Monday, 28 April 2014

Wales Comic Con 2014 - A Detailed Review

Guests met and discussed in this review :-

Warwick Davis (Professor Flitwick & Griphook from the Harry Potter films)
Rikishi (wrestler)
Vader (wrestler)
Ian McElhinney (Ser Barristan Selmy from “Game Of Thrones”)
Ellie Kendrick (Meera Reed from “Game Of Thrones”)
Mark Addy (King Robert Baratheon from “Game Of Thrones”)
James Cosmo (Lord Commander Jeor Mormont from “Game Of Thrones”)
Aimee Richardson (Myrcella Baratheon from “Game Of Thrones”)
Kerry Ingram (Shireen Baratheon from “Game Of Thrones”)
Charlie Adlard (primary artist for the graphic novels of “The Walking  Dead”)

Before we get started, two quick notes...

1) This review will contain spoilers for the “A Song Of Ice And Fire” book series. That’s the “Game Of Thrones” TV show for those of you unaware. It will give some details away for things that haven’t happened yet in the TV show. I will put massive *SPOILERS* tags up for those moments in the review, so just skip past the area enclosed within the tags if you wish to remain spoiler-free.

2) If you enjoy this review, please subscribe to my blog! Over on the right there’s a little box that says “Follow Shangel’s Reviews By Email!”. Put your email address in, confirm you’re human, click the validation link, and voila! Reviewy goodness! No bullshit, no spam, just my reviews. I’m currently reviewing every episode of “Buffy The Vampire Slayer” and “Angel” in depth, but will also be doing “Game Of Thrones”, “Firefly”, “Chuck”, “Dollhouse”, “Supernatural”, “Doctor Who”, “The Walking Dead”, and more, in due course.

Greetings, gentle readers. Yesterday, I attended my first ever “Wales Comic Con”, which takes place at the Glyndŵr University in Wrexham, Wales. Just 24 hours later, my 11 A4-pages review is up! I’m that quick!...not the first time I’ve heard that in my life. While I’ve been to many, many conventions by this point, I’d somehow failed to realise that “Wales Comic Con” existed until just after their event last year. Nicholas Brendon was a guest last year (he plays Xander Harris in “Buffy The Vampire Slayer”, my favourite show in history) so I heard through the grapevine that he was in Wales just after the event had taken place. Suffice to say, I was pissed off. I vowed to not let the same thing happen this year so long as there was one guest I wished to meet. Ultimately, there were nine. I like to think of “Wales Comic Con” as the ECW of conventions in the UK (that’s a wrestling analogy). It’s not as big as Showmasters or Starfury Events, but it’s an entirely unique spectacle that appeals to everyone. Like ECW, Wales Comic Con makes you feel like a part of the show, rather than just an audience member. It captivates you, draws you in, and makes you never want to leave. On top of that, it’s more than just a convention. It has movie vehicle replicas, live wrestling events outside, and a general feeling of a ‘family event’ that appeals to people outside of the convention circuit.

(Glyndŵr University)

Wrexham is roughly a two-hour drive from my house, so me and my friend Jon headed out from Gloucestershire at 6:30am on Sunday morning (the 27th of April), aiming to get to Wrexham at around 8:30am, ready for doors to open at 10am for the people holding ‘early bird’ tickets, which we were. For those of you that haven’t been to a convention before, an ‘early bird’ ticket basically means that you get to go into the venue for an hour or two before the people holding regular tickets. It means less queueing for an hour or two, first pick of the merchandise, and gives you the ability to scout the area before it gets overrun with zombies...I mean, convention goers (if you’ve been to a few conventions, you might notice that the two aren’t mutually exclusive...all that queueing and getting up early). Having an hour of ‘quiet time’ before the regular ticket holders were allowed in was a beautiful thing at Wales Comic Con. Unlike “London Film & Comic Con”, Wales Comic Con is spread out over numerous buildings on the university campus of Glyndŵr. While this is definitely a good thing for space issues and the general feel of the convention, it does leave you feeling a little overwhelmed at first if you’re new to the event. Luckily, you get a nifty little map within your event guide that shows you where everything is...

