Anyone who’s known me for a while will know that I am a relatively frequent attendee at MCM’s London Comic Con and Summer’s Hyper Japan. I’ve been attending Comic Con at least once a year since 2015 and Hyper Japan even longer. Although I wouldn’t call myself a veteran, it would be safe to say that I know what it’s like to be stuck in a building with 50,000 other people, including multiple Deadpools and Hatsune Mikus.
I was actually supposed to post a ‘Con Survival Guide’ I’ve had collecting dust in my notes for a while, but, to be honest, after my experience yesterday, I’m really not in the mood to be recommending anything along these lines.
So, one of the main reasons I go to Comic Con these days is actually for the comics, artists and authors, rather than the fan meets (that have long abandoned, for a few reasons) and, to start with the positives, let’s take a look at the stuff I got.
Firstly, I got myself a hard copies of Drugs & Wires Vol. 1 and its prequel Dreamscape. I’ve been reading Drugs & Wires for a while online and I highly recommend it to anyone into cyberpunk ’90s nostalgia, or just slightly crazy comics.
I also picked up Vol. 6 of Cafe Suada another comic series I’ve been reading for a similar amount of time in print, but it’s also available online. It’s a chill story about a ‘war’ between a tea shop and coffee shop. By the way, it’s actually coloured using tea-staining so…that’s kinda cool…
As for stuff I hadn’t come across before (or, at least, I don’t remember seeing them before), I happened to have very interesting conversations with two authors, which led to the purchase of quite a few of their books.
The first series, Afterlife Inc.
made me realise how I really need to start reading more webcomics is about a con artist who dies, finds the afterlife in chaos and decides to take over and run it as a company. Only read the first chapter or so, but I can tell it’s a new favourite (but then again, why else would I buy all four volumes on the spot?).
The second isn’t a comic, but a fantasy novel series called Tales From Arlanon. Since I bought all four main books, I also got one of the short stories for free. I would say more about it, but I think the website explains in more than enough detail.
Oh! I also picked up some cute postcards by artist Chie Kutsuwada. I have legit never been so keen to buy some postcards.
And then, we have the freebies. Although somewhat disappointing compared to previous years, the TMNT bag we got in the ticket hall seems pretty decent and I actually got quite a lot of use from it on the day, given that it was easier to access than my rucksack. Didn’t really care for the stuff in it, though it’s worth mentioning that quite a few bags were actually missing some of their items.
There was also an event run by one of the companies where the “first 5000” to their booth each day got an ‘exclusive commemorative coin’. However, given that people were still getting the coin at around 11, I can’t help but wonder if someone didn’t count them out properly, especially since you had to walk through the entire stall in order to leave.
The Pop Asia stage (a place that had free seats for resting purposes) had a few interesting talents in the form of UJJN, a K-Pop dance group, and Chekiss, a Japanese-style idol duo. I’m not even normally into these kinds of things but I genuinely had fun watching them.
“If you got so much good stuff, why didn’t you enjoy the event?”
Honestly, there are a number of less major reasons that made me reluctant to go to these events in the first place (dealing with other people’s BS, fake merchandise, my feet and legs hurting for at least two days, I could go on) as well as a few personal things but this time was the final nail in the coffin.
Some of you may have heard of a D&D campaign series(?) called Critical Role. They were having their first panel in the UK, and their first in a very long time in Europe. Obviously, people from literally all over would come to see the likes of Matthew Mercer, Sam Riegel et al. in the flesh so you would expect there to be some pretty serious plans to manage the probably 10,000+ people there to see that alone.
Unfortunately, there quite clearly weren’t. Instead of trying to find a way to deal with the fact that the main stage was already more that full and there were still hundreds of people outside trying to get in, the floor staff (or, at least some of them) felt the need to treat us like animals, despite the overwhelming compliance of the people who “just wanted to see the panel”. There were many of us standing for 2-3 hours before the panel itself (because quite a few people camped out by the stage all day and/or, like me, genuinely wanted to see the Slaughterhouse Rulez panel before it).
As great as the panel was, it was not a fun experience. Even getting out was a task that took more than a few minutes. If Critical Role plan on coming back to an MCM event anytime soon, I hope they can actually prepare for the thousands of people who will come just to watch the panel.
All in all, this was the first time the negatives heavily outweighed the positives of attending. I may have been ever so slightly reluctant to go in the past, but now, I definitely won’t be attending any time soon.