I love Halloween, or any event that invites outlandish dress. I’m always delighted to see locations of our day-to-day lives swarmed by zombies and ghouls. Naturally, I loved seeing Stratford station overrun with Steampunk fanatics, anime lovers and OG Pokemon Trainers early on a Saturday morning. I was on the way to my first Comic Con, and my R2-D2 backpack suddenly felt like a cop-out in the face of so many elaborate, hand-crafted full-body costumes. It’s evident as soon as you begin to approach the ExCel that this is an event people build up to for many months, and the enthusiasm and dedication to the art forms celebrated throughout MCM was something I’d come to have huge appreciation for over the weekend.
With “fangirl” now regarded by many as a dirty word, it’s a real treat to see so much unabashed fandom at play all at once. I was the girl who would turn up to gigs 6 hours early to get a chance at a pit-pass back in the day, and I’m slowly finding my way back to that level of love for the stuff that excites me – The Force Awakens has a big part to play in this, for sure, but working two days at MCM has given me a good kick up the butt that way too.
Most of our customers’ expressions upon reaching our stall can be summed up as: “squee!” I heard the term “feels-trip” for the very first time, in reference to our sad manga, which I hadn’t realised we had a market monopoly over. People made no bones about pausing for half hour periods to hang out with and chat about our books, the stories and characters of which they cared deeply and openly about, often to the extent of stitching Attack on Titan badges into their outfits or donning dauntingly heavy wigs inside an overheated conference centre. In the midst of all of this book-induced joy, I was having a fantastic time being out and about with our actual physical stock, rather than sending emails about titles that won’t be published for months.
It was also fantastic to have my assumptions about the crowd proven totally wrong. I’ve been clued into the gender balance of the Comic Con world thanks to an event about Feminism & Comics, but I definitely hadn’t expected the age range to be so brilliantly varied. There were plenty of family ensembles, with parents going whole-hog for their kids and getting their best superhero costumes together. There were some older attendees who had clearly loved comics their entire lives, and many older siblings passing the baton on to their younger family. Aside from age, the crowd was diverse in every way, and all expressions of identity were welcomed more warmly than in any other event I’ve taken part in.
Highlights from the weekend include running around searching for stormtroopers on my half-hours off for lunch; a very lovely chat with a customer about battle tactics for Final Fantasy 10’s final boss while she decided if she’d purchase Sky: The Art of Final Fantasy; getting to ride London’s little rollercoaster, the DLR, four times in a weekend; and this cosplay of Furiosa and the Five Wives featuring a girl who must actually be Charlize Theron?
I feel very lucky to have been thrown into the deep end of Comic Con culture, selling dozens of Fairy Tails, Attack on Titans, Akiras, and tonnes of other amazing titles from Kodansha, Dark Horse, Vertical Inc and Picturebox over the weekend. I haven’t done any physical labour outside of the gym or IKEA assembly in a long time, and it was totally satisfying to be shifting boxes of books around after a weekend of hard work. That said, I was dangerously hungover Saturday morning, am currently suffering at the hands of a nine-day work week and I never want to use my feet, ankles or calves ever again. See you next year, MCM London Comic Con!
Post by Heather Keane.
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