For me this year, the big reason to go was the “Game Of Thrones” guests. It’s my favourite show ever that isn’t named “Buffy The Vampire Slayer”, or its spinoff, “Angel”. The book series, “A Song Of Ice And Fire”, is also my favourite book series that isn’t named “Harry Potter”. So, you can see why having six “Game Of Thrones” guests under one roof was appealing to me. Before this event, I’d already met Lena Headey, Peter Dinklage, Jason Momoa, Clive Russell, Finn Jones, Miltos Yerolemou, and Julian Glover from the show and all of them were amazing, so my expectations were high (I should probably get around to writing my LFCC 2013 and Cardiff Comic Con 2013 reviews at some point to give you all details on those guests too...). After queueing up for around an hour and a half in the insanely cold Welsh wind, I was ready to get inside and start the action. The last thing I wanted to do was sneeze or snot on a guest. I wanted to leave a lasting impression, but I didn’t want to be that guy...“you remember that convention we went to and that guy in the bandana fired snot all over my face?”...I don’t want to be memorable in that way. Yes, I have witnessed someone sneezing on a guest before at a convention and it was equal parts disgusting and ridiculously funny. My friend Hannah also tripped over Adam Baldwin’s bare foot at the autograph table. Ah, happy memories.

By the time we arrived inside the entrance building, it was around 10:20am and I was determined to get Mark Addy and Warwick Davis’ autographs before 11am and the regular ticket holders could join the fray. We sprinted over (read: leisurely walked...I was going for dramatic, okay!) to the autograph signing building, where most of the guests were situated (Kenny Baker and Jonathan Ross were elsewhere). I wanted to meet Mark and Warwick first because I was under the impression that their queues would be the biggest of the day out of the guests I wanted to meet...I was correct. After having a quick blitz around the merchandise tables and buying a plastic wallet for my autographs, I moseyed on over to Mark Addy’s autograph table.

Mark has been to “Wales Comic Con” before and from everything I’ve read about him from people who’ve met him historically, he’s a lovely guy. He didn’t disappoint. Mark was in very high spirits and started the encounter by extending his hand. I absolutely love it when guests do things first without you initiating. Seriously. I know a few celebrities will be reading this, so my advice for leaving a good impression at the autograph table of a convention is this...eye contact, smile, and initiate. Initiate the handshake, initiate the conversation if the fan is shy, offer the fan a photo if your contract allows you to do so. In my life, there have been four guests that have said “do you want a photo?” without me having to ask – Anthony Head, Miltos Yerolemou, Warwick Davis (at this event), and Ian McElhinney (at this event). It leaves such a positive impression as it makes you feel that they’re there for you as opposed to being there for money.

Mark is currently starring in the BBC television series “Atlantis” so sat next to him at the autograph table was a severed head of Medusa...I think it was made of cake, I’m not sure. I joked that he should have Ned Stark’s severed head on the other side of him and his response was that booming roar of a laugh that you hear him bellow as Robert Baratheon in “Game Of Thrones”. The cool thing is that the laugh was genuine, not faked. We had a brief 30 second conversation about “Game Of Thrones” before I left his table. His queue was so big that I couldn’t justify a longer conversation with him without feeling like an ass. My only disappointment over my time with Mark is that I feel like I didn’t leave a lasting impression. I pride myself on being good at conventions. I don’t get starstruck...these days, I know what I’m going to say before I get up to the table, I wear a suit and a bandana, and I try to act as courteous as I can. Historically, this method has worked well for me, as it’s led me to becoming Jeff Ricketts agent, amongst other cool things. God, I hope that didn’t come across like I’m an arrogant sum up, Mark was awesome. His autograph was £15. Due to his queue length, Mark had a sign up saying “no posed photographs, sorry”. This means “don’t ask for a photo at the autograph table, please buy a professional studio photo shoot ticket instead”, which is understandable with a more famous guest.

(Mark Addy's autograph, alongside House Baratheon's words, "Ours Is The Fury")

After that, I started queueing for Warwick Davis, whose wife was his assistant for the day. Their son was also running around with a Stormtrooper helmet on, which was absolutely adorable. The 8x10” photos available for Warwick were cool, but there were no Harry Potter ones. When Warwick comes to a convention, he also brings along a lot of merchandise from other actors that have been signed and have a certificate of authenticity. In part of his merchandise collection, Warwick had some 8x10” photos of himself as Professor Flitwick from Harry Potter and as Griphook from Harry Potter. To get these autographed was £25 (as opposed to the £15 it would have been on the 8x10” photos provided by Wales Comic Con), which I thought wasn’t a bad price at all considering the picture of Griphook was awesome and Warwick happily takes a photo with you at the autograph table for free.

