers because of my t-shirt but had no words to answers the assault of questions that were thrown my way. Opinions and conspiracies of plot lines and characters I’d never heard of were reeled off at lightning speed. What my first hour of comic con taught me was that I was out of my depth and that those in attendance other than I and my friend were both incredibly knowledgeable and and seriously dedicated to their chosen brands, and I kind of loved that.
I would say that a good 50% of the stalls within the conference arena were made up of dealer stalls. Independent stores looking to sell you all manner of incredible items, ranging anywhere from an original Gameboy with Tetris to a 4ft long sword shaped like a key aka Keyblade. Manga artwork and DVDs were obviously a huge hit amongst punters, as was anything to do with Marvel or DC comics … that said I was actually shocked at the relatively slow number of stalls selling Marvel and DC comics. Clothing, games and action figures seemed to dominate rather than the comic books themselves. I personally picked up an Xmen vs Avengers comic, and had I bothered to take out any more cash might have invested in a handheld Sega Megadrive. Alas it was not to be on this occasion. I did manage to fit in a bit of retro gaming though, and there were plenty of other video games on show and available to play. The new Dynasty Warriors looked popular as did the new Deadpool game, and the Wii U stand seemed to be pretty full despite news of the console not doing so well in stores. My friend and I were mostly drawn to the Street Fighter competition area though. I have no idea what version they were playing as I’m well off the pace when it comes to playing computer games, but the range of customised and in some cases self assembled, specialised joysticks (is that even the right term?) that people had bought into the convention with them and to do battle on was mind blowing. What was so wrong with a compact SNES controller?
Special guests were a big feature of the convention and I was honored to see Tom Baker aka Dr Who in attendance. I couldn’t handle any more queue’s at the point so I didn’t get in line for his autograph but it was cool to see stars such as he in attendance and making time for fans. Hannah Spearritt, once of S Club Seven was also in attendance promoting Primeval, sadly Rachel Stevens was nowhere to be seen :( . Randomly in a tiny little booth we spotted former/current *(I’m not 100% on his current status) wrestler Rob Van Dam promoting his new book. I have never seen a man with a bigger neck! So many muscles it was frightening! Probably the biggest name we saw was Hollywood actor Jason Fleming, star of X-Men first class, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Kick Ass and Stardust amongst a host of others.
All in all we probably spent a good three hours wandering around the MCM London Comic Con before our bodies gave out and we needed a rest. There’s plenty of food to choose from inside the Excel but as you can imagine it isn’t all that cheap and there are long lines – great, more queues. We instead opted for an ice cream out on the front steps of the Excel where a small staging area had been erected (stop laughing at the back) to host the MCM Fringe Festival. Bands and Djs played out to probably one of the strangest looking crowds they’ve ever had. Still, everyone was in good spirits, most likely due in no small part to the sun blazing away.
The next MCM London Comic Con is scheduled for the dates of October 25th – 27th. Once again the London Excel will be the host and tickets are already on sale. There is a whole host of ticket options – early entry and weekend tickets etc. My advice would be to take the hit of buying a ticket in advance. Whilst a little extra cost wise, its worth it to skip the queue’s to get in. http://www.mcmcomiccon.com/london/
Not based in London? There are other venues, check them out here … http://www.mcmcomiccon.com/