The Comic Con Survival Guide
The MCM Expo has always been a changing and expanding beast; setting up new events across the UK, bringing in fantastic guests from all over world and this year they take on a new name as the Expo becomes Comic Con. mcmcomiccon.com/london
To mark the occasion, here is our survival guide to the UK’s largest geek culture event.
There are lots of great art, apparel, DVDs and merchandise to buy at MCM, so it’s best to bring a reliable bag and leave unnecessary gear in your hotel/house/car/TARDIS.
The Comic Con in May has always been hot, and being inside the convention hall is always worse for it than being outside. Dress for standing and walking around a lot – a simple shirt and comfortable shoes should keep it bearable.
Lacking a good shirt? Our friends at Genki Gear always bring a fashionable supply, so be sure to visit their stand.
And until the 25th you can order the Emoticons Explained T-shirt they designed exclusively for this convention. They’re available for pre-order in the post, or to pick up at their Table at the event itself.
Known to some as the Walk of Doom, all 60,000+ attendees must travel this long and winding road from the expo hall, to the registration room and out the goodie-bag queue.
A lot choose to queue early so they can get into the Con right after the main room opens, before is Zerg-rushed by attendees. This is a good chance to sit down with friends, or make some new ones. Before the queue starts moving you have a good chance to find potential group-cosplays for photographs.
The Process has been streamlined in the last year, but Saturday registrations can feel like that song from Mulan. It’s a wise idea to bring a handheld console or book with you if you’re queuing alone, there should be some standstill opportunity to use them. Being social is usually the most surefire way to pass the time though.
FRIDAY: 2pm – 7pm
SATURDAY: 9am – 6pm
SUNDAY: 10am – 5pm
Last re-entry is 30 minutes before closing on any day.
Guests, Panels & Events
MCM brings in some great guests from all corners of geekdom. To not miss out on meeting your heroes or enjoying it’s best to check the Guest List in advance, and read the programme as soon as you get it. (Or read it online here: [Programme])
Events happen throughout the day, and some of them happen early – find them fast or risk missing them altogether. It’s also good to know which guests are only there for single days, as not all of them stay for the full weekend.
Highlights this year include:
– Edgar Wright, director of The World’s End, Ant Man, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World
– Jason Flemyng, actor in nearly a 100 films, including X-Men: First Class, where he played Azazel
– Brad Bell, the actor, director and producer of the YouTube series Husbands
The map can be found on 31-32 of the Programme. Here’s a quick run-down.
The first 1/2 of the hall is always the main dealer area – this is where you’ll find the anime, the merchandise, costume stalls, hentai and generally just nice fun stuff. After that there’s a 1/4 row for Video Game stalls – where you can play some of the latest AAA titles, as well as meeting the creators of indie XBLA & Steam ones. And then the final 1/4 is the artists alley – where comic artists from all over the UK, and the world will be shilling their wares, presenting their latest books, and in some cases even taking quick commissions.
Next to the right wall you’ll find food & seating, as well as Theatre A where the biggest Q&As (Like Matt Smith in 2012) happen, and Theatre C where this year’s e-sports are being held.
The remaining things with a large amount of space required you’ll likely find in the top left of the room; the Vidfest booth, DDR UK (Dance Dance Revolution), Photo taking, and Theatre B which hold the more medium-sized events.
All manner of addictions can be fed within the Excel Centre’s massive halls.
Artwork and anime, comics and costume: There are 100s of tables and it’s best to pace yourself. In the programme you’ll find a map of the show floor and it’s good to keep an eye on the cafes and gaming booths since they’ll be your best chance to sit down.
Video Game booths
Capcom’s large blue wrestling ring setup is an easy one to notice – a massive square of comfy seating, and the latest “Camcom VS” game is usually playable there. It’s a good place to relax a while, and a very easy way to spot the gaming section – not that it’s usually hard given the massive billboard-blocks that make up each company’s playing booth.
I’d recommend heading to the gaming section first – as AAA titles like Tomb Raider, Assassin’s Creed & Hitman have always been here, and have ALWAYS had massive queues. If there’s a game you want to play, head here sooner rather than later.
Playing games will often get you some nice little prizes, which they will definitely run out after Saturday. Previous years have had FFXIII Tattoo-Sleeves, Disgaea 4 stickers and Saints Row 3 bobble-heads.
Manga & Anime
The major anime DVD production companies Bones, Beez, MVM and Manga Ent. are all regular attenders of MCM – bringing their plethora of amazing shows and latest releases right to you.
Check out their stalls for amazing deals, and prize giveaways – Manga Entertainment for one are holding a Cosplay Competition, with £100 worth of DVDS to the best male & female cosplayers, and £200 of manga goodies to the best group. As well as their returning Live Podcast, and massive raffle giveaway.
Check out mangauk.com to learn more about these veterans of publishing, and follow @MangaUK to keep up with them during the day.
As well as the major publishers themselves, local shop branches of Travelling Man and Forbidden Planet should be coming once again in full force, bringing books, shirts, merch and expertise.
The alley is a vibrant community of creative splendour, and whatever it is you look for in comics you’re pretty much guaranteed to find something you like here; if for no other reason than the sheer volume of people here.
Meet MCM regulars like Destiny Blue, Naniiebim, Footloose, Matt Dyson and Davy Shirley.
Note though, like the steam-loving hipsters they are, Geof Banyard will be in/near the Steampunk section, and Tab Kimpton will be in the main dealer area.
You’ll have to hunt them down if you want to check out their comics and merch, but it’s worth traversing the maze I assure you. Also I’ll likely be tweeting out their locations as soon as I find them, so keep an eye on @TGS_TheGeekShow for that.
1. Stay Hydrated
2. Wash your hands
3. Have FUN!
We’ll see you there!