Manchester Comic Con 2014 – A newbies guide to Comic Con
Today I experienced my first ever Comic Con. As I had never been to one before I was not sure on what to expect, so I have decided to put together a little guide for newbies on what they can expect, and a bit about my experience today.
Comic cons are fan conventions for all things relating to comics, manga, anime and movies. Fans come to buy memorabilia, meet celebrities and meet each other, with many fans dressing up in costume to compete in the masquerade at the end of the day.
First things first, expect to queue to get in. We attended on the Sunday which is supposedly quieter than the Saturday, but still arriving an hour before the doors open we probably had over 200 people in front of us, and this was just in the priority queue. The queue for general entry was growing also, and they had an hour after the doors opened for priority ticket holders to wait before they would even start being let into the venue. Spirits were high though and apart from feeling a little like herded cattle the wait didn’t end up seeming too long. Some of the exhibitors came to the queues to throw out some freebies, and you would be amazed at how 5 minion balloons can keep a crowd of thousands happy for 30 minutes.
If you do arrive late, you’ll only really miss out on any panels which are on before you arrive, or any demonstrations scheduled early on. We left around 1.30pm and all the stores still seemed really well stocked, so if you weren’t bothered about early panels, you could miss the queues by arriving a few hours after opening, but we found that there was plenty to see and 5 hours passed quite quickly, so don’t leave it too late and risk feeling like you’ve missed out. Once in you can get a pass out to come and go throughout the day so if you do arrive first thing don’t think you’re stuck there for the whole day if there are panels or demos later on you want to see.
In terms of tickets, I would definitely recommend a priority ticket if you’re prepared to go early as the queues do get very long and I imagine I would not have liked queuing the extra hour or more in the general entry queue. I’m not sure of the benefits of a weekend ticket over a one day one, as from what I could gather, the panels were the same on both days, although we missed Warwick Davies bit that was due to not being very well, and some of the celebs there for the meet and greets/autographs were there only for the Saturday, but the difference wasn’t huge, so it all depends on if there is someone you desperately want to see who is available on one day only. Unfortunately I couldn’t find any information before we arrived as to what panels would be on and at what times, as the Main Stage page of the website was left blank. I really wish this information would have been made available by the organisers before the day as it would be nice to make sure we could get there in time not miss anything, and also as this is my first comic con I really had no idea if panels would even be taking place!
We went to 2 1/2 panels today, the first with Chris Barrie & Hattie Hayridge from Red Dwarf, we caught the end of the panel with Bryce Papenbrook & D.C. Douglas, and the last panel we attended was with James Cosmo & Ross Mullan from Game of Thrones. The panels allow fans to ask questions, and it was really nice to see the characters we love on film and television sat talking to us about their experiences. Most of the questions asked were really good, and all the panelists were lovely, and very funny, and happy to answer everything we threw at them. Some of the panels (Game of Thrones) were quite busy, but we had no problem getting seats and actually managed to get very close to the front. Also, in between panels if you stick around there a freebies given away throughout the day!
The exhibition was laid out over 4 main areas. The main area contained the exhibitors and demonstration areas with some seating and food stalls at the rear. A second area contains a large amount of seating for people wanting a break or somewhere to eat. A third housed the special guests where you can queue for photos and autographs, and also a few more demo and exhibitions, and the last is the main stage where the panels take place. The queues for autographs didn’t seem too long today, so you would likely get quite a few done without taking up too much time.
You can take your own food and drink into the venue, and leave as and when you like if you want to leave for food and come back, but there are also food and drink stalls in the venue itself. Surprisingly the prices were ok, as with these events I always expect to be ridiculously over charged. Bottles of pop can be bought for £1, and food varies from hot dogs at £3.50 to sausage rolls at £1.50 and crisps/popcorn for £1 each. Cash machines are also available but the queues were always quite long and I suspect that these are the ones which charge for each transaction so it’s probably wise to come prepared, Some of the exhibitors do take card payments but not all of them, so this needs to be planned for if you want to make purchases.
The Comic Village exhibited some fantastic artwork and new comics for people to check out and purchase. Personally I will be on the lookout for the first compilation of Bearlands – The Zombie Bears Comic….. The are also a couple of areas where you can play online games such as LANparty, and even preview games yet to be released such as Borderlands Pre Sequel. The dealer stalls exhibited goods such as board and card games, clothing, artwork, accessories, games, comics and collectibles. We also found an area for trying out board and card games which was excellent as we love game nights, We played a game called Coup we had not heard of before, a game of bluff & deception, which we really enjoyed.
The main demonstration for this year was Robots Live, showcasing fighting robots such as those seen on robot wars, and stand up boxing robots!
On top of all that one of my favourite things about comic con was the costumes! The amount of time, effort and money some people had put into their cosplay outfits was phenomenal, I just wish that we had been able to stay for the masquerade at the end of the day, but we had been up quite early and we decided to leave before it began. Next year though I would like to maybe try going in costume myself, but I think it might take me a while to find something suitable to go as…..
Below is a gallery including of some of my favourite costumes we saw throughout the day!
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