(Warwick Davis' autograph)

In buying a slightly more expensive picture, Warwick’s wife, Samantha, gave me a little Hedwig cuddly toy to pass along to my girlfriend, Robyn, as I mentioned to her while I was waiting for Warwick that Robyn would be disappointed at not getting to meet him because she’s a huge Harry Potter fan. It’s moments like that one that leave a positive impression that will last a lifetime. It was such a wonderful thing to do. I met Warwick (while awkwardly asking the guy behind me to take the photo of myself and Warwick on my phone) and we discussed Harry Potter for a while before I walked away feeling uplifted. Like Mark, Warwick was wonderful, and like Mark, I left feeling like I didn’t leave a lasting impression.

During the 20 minutes it took for me to meet Mark Addy and Warwick Davis, my friend Jon had moved three steps in the queue to meet Charlie Adlard. Charlie is the primary artist for the graphic novels of “The Walking Dead”. He was sketching anything for you that you wanted for just £10, so his queue was huge. It was the biggest queue of the day. At one point it was looping for almost half of the hall. The price he was charging was insanely cheap, so I can understand the queue length. His price shows me that he’s there for the fans, as opposed to for the money. You might see that phrase pop up a few times during this review, but it’s the single most important distinction for me between a ‘good’ guest and a ‘great’ guest. When I left Jon to meet Mark Addy, I gave him £10 and asked him to get me something...I didn’t really mind what, as I love every character in the show and the graphic novels. When I returned to Jon, a whole three steps further forwards, he mentioned that it’s ‘one sketch per person’, so I shuffled into the queue to get my own sketch. After queueing for about half an hour, I asked Charlie to sketch me Shane from “The Walking Dead”, as he’s my namesake. I met Jon Bernthal in October 2013, so I figured it would look nice on my wall next to the picture of Jon and myself. The sketch is pretty badass and was easily worth £10. In addition to being a talented artist that was charging almost no money, Charlie was a really nice guy. He was smiling constantly and communicating constantly, even though he must have felt harassed and intimidated by the sheer volume of sketches he had to draw that day.

(A sketch of Shane from the graphic novels version of "The Walking Dead")

Much more disturbingly, Jon decided to have his young son sketched as a zombie. The sketch looked amazing and it’s a truly unique piece of memorabilia. By this point, it was around 11:20am, so the regular ticket holders were among us and the hall was starting to fill up rather drastically. Another cool thing about being a regular convention goer is that you become part of a unique family. I bumped into many, many familiar faces from various conventions before including Elora, Cathy, Mark, Sarah, Kayleigh, Bella, Stephen, and saw a lot of other familiar faces of people I recognised, but haven’t spoken to before. I also managed to say “hi” to the convention organiser, Jaime, and get 60 seconds of his time to have a little chat and thank him. I first spoke to Jaime online towards the end of last year, as I was trying to help line some guests up for “Wales Comic Con”. Even though the guests fell through, we’ve spoken every now and then through social media since, so it was nice to finally get the opportunity to say “hi” and get a handshake in real life. He’s a very cool guy who absolutely busts his ass to make the greatest convention that he possibly can.

Next on my list was ‘Big Van Vader’, a wrestler who I’d been watching on television since I was four years old (1993). For a big guy (he’s got to be around 6’5” and 350 pounds), he’s oddly polite and appreciative of his fanbase. As a group, wrestlers have a reputation of going to conventions for money, as opposed to going for the fans primarily. Wrestlers are self-promoters and independent contractors, so it makes a certain amount of sense that they want to make as much money as possible...especially when their in-ring career is over or close to over. Vader was an absolute sweetheart (sorry to label you a ‘sweetheart’, if you’re reading this, big man), but he looked like he was in constant pain. He had this grimace on his face like every step he walked was agony to him. I half wanted to get his autograph and half wanted to get him an icepack. To his credit, he was in good spirits and didn’t act like he was in pain at all. We talked about his career in WCW for a few minutes before I departed from his table. Another cool thing about Vader is that if you bought a studio photo ticket with him, he’d sign the studio photo for half the price. I’ve never heard of anyone doing that before, so it was a really cool thing to do on his part.

