It’s Friday in London. I’m waiting for the tube and Captain America offers me some chocolate. The tube arrives, and we are headed to MCM London Comic Con.
“I didn’t bring enough money”
“That’s Comic Con for ya.”
It’s hard to describe an experience such as Comic Con with few words. Fun, surreal and intense are all words that somewhat work, but the experience can be so many things to different people. One thing is certain – you walk. A whole lot. And even if you walk through the same line of booths and displays over and over again, you’ll still notice new things every time.
I spent two days at MCM London Comic Con, and returned home with a big smile on my face, sore feet and way too much Batman-merchandise.
The doors just opened, and I’m standing outside the entrance to Comic Con, which takes place at the ExCel conference center in Newham, East London. A record number of people attended Comic Con this year (over 130,000) to take part in panels, get signatures and pictures taken with people, dress up, watch eSports – and, of course, shop.
The area outside the convention center is a confusing sight. After spending half an hour in a full train which looked like the cover of a Super Smash Bros-game, I felt prepared for the masquerade I was about to take part in. So there I was, outside the center in classic gloomy English weather, and got caught up with a big screen that showed the Batman vs Superman-trailer. As the trailer was ending I suddenly noticed to cosplayers right beneath the screen pointing at it – a Superman and a Batman. A beautiful moment until a Joker almost spilled his coffee on me. As comedic as it was an appropriate way to start the convention.
A few minutes later and I was finally inside, trying to navigate myself around coffee-drinking, colorful youths and a group of men in suits which were beyond confused, as they were attending a conference next door.
I finally found the main room of the convention. To say it was massive is an understatement – booths after booths as far as the eye could see, already stuffed with people eager to buy things. And there were plenty of things to buy. Comics, clothes, Manga, merchandise in all shapes and sizes – and the booth most people tried to avoid, where a group of young men tried to sell people, even me as a foreigner, Paintball-memberships.
Confused, but fascinated, I decided to just start walking, without purpose or direction – in other words, what 99% of everybody else was doing. A passer-by complimented me on the Sims-diamond that was lighting up my head – my incredibly lazy attempt at cosplay – and someone else asked me to take a picture of him in front of the Back To The Future-display.
I found the Walking Dead-booth (the series I’m trying my hardest to love, yet only end up sort of liking), where zombies were clawing at onlookers. Selfie-sticks were brought out, and just as I was about to leave the area and contemplate the existence of these sticks, a zombie outside the cage grabs my shoulder and spins me around. Also a way to check if your heart still works.
A few hours later, and I realize that the walking is taking its toll. I find a bench outside the main room and an equally exhausted teen with an Assassin’s Creed-shirt sits down next to me.
“Is this your first time here as well?” he asks in a thick Liverpool-accent.
“Yup. What do you think?”
“It’s brilliant. My wallet doesn’t agree though.”
He lifts up the plastic bag he’s been carrying, full of comics.
“Worth it though. New comics are always great, plus I got a picture with Adam and Jack!”
Several internet celebs were spotted at Comic Con, both in booths and walking the floor. The Yogscast- and asdfmovie-booths were filling up by lunchtime, Twitch had begun their stream and two boys bumped into me asking if I spotted their friend, YouTube-personality KSI, in the area. If there was one booth however that people seemed to flock to, it was the Rooster Teeth booth. What appeared to be the line to play Assassin’s Creed turned out to be part of the line to get to meet Adam Kovic, member of Funhaus and previously Inside Gaming, and Achievement Hunter’s Jack Pattillo.
The line slithered around other booths, and the wait was – to put it mildly – a long one.
“I waited for three hours, but I didn’t mind. It’s not like they’re in London frequently,” said a fan wearing a freshly signed Funhaus-shirt, before a frustrated member of security gently pushed him aside to control the line.
“This is so intense. We didn’t expect this many people. But it’s awesome,” said Adam, who continued to express his gratitude for the people waiting in line for hours on end to take pictures with him.
