MCM London 2015 Event Report

On May 22nd the UK’s premier awesome stuff convention MCM London 2015 kicked off at the Excel Arena for another fun filled three days. This event is far too big to be contained within a single report so I’ve decided split it up into a report for each day, covering what I got up to, panels, screening and purchases made.
Queue
My friends and I arrived promptly at 9am on Friday morning ready for the 10 O’clock entry. We queue in not really a line but more a large pen, considering the size of the hall everyone seemed unnecessarily huddled together. We only had to queue for a short time, until we were issued with our wrist bands and allowed into the lobby area. From here we sat and people watched as the rest of the Con goers arrived. There was a really awesome, diverse selection of Cosplayers on display covering comics, films, television, anime, even a horse campaigning about his family being used in a large supermarket chains burgers.

At just after 10am we were allowed into the main hall, we entered at the far end near the artist alley. The Convention hall really looked huge this year. Unlike the previous couple of events the convention was all mostly in one hall. The convention was arranged into different areas, most had their own stage. At the far end was Vidfest and the Competitive Gaming area, next to this was the B Stage, in the middle was the Japan Expo and Gaming Zone and at the far end the Artist Alley. Interspersed amongst these areas were a variety of different stalls. From the ceiling hung lots of different banners advertising what was below to make finding things a lot easier. The main stage (now the platinum stage) was located up some stairs from the main lobby and there was a large food area in a different hall opposite.

MCM’s selection of stalls seems to improve with each event I’ve attended with this having the best I have seen. I’ve often seen people moaning on forums that there are never any comic book stands but there were loads, lots with back issues, a handful focused on graphic novels and the always awesome Artists Alley (which is kind of lots of alleys). There was a good mix of comics, memorabilia, anime, toys, collectables, clothing, games, crafts and activity stands. By activity stands I mean things like SyFys 360 degree photo booth or the Batmobile photo opportunity.

Batman

We began doing a sweep of the main convention floor, getting an idea of what’s what, before we attended any panels or made any purchases. After about an hour of looking around disaster struck and my mate James’s wrist band caught on his bag and broke off. This has never happened while I’d been at a previous con and I often wondered how this would be handled. We made our way to the info stand where we explained the situation. The lady assisting us said that it wouldn’t be a problem and that James was the third person of the day to have this happen. We headed back to the queuing area to sort out a replacement, which was quickly dealt with although the queuing staff were hardly the most helpful. They weren’t rude but were a bit difficult and not very forthcoming with assistance, the total opposite of the staff inside the convention area.

When at the info stand we picked up our convention guides. Theses are a must for all attendees they have the full schedule in to make organising your day much easier. I’m super organised anyway so carry a notepad containing a prepared list of all the talks I wanted to attend. (The guide-book and full schedule was posted online the week leading up to the convention to help with planning). If you do forget to pick up the guide-book there are a list of panel times at each stage.

By midday we were ready to sit down and have some lunch so we headed for the Vidfest Stage to watch Cyanide and Happiness and eat our meal deal sandwiches. The Vidfest Stage was housed in a large white inflated dome (like a lonely boob), there’s a small stage at the front and a big screen to the left. I’ve been aware of C&H from seeing the stand but have never investigated their work so this proved to be a very enjoyable panel. The panel was hosted by Rob Denbleyker one of the creators of Cyanide and Happiness. There was a nice mix of short animations and an audience Q&A with a history of the series and info about the creative process.

Having rested and refueled we headed back out onto the convention floor. We stopped by the Genki Gear stand as I really wanted to pickup the London Convention T-Shirt Insane Panda Violence, which I did! Later that evening I tried the top on, it’s a great fit and looks ace. I was a little disappointed with last years Teeny Tiny Ninja Tee so was glad to see the Panda design. I’ve always found the Genki stand to have well-fitting tops, often I find fun designed T-Shirts are a little baggy and loose-fitting. Thumbs Up Genki Gear!

