MCM Comic Con London May 2017 survival guide

MCM Comic Con London May 2017 survival guide and Comic Common sense check list.

MCM Comic Con London May 2017

MCM Comic Con London May 2017

Handy tips and advice for surviving situations at MCM Comic Con London May 2017 and best enjoy your weekend.

About two years ago I wrote a list of tips on how to avoid being `that` person at MCM Comic Con, it covered some examples of things people may not be aware others find bothersome and a couple of simple “Doing this makes you a jerk, so stop it” instructions. It was a bit preachy, to say the least, and rather basic. There are lots of “What not to do” type advise articles out there for con goers and many fall prey to the biggest issue I had with my own piece; they’re aimed more towards voicing grievances with other people and less to do with how to help people have better MCM Comic London experiences this weekend.

A good article I’d like to suggest is this one as it frames points from first person queries like “13. I want to talk to another attendee with a disability” and “6. I want to give someone a gift” and it covers several different concerns or questions one may have during a convention.

With MCM Comic Con London May 2017 starting today and the news that the biannual convention grows bigger and bigger each time (now rivalling some of the US big name conventions in audience size) I thought I would revisit the whole con etiquette thing. This time I’m aiming for `helpful` rather than `stop doing this thing right now`, feel free to add your own tips and advice in the comments section.

But first, let’s start with tips to remember at MCM Comic Con London May 2017 this weekend:

  • It’s late May and it’s going to be HOT, add in several thousand people and it can be easy to dehydrate. You don’t always feel thirsty when you become dehydrated which makes it easy for dehydration to sneak up on you; have regular stops to drink some water (NOT caffeinated drinks like coffee, tea, fizzy drinks or energy drinks – they won’t hydrate you and can make dehydration happen faster) Even if it’s two mouthfuls every half an hour and don’t worry about toilet breaks! You’ll most likely sweat it out or your body will use up all the hydration in other ways (gross but true) Plus, would you rather have the bother of going to the toilets for a wee or get sick in the middle of con and have to go home?
  • Try and grab at least one shower a day. All day in a hot, sticky convention with loads of hot, stick people can make you feel (and smell) gross. Can’t shower or have a bath for whatever reason? Want to freshen up mid-con? Keep a travel pack of baby/water wipes OR a little bottle of anti-bacterial gel. Both are easy to slip into a small bag, packet or random space on your cosplay to hid something and anti-bac gel may not work as an antiperspirant but as BO is caused by bacteria it can help keep you from getting stinky AND as the alcohol in it evaporates on your skin you’ll get a nice cooling sensation (make sure not to over use the stuff, bad for your skin and bad for bacterial resistance) I used to do this when I was working 12 hour overnight shifts for a busy NHS service and it works a treat
  • Make sure you OMNOMNOMNOMNOM! Getting a meal at MCM can sometimes be difficult, not because of lack of choice but because of long lines or places quickly running out of food options. It can also put a dent in your wallet to stop for a meal or a few snacks, or maybe you just don’t have the kind of cosplay that will allow you to have a full meal. You don’t need to fork out on sugar laden `healthy` cereal bars to have some portable energy rich snacks to help you keep going!
    • Whole-Grain Cereal – Bag up a serving of a high-fibre cereal to snack on; it won’t take up too much space, can be pour right into your mouth or munched on from the bag and it’ll keep that blood sugar—and energy— strong and fuelling you all day
    • Trail Mix – an easy to make snack from across the pong, popular with hikers and campers! Throw some mixed nuts together with dried fruit (and even bits of dark chocolate), you’ve got an easy-to-tote snack
    • Popcorn – it seems like a faddy food trend right now for health nuts, but air popped (not the chemical heavy 3-minute microwave kind) is a really yummy treat AND is low cal but high energy!
    • Almonds – these tasty nuts-that-aren’t-actually-nuts-but-fruit-seeds help replenish energy stores thanks to their protein and fibre content. They also provide magnesium, a mineral that helps produce energy. You only need a small portion of them to get the benefits
    • Dry-Roasted Edamame – a sushi shop favourite fresh and a great portable snack for this weekend at MCM Comic Con London. They have protein, magnesium, and iron, which helps transport oxygen to cells, where it’s used to release energy
  • Use the cloakroom and bag check – Lots of hotels don’t do check in until 3pm and early check in is midday, you don’t want to cut into your MCM time and miss out on all the fun but what do you do with your suitcase or backpack? Taking all round the con isn’t the best option, as that causes congestion in the aisles and can be really annoying (and dangerous) for other con goers. If you get there early enough you can use the ExCel cloakroom, located on the subfloor where the entrance to the car parks are – it’s signposted clearly and easy to find. The cloakroom can get full up pretty quickly (even with the `suitcase parking` they have in a monitored area by the desk) so check out some halls they open up for more space, MCM are really good at opening up an extra area for leaving you bags. Staff are always there and no one else is allowed to get to the checked in items. It costs a pound an item, so try and attached multiple bags together to lower costs. You can get your things back any time, just keep your check in ticket safe! Now you’re free to enjoy MCM and other people won’t get bashed about by your bags!
MCM Comic Con London May 2017

Crowds at MCM Comic Con London – do you WHEELIE want to pull a suitcase through this crowd?

