EVENT REPORT: Derby Comic Con 2017

The weather was great, my group and I were off to a good start on our trip to Derby. Derby Comic Con took place on June 24th at the Round House, a really unique building, a former locomotive turning shed. The Round House is located immediately next to Derby station, making it really accessible. It also had a car park that cost only £2.

We joined a short queue flanked by the East Midlands Star Wars Garrison who were greeting guests and posing for photos. Once at the front of the queue we entered the Round House courtyard. The courtyard was a cool feature as, number one: it had a row of Movie Cars, and number two: it provided a spot to sit down, enjoy the atmosphere and soak in the sun. The outside space was large with big grassy areas and room outside the entrance for the cars. The vehicles on display were from Batman, Cars, Jurassic Park and Mad Max. We chatted to the owners who were super friendly and had lots of entertaining stories about the creation of the vehicles which were essentially Cosplay Cars. When we had finished looking we realised we were now at the back of the queue to enter the convention and had to join a new queue, oops.

Our second stint of queuing moved quickly, we entered. We had our hands stamped and collected a useful show guide. The guide was simple, containing a map, overview of the day, list of guests, panel times and was free, nice one! The event was laid out over three rooms, the Round room (main room), library and panel room. The Round room is easily one of the best Convention halls I’ve been in, circular in shape with a high ceiling and still housing some of its original features. There were parts of the floor that were glass to allow a view of the basement areas. Maybe this could make people a bit nauseous but I loved it.

The stalls were laid out in rings, an outer, middle and central ring of traders facing in on a big seating area. The market comprised a good mix of comics, crafts, t-shirts, artists and collectibles. The Round House had a hot food stand; normally I avoid the convention food as it’s often over priced and terrible. Hurray! The food on offer here was good! We stopped for sausage sandwiches, normally cafes just have boring pork sausages, not here, they had dull pork or exciting pork and black pudding. I went for the second with some hash-browns on the side, it was super good and about £2, great! We sat in the middle of the hall, ate and enjoyed all the passing attendees and Cosplayers.

The Library room was a standard rectangular hall with stalls at the entrance end and all the guests at the far end. The guests were a good mix, mostly film and television with one comic book guest. Adjacent to the Library was the panels room. Talks ran on the hour from lunchtime until the Cosplay Competition to close the day. In the run up to each panel announcements were made over a tannoy, ensuring a good turn out. This was a good system although I felt a little sorry for one stall holder positioned right next to a big speaker.

The panel room was very big, lots of seating, small stage at the front and a big screen behind. The screen displayed either imagery related to the panelists or footage from previous Conventions (Derby is run by the same team who run Birmingham and Horror Cons at the Cricket ground). A cool addition would be to make more use of the screen, short films, video skits or geeky trivia for those who wish to remain seated between panels. I watched the Cosplay and Dr Who panels. Both were good although a little hampered by sound problems, but this was addressed as the day went on.

Towards the latter half of the day, visitor numbers began to drop which was a shame. A good way to combat this could be a raffle as this drew a really big crowd, they did this at the recent Wolves Con I attended. All entrants were given a ticket upon arrival encouraging them to stay until the draw. We finished the day off with the traditional Cosplay Competition, there were both kid’s and adult prizes up for grabs. The children went first, there was a good turn out for this category, with some good costumes on display. Although some children walked on and off the stage without stopping, which was endearingly amusing. The adults came next, who did stop when they entered the stage, showing off a good array of costumes, from anime, super heroes and other geeky categories.

The Parade was really good fun and a highlight of the day. I do have a criticism though: having the participants enter at the back of a big room slowed down the experience. The audience clapped before being able to see the Cosplayers, often meaning that when the participants arrived at the stage, everyone had gone quiet. With a slightly different chair layout the competitors could have entered through the middle door and come down a central isle, a small quibble and maybe some background music would be good too.

Minor suggestions aside Derby Comic Con was one of my favourite conventions this year. Really well organised, excellent venue, good guests, great atmosphere, a total blast. I’ll be aiming to return next year and, located next to a train station means it should be easy for most to find their way there. Go check it out, five stars!

Source: Derby Comic Con
GS Blogger: Richard Blades

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