Saturday, 30 October 2010

MCM Expo: Preview Night

So, I have lost my convention virginity.

Yesterday was the preview day for the London MCM Expo. As I live ten minutes walk away from the convention center (The ExCel Centre in East London), an appearance was always a given, especially as I had booked the afternoon (and the rest of the weekend) off work.

It was an interesting experience for the first-time convention-goer. I kept hopping from overjoyed to confused to (occasionally) intimidated by the scale of the event coupled with the sheer volume of content focused on areas which I have little to no knowledge. I was very surprised at the high manga and Japanese culture content of the convention. I know manga has been gaining popularity around the world, but I had no idea of the scale of this, or fanatacism of its fans and cosplayers. Yes, I know, my naivety in my expectations of the fans is readily apparent.

Being a comic fan, the first place I went to check out was the artist's alley. There were a lot of empty tables, but more than enough of the big names were present. I got the chance to say hello to Rich Johnson, formerly of Lying in the Gutters and now the founder and head of As a semi-regular poster there (and, if all goes well, a front page article penned by myself has been submitted, and I'm looking forward to seeing what happens with that), this felt like an important meeting for me. But not as important as the next person I went to see - Tony Lee.

Tony is one of my favourite creators in comics. He is the current writer of the ongoing Doctor Who title(s) from IDW, which have been a great read. He topped the New York Times bestseller list with his graphic novel adaptation of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. He was nominated for eight Eagle awards this year for his various projects, and his twitter feed - @mrtonylee - is one of the most interesting ones I read. As I was the first person to approach and buy from him, he cut me a great deal on the latest issues of the Doctor Who comic, and between sucking on his absinthe lolly, he pointed out that one of his Doctor Who co-creators - Al Davison - was present.

I didn't know Al Davison as anyone other than an occasional Doctor Who artist, although his career has been long and varied. His graphic novel autobiography - a work in progress - is a beautiful piece of work, chronicling a difficult and tragic childhood. Check it out at Muscle Memory, but be warned, it's not an easy read.

Finally, I was pulled over by Claude Trollope-Curson of Gronk Comics, who showed me some of his weird and wonderful creations. He did the best thing of making me laugh at his work in seconds, and I was happy to buy a couple of his publications. We ended up reading them on the Underground at 10.30pm on our way to a free showing of Due Date, and even my non-comic-reading girlfriend found his parodies of super-hero culture amusing.

I did some other stuff as well, including trying Magic: The Gathering for the first time in about a decade, and marvelling at all the cosplayers. One guy was dressed as Where's Wally (Where's Waldo for the Americans out there), and he cut a sad and lonely figure winding his way through the long, empty queueing system. I thought that he might have been playing the longer game, and that if the massive queue system was full then he would have been in his element. As the queue started moving as people were let in, I passed him once, then prepared to pass him again. But he had gone. Where was Wally? Suddenly, I understood the genius of his costume choice, and I berated myself for ever doubting him.

I'm really looking forward to today. I'm excited about meeting the Kieron Gillen, who recently wrote an amazing four-issue post-Siege fill-in run on Thor, and who just won an Eagle award for his series Phonogram. I'm hoping to meet Criminal artist Sean Phillips, and I'll be stopping by Bernard Chang's table to pick up the latest issue of Supergirl and hopefully get the panel with Arsenal and his quiver of dead cats signed. But most importantly, I'm really looking forward to meeting Chris Claremont, and Paul Cornell, who will be signing my first ever Doctor Who book, Timewyrm: Revelation, as my love of Who trumps my love of his current Action Comics run.

Right, enough buggering about. The con is open and I need to put trousers on and go there. Follow me on twitter at @quizlacey to keep up with me throughout the day.

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