Three hours, two t-shirts and a Street Fighter Christmas-jumper later, and I find the indie games. As I walk by, a ninja stared me down with a sign that reads “Can you beat the ninja?”. Challenge accepted. The game, Black & White Bushido, is one of the games I enjoyed the most while at Comic Con, and will definitely play again. A simplistic and entertaining fighter-game, with interesting mechanics, a surprisingly creative stealth-element and a beautiful minimalist design. I’m playing against a white ninja at the booth, who only expresses himself via hand gestures. The score is 9-8 in his favor, and I feel the pressure of having people watching me. I lose.
“Nobody beats a ninja,” he says before I leave, a sore loser who will try and beat him again the next day – and fail yet again.
I continue through the indies, all which are fun, creative and, not to mention, always with an enthusiastic and incredibly friendly developer to guide you through it.
I give Eternal Step a shot – an action-adventure game that’s just as enjoyable as the conversation I had with the team behind it. The game feels like a mashup of great indie-elements, never too goofy or confusing, but filled with different mechanics and challenges that work well together. A title definitely worth looking at – and developer Once More With Gusto is most definitely underselling the title.
On to the cosplay this year, which was without a doubt impressive, so much so that you at times just had to stop and observe the chaos of characters bumping into each other, like a less obscene but more confusing Walk of Fame. From superheroes to celebrities, anime-characters and self-created personalities – there was a nice mix of everything, though Star Wars-related characters and Jokers were the most common costumes. Some flew right past you, with photographers running after them (clearly hopped up on the free Rockstar-beverages in the main room), while others stopped to smile patiently for people with sore feet, such as myself.
There was a lot of things to do at Comic Con, besides walking, observing and shopping. The Walking Dead-, Beowolf: Return to Shiledlands-, Rooster Teeth-, and Doctor Who-panels were popular events, as were some of the interviews on the floor, including one with Walter White’s son, aka R.J. Mitte, which I’m fairly sure a lot of people fell in love with during his interview – me included.
Then there was Dark Souls 3, the game everybody wanted to play until they saw the line. Guess I'll have to wait 'till March to praise the sun.
Even though the Friday was “quiet” compared to Saturday’s madness, there was always something to see and do, as well as people to talk to. The people in the booths were all excited to chat, both about their products and everything else, a highlight being a guy selling hats re-enacting a scene from GTA V.
The feeling of companionship was one I didn't expect to experience during Comic Con – everybody were friendly, cheerful and excited about a certain thing or event. Even the people who stood in lines for hour on end had smiles on their faces.
It was Saturday night, and despite being exhausted I’d ended up at a Rooster Teeth afterparty, which in retrospect summed up Comic Con pretty nicely – an insanely crowded space filled with nerds in print-tees and freshly signed merchandise, all hugging and smiling, with a few familiar faces in the bunch and a group of cosplayers getting their pictures taken. Regardless of who you were and how you looked you were still everybody’s friend, and we all smiled and celebrated days of nerdy goodness - despite the gloomy weather.
“This was my first Comic Con. I’ve been to these kinds of events previously, but never something this massive. Of course San Diego must be even more crazy, but I really enjoyed this one. The feeling of being equal is great, and the fact that so many people get together for something so niche is a great feeling. There’s no conflicts or judgement here – you can be yourself and know we’re all on the same page,” one of my Con-buddies said by the end of the night.
And it is the feeling of companionship that I value the most after attending Comic Con, the feeling of being myself, getting to talk to like-minded people, discuss the things other adults don’t understand or have forgotten, hugging strangers and exchanging Twitter-handles, seeing the creations people spent months and months on making and sharing a passion for the entertainment mediums we all loved as kids, but that some of us never let go of.
Everybody were friends at Comic Con and everybody shared a weekend of bliss in an amazing community – even Batman and Superman.
Originally written for Gamereactor Norway.