In 2013, I started writing a blog post about my experience going to the MCM London Comic Con 2013 in May. However, I started it in such a way that it took far too much effort to finish, and hence it languished here in my drafts folder. Rather then let it rot, I’m just posting it as-is, without any additional editing. It’s all over the place, out of sync in terms of timelines, and a bizarre mix of narrative styles. I make no apologies (except for this one).
The quality of the light outside has changed. Gone is the pitch dark of night, replaced by an ever hopeful dawn glow. The much promised sunrise is not far away now, and the birds are all poised, ready, waiting. Two cats begin to stir; confident another day will begin much like all the rest.
But this is no ordinary dawn, this is will be no ordinary day, and 20 minutes before the sun rises properly the silence is shattered by an alarm clock. Harsh, electronic, loud. From beneath the duvet, hidden from the cold of the previous evening, a hand snakes out. It would be easy, once the noise has stopped, to pretend it had never started. To hide, to retreat, to leave the dawn to the cats and the birds. So very easy. On any other day perhaps. On a week day, or a normal weekend, at 7:00 maybe, to wait for another 10 minutes before the alarm goes off a second time.
But not this day. After the hand, an arm, and following the arm, a torso, and before you know it, an entire person has crawled out from beneath the duvet’s warm refuge. Blinking in the dim, but increasingly confident dawn light, barely able to make out the digits on the alarm clock, the voice that belongs to the face, that is attached to the body, which has just emerged, croaks out, “Four thirty, time to get up.”
Silence. A pause, a breath to speak again, but just then, a response, “okay”, voice muffled by the same duvet, another person speaks out. Another arm, some legs and then another entire person escapes from the captivating duvet.
It’s 04:30, and our trip to Comic Con is about to begin.
I’ve never been to a comic, movie or anime convention before. I’ve been to a board game convention, but it was a while ago, and it was quite small. I see pictures of the San Diego Comic Con or DragonCon each year and suffer pangs of jealousy.
So I was happy to go with Greté to this years MCM London Comic Con (2013), to see what all the fuss was about, and maybe take some photo’s of people in impressive costume. Overall, it was a mixed experience, enjoyable, but with other emotions smushed in. Here’s how it played out!
Firstly, the actual tickets are very reasonably priced, we wanted to go only for Saturday, since we couldn’t stay over anywhere, and the only real things we had on the agenda were a chance to see Mark Meer (the voice of Commander Shepard, among other things) and for Greté to meet Emma Vieceli (illustrator of the Vampire Academy graphic novels, among other things). However, in terms of cost, the actual event tickets are the minor part. The travel (train) was £140 for the pair of us, despite booking around 6 weeks in advance. Some of that is because we wanted to be able to go early, and come back any time we liked without being tied to a specific train. Our tickets also included all travel across London. Still, that’s a fair whack for a day out. The other issue, and this is something you can mitigate if you plan better than I did, was food and drink. We were in London all day, and either in the convention or in train stations, let’s say that just ‘having a bite to eat’ was a rather expensive process.
The sun eventually rises. The cats have been fed and are clearly confused, it’s too early for them to even beg to go out, so they put themselves back to bed, oblivious to the fact that they’ll be indoors all day. Bags are packed and ready. Two sets of tickets (self printed at home, two sets in case one set is lost), train tickets, portable pharmacy, cameras, extra batteries, a kindle.
The streets are empty, it’s 05:20 and no human in their right mind is out wandering this early on a Saturday morning. The sun has risen, and the sky promises a dry and bright day. We stop at the road before crossing, a habit, a good one, but wasted this early. There are no cars, I wonder briefly if I am in Shaun of the Dead. There is anticipation now, a definite sense of something about to happen.
Early entry tickets allowed you to gain entry from 9am, two hours before the general opening times. We had to get from St Pancras to the Excel by tube. Greté doesn’t like the tube, I hate being in a rush, and we didn’t want to get stuck in a huge queue at the event – and that meant only one thing.
05:35 train to London!
So we got up at 04:30, put on our favourite genre t-shirts (no costume for us, this year at least, because 6 weeks isn’t enough time to do anything justice), and headed south. The train was almost empty (although there were more people on it than I thought there’d be) and we arrived on time, in London at around 07:30. We grabbed some (expensive) breakfast, and got the tube and DLR over to the Excel. We saw one person on the tube we hoped was in-costume (otherwise her working day must be exciting), and by the time we got onto the DLR it was clear we were going the right way. Our carriage was shared with some anime characters and at least one superhero.
Once we arrived the Excel station, it was obvious we were going the right way as a sea of humanity, heroes, comic book characters, computer game characters, movie heroes and who-knows-what-else slowly streamed in to the Excel halls. We followed the crowds, had our tickets scanned, and stood in a designated row of people, near the entrance. We’d made it, in good time (~08:30), and were near the front of the queue. A steady stream of people followed us in, and as time wore on, that became a flood. I’m glad we made the choice to head out early.
Added today: We queued for a while, we finally got in. We met up with friends. We spent so much of the day walking around that I litterally had to go and see the doctor a week later because my little toe on the my left foot was still numb. I took a lot of pictures, some of them were even okay ( https://www.flickr.com/photos/eightbittony/sets/72157635466091441/ ). It was fun, but very hard work, and although I’m not sure I’d look good in *any* costume, I think if I go again, I might make the effort.