Friday 2 March 2018

Convention Round Up 2017 with Jolly Holly Cosplay & Skye Fawkes Cosplay

To kick off the Daily Cosplaynet here is a convention round up of how we found last year’s comic cons from a cosplay point of view.

MCM London May 2017

JH: May MCM saw one of the hottest weekends so far in the year. This made it a real struggle to be in full cosplay. It was also just a week or so after the terrorist attic in Manchester which meant that security was heightened, bag checks were in effect, sniffer dogs were on patrol, and the entrances and exits to the Excel centre were limited.

Anyone who knows the building knows its sheer size, getting from the east to the west side on an empty day will only take a few minutes but during a convention like MCM with the size of the crowds and costumes it can take sometimes 20-30 minutes. During this convention, because of the security measures, to exit and then renter the building meant walking the entire length of the building outside in the scorching heat. This was not fun.

Security and MCM staff of course had the best intentions for all attendees but it was a very frustrating weekend.

SF: May always feels like the biggest MCM of the year and usually hot, especially in costume.
One of the issues many cosplayers had with MCM London Comic Con May 2017 was that there was a new entrance and exit route which meant if you left the building you could only re-enter by walking the entire length of the building using the opposite entrance. Many cosplayers are in and out the building for various meets, photoshoots, toilet breaks, food breaks, trips around the convention halls, fresh air etc. This really did have a big impact on your time and energy having to walk all the way around the river each time. A lot of cosplayers are wearing armour, carrying props, wearing difficult to wear/uncomfortable costumes and shoes which can be tricky enough to manage a full day in but to have to factor in lots of extra walking outside really did make things tricky for people and actually put people off coming back again to the October convention. Luckily the folks at MCM saw sense and changed the access to the building and this really did help the whole experience this time around. In May security was very tight and bag checks were very vigilant. I had no issue with this personally as its reassuring that they are looking after the wellbeing of everyone there. The bigger issue was the rudeness of staff and general attitude towards paying customers. This time I personally found the security to be nicer however I didn’t have a single bag check over the 2 days I attended.

MCM London October 2017

JH: October brought the exact opposite of May's experience. Security was so relaxed and entrances and exits were plentiful. I also found the security staff themselves to be much friendlier and welcoming, much more aware of the con itself and what was going on. The halls felt more spread out and there was less crowding, the concourse on the other hand was rammed from the Friday. With more and more tickets being sold we are seeing much bigger queues for food, cash points, and toilets. Is MCM London becoming over crowded?

This con had a really relaxed and laid back feel which many people have noticed and commented on. I certainly felt so in comparison to May. October always feels quieter and usually hasn’t got as many top level guests and panels and this was true of this convention. We had good luck with the weather and were able to spend time outside for photos etc.

MCM Birmingham

JH: Birmingham is my favourite of the MCM cons. It's a much more friendly atmosphere (maybe that's just a northern thing). The con itself is much more relaxed, it's not as crowded, there's less rushing and the halls have much more space. From March to November there was a change of location within NEC, whether this was well published on the MCM pages or not I don't know, I certainly didn't see, but it caused a lot of confusion for those planning or attending meet ups. With the cell service in the building suffering under the crowds, many were struggling to update social media to alert people of changes to location.

JH: Personally I didn't like the relocation. I much prefer when the con is in hall 5, halls 15-19 were very elongated and it made the event feel fuller, the concourse outside the halls was also very full, giving me London flash backs. For me November didn't have as much of the charm that Birmingham MCM always gives me.

SF: This was my first time attending Birmingham MCM. I hadn’t previously experienced the halls being in the other location so I didn’t really find it an issue. I stayed in a hotel nearby with JH and friends and attended both days. The Saturday was busier however still much quieter and easier to manoeuvre around than the London MCM. Sunday was quieter and the con seemed to wrap up earlier in terms of people. The stalls were of course still going right until the end but I found people thinned out by mid-afternoon. I loved it, much more than MCM London in fact. I found the halls a good size to work around with plenty of stalls and the same events such as cosplay contest, talks, panels etc as London however not on such a huge scale. This for me meant I could walk around quicker, easier and spend more time cosplaying and socialising than walking laps of the building and queuing for food and facilities, The car park is on site with shuttle buses to and from. Overall this is now my favourite MCM to attend!


JH: Yet again Reading provided a fantastic smaller local convention. With more and more small cons popping up the competition is growing yet Reading seemed to pull a decent crowd for its second year. I noticed a wider variety of stalls this year offering a wonderful range of products, form old school comics to home-made crafts. There were large/different names on the billing this year too. It was refreshing not to see the likes of Andrew Lee Potts and Hannah Spirit occupying a slot both days. The cosplay zone was superbly run once again by the team at JustBecos, the entries this year had risen the level of skill in creating and performing. The Rivermead Leisure complex hosts the event well with plenty of amenities.

