Until this morning I was a comic convention virgin, however a few weeks ago I stumbled across the London Film and Comic Convention which kicked off today. I have always wanted to see what all the fuss is about and what made my mind up instantly was that Mads Mikkelsen (of the Hannibal TV show) was there doing signings and photos. This wasn’t for me, but my wife is a huge fan, so I decided it might be nice to treat her.
The journey up there wasn’t too bad as it is held at the Olympia convention center, which is pretty easy to get to. I recommend that if travelling by tube you don’t get off at Earls Court as the service to Olympia doesn’t always run, and is some times a bus service. Continue on the district line to South Kensington, from where it is only a few minutes walk.
The London Film and Comic Convention was held in the same venue as when I went to the Destination travel show, earlier in the year. It is a big venue, and you really noticed it with this show, as it uses the entire center! There are two massive halls which have balconies, and one thing you can say for certain is that along with these, there are plenty of toilets! There are also a few places to eat, but be warned it is not cheap and to be honest the quality isn’t great. I had macaroni and cheese in one of the downstairs restaurants which was £6 and covered about quarter of a plate. We also had a hot dog, which I would avoid at all costs!
Nevertheless I think its a great venue, and worked really well here – there was certainly plenty of space which meant that it wasn’t too cramped.
What is There to do?
I used to be a comic fan, however never really got in to super hero stories etc… I was very much a fan of books such as Lenore, Squee and Johnny the Homicidal Maniac, with the only one I have baught recently being Invader Zim. It was actually more the film part which drew me in. It is still largely based around comics, their characters and associated culture, however there is a lot more to do here than just buying comics:
There are plenty of stalls which allow you to buy anything from American sweets & sodas to shirts, comics to autographs and action figures to vintage video games, with everything else you’d expect in between. This was our first time so we didn’t really know what to expect, and to be honest we are a little out of the collecting business (we used to collect Living Dead Dolls in particular) – however following this trip that may well change again… There was a lot of very cool stuff there.
My biggest piece of advice on this front is that make sure you bring plenty of cash as it looked like many of the stalls didn’t take card, and it certainly wouldn’t be hard to spend a lot while you’re here.
This bit wasn’t very well explained or organised, for first timers anyway. I did go to the info desk to ask where you buy tickets for signatures to which I was told you just turn up and don’t pay. So we went upstairs to see if we could get in line for Mads Mikkelsen however he was just about to go for lunch and then do the photo session so we got a ticket to save a space in the queue later, being told to come back at 4:30 – which we did. However we were then told to come back in an hour after which they may or may not fit us in. This was the one thing about the show which annoyed me, as the queue had less than 20 people in and we didn’t see anyone else coming over… I really don’t think it would have hurt to put us in the queue.
Tips for this are to firstly turn up as early as you can for any signatures you want, or pre-buy online… One thing I did notice, even after being told they are all free is that some of the bigger stars like Mads and Peter Mayhew had a £40 sticker by their name!
I did see a couple of free sessions advertised for the main stage, however for the big stars like Mads and Dolph Lundgren you need to pre-buy tickets, which you can do online to save disappointment – alternatively they can be purchased on the day. These are not overly cheap but if you want to get up close to one of your movie, TV or wrestling heroes, it’s really not too bad. The photo is taken professionally and you get it printed out right away.
You can also take advantage of some of the replica props which are at the show, to get you in to the scenes of your favourite movies and shows. The ones which we saw were the delorean from Back to the Future, the iron throne from Game of Thrones, the Dredd bike from the original Judge Dredd and a control console from Doctor Who… These are pretty cheap to get a photo taken with.
These come as both free talks and paid for talks, depending on who is doing it. I didn’t see a paid for one but did watch part of a talk given by Carl Weathers (Apollo Creed in the Rocky films), however I think you need to really be in to the subject matter or star to really appreciate the talk. I didn’t find Carl Weathers to be overly interesting to be honest.
Downstairs there is a cosplay stage, where they seem to be busy all day, with everything from a masquerade to lip sync battles as well as photo opportunities to talks. The masquerade can be quite spectacular, and I did see a man dressed up as someone from the Warhammer games (we had seen him earlier so must have been dressed up for some time), who fell over getting on stage. He must have been knackered, and with the size and weight of the costume he couldn’t get up. It seemed quite funny to start with, but as he struggled, and then people further struggled to help him out, you realized just how much weight and how little movement he had – these guys are really dedicated and some of them look amazing, so check them out.
Along one of the balconies you can have a go on some video consoles from your past, with everything from home consoles to arcade machines. They were all packed solid when we were there so didn’t get to have a go, but it was cool seeing some of the old machines in action.
The above is just a snapshot of what there is to do here, and you can easily spend a day here, especially if the right stars for you are there! As a first timer we didn’t know exactly what to expect, and I must say I did expect it to be a little busier (both with attendees and stalls on the sales side), however other than a couple of areas where their communication doesn’t seem to be great, they delivered an incredible experience for us. We both enjoyed it and spent a good few hours there taking in the sights, as well as getting close to some of our favourite stars and props… So it was certainly a successful event for us, and if the right stars are there next year, I see no reason why we wouldn’t return… Although I’d go a little earlier (we arrived ad 12:00, but didn’t queue for a single minute getting in), and pre-buy autograph sessions online.
If you like movies, TV, cosplay, computer games, board games, role play games, comics, action figures, steampunk, anime, vinyl collectables, trading cards or anything else along these lines… Do yourself a favor and don’t miss out on the second and third days – I heard they are much busier!
Oh and by the way – the Suicide Squad exhibition upstairs… Very nice touch!