Yesterday I went to London Film and Comic Con (LFCC) and it was my first time at any type of comic/book/film convention – though saying that, I did go to Empire Big Screen a few years ago in 2011 which was a film convention with panels, screenings and a few siginings but it was much different to what I experienced at LFCC yesterday. So I thought I’d do a list of things I learnt as a Comic Con newbie.
1. If you really want to meet someone/go to a talk – buy the tickets online. I’d thought about going to LFCC when tickets were available online but then forgot about it. When it got closer to the time and I thought about it again, they’d stop selling tickets online in order to make sure everyone receives their tickets in the post so I missed out on some photo shoots and people I’d like to have seen.
2. Queues. Everything about Comic Con is queues. My friend & I hadn’t bought tickets online so so we got to Earl’s court and joined the pay-on-the-day queue at about 8:15am and got into the convention just after 10am – which wasn’t so bad. Then there was queues to buy tickets for photo ops with the various stars – I wouldn’t have minded to meet Stan Lee but obviously those tickets were sold out, so (going back to my first point) if I’d bought them online I’d have been fine. There was queues for signings and sometimes the organisation of the queues weren’t that great and one queue could accidentally blend into another.
3. There is nowhere to sit except the floor. And even if you sit on the floor you’ll probably be in other people’s way.
4. There is a lot of people. According to a google search Earl’s Court 2 can fit over 10,000 people and you feel it. Also that amount of people causes it to be very hot and uncomfortable. I’m glad I never went to a Comic Con when I was in my early teens as I was prone to faint all the time (when I was hot, when there was a lot of people, when I was standing for a long period of time – you name it, it caused me to faint) and that sort of environment would definitely have caused me to keel over. So glad I had a bottle of water & some chocolate in my bag – because if I did want a drink – I would have to queue for it.
5. Bring cash. While some of the bigger vendors had card machines, the smaller, independent ones who were selling their own art or creations did not. I took about £40 cash and really should have brought more.
6. There are things to buy that you probably won’t be able to buy anywhere else. This is great – you can get the geeky thing you’ve always wanted and know that only people attending LFCC will be able to get it. Though saying that you can end up spending way more than you anticipated because of this.
7. Comic Con’s are a great place to discover new artists. My friend & I were very systematic with our exploration of the many, many stands at Comic Con – we’d go up one aisle and then down the other. At one point we came across the wonderful lady at bubbaloves.com I had never seen her artwork before and instantly fell in love and had to buy some of her stuff. If I’d not gone to LFCC I’d now never know about her work.
8. If you want to go to any of the talks/signings that are free – get there early. Because you’ll no doubt end up in a queue and it’s always best to be at the front of that queue chatting away to like-minded people while you wait. Also even if they’re free they might still be ticketed and people often go and grab their tickets when they first arrive and then come back nearer the time so tickets go quick.
9. Young Adult Literature Convention (YALC) was pretty damn good. It was a great idea to hold the first YALC in the UK in a large convention like LFCC but the turnout was so good that I can definitely see the next YALC being able to stand on its own. I didn’t spend much time in the YALC section as the friend I was with is an avid non-reader (I’m trying to change that but it’s a long process). I got to meet Malorie Blackman (Children’s Laureate & author of the Noughts & Crosses series) and she signed my book and took the time to have a chat – she was lovely and it was great since she was one of my favorite authors as a child. I’m glad Malorie Blackman was the only author I wanted to meet because there was so many authors signing at the same time I could imagine some people missing out on an author – and like I mentioned before, the queuing system wasn’t always great.
10. Be prepared for a long day of geekery. Going to a Comic Con is a long day and all the things you might want to see and do could be scattered from 9am – 6pm. My friend and I left at around 3pm so we’d been there almost 7 hours! By that time I was hot, my legs ached and I was a bit hungry. There was a workshop at 4pm at YALC that I wouldn’t have minded attending but I was at that stage where I was too tired to even think about going to it.
Now I know some of these may sound negative but I just want to be honest. Like I said it was my first experience of a comic con so I didn’t really know what to expect. I’ll certainly be going to other ones in the future around the UK but if this is what a UK sized convention is like I can’t imagine what an event like New York Comic Con or San Diego Comic Con would be like – I think it would be far too big and hectic for me. Overall I had a great time at LFCC & YALC. I met some lovely people (often in the queues), bought some great stuff and got some presents for some friends. The whole place had a great atmosphere and I have great respect for all the cosplayers – especially the guy I saw in the epic War Machine costume, that guy must have been boiling!