MCM Comic Con London, May 2022: a round-up
It’s been a while since I went to the MCM Comic Con in London.
The last time was in May 2019 when I was at the ExCeL centre helping on the SpecialEffect stand. I’ve this done most years since starting to volunteer for them in 2013. We were there to display Trials Rising played a chin controller and ProtoCorgi connected to an oversized joystick, to show off their work in assisting people with physical disabilities to play video games.
Last weekend I was there as a pure attendee however, as the charity wasn’t at the event this time around. I must admit that MCM Comic Con probably isn’t something Pete and I would usually go to if I wasn’t there on behalf of the charity or my stepson hadn’t nagged us for tickets. It’s not that it can’t be a good day out; it’s just that we’re not particularly into film or anime and so don’t fit into its target audience.
I checked the notes I’d made during previous events to remind myself of what they’d been like while writing this post. It’s kind of hard to believe that it’s been around three years since we were last able to attend in-person expos regularly thanks to the COVID lockdowns. My overall take from the 2019 convention was that there had been more attendees but fewer of them in costume, with a bigger space had been dedicated to merchandise and autograph signings. Both of these factors had combined to make it seem as though there was actually less to do at the show.
What was it like this time around? How did it compare to the last event? And what the hell were we even doing there if MCM Comic Con isn’t really our kind of thing? Read on to find out and see a selection of photographs from the weekend.
The Stranger Things family get my award for the best costumes, particularly because the youngest member went all out with his Demogorgon impression.
There were two major differences for us personally at this year’s event. First, we’d brought a couple of the stepkid’s friends along with us so they could celebrate his birthday with him; and second, they were now old enough to be there on their own without parents watching their every move. Once we’d ushered them into the building and issued several ground rules with warnings of dire consequences for non-compliance, they headed off into the first hall without us.
Our initial impression was that MCM Comic Con organisers were aiming for it to be even more family-friendly this year. The spaces dedicated to youngsters felt larger, with face-painting, crafting tables and quiet spots available. There also seemed to be very few stalls selling merchandise featuring scantily-clad anime ladies – which made us feel far more comfortable about taking the stepson and his friends there (even though we realise that as teenagers, they’ve probably already seen this stuff).
It was to great see more people dressed up. A couple of years in lockdown had given them plenty of time to work on their cosplays and now they were excited to show them off. Although I didn’t recognise many of them as they seemed to be anime-related, we did come across a family who’d opted for a Stranger Things look. They get my award for the best costumes of the show, particularly because the youngest member went all out with his Demogorgon impression.
Our favourite stand belonged to Helenasia thanks to the Cats Are Better Than People range. We had a chat about commissioning a pet portrait of our very own Zelda as her artwork was excellent. When asked about the tarot card prints that were available to buy on the stand, she revealed that a Kickstarter campaign was due to be launched in the next few days to look for backers for a full deck. One of the rewards sounds rather interesting so I’ll be keeping an eye out for it when the project launches.
The lowest point wasn’t the cost, it was getting stuck in traffic on the way home and being in a car with three teenagers for 90 minutes.
As mentioned above, Pete and I aren’t exactly the target audience for MCM Comic Con. It therefore wasn’t surprising that there wasn’t much for us to do. Once we’d passed a couple of hours browsing the hall of artists’ standards, rows of merchandise and other areas, we didn’t really know what to do with ourselves and spent the rest of the day aimlessly wandering around. We kicked ourselves for only coming across the tabletop gaming area at the end of the day because perhaps we could have played a game to pass the time.
Not having a real interest in film, anime or superheroes meant there wasn’t much which appealed to us. We did swing by the video game area but found that it was completely dedicated to retro gaming this year. In the past, there have been spaces dedicated to indie developers so they can show off their upcoming projects along with larger stands for bigger companies. It was only Genshin Impact which appeared this time, with the rest of the area given to a console gaming library and older multiplayer titles.
The lowest point about MCM Comic Con is probably the cost. The tickets are quite reasonable (around £20 for a standard day pass), but the cost of the entire day adds up and it can turn into an expensive trip. We estimate that we spent over £250 to cover five people for entrance, travel and food for a single day at the ExCeL centre. It may have been worth it for us personally due to it being my stepson’s birthday, but that amount is rather high for families during a time when we’re all getting squeezed by bills and other pressures.
You know what – scrap that last point. The lowest point wasn’t the cost, it was getting stuck in traffic on the way home and being in a car with three teenagers for 90 minutes. I always knew my stepkid was loud but put him with two of his friends and the noise reaches a whole new level. It’s amazing just how many film and anime quotes they can recite off the top of their heads in unison, and in ridiculously high voices too. We were kind of grateful once we’d dropped them all off and were able to get ourselves home in peace and quiet.
One of the parents sent us a message to let us know their son was still talking about what they’d seen and done at the event, so we’re taking that as a good sign.
At least they enjoyed themselves though; and it was good seeing them all behave responsibly in a situation like MCM Comic Con. One of the parents sent us a message in the evening to let us know their son was still talking about what they’d seen and done at the event so we’re taking that as a good sign. The three of them are already making plans to go again in October. Hopefully SpecialEffect will be back at the show by that time so I’ll be there too to help on the stand.
You’ll find a small selection of photographs from the event below, including one featuring that cute little Demogorgon I mentioned earlier. If you were there too, what were your highs and lows?