Wales Comic Con – A Review
On April 27th I went to Wales Comic Con, a widely under-rated convention, and had an amazing time. But what can a one day convention in North Wales offer?
As we arrived on a warming Sunday morning we expected to see a small crowd gathering. It was just after 9 and normal entry wasn’t until 11am but as we drove onto campus the queue was already half way around the main building. I joined the other members of the UKCM (a costuming group I am part of, more of them in a later article!) in a car park near the rear of the site near where our changing rooms would be and we gathered our kit. By the time we were walking towards the changing facility the line had caught up with us and we knew this was going to be a good day.
The line was in good spirits with people posing for photos and happy to ask for photos as well. At the front of the main building by the convention entrance we discovered that what we had been following was actually the Early Entry line and there were two further lines going around the other side of the building! This how ever is exactly why groups like the UKCM, the 501st star wars group and alike are invited along to these events, to entertain the crowd.
As the lines started to edge in we got a chance to explore the site and things have spread out since last year. Where as previously all the signers and vendors were in one sports hall with a separate space for talks and specialist groups (last year it was the whole of the Red Dwarf crew) and although it was well organized it was very cramped. This year was a vast improvement.
Whereas last year everything was based in the Main Hall (point 6 on the map) with a few bits in the photography studio next door (point 5) this year you can see how every thing was spread out and it made a huge improvement. You still had the long queues at the beginning of the day like any event of this size but where as last year the lines were still an hour long at 4pm this year they were all but gone at 1pm.
I don’t mean this to sound like the event was quieter than last year. If anything it was busier! Just very well organised so people didn’t have to wait as long. There where also more open air entertainment laid on with live wrestling and the Gamerbus in attendance as well as a stand from the local owl sanctuary which may seem out of place at a Comic Con but every time I walked past there was a crowd around it. It also felt like the organizers had listened to a few words from last years event regarding catering and this year had three food trucks outside and had even opened up the university’s canteen! Now once again there were grumbles over the price of the food onsite but to be honest you will always get high priced food at the site of the convention. within a two minuet walk there was a supermarket and some chain restaurants for those people who didn’t want to pay for the ease of on site food but to be honest, I got lunch for my wife and myself for under £10 which isn’t too bad in my books (I’m not going to say what we pay for lunch when we are at Excel, but that does include a bar tab…).
Walking around inside the main hall was much easier this year but I don’t know if that was because of the event’s better organisation or due to the fact it felt like there were less vendors this year. The vendors that were in attendance were fantastic and all happy to chat away about any thing and every thing but it felt like there wasnt the variety that you get at some other bigger events.
The celebrities they had in attendance was once again outstanding. Not only did you have most of the cast from Red Dwarf but also a large number of cast members from Game Of Thrones, The Hobbit and Torchwood to name a few. There were also a surprising number of professional wrestlers in attendance who were drawing a crowd. Some of the Biggest stars of the event had to be Charlie Adlard of Walking Dead fame, Warwick Davis and Kenny Baker with both Mr Davies and Mr Baker being repeat showings from last year. I myself got to meet Danny John Jules who plays “Cat” in Red Dwarf. I’ve had one of his quotes painted on the back of my Colonial Marine Armour and I’ve wanted to get a picture of him with it for some time!
All in all this event is going places. Each year the attendance grows and the stars they have attending get better and better. The format does need improving in my opinion to include more vendors (there was only one comic stand at this comic-con) and could really do with moving to a new site. Having the event at the University is great but it is starting to outgrow it like a geeky hermit crab of awesomeness. It could start becoming a two day event with the fan base that its getting but to do that it will need a new site and I don’t know Wrexham, or North Wales to that point, well enough to recommend somewhere.
Once again a very good “little” event that has the potential to go on and on and I cant wait to return next year.
map © Wales Comic Con
All other images © Christopher Hohenkerk