This past weekend geeky geeks from across the entire spectrum of geekery amassed at the, unfortunately, troubled Earls Court Arena in London for the 2013 London Film and Comic Con.
I was lucky enough to be able to attend the convention on both Saturday and Sunday and, just like with my MCM review, will attempt to condense my experience/s across the two days into some sort of coherent collection of thoughts and observations. Something I normally would have done, with a limitation of 140 characters at a time no less, but for whatever reason Twitter didn’t want to work for me on those days. I had a real issue getting anything out over the weekend, and grew to hate that simple, but direct, message that popped up time and time again: “Tweet Not Sent”.
I figured that, rather than diving head first into a review, I would instead sit on it a little bit; allowing the weekend to really sort itself into the mental filing system in my head so that I could offer a more rounded account, rather than just committing initial thoughts and opinions to writing. I want to give a good review of my weekend; I don’t care about getting involved in the tangled mess that comes in attempting to be ‘first’, I’m more interested in giving a balanced, and honest, take on it all.
My day started early, and yet began late. I was up at around 8 am, waiting for my good friend to get to my flat, before we headed out together into London. However, after we finally left the flat, I had to make a detour to my parents house in order to pick up some paper, to then come back to the flat, in order to print off the Press Pass that I had been issued. All of this in turn led me from being ahead of my day, to falling a little bit behind. Thankfully, when we finally got onto the main leg of our journey it was relatively uneventful. Aside from the Tube from Embankment to Earls Court. It was crazy busy; mindful that it was a Saturday in London, coupled with the amount of cosplayers surrounding me again, I knew that the journey across to Earls Court may not be the most pleasant of trips. Hunkering down into the tiny, cramped, section of tube we were allowed, we got through it, despite the heat.
Finally getting out of the other side, blinking into the suddenly harsh sunlight as we emerged, it was a quick journey over to Earls Court, as it was literally across the street from the Tube exit. Calling Tobika, I was told to try and enter through the main entrance., something that would have been made a lot more apparent if Earls Court didn’t have two entrances. I, of course, attempted to enter through the wrong entrance which lead to me recalling Tobika. After a little bit of a kerfuffle, I finally find my way into the main entrance and flash the all important credentials (not a euphemism!) at those looking after the door.
I’ve quickly grown to love that first feeling of walking into a Convention; that feeling of size, of relative excess. The excitement at all the things to look at and the amount of people to potentially talk to. The potential for awesome, essentially.
Walking over to the Organisers booth, I enquire after an official Press Pass; something they are already unable to accommodate. It’s a shame not to have a little lanyard Press Pass for LFCC, but thankfully with the help of some hastily scribbled information onto my home made printed Press Pass, I was golden for the rest of the weekend. With my proverbial Golden Ticket in hand, Tobika sent me on my way to experience the Con as I saw fit.
It’s fun wandering around the different booths trying to find yourself a little something or, if you’re there for a specific reason, attempting to find that one missing piece of your collection; be it an action figure, or comic book. There was some pretty cool things to look at throughout the day, and a number of things grabbed my attention; although some didn’t leave so much of a positive impression as a thought process of ‘WTF.’
I didn’t find many people too approachable though, probably due to just how busy it was. Everybody seemed more concerned with themselves or, from a booth owner viewpoint, simply selling stuff. Granted, that’s why they are there; but committing to some genial, friendly conversation would have gone a long way for me, from an interested consumers perceptive. Naturally, it’s a fine balance between letting people enjoy looking, and bugging them with unwanted assistance, but it’s a balance I think was sorely missing from every stall I visited on the Saturday.
The hall itself was separated into, essentially, two halves. The first half consisted of people selling their wares; be it merchandise or the independent, self published comic book section. The second half of the hall was an Anime Zone that featured a few Showcase exhibits, including Ridleyville. These two sections were separated by the autograph section, which was a clever way to utilise the space in order to define the two areas. It was also nice to see these people who had flown over given a point of place in the center of the Center, unlike the relegation that existed at the MCM Expo. I found that to be a nice, and respectful, touch to treating these talents.
That being said, I still felt a little sorry for them as certain people stared out, wide eyed and hopeful, at every passer by.