SF: This was my second year attending Reading Comic Con at Rivermead Leisure Centre. I have really enjoyed both times and feel there was improvement in 2017. The staff at Rivermead are always fantastic. The con had larger props and scenery around this time including the hospital doors from The Walking Dead first ever episode which I loved to see, I found new stalls from the previous visit. I personally wasn’t as impressed with the guest line up this time in comparison the` first Reading Comic Con but then last time I did have


JH: Guildford comic con was a disappointment. It was extremely quiet with very few numbers coming through the doors. The market place looked empty even at peek time which was a disappointment as there were some fantastic stalls and artists in attendance. From talking to some visitors and stall holders many were saying the con was not well enough advertised and there was a distinct lack of signage on the day directing people where to go on arrival at the Guildford Spectrum leisure centre. The saving grace for Guildford con was the cosplay zone, run spectacularly by the team at JustBecos. I had been invited to attend as a guest this year and give a talk on performance in cosplay. Throughout the day the talks were well attended and the cosplay masquerade gave cosplayer of all levels and abilities the chance to step forward and show they're hard work and talent.

SF: This is one con I didn’t attend as I was in Dublin for Leaky Con but it was one I enjoyed previously.

Leaky Con – Dublin

JH: A Leaky Con regular of 5 years however was unable to attend last year

SF: This was my first Leaky Con and first convention outside of the country. Leaky Con is an American Harry Potter fan convention and due to them coming across the pond the convention was smaller than it usually would be as they have more traders etc stateside. The venue was the Citywest Hotel outside of Dublin which was a very good location and set up for it. It was a fantastic convention. It is different to any other convention I have ever experienced. The friends you make and experience connects people like a family who all share this passion for the Harry Potter universe. Cosplay wise so many people walked around in casual cosplay or as Harry Potter Students and there was some fantastic character cosplays around. I entered the cosplay contest as Narcissa Malfoy which was a great experience coming in the top 10. There was panels all day every day of the convention as well as the stalls, special guests and talks, and  the Saturday night evening ball. I would go every year if it was held in Europe for sure and I have made some fantastic friends from this. Highly recommened!


JH: It's great to now have so many local cons to go to and Alton Comic Con offered the local residents a treat in the form of scores of cosplayers in a range of costumes ranging from Doctor Strange to Princess Belle. Yes, the venue is small; Alton Assembly Rooms only allowed space for a limited number of stalls, a change of location would do this con wonders, after 10 minutes inside you had seen all that was on offer.

SF: Alton Comic Con for me is a great way to spend an afternoon. It is a small con but it’s well put together. It’s run by ‘Go Geek’ who runs other cons in the local Hampshire area. There isn’t much floor space which means only a handful of guests and not many stalls. The convention itself only takes a short while to walk around but Alton for me is always about hanging outside with the other cosplayers. There is a small green right outside with a few spots great for photos. There is always some outside props and cosplayers getting attention from the public passing by. There is a cosplay contest which in 2017 I was a judge for which I enjoyed.

Port Solent

JH: If you had been asked to guess how many people would have attended this event you would have been way off. An estimated 5000 people converged on Port Solent for the first free comic con there. It was way above capacity and made for a very uncomfortable day. It was impossible to move anywhere due to the crowds, you couldn't see signage directing you to the stalls or special guests, it was a tremendously hot day with shade hard to come by. With only one way in and out of Port Solent the roads were grid locked and it took me over 3 hours to make a 25 minute journey, add on a packed car park with people abandoning cars wherever they could and it just made things more difficult for everyone in attendance. With another event organised for 2018 it will certainly be interesting to see if any lessons have been learnt.

SF: Port Solent was a great day and gave a very different feel. It was a free comic con which as we all know is rare to find. The convention wasn’t your typical set up of halls indoors. The whole thing was outside with props, stalls and guest all around the board walk and outside areas. It was a very hot day. I cosplayed as Rey from Star Wars and even in that I was roasting hot. So many people attending it became impossible to move around and getting from place to place was a struggle for being stopped for photos by the amount of people and the general traffic of the people attending. Because of the traffic of people I missed the cosplay competition. There was great reaction to the cosplayers and it was lovely to have such a nice location out in the sun to cosplay in for a change. Like all new cons there were the teething issues JH mentioned about parking being an issue which I think was down to more people attending than expected. Some lack of signage and general mapping of what was where was needed as it’s so different to having a hall with map you did need to know where to go so you don’t miss things like I did, The reactions totally made the day, the people and the waterfront were the highlights for me for sure.

This year we both have any conventions and events planned to share our experiences in more detail. Stay tuned.

Written by: Skye Fawkes and Jolly Holly Cosplay

All photos provided by Skye Fawkes and Jolly Holly Cosplay

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