This Halloween weekend, I helped Sauron get out of a lift. You might have seen how tall he is, made taller by the six spikes protruding from his iron head. He had to lean back, limbo-like, to avoid the lift’s metal frame, while he shuffled forward according to my guidance of ‘Keep coming. Yep. Keep coming. Bit more. Good.’ You might be surprised, though, that the Sauron is a pleasant chap. And he’s from Ireland.
This image is a good thumbnail for my weekend at MCM’s London Comic Con, held in east London at the ExCel centre. The event is like a niece or nephew to the San Diego Comic Con, where you can run into movie stars like Pacman munches pac-dots. London’s weekend, however, is less about a rush for exclusives and more of a gathering of fans just excited to be around other fans.
Darth Vaders and Virtual Reality
The two main halls, decorated with glossy posters hanging from the rafters, hosted vendors selling t-shirts, figures, comics, board games and steampunk Darth Vaders, theatres with stages walked by YouTube’s TomSka to a (surprisingly smooth Sky Sports style) League of Legends championship and serpentine queues made of fans waiting to meet celebrities. There were even virtual reality trials.
I played four levels of VR game/SyFy series Halcyon when I was meant to come back to reality after one. Short review: the graphics of gameplay are PS2 standard, but the world is engrossing and feels, in many senses, just like a reality.
A Shit Load of Harley Quinns
Roaming these two halls were costumed superheroes, villains, anti-heroes and video game characters, surrounded by a shit load of Harley Quinns. At times, finding a non-Margot Robbie cosplayer was like bumping into Wally and Wizard Whitebeard. I exaggerate but Daddy’s Little Monster t‑shirts must be out of stock in the nation’s capital. By the last day, I’d learnt to go where I wanted early: after ten, John Comic Connors (get it?) try to twist through the orange-carpeted lanes’ two-way traffic to get to their next thing, like formula one cars swerving at the grand prix’s start.
Sega and Tesco Meal Deals
I endeavoured to taste a bit of everything, cup of tea in left hand, phone with camera open in right. At the board games table, I managed one game of ‘Potion Explosion’ after becoming bored five minutes in, despite a helpful and willing assistant. In the eSports area, the Sega Mega System had been wheeled out for me to mash buttons and get simply angry that I couldn’t jump a simple wall and grab a simple star.
While some huddled by walls with Tesco meal deals and others lounged by the Pop Asia stage eating Japanese food, I had a go at drawing straight onto a state-of-the-art computer screen and couldn’t help but think a piece of paper at 45 degrees would do.
On the 10 pace walk between stalls, I snapped some pictures of eager subjects. If I had got up at half five in the morning to paint myself purple I’d be eager for my photo to be taken, too.
Talking to Cast Members
But the wondering between stalls had to be reined in because your own Front Magazine had the chance to speak with the cast of RWBY, The Flash’s Violett Beane, a few (ex) Game of Thrones cast members, film director Paul Campion (watch this space for more detail on those) and Arrow’s Michael Rowe.
And when we let them go, these folks sat at tables in front of queues of fans, leant over the same tables to get into selfies and – probably – inspire at least some people to follow them into their business or, at least, make someone’s day. That’s what people come for. What’s the thing that gets you going? Get a photo and share an exchange with someone you admire in that field; that’s Comic Con.
Free Hugs Anyone?
Comics and superheroes aren’t for you? Cosplayers might populate the halls, but Comic Con isn’t merely for comic book fans in the same way that cardigans aren’t merely for GCSE geography teachers. There was a massage tent (not like that, simmer down), a £20 prize for whoever could hold themselves up on a metal bar for two minutes, a table to fold some origami and offers of a ‘Free Hug (who pays for a hug, anyway?).
Comic Con is where people interested in the same or similar things have a weekend together unabashedly flaunting their love for that thing. That can be infectious. I helped the Dark Lord of Mordor out of a lift, for Christ’s sake.