By the time this comes out, the juggernaut that is The MCM Group will have left the NEC once again, only to return in Autumn. Last time I attended the convention, I got rather huffy over of going on a Saturday (the very idea!) as the last time I did it was far too noisy for my delicate sensibilities. Well, I decided to throw caution to the wind and go there yesterday (I considered going on both days, but my wallet protested most vociferously).
Well, it seems my fears were (mostly) unfounded. True, there were a few times where the aisle I happened to be in resembled Spaghetti Junction in the late afternoon, but for the most part the crowds stayed on the right side of “busy”, and everyone was having a good time, which is as it should be. As for the price hike in tickets, that was ameliorated by simply buying one online – this meant I “only” spent £11, instead of the downright extortionate £15 I had to fork over last time.
MCM have definitely learned their lesson from previous years, and have used the space they’ve been given to best effect… even discounting the ridiculous amount of room given to CEX, whose main function seems to be to hand out stickers to teenage arseholes, so they can slap them onto costumes and props that cosplayers have taken a long time to make.
Anyway, my point is that I spent at least an hour just wandering about the convention when I first arrived (I usually do this, as it lets me soak up the atmosphere… and on a more practical level, get a general feel of where everything is) and I still feel like I missed a good quarter or so of the stalls. You can buy anything and everything at this convention, from Lord of The Rings-themed scented candles to Thunderbirds mobile phone aerial clips.
I somehow managed to resist temptation, and instead bought my usual fiver’s worth of old British comics from one of the few stalls at the convention to actually sell comic books (four issues of Starblazer and one of Battler Britton Picture Library Holiday Special – say that ten times fast). Other purchases included two graphic novels from Time Bomb Comics (expect reviews soon… ish), some postcards that Jenny Clements drew for Cancer Research UK (which she kindly signed for me) and a Star Trek: The Next Generation novel (it was only £1).
But it’s not just fun comics and nice postcards that bring me back to this convention. Ever since I started attending this convention, back when it was called Memorabilia, I always ended up walking around with other cosplayers. Of course, back then there were maybe a dozen attendees who were cosplaying… nowadays, it seems like half the people going are dressed up as somebody from something. I’m not complaining, mind you, I just remember when all this was fields, and a Cadbury’s Chomp only cost 10p…
The point is, I spent most of my time at the conventions with them, and I had good fun. Last Saturday was no exception, as I was able to catch up with people like Claire Rainbow, one of the loveliest people I know. Hanging out with her is always a pleasure, and one of the highlights of these conventions to me. Here’s a little anecdote about Ms. Rainbow that sums up our friendship quite nicely; one year, I didn’t feel like going to Memorabilia (the old name for Birmingham Comic Con). I can’t remember why… lack of funds, probably. Anyway, I explained this Claire in a text, and she just replied:
You should come fanny!
And you know something? I did, and I had a lovely time.
I even kept the text.