Now we’ve covered some of the basic Comic Common sense tips let’s move on to how to handle a few scenarios you may experience at MCM Comic London May 2017:

 My cosplay is huge/I can’t see very well in my costume but I still want to enjoy the Con!

MCM Comic Con London May 2017

Do you want to walk through this in a HUGE cosplay?

If you know you’re heading to a MCM Comic Con London (which is the most crowded one) in something the size of a tank or parts of your cosplay make the whole thing unwieldy or just bothersome to navigate tight spaces in I suggest making a battle plan before hand and sticking to it. MCM Comic Con releases the convention floor plans and schedules for talks, competitions, photo-ops and performances so make sure you check these out to get a better understanding of what kind of space you have to work with. Plan your day according to what you want to go do and see and give yourself lots of time to get from point A to point B, know where your best choices are for getting in and out of parts of your cosplay – I know you may want to spend all day in the cosplay you’ve put time and effort into but you also want to be able to cool down and enjoy your day, this means spending time out of your huge ass battle armour or removing those motorised wings. If someone gets pissy at you because you’ve broken down your cosplay so you can have lunch that’s their problem, not yours.

Although the space in the aisles at MCM London have been expanding over the last couple of years it can still get extremely crowded even in the widest of thoroughfares. Saturday afternoons will always be the most chaotic so please be mindful of other attendees and either break your cosplay down into something more manageable or simply avoid those areas at peak times. Even if you have someone with you to act as a spotter, they won’t do much good if they’re jammed into your back by the crowd.

 

  1. I really want to take a photo of that resting cosplayer/cosplay group/special guest spotted in the wild but I remember the rule “When the arse is on the floor, it’s photos no more” What should I do?

In the first instance leave them alone. Don’t try to snipe a photo, don’t run up to them a shove your phone or camera at them, don’t hover near them with phone/camera in hand and wait for them to jump up and pose for you and DO NOT tell them to get up because you want a photo.

If you really (for whatever reason) don’t want to pass up on the chance for a photo approach them and ask politely if you can take a photo when they’re ready. Not just “Can I have a photo”, make sure you let them know you understand they’re having a rest and that you’re just letting them know you’re interested in a photo when they’re good and ready to pose for you. This way you’ll get a much nicer photo than some creepy pic you snapped without them knowing as they rehydrate or check their phone etc. You’ll also avoid the wrath of other con goers this way, from personal experience and anecdotal evidence I’ve heard from friends and seen on group chats I can tell you that people are fighting back against this kind of behaviour.

If you disrespect a cosplayer saying no or get caught taking photos of them when it’s clearly an inappropriate time you may find yourself getting yelled at, called out on your behaviour or even reported to ExCel or MCM staff. It can be hard to approach people to ask them something but knowing what to say before you go over can be a big help:

  • “Hi, I know you’re busy right now but when you’re ready I’d love to get a photo”
  • “I’m sorry to interrupt but would you mind letting me take a photo?”
  • “Excuse me, I just wanted to say that you look amazing. Can I take a photo when you’re finished?”

Just remember: Asking politely doesn’t guarantee you’ll get what you want. The cosplayer or guest might be tired or done for the day, they might not have time or they may have only just sat down. If you get turned down don’t take it personally and don’t get rude at the person saying no. Say you understand, wish them a nice day and move on. What would you rather; one less photo on your phone or to be yelled at and get into an argument?

But the whole leaving them alone thing is good too, you’ll have plenty of chance to take photos of other people during the day – don’t get hung up on just one encounter.

 

  1. I’m doing something and someone asks me for a photo, I don’t really want my picture taken right now

It’s ok to say no. You don’t have to agree to do anything you don’t want to.

Despite what some people think, being in cosplay doesn’t mean you’re under obligation to fulfil people’s requests. It can be a pain if someone approaches you when you’re in the middle of something but just politely turn them away. Tempers can flare when people are tired, hungry or stressed and MCM Comic Con is no different, you’re first reaction may be “Oh my god, can’t you see I’m busy?!” but that can just escalate a situation (regardless of if the photo hunter was polite to you in the first place).