My mate Helen’s a big fan of Storage Hunters so we stopped by Sean Kelly’s (the program’s inventor and host) stand so she could meet him. He seemed like a nice guy, he posed for a photo with her and didn’t charge which was good. Next we went to watch his panel in the B theater. The B Theater is pretty large, it has a stage at the front sandwiched between two video screens, then lots of floor seats with raised teared seats behind. I know nothing about Storage Hunters and I think this was a panel more for fans than casual audiences. (I’ve attended plenty of panels in the past where I knew nothing about the show and really enjoyed). Sean Kelly is clearly a very motivated and entrepreneurial guy and has achieved big things. He is apparently a very successful comedian as well (he reiterated this over and over). I did enjoy his live auction that was fun, it had a cool rhythm and was entertaining to watch.

TF Card
After the panel we went over to see what was going on at the Artists Alley. There were loads of different creatives selling a mix of fan art, original art, comics, books and more. I always skim through who’s going to be at the Artists Alley but most just wait to see who’s there when we arrive. I was really pleased to spot Lee Sullivan of Marvel UK fame. I stood chatting to him ages, I knew his art from Transformers UK and Thundercats. His first job was drawing the covers for the first three issues of Thundercats. Issue 3 was my first issue and this series is the first I collected, I have a full run from issue 3 to 100. Listening to his tales of working with the other Marvel UK writers and artist was fascinating, Lee Sullivan, Simon Furman, Geoff Senior, Andrew Wildman etc were the golden age of Marvel UK. I purchased three postcards and had one signed.

My final Artists Alley Purchase of the day was Jabbercrow which was the result of an amazing bit of up selling to myself. As we walked the isles looking at the art (it surprises me how many of the artists are busy playing DS rather than chatting to potential customers), the visuals of Jabbercrow drew me in. Jabbercrow really stood out amongst the other work on offer. I got talking to Tom Digby-Rodgers the creator, he told me all about the series and I thought I’d give it a whirl. I opted to take just the first volume thinking I’d read it on the night and if I liked it I’d purchase the others before the conventions end. The first two volumes are the introduction, the third volume onwards begins to fill out the main story. I noticed deals for the more you purchase the less it cost overall so I changed my mind and purchased Volume one and two. As I handed over the money I thought it would actually be even better value for me to purchase all three so I handed over even more money (Tom seemed delighted and astonished at how little pressure he used to up sell to me).

Jabber Crow

We headed to our final regular panel of the day Gillian Anderson plugging the Blu Ray release of her most recent film Robot Overlords. It came and went at the cinema before I caught it but I do think it looks good. This talk took place in the Platinum suite in the top floor. The seats were laid out to accommodate approximately 1000 guests again with a stage at the front and a screen either side. The format was slightly different rather than the compare roaming the room with a microphone there were two microphones either side. The guests were then invited to queue behind and take it in turns to ask questions. By the end of the weekend I decided I liked this more as it allows the guests a little time to talk a little more directly to the guests. Although it does seem far more pressurised this way as your face is on the big screens at the front and there’s potentially over 1000 people all listening and watching. Gillian answered questions though was a little awkward with some answers. An interesting panel and I am keen to see the film when it’s released.

When we had finished we headed to the floor below for the European Premier of The Death of Superman Lives….What Happened? There was a brief introduction from John Schwepp then we settled down to watch the film. For those who haven’t heard this is a documentary exploring a canceled Superman film that was going to be directed by Tim Burton and star Nicolas Cage as Superman. The film made me sad that I’m never going to get to see Tim Burton’s Superman. It’s a great film that I’d urge anyone interested in superheroes or films to definitely check out. It annoys me when film creators drastically deviate from the source material, as Marvel have shown you can stick closely to the comics and make great films. This film just looked so out there that I really wish it had been brought to the screen, sad times :(.

Super

After the film John came out to the front and spoke a little about the film before offering to answer ten questions until his producer interjected and said five with seven becoming the compromise. As we were approaching the final question John added the opportunity to ask even more questions until security said he had to wrap it up for the evening. This was a really great panel, John was super friendly and generous with his time, a really charismatic and interesting man.

The first day drew to a close about 9pm, it had been a really fantastic start to the weekend. I love the Friday of MCM as it is quieter than the other days so it’s easier to look around the stalls and do some shopping before it gets busy over the weekend. There has been talk of adding a Thursday evening preview night which would be ace especially if there were no panels to do the shopping before the convention really gets going then it would be easier to fit more panels in. Although definitely the quietest day of the weekend the Friday did feel noticeably busier than previous Friday’s.

Source: MCM London 2015

GS Blogger: Richard Blades

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