MCM Comic Con London October 2016

This past weekend Adam & Ian headed off to Comic Con. Here’s what they thought!

Despite actually living in London, it still somehow takes me over an hour to actually get over to ExCel at Custom House and to Comic Con every time. However, once you hit the DLR stations (sometimes even before) you slowly start to see more and more people in cosplay or general geek finery, puzzling commuters in business suits but allowing me the biannual feeling of once again being among my people. Each year the show gets bigger, with seemingly thousands more people attending and sprawling out over ExCel and the surrounding area.

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London Comic Con is always rammed full of a huge variety of vendors selling a huge range of film and video game memorabilia, retro video games, beautiful and expensive figures, board games, replica weaponry, anime body pillows and comic books and manga. You could spend all weekend just wandering around the stalls and still wouldn’t see everything. You would also end up broke. As I always do.

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There is always a tonne of cool props, vehicles and other interesting pop culture bits and pieces kicking around, like the excellent xenomorph pictured here and the tiny metal xenos around it.  We also checked out the various games demoing there, a big showing for JRPGs and anime-related games this year like Berserk and Dragonball Z Xenoverse 2, and some retro games. We both sucked at Diddy Kong Racing on the N64, with Ian being slightly less terrible but certainly not doing anything quite as prosaic as ‘winning’.

One of the main draws of Comic Con, and for me the most important section, is always the Comics Village, where a host of independent comic creators, writers and artists show off their wares. I always come away with a few of the comics that have caught my eye, and while I may not have been able to afford quite as many as I would have liked, I still picked up a couple. If you haven’t spent some time there before, I heartily recommend checking it out next time Comic Con rolls around.

As I’ve said, there were a lot of folk showing off their cosplays all over the place. This year there were a lot of Pokémon GO trainers, Overwatch characters, Harley Quinns of every conceivable flavour (though mostly the ‘Daddy’s Lil’ Monster’ variety) and unfortunately, quite a few Jared Leto Jokers, though I prefer to call that particular incarnation ‘The Junker’ (after one of the precious children from an episode of the fantastic Monster Factory). Here are some of my favourites though:

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On top of all of that there was even more focus on eSports than the previous times I’ve attended, as well some excellent guests and panels this year, in particular the wonderful Nolan North and Troy Baker. If you’ve never checked out London Comic Con, it rolls back around in May so be sure to check it out!

Adam

True Believers Comic Festival 2016

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Kit headed off to the True Believers Comic Festival at the Cheltenham Racecourse this year. Here’s what he thought!

Mission: To put the comics back into Comic-Con!

Do you like comics? Well you’re reading this so I’m going to assume that yes, yes you do. With that in mind you really need to check out the True Believers Comic Festival. There are many conventions around the UK, you can go to the likes of MCM Expo, which although fantastic and a hell of a lot of fun is not for the faint of heart. I have many fond memories there, but also less fond memories of being stuck in queues for entire mornings or being caught in a crush of people trying to get to the loos. If you want something similar, but on a smaller, far more relaxed scale then True Believers is for you. It’s only been running for two years, and I’ve had the very good fortune to have been to both cons so far.

It’s based in Cheltenham at the beginning of February each year, located at the Racecourse. When my partner, Charlie, and I got there (her in cosplay, a dress down Black Cat and looking fantastic… I was lazier this year and didn’t dress up myself…), 15 minutes after opening we were greeted by a packed entrance hall! There were a lot more people there than last year (no figures to back this up, but it certainly felt like this!) but once we’d hacked through the small crowd to the entrance we made our way in. The main hall itself was full of stalls with plenty going on around each. There’s collectible figures, merchandise of all the mainstream comics, there’s artists, cake and my personal favourite – indie comic books!

One of the things I love about attending True Believers is the time you can spend chatting to the indie artists and writers. They have a great chance to promote their work here and are naturally very passionate about it. When you pass a table and something catches your eye take the chance to talk to them and next thing you know you’ll be even more intrigued by their work, will be the proud owner of a new comic book and a few pounds worse off. I’ll be doing my next few comic reviews based on the comics I picked up at True Believers.

