London Super Comic Convention – The review
Wow, that was a weekend and a half and boy did it feel like it too.
The event started for Comic Conventions and some other lucky guests with a private audience with Stan Lee in his hotel. Taking advantage of an offer through Desert Wind Comics, we got to meet the man himself after his One Show appearance, get to talk, take some photos and have some bits and pieces signed. It was a slightly odd experience at first, until Stan started to get a little more comfortable with his surroundings and started opening up a little. You could tell he has done the whole “How did Spider-Man come into being…” piece a million times but once that was out of the way, he happily answered questions and became more Stan “the man” Lee rather than Stan “the cash-machine” Lee. He was obviously exhausted and at 89, it was always going to be a struggle and was at one point looking like it was going to be called off. But entertain us he did and not a single person left the room after being up close and personal with him with anything other than awe that we got so close (for over an hour) with a true living legend. It did make for a long evening with many of us quite wired for some time after but was beyond doubt worth every penny and minute of the time there.
Saturday morning we rocked up, stand in hand, exhibitor passes picked up and table good to go, ready for the arrival of Eric Basaldua. The first thing that struck us was the enormity of the room and the amount of open space in there, when empty it seemed huge but was quite different when full. Another nice point was that the organisers and staff were really friendly and helpful, nothing like the brutal “stewards for hire” lots of these events usually have. You really felt comfortable and supported and like you mattered to them, it was a really good touch and very appreciated. The other amazing thing was the queue outside to get in; it was enormous, at one point extending outside the building and into the outside area, no mean feat given the size of the ExCel centre! The hall was laid out quite clearly and the artist set-up worked well. There were a couple of bits that could have been laid out better, more room on the retailers aisle and bringing the small press together would have been slightly better but we really are being picky here, plus it’s not like there was a precedent for them to follow, remember this was the first time out for the organisers.
The queue for Stan was, as you would imagine, enormous. It was obvious that this was the first attraction for the vast majority of the attendees. It was managed well though by all accounts and we heard very little griping about the queuing times. It did have one big advantage for those wanting sketches and to meet the artists and that was the attention was on the queueing and not on the artists. If you weren’t going to see Stan or had perhaps booked alternatives, then you get to be first in the queue for a sketch from one of the big names in attendance.
In the main, the artists were excellent. Some big queues did form and waiting lists happened with some of the big names inevitably filling up quickly. George Perez had almost a full list by 10am on the first day but was still gracious throughout. Mike Deodata unfortunately missed his flight leading to an inevitable huge queue on the Sunday. There was some grumbling about some of the artists not turning up until late, there were some who were a bit down about not getting to meet Brian Bolland for a sketch and some others arrived late meaning they filled up quickly while people were waiting in other queues. Again minor niggles but as one person commented to us, “I am here to meet the artists…” and one persons minor celebrity is anothers idol. Anyone lucky enough to have commissioned a sketch from the Greek contingent (http://www.comicworld.gr/) would have been more than pleasantly surprised at the awesome quality that they produced.
I think so much happened across the weekend people were way beyond exhausted. It was so busy and frantic you had little time to stop and think. But these were good things. I think it’s safe to say, for a first time convention with ambitions way beyond what has been seen for a “comic” convention for some time (and by “comic”, we don’t mean Channel 4 comedy quiz presenters), that not only did it work, but it was an overwhelming success so a big, big thank you to the organisers for putting so much time and effort into making it so.
One final piece of advice for next year…get that credit card cleared, you’re going to need it again!