Last weekend saw the ExCel in London again become home for the weekend to MCM Comic Con! It was of course a bloody stonking great event, there is nothing like a bunch of folks dressed up as their favourite comic book heroes, anime and manga characters together with a smattering of lesser knowns plus a few Doctor Who’s, furries and just the odd, odd person! Add to the above ingredients some current stars, a few whose star is fading and some for whom no one is really sure if it ever shone that brightly. Throw in a few good handfuls of amazing artists, creators and writers, a splash of merchandise and a flipping great big huge jug of money making commercialism and you have a comic con – last weekend we were treated to the added extra of the sun which meant thousands spilled outside to enjoy some music, ice cream and atmosphere.
Two things struck me this weekend one is great, super and fabulous, the other is rather selfish and a bit silly – so two sides of the spectrum it is then!
I know it has been said before, and after me, it will be said again, but what I love so much about Comic Cons and actually the entire culture of people who love them as much as I am learning to, is that Comic Con is tiny example of how humanity can actually live and let live….(bear with me here, it won’t get too deep I promise). May 2016 MCM was my fourth Comic Con (so not exactly a seasoned veteran but I have been about a bit). One of the greatest things about that lil tag around my neck that I wear which says “Press” is that queues are not part of my day, but for most Con’ers (as I will now be calling them) it is a standard and big part of their day, but everyone appears to do it with such calm and also surprisingly enjoyment, there is something rather warming to the heart to see a group of hitherto unknown Storm Troopers making friends whilst waiting!
There are very obviously different factions – those amazing Cos Players who have been planning their outfits for months, the gamers who head straight for VidFest and don’t emerge until the day is done, the various fans who queue for a few minutes for a chat and a pic with their favourite star (this weekend we saw Jesse Eisenberg, Peter Davidson, Warwick Davis, Bob Layton, Kunal Nayyar and Melissa Raunch among the friendly celebs), the comic book fans, for whom Comic Village is a never ending search for Comic Utopia, the avid collectors, there for a haul and those who are there to simply enjoy the spectacle. The one thing that has struck me every time I attend a Con is that there are no arguments, no fights and no sniggers. In all the hours I spend chatting and snapping I have never once seen a cross word, in fact I think I am probably the stroppiest, annoyed at the jostle and crowds.
One example that had me and others smiling happened outside (the sun was shining and so thousands of us took advantage and spent large portions of the day outside), a Japanese rock band Band Maid were getting ready to do a set, and the sound check wasn’t going too well, it took an age and I had (as is my way! Sorry) pushed to the front to get some pictures, also at the front were a couple generously guessing I would put em at a pair of retired baby boomers, mobile phones out snapping away waiting, just behind were a group of young guys, all slightly anime’d up waiting excitedly. The older woman and man obviously had no clue who or what they were waiting for and after a bit of a chat between themselves one of the young men stepped in, and he and his friend patiently, politely and without a hint of smirk or annoyance explained who the band was, the music genre, examples of others, comparing them to who they may know. The couple for their part listened and asked questions and for all the world appeared to be very interested and eager for the music to start. The best bit happened when the music finally started (and it took a few false starts), the couple both visibly cringed, but then as only well-mannered British people can do, they turned their frowns upside down, turned to the group of younger men who were by then all over excitedly jumping about, gave them a huge grin and a thumbs up, did a minute or so of some brilliant middle aged wedding dancing before slinking off in relief.
I really loved:
- Waiting for a picture, listening to Sauron and Gandalf talking everyday stuff was brilliant!
- A flash mob in the sunshine of all ages was good to see, lotta self-conscious giggling and false starts but it all worked and come together cos Con’ers really do seem to be a accepting and happy bunch.
- In a massive group of Deadpools, a rather skinny and a rather rotund deep in conversation.
- Two women well into their 70’s rawking some kind of cosplay (or simply out for a drink in their usual weekend attire….).
- Harley Quinn offering a VERY hot and sweaty furry wolf thing “all the tissues I have”!
As I have written before CosPlayers rawk it, many times because it seems to be OK to be any size or shape, given the right amount of confidence, an amazing costume and some serious attitude anyone can look amazing. That said I was whacked straight back to reality at the end of the day, when indulging in a post Con pint at the Fox (the bar next to the ExCel), along with a lot of other con’ers, myself and my partner in crime were sat next to a group of lads, who were not from the Con, maybe nearby workers, and when a couple of girls walked in, neither string beans and both scantily dressed (and I have to be honest, white tights and not the thinnest of thighs are combo not always seen), I thought nothing of them, but I was actually shocked to turn around and see the table of blokes sniggering! It brought me back down to reality with a big thump!
Hats off (and masks) to the Con’ers, you made me realise that actually we are not too bad after all!
I am a mum, and I would never ever take my three year old to a Comic Con, or any kind of convention. I was shocked at the amount of people dragging, carrying and pushing around cheesed off small children and babies! Let me be clear, seeing groups of 8/9/10 year olds dressed as super heroes having a great time, warmed any cockles I may have left. I hope my son is a massive super hero/comic fan and I will love taking him too his first Con…..when he is old enough!!
There is something which has been a little bit forgotten in my opinion, about parenthood and that is that yep, your life does change! Sorry, but tough luck, you are no longer at the fore, your wants, needs and desires (and hobbies, collections and obsessions), are second place, and seriously if you cannot give up Comic Con for a few years, then don’t have kids! Seeing a tiny new born strapped to the chest of a con’er struggling through crowds made my blood boil, and to see so many toddlers strapped in pushchairs with their parents dressed up variously as Princesses, Super Heroes and of course Harley Quinn (so many Harleys), desperately trying to get through crowds was a little sad. Yep I take my child out (the weekend of comic con was great, my partner in crime and his family visited at the same time, and apart from conning, we all were out enjoying some great weather, but we did kid things – the zoo and parks and we ate in restaurants with kid’s menus and friendly staff), but he comes first, not my need to be a part of something I feel I can’t live without.
Grizzly, fed up cheesed off, crying, overwhelmed toddlers and babies should not be (in my opinion) part of Comic Con. I am sure some parents have it down to pat – staying a short time, doing it in shifts etc, but notwithstanding, a two year at the start of the day overexcited about her princess costume is soon grizzly, itchy, hungry and overwhelmed. I think it’s easy to forget, that for young children being strapped into a pushchair for any length of time is miserable, and actually it’s just sad to see that pushchair basically facing nothing while the parents nosey there way though whatever collectables were more important. Yes modern life means we try and have it all, but the pub I described earlier (the Fox) has loud music and is full to the brim, seeing a group of people bring in a pram made my blood reach simmering point – tiny ears are not designed for it! We may be able to have it all, but it doesn’t mean we should!
I loved MCM Comic this May, thanks to everyone who smiled while we snapped and chatted away happily!