Freelance writer and poet from London; if you would like to read my poetry, please check out my book, 'Poems on the Page', available from goo.gl/Ta4oAX.
See comic artists in action
Pikachu pillows and other designs for sale.
Last weekend I attended the London Film & Comic Convention. There are two every year; one in summer, and the other in autumn/winter. It is a big and ever growing event run by Showmasters, and this year was probably the best one yet.
The convention gives you the opportunity to meet your favourite stars, get their autographs, and have your photo taken with them. There are also tons of talks, traders, displays, competitions, games, and more. LFCC has something for just about every type of geek imaginable: the film buffs, manga fans, sci-fi freaks, and basement gamers.
Ghost Busters Car
I put myself in the 'sci-fi freak' category, but I still enjoy all the other aspects of the event as well. Usually my dad and I go together on a Sunday, but because there were so many guests that I wanted to meet this year, I bought tickets for Saturday as well. There are several types of tickets to choose from, the cheapest being £6 standard entry (11am). You can also buy early bird tickets for £12 (9am) or a Gold pass for £175. Gold passes are limited in number, but are worth getting if you want to do absolutely everything. The perks include free tickets to every talk, not need virtual autograph tickets, being able to skip ahead to the front of photoshoot queues, and an exclusive goody bag.
There were fourteen guests that I wanted to meet, most of whom were actors from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, such as Avery Brooks, Armin Shimmerman, and Nana Visitor. Since I was going in at standard entry time, I was expecting to be collecting a lot of virtual tickets. Virtual tickets are used when guest queues become too long, so Showmasters starts handing out numbered tickets, so you can come back later. But to my utter astonishment, most of the guests I wanted to meet had open (and often short) queues. There were only three that needed virtual tickets, all the rest, I got within my first hour of arrival.
Me & Jennifer Calvert
All the guests were so friendly and seemed genuinely happy to be there. If there was no one else waiting for an autograph, they loved chatting with the fans. This was particularly true of Jennifer Calvert. There was a man in front of me, who had lots to say, and she really enjoyed talking to him. She was also very considerate, and let me get her autograph before they continued their conversation, so that I wasn't waiting for ages.
After getting my autographs, I browsed around the stalls. As I have been going for many years, I recognised many familiar traders that attend every event. There is one couple who I see every time, and they sell Star Trek themed stationary, clocks, key rings, and other bits and bobs. I have often been tempted by their limited edition Star Trek beanies, but never bought one. This time, however, I folded, because one of them was signed by Tim Russ.
As well as the regulars, there are always a few newcomers. A new stall that particularly took my attention this year had all kinds of Celtic and Pagan crafts. I adored their leather crafts, which included notebooks, satchels, bracelets, tankards, and drinking flasks. They also had handmade wands, staffs, quill & ink sets, and toy shoulder dragons.
I was sent on a nostalgia trip when I got to the gaming section, where traders were selling retro games and consoles such as the SNES and Gameboy. When I saw a PlayStation One for sale, along with all my favourite PS1 games, I was seriously tempted to buy the lot. The only thing that prevented me was the price. Although the console was going for only £20, the games were around £10-£15 each. There even a very rare game that I wanted called Kula World at £50. Since there were about a dozen games I would have liked, the price quickly mounted up, so I used my head rather than my heart, and let the opportunity slip by.
I did get some gaming in though. There was a Gamers' Bus with lots of Xbox games to play, such as dancing, music, fighting, and first person shooters.
Converses by Canvas Warriors
Another great trader that deserves a mention is Canvas Warriors. The company make customisable converse shoes, jewellery, and hoodies. They paint elaborate handcrafted designs, and although they take all requests, they specialise particularly in Twilight and Harry Potter. Their converse shoes are absolutely amazing, with prices ranging from £110-£170.
As the day wore on, my photoshoot with X-Files star, William B. Davis was coming up. In previous years, I have always looked at photoshoots with mixed feelings. The actual experience of getting my photo professionally taken with a guest is so up lifting, but then comes the waiting. Showmasters say that photos should be ready to collect two hours after the shoot, but from experience, I know this is rarely the case. Often, photo development runs way behind schedule, and on a number of occasions I have waited hours after I was ready to leave in order to collect them.
This year, however, that all changed. Showmasters introduced an instant photo system. I lined up, had my photo taken, picked up by bag, and was handed my photo straight away. Why they didn't do this sooner, I don't know.
Another improvement Showmasters made this year was with the auction. Before, they used to use on of the talk zones, and you had to wait and see if there was anything you wanted. I got pretty irritated sitting for half an hour or more to find that there was nothing of interest. But this time round they had a silent auction. All items were in a display case and you could write your bids down on a form. I did not bid on anything, but there were lots of interesting items, including signed scripts and on-screen props.
As is usually the case, Saturday was very busy. It was so crowded that you have trouble moving around or seeing the stalls. On the Sunday, however, things were much quieter and more relaxed.
Since I had pretty much covered the sci-fi realm the previous day, my dad and I spent a good deal of time down Artist Alley, which is where all the manga and comic merchandise can be found. As the name suggests, it is also the area where you can meet different artists, including people who worked on the Beano and Marvel comics.
Artists drawing customers.
As well as getting their autograph, many artists were also doing commissions. Sit down at their table and they would draw a manga version of you. The price each artist charges varies (usually £5-£15), but remember, so does their style. Have a look around and watch them draw other people first, before making your decision.
While I was being mangafied, the artist was chatting away at the same time. I was surprised at how easily he could do both at the same time. If I were drawing someone (or anything for that matter), I would have to have my entire focus on them, and even then it wouldn't turn out even half as good.
Further down, I was a man sketching a super hero; he had various examples of his work on display including a Popeye/Dr. Who crossover that looked hilarious. As well as commissions, he also offered quick freebie sketches. I asked if he could draw me Fred Flintstone, and it was amazing to watch the character come to life before my eyes. It was so accurate, and it was all from memory too.
I might have had to get up before the crack of dawn, but I had an excellent weekend. And now all I have to do is wait until the Winter London Film & Comic Convention 2013. The next con takes place on the 5th & 6th October at the Olympia Grand Hall, and current scheduled guests include Michael Shanks, Lexia Doig, Nicole DeBoer, Jon Bernthal , and many more. You can either buy tickets on the day or book them in advance. It is also best to book any photoshoots or talks in advance as well, to make sure they do not sell out.