A couple of weeks back, I made the three hour journey, at five in the morning and on minimal sleep, down to London’s ExCel centre for the Saturday of Comic Con. I was ready for bed by three in the afternoon, and on the verge of death by six, but despite this, it was a fantastic experience.
The second thing I noticed upon arrival was the open-plan layout – a massive improvement on the cramped experience I had two years back – with wider aisles between stalls and more space left clear for attendees to actually sit down and relax. With a record number of 130,000+ visitors over the three-day event, these adjustments were almost certainly vital for the smooth running of the weekend.
I mention that this was the second thing I noticed at Comic Con; the first was the inordinate number of people cosplaying as either Harley Quinn or The Joker. Sporting a Bravest Warriors cosplay, I felt like a child that had turned up at a pirate themed party dressed as an avocado because my mum had missed the memo. On the plus side, there were four people who were excited enough about my costume to want a photograph, which trumped my initial prediction of zero.
Attending on the Saturday, the busiest of the three days, came with both its advantages and its drawbacks. Boasting a lively atmosphere and the most exciting (read: people I’d actually heard of) guests and panels, the sparky charm about the day was infectious. The lengthy queue to get in, while dull and unpleasant, was made somewhat bearable by games of ‘Is That A Wig Or Just A Dreadful Haircut?’ and ‘Is This A Costume Or Just Bad Dress Sense?’ subtly executed between my friends and I, and all was well until the doors were opened and the crowd decided to start clapping. They’re just as bad as the people who clap when the plane lands.
As is tradition with Comic Con, almost everything available to purchase was rather tempting but far too expensive for a student budget; at some point in the afternoon I caught myself clutching at straws for a reason to own a box of Pokémon gym badge replicas. I distinctly recall seeing a snack I used to buy at the corner shop for pennies going for almost ten quid – I really should have stocked up back then because I’d probably be able to pay off my student loans with the profit.
While a little too pressed for time to attend any of the panel talks in person, I caught up with the Sherlock and Doctor Who ones online a couple days after the event. Despite being rather behind on Doctor Who – I’m pretty sure I’m still in 2012 with that show – I felt compelled to catch up after watching the writers’ panel, and with affirmation that Doctor Who will continue to run for the foreseeable future, I should probably start before it becomes an incomprehensible task. Contrary to what seems like most other fans, however, I am rather unimpressed by the concept of a female Doctor, an idea confirmed possible by head writer Steven Moffat in response to a fan question. While I honestly love exciting female lead characters, I can’t imagine the Doctor as anything but male.
The aspect of Comic Con I usually find myself most excited about are the recent and/or upcoming games being showcased, and I took this opportunity to try out a few, including Tales of Zestiria, Assassin’s Creed Syndicate (I thoroughly enjoyed the time I spent on this, though I may be biased as the AC franchise is one of my favourites), and Finn and Jake Investigations, which, for some reason, I found alarmingly confusing. I am going to blame sleep deprivation rather than genuine ineptitude, for the sake of my own pride. The booth for Dark Souls III was also tempting, but the queues to play were immense.
Another important feature is the artists’ corner, where small-time artists can show off their comics, portraits or just doodles. This is great as it gives a platform for those artists who could usually only get their work seen on the internet, and allows them to monitise their work. However, it is a bit awkward ,walking past stalls where you can see no-one is going, where the artist stares at you with forlorn eyes begging you to approach, and yet you must keep on walking.
My favourite aspect of Comic Con has got to be the atmosphere created by being surrounded by people who are just as overexcited about the things they love. From the moment we stepped off the train at the ExCel Centre, the crowd was buzzing and spirits were unanimously high. Even at Victoria Station you notice people who are dressed up for something, and the further along the river you get, the higher the cosplayer to civilian ratio is, climaxing at the Centre, where most people are dressed up. This slow-boiled approach to the event lets you build up your excitement slowly.
Every year MCM events get bigger and better, and for only £20 for a normal day ticket it’s absolutely something worth checking or not, whether or not you are interested in comics.