Like many, I carry the familiar con-goer dream of wanting to attend the San Diego Comic Con in America. While that is very much still a pipe dream for me, I am fortunate enough to have another great comic convention on my doorstep: London’s MCM Comic Con. In England, this is one of the biggest comic conventions run here, if not the biggest, with over 100,000 attendees (and over 130,000 in May 2016!).
I try to go to London MCM Comic Con once a year, as it is always a blast, and is seaming with creativity – costumes, artwork, and music are just some of the things to experience. Over the years I’ve met hundreds of artists and writers, I have watched previews of new films, attended talks by actors or famous Internet personalities, tried delicious foreign foods, and spent a lot of money (my bank account honestly weeps whenever it hears the words ‘comic con’).
If you have never been to a big (or even small) comic convention before, I recommend that you add it to your bucket list. Make sure you go with an open mind – try new food, explore all the different areas, accept all the freebies! Personally, I draw the line at free hugs and high fives, but the con experience really is whatever you want to make it.
One of the most distinctive elements of a comic convention for me are the cosplayers. The range of costumes include characters from anime, comics, films, games (RPGs, horror, classic Nintendo). You will no doubt see at least a dozen Links, Ash Ketchums and Narutos. It’s always extra special when you spot a cosplay of a character from a less popular game or show you’ve loved. The most memorable moment of my first comic convention was being passed by an eight-foot tall Pyramid Head from Silent Hill who was chillingly realistic.
Tip: It is best to check the website before you attend the convention; make sure none of your favourite stars have cancelled, so you aren’t disappointed on the day. Also, extra guests may have been added in the weeks leading up to the con. I find it helpful to arrive with a clear idea in mind about which artists I want to check out, or which talks I want to go to. I have missed both Daniel Radcliffe and Matt Smith in the past due to not being organised!
My personal favourite part of MCM Comic Con: the Comic Village. For many artists, the money made at comic conventions pays their bills, so it feels very satisfying to support them. Plus, they are usually really friendly and happy to chat – some even hand out free sweets! I ended up buying my Wacom graphics tablet last year only because I liked the style of one particular artist and asked her what tablet she used.
Many artists will do commissions for an average price of £5-£8 each for one person/character. If you do want a commission done, head to the Comic Village as early as you can on the first day of the convention, as it has been known that an artist can get completely booked up for an entire weekend with commission requests! (If this does happen, some artists are happy to mail your finished commission after the con has ended). Two of my favourite frequenting artists are Girl In The Rain and Cakes With Faces – check them out if you see they are attending!
Tip: Arrive each day at the event with enough cash already in your purse to see you through the entire day. Queues for cash machines can be tediously long, and I can recall that recently some of them had actually run out of cash by the afternoon. Many of the stalls inside will not accept card, so make sure you go in prepared! Obviously, as tens of thousands of people attend MCM over the weekend, if you are walking around with a lot of cash, keep a careful eye on your bag!
And of course, have fun. If you have a limited budget, just find a seat and enjoy the atmosphere. There is always something going on to watch or listen to, whether it be a gathering of Pikachus or a dance-off between two of your favourite superheroes…
To U.K. readers:
If you do not live near London, or are just interested in other conventions, MCM do a number of other events throughout the year: http://www.mcmcomiccon.com/
Otherwise, I have heard that the Cardiff Film and Comic Con is very good!
In May 2017, I helped run a Comic Village table at London MCM! You can read about that incredibly surreal experience right here.