We attended one of the main panels, Celebrate Cosplay lead by GCC, Kurostyler, Limegreenjelly and Tris Trinket. They talked about all things cosplay, they gave advice, spoke about their experience and answered questions. The whole atmosphere was fun and relaxed, plenty of people in the audience felt comfortable asking things or contributing themselves. They promoted a very positive attitude towards cosplay, focusing on enjoying it whoever you are and discouraging elitism.

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There was also a new table-top gaming area, where anyone could step in and play a board game and get to know other con-goers. There were group meet ups (Charlie joined in the Marvel and DC group) and some incredible costumes.

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TB3There was also a real family friendly environment, plenty of kids dressed up as their favourite character and enjoying themselves.

The main event in the afternoon was the cosplay catwalk. I didn’t take part this time, but Kurostyler did an excellent job MCing it. He kept the crowd entertained and introduced all of the excellent costumes.

All of the people working there, from organising the big events to shepherding people into the convention, work really hard, and as a note if any of them are reading this – thanks a lot for putting on a fantastic event. We’ll definitely be back next year!

Anything they could have done better? Well as the convention is growing, the demand for panels and other activities (maybe a video game area) is going to grow. So basically yeah, the same again please, but even more!

Kit

The Lost Lighthouse Does Halloween

Check out some of the various lighthouse keepers with their half or whole assed Halloween costumes

 

NathThis year Nathan hosted a party in his new (ish) flat, going as Sweeney Todd, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street. Looks pretty good! He’s really nailed the look confused irritation Johnny Depp brought to the role.

 

 

 

 

 

 

wpid-2015-10-31-01.27.08.jpg.jpegAdam went as sort-of Mad Max from this year’s excellent Fury Road, heading along to a horror story anthology launch in a basement private club in East London. Because he is a pretentious parody of himself. This photo was taken later, full of whisky and hot wings.

 

 

 

 

GaryThis one is Gary as Rorschach from Watchmen, admittedly years ago and possibly not even at Halloween. But Gary doesn’t dress up very often, so whatever!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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And while this is a photo is a couple of years old, it is a fantastic (and actually horror relevant) zombie Spider-Man from Kit, from the Marvel Zombies comics. Looks pretty disgusting!

 

 

 

 

 

What did you dress up as this year? Let us know!

 

 

London MCM Comic Con – Day 3: Cosplay Cavalcade

Adam headed off to the MCM Comic Con Expo in London this weekend. This is what he saw.

Walking around London Comic Con this weekend I saw some pretty excellent cosplay. Here are some really low quality photos of some of my favourites! I promise I’ll bring a proper camera next time, rather than taking photos with my camera phone which doesn’t really do some of these costumes justice!

Black Widow, Hawkeye and Iron Man

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Complete with J.J. Abrams lens flare!

Massive Dragonball group

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A fair few groups met up like this and posed for photos outside the convention centre. Mr Popo looks a little terrifying.

Warhammer 40K

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These were ridiculous. I can’t imagine how hot they would have been inside

Judge Dredd

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He’s got that sneer down

Bayonetta

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Excellent detail on this one

The Walking Dead – Rick and Daryl

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That is an ace looking Rick-beard

Mr Bubbles!

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Always nice to see some Bioshock represent

Chappie

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Complete with his bling

Attack on Titan – Female Titan

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I think this one ended up being my favourite of the weekend. I love the added detail of the scout hanging out of the mouth

That was just a sample of the great cosplay on show at London Comic Con. It will be back in October at the Excel centre, so make sure you head along to check it out!

Adam

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

London MCM Comic Con – Day 2: Meandering Without Getting Anywhere

Adam headed off to the MCM Comic Con Expo in London this weekend. This is what he saw.

After wandering around on Friday to get my bearings at Comic Con, and checking out some of the video games on offer too, I arrived on Saturday to find the Excel centre teeming with attendees. Hazarding a guess, I’d say there were nearly ten times as many people there, with a far higher number in cosplay compared with Friday too As I walked in, attendants were advising that Weekend and Saturday tickets were all sold out, and if anyone hadn’t already booked then they wouldn’t be able to buy any on the door. Even last time I came here back in October, when I queued outside with some friends for about an hour and a half, there were still tickets left on the day. Every time I come here it seems that it can’t get any more huge, and then it does.

