While some of you were amusing yourselves at Games Britannia, others of the con-going community were making their convoluted way to Olympia for the London Film and Comic Con. No thanks to British Rail’s lack of signage which meant many people got lost on the final stretch, being directed to Brompton from Earl’s Court to catch a (cancelled) overground service instead of instructed to wait for the Tubes which were running to Olympia directly from the station.
Iconic venue once there though, queues a-plenty and lots of pushing and shoving, but it was worth it, if only to see the different stalls and guests which a con in London will attract. It was good to be in a bigger venue as Collectormania at Milton Keynes can get very busy with nowhere to escape the pandemonium. However Olympia has the advantage of a balcony where exhausted con-goers could gratefully collapse without feeling they were in anyone’s way. The enclosed venue is also appreciated by this veteran of the MK Dons’ stadium, where the semi-open-air concourse can get a touch chilly at times.
The stalls and static displays were as good as ever, and because of the size, there was a selection of new items and stalls I’d not seen before. There was a stunning display of Batman prints, which caught my eye even though I’m not a fan of the franchise. Many familiar faces including RetroGT’s own Lawrence, the Dragon Dreads team with their unusual jewelry and the guys on the Beanie Babies stall were in evidence. My favorite places are the small single-entrepreneur tables, such as the journal cover maker who was offering to emboss movie quotes on a standard journal for a personal touch. There are also often authors, book sellers and independent film makers handing out details and offering signed copies or film credits for a donation to costs.
Static displays this time included the Batmobile and the Iron Throne from the Game of Thrones series. There was an area for gamers, sporting a serious collection of retro and modern gaming gear, plus the Artists’ Alley, where famed illustrators such as Liam Shalloo, Lee Townsend, Al Davison and Hal Laren were to be found offering masterclasses in comic art. Author Robert Rankin was selling copies of his new Empires comic and the usual array of cosplayers added character and color.
Part of the fun at any con is to spot the cosplay characters, and this year was no exception. There is always a selection of Doctors Who of various eras, at least one Dalek, a contingent of Storm Troopers and the R2D2 builders’ collective. In addition, this time I spotted several Hunger Games and Game of Thrones cosplayers as well as numerous Batmen, Robins and Riddlers in homage to The Dark Knight Rises’ imminent release.
The buzz at such events is always intense and the feeling of time well spent stays around for days, even though feet may throb and head may pound at the same time. It is worth the cost of the entry fee and the price of the autographs for a few minutes with the stars of your choice. The guest list is always impressive, but when Gillian Anderson, Jeri Ryan, Karl Urban, Anthony Head, Kevin Sorbo, Thomas Dekker, Gates McFadden, Charles Dance, John Bradley and Gwendoline Christie are all in the same place (as well as many others), the atmosphere is tangible within seconds of entering the venue.
If you attend the London Film & Comic Con in July next year, be prepared for crowds, to push to get around at times, to queue for popular actors’ autographs, to move at a snail’s pace around the venue. Be prepared for a feast of colors, sights and sounds. Take your camera, empty your bank account, wander up and say hello to the cosplayers, spend a precious minute or two with each actor you’ve asked for an autograph, wander the stalls, savor the atmosphere.
Sure, you’ll ache the next day after several hours on your feet, you may have a headache and half a voice, but it will have been worth it.