MCM London 2016: Thoughts on my first convention

So, one week on, I figure it is time to give a review of my first convention and the experiences I had there. When I booked my ticket I was not entirely sure what to expect from a convention. I have watched live streams from them and know people who have previously attended, but I must say that there is very little you can do to prepare yourself for the experience of attending a convention.

Firstly, I have to say that the thing that makes the convention, for me anyway, are the fellow attendees. To know you are surrounded by people with, at the very least, similar interests to you is a wonderful feeling, particularly as someone who has grown up largely hiding my interest in comics due to the reception this tended to get from people at my school. Being able to be open about that, as I have recently come to be both during my time at university and through this blog, in a forum where you know most other people are just as interested as you makes for a brilliant atmosphere. On top of this, the people I came into contact with were all very friendly and happy to have a chat. While I don’t doubt that every convention must have a number of people who are either rude or unfriendly, this definitely seemed to be a minority. Over the weekend I spoke to numerous different people, from people who just happened to be sat nearby at lunch, to helping people find something they were looking for at a stall, and all were happy to have a little chat back with me.

For me, I was quite worried about my Saturday at the convention, as I had chosen to cosplay as one of my favourite comic book superheroes, the Mighty Thor. However, this was the first time I had ever cosplayed, and to be honest mainly consisted of me putting on a pre-made costume and wielding a plastic prop hammer, both items which I bought from Amazon. To be honest I was slightly concerned that people might comment negatively either on my choice of character, or on my costume being a pre-bought item. However most people were just as friendly with me, if not more so due to me being in costume. At one point someone even stopped me to ask about the chainmail detailing on the costume, and how I achieved the look, which felt odd as it was pre-made and I did tell the person who stopped me this. But overall, this positive attitude towards people in cosplay made me feel even more at home during my time at the convention.

The other thing clearly crucial to a good convention is the attending guests, which here I am using to mean anyone from celebrity to stall owner. Over my weekend, I spoke to numerous people working behind the stalls dotted around, both for general shopping and in the comic village, about all sorts of topics. Again these people were all very friendly and approachable which allowed me to feel more at home as well. I picked up some great independent comics (one of which I am intending to write a full post about due to my enjoyment of it) as well as some great merchandise.

Further to this, the celebrities I met were all just as friendly, if not more so, as everyone else at the convention. Granted I mainly was there to see some of the smaller celebrities in person, whereas the bigger names this year, such as Warick Davis (Star Wars/Harry Potter), Jesse Eisenberg (The Social Network/Batman vs Superman) and Kunal Nyar (The Big Bang Theory), I just was happy seeing about the convention. Instead, the people I talked to were stars of either smaller, or older shows, such as Peter Davison (Doctor Who), Chris Barrie (Red Dwarf) and Meg Turney (Rooster Teeth), the latter of which I got a photo with. While I cannot speak for the bigger names, the celebrities I did meet were all talkative and approachable, and after the initial nerves of being star struck wore off it was just like talking to anyone else at the con. I am glad to see this though, as there always tends to be the advice that meeting celebrities can be a disappointment, but I personally think that any celebrity who chooses to attend these conventions must enjoy it on some level in order to agree to meet the fans.

Overall, I cannot recommend enough how much fun it Is attending a convention. I had a great time, despite going on my own, but I would hand out the following pieces of advice:

  • Wear comfortable shoes: if you have never been to a convention you won’t truly appreciate the amount of walking you do each day. This is a must to ensure you don’t suffer and can enjoy yourself.
  • Plan your days: If you are intending to go to panels, signings or photo shoots make sure you know what time these are so you can plan around this and ensure you do everything you want to each day
  • Attend with friends: I did attend this one solo and still enjoyed myself, but I feel that being amongst a group of friends would have been slightly more fun, as you would have a shared experience.
  • Saturday is by far the busiest day: This falls into planning somewhat. If you attend for a weekend, and can plan to get autographs or photos with the attendees you want on either the Friday or the Sunday this may be worth doing as the queues will be nowhere near as long. Similarly, trying to buy limited stock items on a Friday is worthwhile, as these go out of stock quite fast, especially once Saturday rolls around.
  • Choose your cosplay well: This is mainly a piece of advice to do with how many layers your costume will have. Due to the amount of people, and the fact that most conventions occur throughout the summer months, the convention halls are exceptionally warm, and you should be prepared for this with your costume.
  • Stay hydrated: Same reasoning as the point above, but don’t just assume you can pick up a drink at any time from a nearby stall or vendor. Queues for these are always very long, so if you can it may be worth buying several drinks at once and keeping some for later in the day.

This advice covers most of the things I ran into during my time at the convention, and it is more a warning than a reason not to go. Personally, I cannot recommend attending conventions like this enough, will definitely return next year, if not October since MCM London occurs twice a year. Hope that any of you who do attend conventions in the future have as good a time as I did at my first one.

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