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Bird’s eye view of the huge number of people at London Comic Con this year

While it is always cool to see this many nerds in one place, it did make getting anywhere a bit of a nightmare, and rendered certain areas (in particular the access above where all the food was) pretty hot and stifling. I had a little more of a wander around the stalls (not making much progress) and bought a couple of things, but today I was aiming to check out a few panels (which I’ll talk about in the next article) and have a look at some of the cosplay on show from everyone at Comic Con.

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I bought an item from this stall that is visible in this shot. Can you guess what it was? Answer at the end!

If I was struggling with the heat, everyone in their bright-coloured wigs and massive costumes must have been far worse. It was no surprise then that when I ventured outside for some fresh air the number of people out there was nearly as many as were inside. All the various cosplayers were also meeting up out there for group photo shots, from Dragonball characters, to every possible Doctor, to Adventure Time Finns and Fionas, to a massive Hetalia Axis Powers group, all hanging out on the grass nearby.

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I wandered around out there for a bit, taking some photos of a few more cosplayers that I’ll compile into an article tomorrow. After several hours of panels, weaving in and out of the massive crowds and appreciating all the costumes I headed home on the tube with my new purchases…

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Licence to kick people in the chest? I think so.

On the way home a man stared at me with more contempt than I have ever seen on a human face, but every kid I passed was loving it. So that guy needs to get his priorities in check really. On the last day I’m going to head to a few more panels, check out what cosplays people bring along and spent a few hours enjoying all the awesome art in the Comics Village. Come back tomorrow for what I thought of it all!

Adam

London MCM Comic Con – Day 1: General Meandering

Adam headed off to the MCM Comic Con Expo in London this weekend. This is what he saw.

This weekend I’ve headed across the city to London Comic Con at the Excel centre. As soon as you hit Bank on the tube during a Comic Con weekend (a biannual event in May and October), you slowly start to see more and more brightly coloured wigs, cosplayers and generally individuals that I look at and think that I probably have a few things in common with (Nerds. They look like nerds. Like me). This wasn’t my first rodeo (though it was the first time I took a day off work for said rodeo), but every time I’ve been to the MCM Expo the scale of the event tends to get exponentially larger. This first day being a Friday, the actual number of people attending and the general queues were far lower than I was used to. I used this opportunity to wander around, get a bit of a lay of the land and figure out everything I wanted to cover over the weekend, because the other two days are likely to be far, far more busy!

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The hall at Excel that houses so much nerdery twice a year

Throughout the day I checked out all of the stalls selling a plethora of memorabilia from various films, comic books, video games and anime. At MCM Comic Con there is a huge retailer focus, and there is an insane selection of clothing, props, signed photos, posters, toys, board games, various card games, both new and retro video games, manga, anime, swords (actual metal swords), strap-on tails (not a typo), boob-cushion mouse pads (also not a typo), imported snacks, long boxes full of discounted comic books, and gorgeous but fairly expensive figures. This all presents a situation I always feel I need to be careful with. For example, although I’ve only ever bought two figures that I would consider to be extravagant (a Kotobukiya Jim Lee inspired Batman and a POP Roronoa Zoro from the One Piece Strong World Movie) I know full well that if left unchecked I could allow it to spiral out of control, as I would with any of the other items on sale. Left unchecked, I would spend a ridiculous amount of money. Unfortunately, as I went to the event alone, I was left unchecked. And despite that I managed to hold off. There was one item that was much cheaper than I was expecting, and when I sent a photo of it to people they all told me to buy it. They failed to check me. So I’ll be buying it on Saturday. Try and guess what it’s going to be!

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Relics of my childhood (I think I actually had the GBC on the left), Pokemon cards (I had this whole set and lost it. I could be a MILLIONAIRE now), a dazzling array of metal sword replicas,

There are always films that have either just come out or are coming out soon that have a big presence at Expo. When I first came about 4 years ago Green Lantern was coming out that summer, and I remember looking up at all the banners and saying to the guys with me (I want to say James, Ian and Kit…) “I really hope Green Lantern doesn’t suck”.

It was a more hopeful time.

