It’s been over two years since my last convention, thanks in no small part to terrible circumstances we have all found ourselves. However, with restrictions having been lifted and life returning (somewhat) to normal, the comic must return with and that is no better exemplified by the return of the conventions.
In a country where cons big and small happen the length and breadth of the United Kingdom, the events run by MCM are without a doubt the most well known and popular. Well, MCM London certainly confirmed this viewpoint as, from the moment I set off the train to the Excel centre, there were crowds as far as the eye could see, a tremendous number of whom cosplaying as their favourite characters.
Fortunately, the organisers at MCM appeared to have planned for this large turnout. With the move of the Excel Centre from Islington to Custom House, the location also benefited from an increased size. This turned out to be of great benefit for the con as, from the moment I entered the doors, the masses were well and truly entrenched amongst the aisles. Luckily, the larger premises allowed for aisles which were wider than any I had ever seen at a convention before. Of course, this didn’t last all day as the attendees increased with every passing hour, leading to crowds which left movement at a crawl. However, it was good to see the organisers attempt to both combat an age-old convention problem as well as take current ongoing health concerns into account.
Of course, the increased space for aisles didn’t affect the tables and their occupants, or certainly not in my opinion. MCM London hosted an immense variety of talented creatives, famous stars and traders plying their wares all throughout the Excel Centres two halls. Of these various stalls, the genres on offer felt incredibly well evened out, with all on show feeling like it had been given equal presence; from book signings to photo ops, DND, games and even comics, which this like many cons taking its name from, receiving approximately a third of the overall space, mainly in artist alley.
In fact, as I wandered throughout artist alley, it really did feel like MCM’s focus was aimed squarely at those creators, with the space they were afforded and the amount of love the community received. This final point has since been nicely exemplified by creators taking to social media to display empty tables or even announce impressive sounding sales figures.
Of course, while comics gives the con its name (well the middle bit anyway), all other offerings during the event were equally impressive. The entire con was awash with high quality, varied and above all else absolutely gorgeous costumes worn by cosplayers. This was apparent as soon as I walked in the door with a Kate Bishop cosplayer who I could’ve assumed was the character herself, this individual looked so accurate. Then there was a female Doctor Strange whose costume was so incredible, it included a Time Infinity stone which was lit up all on its own, an achievement which really impressed me.
That said, out of everything which MCM London had to offer, the best part of it was, without a doubt, the people who made up the crowds. Regardless, of whichever side of the tables they were, every single attendee during my time there came across as immensely kind, friendly and polite to each other. I personally experienced a plethora of these kinds of people, from the aforementioned Doctor Strange who was happy to take a moment to explain her costume, to the staff member of A Place in Space with whom I had a fantastic conversation regarding many different Vault Comics series as I went comic bin diving (at that point there was also a Star-Lord cosplayer with whom I discussed the merits of the Human Torch series and a gentleman about Lazarus). Even the volunteers at the con were incredibly polite and helpful as they assisted me in locating a specific stall within this large event.
Of course, no event is perfect and MCM London certainly didn’t make itself an exception to the rule. Unfortunately, MCM’s biggest problem occurred right at the beginning with the exceptionally long queuing. Now, for an event as big as this con was, it is certainly difficult to get such a large crowd into a building so quickly, especially without sacrificing something towards security. However, with a long wait of nearly two hours before getting inside, as well as a friend of mine describing a case of a massive crowd pushing in at one point, it is certainly feeling counter-intuitive to leave your paying guests feeling frustrated and maybe even losing their enthusiasm for the event before they even make it in the door.
In the end, however, these long queues at the start of the day was a minor blot when I compared it to the rest of my experience. MCM London was a fantastic experience during the single day that I attended, with so much to see and do along with all the amazing people I had the privilege to encounter. By the day’s conclusion, I found myself rather sad that I could not afford the time to return for more than that day as there was far too much to see and do during a single day.
Maybe next time I can make myself available for a whole three day ticket!