Wales, Glasgow and London Film and Comic Con
Three (comic) conventions and three different experiences, mostly negative. I’ll start with the worst (by a country mile).
I was warned about attending the Welsh Comic convention in Wrexham but the attraction of seeing Phil Jiminez was just too great and I ignored the advice. I checked the website before I left that morning and all was fine. Queued for over an hour to get in and headed straight for the signing area but there’s no sign of Phil. I ask some staff whose response is “who”? They contact presumably the organiser and I get some bull story about Phil cancelling the day before but time zones meant they only got the email that morning. Anyone believe that? The website even at the end of the day was still advertising him as being at the event! Your one major comic guest and you have no idea about his attendance! Trying to make the best of a bad job, I tried to find a comic seller…and there were none there! I left in disgust after 30 minutes. Folks, this is NOT a comic convention. Great if you are into cosplay or TV and film but like me in future, just ignore it completely if you want a true comic convention. I shall not be going back there again under any circumstances.
I’ll move on to the Glasgow event which has already been well covered by another reviewer. I would echo everything stated in that review but add to one point and make another. I was left completely exasperated by the failure to provide advance information about guests cancelling and failing to answer direct emails about this. It gave a very real impression that nobody cared about the customer. Additionally many were also annoyed by the advertising of Mark Millar as the only major guest left. It went from “Sunday only” to “Sunday pm only” to a signing session lasting just 75 minutes. I have to say that if I’d known this beforehand, I would definitely not have travelled even though I’d bought 2 tickets.
I really enjoyed the Edinburgh event earlier in the year and if I come back up north to any future Scottish event, it will be to that and not to the hugely disappointing Glasgow show. They have SO much repair work to do.
Finally, to the London Film and Comic Con event. The summer 2014 event was a shambles of dreadful organisation, poor customer care and great service to the god of profit. Stories have also emerged of poor treatment of some comic guests who will never return to an LFCC event. I went down to the Saturday of this year’s event with some trepidation (particularly given the stream of international comic guests cancelling) which in the end proved justified.
The really bad things about the event: 1) the horrific heat on floor one was just too much for most people. A mass of people in slow moving lines trying to get to or from the film and TV signing area amongst the poor exhibitors stands just made the whole area a hot, sweaty mess. 2) Trying to get off floor 1 to floor 2 (where the comics’ people were) was an epic task. It took me 35 minutes of queuing and standing on staircases to accomplish a task which should have taken 45 seconds and then had to repeat this getting back down again. The lifts servicing the upper floors were equally rammed. I reckon any Health and Safety officer viewing this mess would have shut down the event because it was really not safe. I dread to think what would have happened if there had been a fire.
The only good thing about the event is that people are starting to realise that this is not a true comic convention and those that are interested in the comics are not turning up. All the comic guests on floor 2 were not busy (some were obviously not happy either) so it was really easy access to them. Both Dan Slott (always affable and chatty even under the dreadful conditions he was working in on level 1) and Chad Hardin, the main comic related guests, were also easy to get to at all times. However the hell of attending this event did not really compensate.
Showmasters really need to learn event management lessons and skills from the organisers of the relaxed and totally enjoyable London Super Con and Thoughtbubble events because their summer event is anything but these things.
Showmasters boast that they run the largest comic convention in the country. They don’t. They run the largest film and TV event. The comics part is a small add on and there are a good six or seven UK conventions ahead of them in this area. I probably will not attend another LFCC event and I would advise people who want to go to a TRUE comic convention to visit any of London Super Con, Thoughtbubble, NICE, Lakes, either of the Birmingham cons or Edinburgh comic con to get a far better experience.