At this Comic Con, there was a big deal being made about the upcoming Despicable Me spin-off ‘Minions’ (an obsession I do not understand or find particularly amusing, but plenty of people like to share things on Facebook with them in it), so they even had them on my press pass (I’m on ‘Team Kevin’ apparently). They also had a lot of posters up for Mad Max Fury Road, which to my shame I haven’t actually seen yet and will hopefully get round to it next week. But if I wasn’t already looking forward to it, this beast would have changed that regardless.

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The future belongs to the mad

There was also a great deal of pretty excellent cosplay going on. There is a big leaning towards anime characters when it comes to cosplay in general, and I’ve found that while there are certainly a decent number of comic book, film and video game characters at London Comic Con the ratio is still in favour of the brightly coloured anime. I went through a stage in my uni days where I dressed up as a few characters when attending anime conventions, with Roy Mustang (Fullmetal Alchemist), Mugen (Samurai Champloo), Nicholas D. Wolfwood (Trigun) and Grimmjow Jeagerjaques (Bleach) being the ones I was happiest with. I think I stopped because I couldn’t really spare the time, money or effort into actually doing it well, and I didn’t really want to do it half-heartedly. So that being said, while I know a few people that tend to look down on it, I think the lengths some people go to to dress up like their favourite characters is always impressive. I enjoy seeing the way trends go too, based on what is popular or in vogue at the moment. The scouts from Attack on Titan are still going strong, if a little diminished as it has been a couple of years now, and there was a huge number of Harley Quinns too. And I preferred every single one of them to the costume in the upcoming Suicide Squad movie too. I’m planning on taking a few more cosplay photos over the weekend, but this one was my favourite from Friday hands down.

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My love for you is like a truck Khorne Berserker

Around this point I realised I needed to start pacing myself. Usually when I attend Comic Con I go for one day, and I’m knackered by the end from all the walking around, the crowds and the over stimulation and effort of trying to avoid spending all my money. If I was going to survive three days I needed to chill out for a bit, so I decided to head to the various video game areas to check out a few upcoming games. In the next article you can read about what I thought of a few of them!

London MCM Comic Con is open until Sunday, so if you’ve been thinking about it come on down to the Excel centre for some geeky goodness either today or tomorrow!

Edit – Don’t do that, Saturday and weekend tickets are sold out. But come along on Sunday!

Adam

 

 

 

Shouting At An Abyss That Just Stares Back – Infighting and Nerd Elitism

Adam yells about people on the internet, knowing full well the futility of it.

Not censoring this time, so for those of an offended disposition avoid accordingly as there are some hurtful words I guess.

When I did the first of these Abyss articles, I thought they would be more regular. You may think this reflects a reduction in the things that make me angry. You would be wrong. The case is really that I have simply not had enough time of late to keep up with things, and most of the things that have made me angry have been work-related (or living-broke-in-London-related) so aren’t really relevant to the sort of things we cover on the site. I did end up writing one about how much I hate kids, but turned out to be pointless and I came off sounding like even more of a dick than I usually do.

So this rant is really directed at nerd infighting and elitism, something that has frankly pissed me off for years. This takes many forms. On the simplest level you get fanboy-ism. We saw this all over the internet at an increased level following the release of PS4 and Xbox One (and a little bit after last week’s E3). General comments threads about Xbox of Playstation tend to go “unlucky butthurt Xbox/Playstation gamers, your console is shit and ours is better” “too bad your resolution/exclusives are worse and your console is therefore totally useless” “some random insult against Nintendo who had nothing to do with the story”, and then finally from a PC gamer saying something along the lines of “console gaming is trash, we have been able to do that for years with PC, everyone should only play PC because consoles are shit and dying”. No one is going to take your console away if you don’t defend it with terminal ferocity at every opportunity and non-opportunity. If someone you have never and will never meet prefers something to what you love, you don’t need to tell them how wrong they are or how stupid you think they are. Don’t be a prick.