With four guests down and an hour until the “Game Of Thrones” Q&A talk, I decided to go and meet a couple of the “Game Of Thrones” guests. With the exception of Mark Addy, who was situated with the “Atlantis” guests, the rest of the “Game Of Thrones” actors (I’m using that term in a unisex sense) were all located at the same long table, which was convenient. The closest guest to me on the table was Ellie Kendrick, so I decided to meet her first. Going into the event, I’d done a little research on a few of the guests so I’d know what to ask when the time arose. I knew that Ellie had read the “A Song Of Ice And Fire” books, so I decided to start the conversation with a little question about the books...“when all is said and done, and George has released ‘The Winds Of Winter’ and ‘A Dream Of Spring’, who will sit upon the Iron Throne?”

Ellie’s answer was interesting in that she didn’t give a definitive name, but she mentioned that it would involve ice and fire and hinted at who her guess was. The way she explained her answer was cool because it directly ties into my own theories (which I will get into in the next chapter). We then started talking about tattoos, as she asked if the tattoo on my left forefinger (of a Celtic knot) hurt when I had it inked. I responded that it hurt significantly less than I was expecting, as everyone was telling me that tattooing a boney surface would hurt like a bitch. I then showed her my other tattoo and the reasoning behind getting the tattoo (a tribute to Luke, my deceased best friend). After a few minutes at her table, I asked if it was okay to get a photo with her. She said “yes” enthusiastically and the picture was taken. Props to “Wales Comic Con” in regards to photos at the autograph table. I think every guest except two or three were taking photos at the autograph table, which is quite rare at a convention. I finally left an autograph table feeling like I’d made an impact. Success! Plus, I got an autograph with Ellie and a photo with her for just £10, so it was a bargain as well as a success.

(myself and the wonderful Ellie Kendrick)

Directly next to Ellie was Ian McElhinney. I’ve got to be honest, going into the event, Ian was the person I wanted to meet the most because he seemed like such a friendly person in every interview I’d seen him in. Plus, I adore Barristan Selmy. Ian didn’t disappoint. When I first got to his table, Ian was in front of his table taking a photo with the person who was in front of me in line. After the photo was taken, Ian asked if I wanted a photo before he sat down (he offered, big bonus points!). I accepted in the most manly voice I could muster while fanboying. Ian was the only other “Game Of Thrones” guest that had read the books, so I started off with the same question I asked Ellie. Ian gave his answer (Jon Snow) and then asked me mine. I explained my theory to him...

*SPOILERS* okay, it’s not exactly spoilers, as it’s all speculation on my part, but I’ve put a spoiler tag just in case. I think that Jon Snow isn’t Ned Stark’s child. I think that he’s Lyanna Stark (Ned’s sister) and Rhaegar Targaryen (Daenerys’ oldest brother)’s child. In the first book, “Game Of Thrones”, Ned keeps thinking about Lyanna making him promise something when he found her dying. I think that promise was for him to raise Jon Snow as his own child. Robert Baratheon claims that Rhaegar ‘kidnapped’ Lyanna, and it was this act that caused his rebellion that led to him becoming king. I think that Lyanna and Rhaegar were in love, ran away together, and Ned found Lyanna dying during childbirth. Of course, if people knew Jon was the child of Lyanna and Rhaegar, he would have a target on his back from a lot of people. It all fits. I think that the book series will end with Jon Snow sitting the Iron Throne alongside his aunt, Daenerys. I’m not sure if it would be a romantic pairing (Targaryens are inbred), but I think that they would rule together. Jon Snow is ice. He lives in the north and is a member of the Night’s Watch. Daenerys is fire, she’s a Targaryen. Jon Snow is literally ice and fire if my theory is true because he has one parent who’s a Stark from the north and one parent who’s a Targaryen. *END SPOILERS*.

Ian seemed fascinated by my theory and mentioned that one person had mentioned a similar theory to him before, so it may very well be the case. We chatted about Barristan’s role in the book series and that his role should grow larger over the next couple of seasons, as he’s a ‘point of view’ character in “A Dance With Dragons”. I must have spent five minutes talking theories and speculation with Ian, which was amazing because he was so enthusiastic about it! Ian could easily have been a £15 guest, but he was charging just £10, plus offering photos on your phone. Again, this shows me that he was there for the fans.

