Sunday, January 08, 2012

London Film and Comic-Con 2011 (7,8,9 July)

***My extremely timely thoughts on this! (This post was saved as a draft ages ago)

I had heard that there was a Comic Con in London a while ago but never got round to looking in to it. It was apparently not high profile enough to be newsworthy, even within geek circles. A few weeks ago though I chanced upon an advert for it in Empire magazine mere days before it was scheduled to start. Needless to say, I made time to attend!

As predicted, it was a relatively low key affair but there was enough to see and experience to make the trip worthwhile. There were several stages set up, with the main one featuring talks and QA sessions with actors such as Brent Spiner, Christopher Lloyd, and Karen Gillan of Doctor Who fame. The snippets of talks that I caught were the typical QA affairs where you learn nothing surprising or new. Brent Spiner - whose session I caught the most of - was very lively and engaging and drew a large crowd.

There were other smaller stages featuring talent shows, auctions, and demonstrations of costuming and film fighting (among others). The majority of the floorspace in the hall was taken up by myriad stalls whose purpose was to sell you stuff. 'Stuff' ranged from toys and comic books through to prop replicas and movie memorabilia.

There was a large area dedicated to celebrity autograph acquisition, an activity in which I did not partake (don't see the point, especially when prices seemed to start at £10 for the lesser known 'stars'). There were a few relatively big names present that set geek pulses racing, such as the aforementioned Spiner, though the biggest draw by far was Christopher Lloyd, who commanded long queues the whole time I was there. There were also photo booths tucked away in a couple of places where you could have your photo taken with your chosen celeb (for a price, of course).

I was struck by how many, umm, less well known celebrities were around. I felt a little sorry for some of them sitting there, expectantly or morosely waiting for an autograph hunter to come along. I suppose for some of these guys the convention tour is an important part of their livelihood. It does reek of desperation, but then again, there must be some kind of market for this to make it worthwhile for these guys to show up.

The remainder of the floor space was taken up by workshop areas teaching things like comic book art styles (for instance). There were a few random attractions there as well, such as the sixties Batmobile and the Delorean from Back to the Future, as well as a Nintendo area where games were being demoed.

The one element that really made the event were the crowds, who turned out in droves. True to form, most of the audience was young and male but not as massively skewed as I had imagined based on most observable geek demographics! The hall was fairly crowded throughout (and a little stuffy as a result) and most people seemed to be enthusiastic and having a good time. There were many people in costume, including the serious cosplayers, which really enlivened the whole place and elevated it beyond the typical bland trade show type event.

I'm not sure I'd attend this again as it is very commercial in nature and much of it does not appeal to me beyond the level of curiosity (which has now been sated). Having said that I did enjoy the 4-5 hours I spent there and would recommend it to the geeky and the curious.

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