If someone isn’t treating you with respect and you’re alone it may be difficult to get a staff member’s attention for help, or people around you may not notice anything is wrong. Calmly, but in a voice loud enough to be heard by by-standers, say something along the line of “I have already told you no. Please leave me alone, I don’t want you to take my photo” The people around you will hear and if you’re still being bugged by the person once more say in your calm, loud voice “I said no, I’ve asked you to leave me alone and I have made it clear that I am not interested. This is harassment and I will be reporting you to security” This is obviously edging into the territory of `worst case scenario` but it’s always good to know what to do.

In a more likely to happen scene you’ll be asked for a photo and a response of “Thanks for asking first but I’m not ready for photos right now, maybe later?” will leave you free to relax and send the other con goer happily on their way. I regularly attend MCM London with a friend and her small child and have had plenty of experience turning people down for photos when the little one’s mum isn’t around. People understand that as I’m not his parent I can’t give photographic permission, just be friendly and polite – it’s what people respond best to.

 

  1. I’m in line to ask a question at a panel, but I really love this guest/all these people watching me/the person in front already asked a similar question and now I’m super nervous!

Have you ever been watching a panel, someone steps up to the mic during the Q&A and either incomprehensible nonsense comes out of their mouth or the question they ask seems to take them FOREVER to say? Then you get that moment of utter silence before the panel host goes “I think what they were trying to ask is….”

MCM Comic Con London May 2017

So many people, so many questions, so little time

As someone who goes to MCM Comic Con London as both a member of the press and an audience attendee I’ve had to sit through a lot of these moments, hell I’ve even the next person in line to ask a question and not been able to because of a rambling con goer (most notably at LFFC the year Michael J. Fox was a guest. I was totally gutted) It’s even happened at press round tables where one person doesn’t seem to have their rear in gear and their question goes on for ages (much like my articles) At first I used to get angry at these people, why go up to the mic if you don’t have a clue what to say? Why waste everyone’s time? After voicing my grievances during a panel a friend asked me “But what if they’re really nervous? This could be a big deal for them” And as someone with a diagnosed anxiety disorder I know exactly what it’s like to not be able to find your words during high stress moments.

Some steps to help deal with your nerves and help make your questions succinct and make sense:

  • Know what you’re going to say. I realise that this is a rather obvious step but many people seem to rely on winging it when stepping up to the mic. Think of it like having a small part in a play; you need to memorise your lines AND rehearse them before you go on stage, that way the whole show will go smoothly!
  • Think of more than one question. If someone before you asks the same or a similar question you won’t be stuck for something to say, but remember…
  • Only ask ONE question! Try not to be that person who decides their time on the mic to ask several things in a row. This is inconsiderate not only of other audience members but also the panel guests, it’ll also mean you’re less worried about getting all of your questions out at once. A two-part question is ok, as long as both parts are relevant to each other.
  • If you really want to ask your other questions go back into the queue and wait your turn again. This will give you some breathing space to gather your courage again and speaking at the mic a second time (if you get to the mic again) will be easier than the first.
  • This is not your Buzzfeed/Tumblr/Viral post moment – don’t ask an impossible or really out there question, especially if it has little to no relevance to the panel. You may think it would make a great `moment` but, just like the girl who asked the Agents of SHIELD panel to summarise all previous seasons in musical form and using a different song style for each season, you’ll probably get shot down pretty quick. Don’t put that pressure on yourself.
  • KNOW WHAT YOU ARE GOING TO SAY! It bears repeating because it’s the most important piece of advice. I don’t mean “I know generally what I’d like to find out” but actually work out the question word for word. Scripting your questions will help quite a bit with nerves too
  • Don’t have a question you want to ask? Consider getting a ticket for an autograph and giving your from-the-heart thanks when you can be more one to one with the guest. Can’t afford the autograph fee? Keep what you want to say short and KNOW WHAT YOU ARE GOING TO SAY. The guests will appreciate what you tell them and the other audience members won’t get annoyed that you’ve spent five minutes of Q&A time.
  • It’s ok to ask a friend to go to the mic with you, moral support can do wonders and you can practice your question on them as you wait. If you think you’re really going to struggle when it comes time for your turn you’ll have a friend there who can ask on your behalf.
  • It’s ok to say that you’re nervous. People will understand and you might find it easier to gather your words to speak if you explain.

 

  1. Someone is cosplaying the SAME CHARACTER AS ME! How dare they! What do I do?!

You do nothing; no snide remarks to them or behind their backs, no making fun of them, no stomping off like a petulant toddler who just got told they can’t have another cookie, no comments about who is wearing it better, no making it obvious to them or anyone else that you’re being pissy because someone else had the same idea as you. If you decide to have a strop because of this then it’s your own damned fault that you’re now in a bad mood or the meet you’ve gone to is `ruined`.