It is a sort of behaviour that is rife across a lot of different nerdy interests, and I don’t really get it because for a group that has historically tended to be fringe and can be mocked and ridiculed for their interests, there sure are a lot of shits within that who like to ostracise other folk because they don’t like the exact same thing or aren’t a ‘hardcore enough nerd’, whatever that means. When I was an undergraduate, eons ago, I decided to join the anime society. Two things drove this decision really, first being that I really like anime and the second being that given half a chance I will always choose a lazy option. Sport? Pfft! Sit and watch anime then go to the pub? Much better. Whenever I went off to soc I would be met with brief derision from other friends (to the point where I told one of them to fuck off for being such a smug arsehole once when very irritable from coursework and sleep deprivation. He knows who he is). But at that soc I met some of my best friends from uni, and Ian, so I don’t regret it. A new experience that stemmed from this was attending a few anime conventions with some cosplayers, and even trying it myself a few times (more derision, and yes if you carry a prop of Nicholas D. Wolfwood’s Punisher weapon through Bristol town centre on a Thursday night people will drunkenly yell at you asking if you are Jesus).

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The thing that bothered me at these cons, something I soon found out is pervasive in general nerd culture (plenty of stories on the internet from folk being treated like shit for daring to walk into a comic book shop for the first time not knowing everything about everything, mercifully I never experienced this) was the realisation that there were some who held a sort of insipid elitism against perceived fair weather fans or people who like more popular series. Calling people ‘Narutards’ because they like the ninja series Naruto is fucking ridiculous. Just because someone hasn’t heard of your favourite obscure 90’s OVA that was only available to the very coolest of nerds does not give them any less of a right to attend and hang out with like minded people for a bit of fun. So the fuck what if they bought their Ichigo Kurosaki costume from eBay and you sewed yours together out of your own blood and hair using frozen tears as needles? People will be more impressed when you say you did that. That’s enough, you won (disclaimer – I once unthinkingly mocked a friend because someone else made his Cyclops visor. Because I am a fucking terrible hypocrite. I am sorry).

Obviously anime cons are just a small scale example of something I have found to be much more widespread (and these people are definitely a minority at cons, most of the people there are fucking lovely) both on and offline about everything from comics and video games to TV and movies. I think some of this perceived superiority comes from those who think that our “little” out group is under threat of becoming mainstream and too popular. I once heard someone at one of these cons say that he did not like how busy it was that year, or that they were becoming more popular. I do not get this at all. It reminds me of when I was a kid and I was told about a band, who I later started to like. When I met up with the same person again, eager to chat abut the band that person had gone off them because they were ‘too popular’. My child brain couldn’t understand it. My adult brain still doesn’t understand it (though maybe that is because it is pickling in whisky). I think it is great that more people are interested in comics recently. I love that not only are we getting so many Marvel films, but they are really decent. Plus for once I get to appear a (relative) expert on something when people turn to me after a post credits scene to ask what the hell is going on. I’m not even sick of explaining to people why Batman or Superman won’t be in the Avengers movies, though I am sick of explaining why Wolverine and Spider-man won’t be. Because the reason is boring.

Maybe instead of getting upset that so many people are wearing Green Lantern or Star Wars t-shirts when they are so very clearly a ‘fake nerd’ guy or girl (probably a separate rant about what a fucking stupid thing that is), try being happy that we are getting a Guardians of the Galaxy film and we had a fucking Winter Soldier film adaptation this year which was great. Don’t like The Big Bang Theory? Don’t watch it then, and definitely don’t start saying that everyone who does watch it must be stupid, because that makes you a cunt. And definitely don’t start throwing around terms like ‘nerd blackface‘ (look it up, probably another rant coming later too) because that makes you a remarkably narrow minded, culturally insensitive cunt.

I definitely ended on a different topic than I started at. Rant ends.

 

What I’m playing – Replaying Bioshock Infinite Burial at Sea Chapters 1 & 2

What I’m reading (Books) – Perdido Street Station – China Miéville (actually just finished. Fucking brilliant, read it)

What I’m reading (Comics) – Judge Dredd The Complete Case Files 02 – Various writers and artists (2000AD)

What I’m listening to – Möngöl Hörde – Möngöl Hörde, Till Midnight – Chuck Ragan, From Parts Unknown – Every Time I Die

What I’m watching – Orange is the New Black Season 2 (Netflix)