I also found it funny how all the pictures that they used were outdated by about 20 years, something my friend happened to point out to me. The only obvious reasoning I could apply to this being that those images are how we, the mainstream public and fans, recognize them. In our minds eye, they will forever be as they were: immortalized on screen forever, 20 years younger.
I attempted to attend a couple of panels earlier during the day, namely the Peter Dinklage panel. However, I was turned away from the entrance being told weakly by the girl policing the entranceway that it “didn’t matter” that I was press. Apparently they were trying something new where it doesn’t matter if you are press or not. If a panel is paid - then you gotta pay. Which begs the obvious question: why the fuck do I need press passes, if I can’t do anything as press?
This left me, who was previously under the impression from Tobika that I could attend anything I wanted to as Press because, you know: that’s a perk of being Press and covering an event, pretty confused.
My day ended with the (free) Wrestling Talk panel, hosted by some idiot in a suit. This guy had no idea about professional wrestling, and that’s cool. That’s fine. What’s not okay is to introduce these people who have flown over to attend this Convention and to disrespect them by mocking their profession during the introduction. This guy openly admitted his lack of knowledge, talked about how he’d rather be going home and that he has no idea who these people are.
What an introduction.
What a dick.
Thankfully, DDP was able to jump on this as soon as he could and pretty much forced the Panel over to the fans, proclaiming:
“We’re not here for questions from you. We’re here for questions for the fans, so let them ask us, monkey.”
To which the host got offended,
“Monkey!?” he replied, with incredulity, before fucking off.
If only he knew a thing or two about this people on stage. Maybe he would have known ‘monkey’ was one of DDP’s favorite words to use in promos.
What a dick that guy was. If you’ve ever wondered how to turn a crowd of fans against you in a heartbeat, just follow this guys lead: insult the very thing that they’ve come together to appreciate.
Thankfully, Sunday wasn’t as crowded as Saturday. It really did lead to a much more enjoyable experience. Gone were the overly crowded paths, pushing past sweaty dudes in heavy cosplay. I can only imagine what it was like for that guy who came dressed as Beast from the X-Men. What were you thinking, guy!?
Sunday was pretty a rinse/repeat scenario from Saturday; same booths, same indy creators, etc. I did sit in on a few more panels which I really enjoyed: namely the Doctor Who and Creator Owned Comics panels. Although I was forgotten about when entering the Doctor Who panel (a lady named Tara registered me, knew I was press, and then forgot about me until the panel had started), it didn’t bother me enough to really make an issue. Plus the panel was a lot of fun, with a lot of back and forth between Colin Baker and Sylvester McCoy especially. Only one moment dampened the frivolities of this panel; some guy asked a question, only to have that same douchebag host grab the mic off of him and exclaim loudly,
Just ‘No’. No explanation or anything like that, which lead to a lot of confused looks amongst the people on the panel. Fair enough, there may have been a no fly list of subjects of conversation, but some decorum, please! Perhaps, if we, the people, aren’t allowed to ask certain things - those things should be openly specified before the panel begins.
The biggest issue I had from Sunday was the confusing nature in how the stages were labelled out. On the maps dotted around the arena they were listed as Stages 1/2/3/4. In reality however, these stages had signs that read: A/B/C/D.
Instant confusion. Importantly, it was instant, unnecessary, confusion.
It’s hard to try and put a positive spin on something so glaringly stupid. It’s not the LFCC’s first rodeo, and you would have thought any slight issues like this would have been ironed out a long time ago.
I think the overarching feeling that my time at the LFCC left me with was one of slight disappointment. I certainly enjoyed Sunday a lot more than Saturday, if only because I felt I could really look and appreciate the Convention without being crushed or carried along, lost, in the current of people. But a few things niggled me; the lack of official press passes, the fact I couldn’t sit in on panels as press, the idiocy and disrespect of the host, the unnecessary confusion created from their 1/2/3/4, A/B/C/D system.
All of this collectively leads me to confidently say that, although I did have a pretty good time, there will always be an asterisk next to it because of these reasons.
Steve Russell // @stevetendo