Even if you’re doing a concept cosplay someone may be doing something along the same lines. A few years ago, I made an Iron Man Prom Queen cosplay and rarely fail to see someone else in an Iron Man themed dress. I put a lot of hard work into that dress and it may not be very well made or look amazing but I did my best on it and even today I wear it to cons and the only time I have EVER been angry about someone doing an Iron Man dress as a cosplay is when a former friend legitimately tried to rip off my idea and design and say they were the first to do it.

If you’re upset that someone is doing the same cosplay as you I suggest you sit down and have a good long think about your behaviour. Cosplay is huge, MCM is about 90% people in cosplay and there are tens of thousands of people there, so unless what you made is 100% your own original idea and not from any publicly known work then expect to see some similar cosplays. Check your perceived entitlement at the door and be happy that you’ve found other people who love the character as much as you.

I would like to mention this this is genuinely a thing that happens. I’ve seen it happen countless times and anecdotes of people having massive strops about this have spread through previous London MCMs like wild fire (I knew the person who did this and the group they stormed out of, they told me what happened and then I heard the same story from different groups several times that weekend).

 

  1. Another con goer touched me inappropriately, I feel uncomfortable and don’t know what to do

If the person is still touching you take hold of their hand firmly but not in order to hurt them, remove it and hold it up and away from you (about shoulder height) From here, depending on the situation, you respond in one of several ways:

  • If, for a photo, they put their hand on a place that isn’t usually considered an inappropriate area (like your shoulder or somewhere a person might place their hand when cuddling up for photos with friends) they may not realise they’ve made you uncomfortable or know that’s something they should ask permission to do. Let go of their hand and say something like “I’m not comfortable with you holding me like that, why don’t we pose like this…” and then suggest a fun pose to do with them. Not everyone is aware of people’s personal boundaries so it’s better to educate in the first instance, rather than immediately accuse.
  • If you’re not posing with them and they’re seemingly randomly touching you, don’t let go of their hand as you’re speaking and say something like “This isn’t ok, I don’t want to be touched/held like this. Please don’t do it again” Let go of their hand. Try and remain calm and polite, most people will back off, some might grumble, but if they argue or continue to make you uncomfortable use the voice discussed in number 3 and repeat what you have said
  • If someone touches you in an inappropriate way or on a private place, or after telling them (as above) to stop and they persist, continue firmly (but without causing pain) holding their hand up, bring up the volume of your voice so you’re very loud (but not shouting) and say something like “I need security right now! I need a staff member right now! This person has assaulted me/is harassing me and I need security right now!” Keeping hold of their hand might cause them to try to shove you, if they do step back or try and do a controlled fall to the floor (if the area around you is clear and it is safe to do so) Don’t fight back, this may escalate the situation or observers might think you are the one causing harm. If they run off you can call out and ask other people to detain that person but don’t try to do so yourself. This will keep you out of harm as much as possible and make sure that it is clear you were not an aggressor in any way.

If someone harasses you during MCM Comic Con London May 2017, either once or repeatedly, tell a staff member straight away. If you can, go and find one in a quieter area so they can give you their full attention and get you the best help. With people in costume everywhere it can be hard for someone else to find the person you’re reporting; if you’re by yourself try and make a note about any distinguishing features or characteristics, for example they’re dressed as Harry Potter – there may be many Harrys about but how many have a JD Sport bag or a Welsh accent? Repeat what makes them stand out to yourself, maybe record it on your phone. If you’re with friends they can help you remember more details about them or even make a note of which way the person headed off. It may not be advisable to ask your friends to chase this person down or restrain them, this can get them into trouble and your harasser may look like the victim.

Remember, if someone SAYS things to you that are upsetting you can still report them for harassment.

 

Post script:

I realise that a lot of what I’ve included here goes to a worst-case scenario and there are still more situations that happen at conventions Like this weekend’s MCM Comic Con London May 2017; but for many people it helps to calm some anxieties about going into a crowded, potentially stressful situation if they know they have steps they can follow or a plan of what to do if something does go wrong.

It’s like taking a first aid kit with you when you go travelling; you may not ever need it but it’s good to know it’s there.

I wish I could cover more of what people encounter during Comic Con, but I’m pretty sure that would make this a hella long article. If you have any tips or advice pop them in the comments section, or if you have anything you want advice on you can always do the same or DM me on twitter for more helpful tips.

GS Blogger and MCM reporter: Fia @madame_fifi

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