Tuesday, 15 July 2014

London Film and Comic Con - summertime and the geeking is (not exactly) easy

July means two things to a geek like me: 1) London, 2) San Diego. It's Comic Con time!

London Film and Comic Con (LFCC) is a huge Showmasters event that brings TV/film actors to their fans. It's always busy, always sweaty and always amazing in spite of this.

My minimal cosplay effort

Comic book icon Stan Lee was the headliner this year, which meant that even more excited fans came to London to geek out. This also meant that the queues were longer, the event staff were even more stressed and (unfortunately) even more people didn't have a perfect fandom experience.

Things that made LFCC super fun

The cosplay is always amazing, but I think I paid more attention to it this year. There were lots of Frozen characters wandering around, including a Kristoff clutching a toy reindeer, as well as plenty of Marvel characters striking poses for keen photographers like me. The Sneaky Zebra team was there filming another of their spectacular cosplay videos, so look out for that when it's released.

Oooh look, it's me and Mark Gatiss!
Young Adult Literature Con (YALC)
The YALC launched itself at LFCC this year and proved to be a great hit with visitors. So much so that it absolutely needs a bigger space next time, or perhaps a venue all to itself. My sister spent a lot of the day getting books signed for my niece, and I took the opportunity to meet Rainbow Rowell so that when I actually read her book 'Fangirl' I can appreciate it more. 

Meeting Mark Gatiss 
The Sherlocked convention hosted a preview at LFCC which included some of the Sherlock set and a Q+A with Sue Vertue, Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss. Everyone who attended the Q+A got a raffle ticket and the chance to meet one of them afterwards - and I was one of the lucky 100 who met Mark. I never win anything, so this was an unexpected piece of awesome that made my day. Not only did I get to meet him, get his signature and get a photo with him for free, I also did a good deed and handed over some spare winning raffle tickets to two super fans.

So. Many. Guests. 
The guest list for LFCC tends to change a lot in the final weeks before an event, which means disappointment for some when people have to cancel their appearance. However, even if you don't pay for any autographs or photos you can have a great time talent spotting around the venue. There's John Hurt getting out of a car! Ooh look at Milo Ventimiglia's beard! Jamie Bamber is looking very handsome! Summer Glau just walked by! So many guests, so little time to see them all in person.

Things that made LFCC kind of suck

Badly organised queues
Queueing is an integral part of the fan experience at an event and anyone who moans about having to stand in a queue for an hour needs a slap because that's just the way it is when actors come to meet their fans. But a well organised and enforced queue is a happy queue, which sadly wasn't the case at LFCC this weekend. The queue for the Sherlock talk in the Super Stage was huge and out of control, winding around and around the venue without any event staff to regulate it or make sure no one jumped in front of those of us who have good queue etiquette. The queues for the YALC signings were slightly better organised but still chaotic, probably due to the tiny space they'd been allotted rather than their efficiency. 

Ineffective use of Twitter 
You know what Twitter is great for? Telling people what's happening RIGHT NOW. Showmasters used their Twitter to share pictures of cosplay and talks rather than be useful to the thousands of people shuffling around Earls Court. 

Too. Many. Visitors.
I realise that Showmasters need to make money in order to bring so many amazing guests to London, but there has to be a cut off point when it comes to visitor numbers. I always buy my entry ticket online, which means I get into the Early Bird queue and into the venue at a decent time. But when you have someone like Stan Lee coming to your event surely you need to cap the visitor numbers in advance? Hundreds of people spent hours outside the venue hoping to buy a day ticket, and many of them were turned away. Why not make everyone buy in advance? Just an suggestion.

But for me, this show was well worth the 6am start in the car. The guest list was really impressive and the buzz in Earls Court was wonderful to be a part of. There are always problems with events like this, but hopefully Showmasters will continue to listen to fans and make things better. I have faith. 

Created with flickr slideshow.

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