(Ian McElhinney's autograph)

Kerry Ingram and Aimee Richardson were both missing from their tables, so I decided to meet Rikishi before heading over to the “Game Of Thrones” Q&A. Here starts my only major complaint of the convention. I feel as though Rikishi was there primarily for making money. He was charging £20 for an autograph (it was advertised as £15) and he was charging £20 for a photo with him on your phone! In five years of conventioning, I’ve never encountered a guest charging for a phone photo before. It was £15 to buy a professional, high-quality, studio photo from “Wales Comic Con” with Rikishi, yet Rikishi himself was charging £20 for a phone photo? Where’s the logic? This isn’t the “Wales Comic Con” team’s fault, as they have no control over this. It just left a very sour taste in my mouth. As I was already at the table, I decided to get the phone photo anyway. With all of that being said, Rikishi was very energetic and very friendly. I really enjoyed meeting Rikishi, I was just rather disgusted with the pricing situation on his part.

By this point, it was 12:20pm, so myself and Jon decided to head over to ‘talk hall A’ in order to get into the “Game Of Thrones” Q&A panel that was scheduled for 12:45pm-1:15pm. When we arrived at the hall, the queue was long. Very long. Scary long. Going down five corridors long. To Wales Comic Cons’ credit, they fit everyone into the talk hall as far as I’m aware. Almost every seat in the hall was filled and it must have been 300 people at least. Maybe 400. The “Game Of Thrones” panel was the only Q&A or talk that I attended at Wales Comic Con this year, the reason being that I had four studio photos and nine autographs to get, so time was of the essence (I didn’t get Rikishi’s autograph in the end due to the pricing for a phone photo).

The talk itself was very enjoyable. All six actors were lined up along a table on the stage and the atmosphere was completely relaxed. If you have a question, throw your hand in the air. Simple. With Mark, James Cosmo, and Ian, I knew what to expect to a certain extent. They’ve all been around so long that they’re used to this type of situation. I know that Ellie has done a few conventions before too, so I assumed she would be able to handle herself. I was interested to see how Aimee and Kerry would react to the Q&A because as far as I’m aware it was their first convention ever, so they might not be used to the environment that they were in. They both rose to the occasion and then some! In my opinion, all six actors did themselves justice. They were all funny, all interesting, and all looked thrilled to be there. However, Aimee Richardson was the M.V.P. of that panel for sure (that’s “most valuable player”). She was hilarious throughout the panel and seemed totally at ease for someone that may not have done something like it before. I was highly impressed with everyone. Highlights include...

Someone in the audience asked which character they would like to play except their own. Mark Addy was first to answer and the character that popped into my head immediately was Bronn. I was correct, Mark chose Bronn. James Cosmo declined to answer because he was so happy playing Jeor Mormont that he couldn’t imagine playing another character. Aimee proclaimed that she’d love to play Hodor and actually auditioned for the part. She said that she came second to Kristian because she couldn’t remember her lines for Hodor. Gut = busted.
Mark Addy mentioned that Sean Bean’s outfit had a little pocket sewn into the inside so that Sean could carry around a few items on set (phone, etc.). When filming the scene in the pilot episode, where Robert Baratheon arrives and the Starks are all kneeling, a load of chocolate bars came pouring out of Ned’s pocket, which he’d taken from catering. Apparently they were the best chocolate bars on offer.
Mark Addy mentioned that filming any scene with Sean Bean and Lena Headey together was difficult because the three of them couldn’t stop laughing when they were together. Evidently, Lena found Sean hilarious. Apparently she roared (see what I did there? Roar...she’s a lion...nevermind...) over the fact that Sean has a little nail file.
An audience member asked the three girls what it was like working with such a well-established class of actors like Lena Headey, Sean Bean, Mark Addy, etc., and Aimee jokingly yelled “nothing!”. She quickly mentioned that she was joking and that it’s amazing working with the whole cast because nobody’s a diva. Ellie quickly pointed at Aimee, implying that she was the diva of the cast. Aimee flicked her hair back in the best Paris Hilton impression I’ve seen in some time. Very funny.
Ellie mentioned that in the scene where Meera and Osha are skinning rabbits, it’s legitimate rabbits that they’re skinning. They were taught how to skin rabbits quickly on set beforehand. She said it was pretty gross, but that she’d survive in the “Game Of Thrones” world if it were real, so long as rabbits were around.
Kerry Ingram mentioned that when she was recording the first scene she was in, where Stannis goes to visit her and she runs towards him to hug him, she had a broken foot. When she ran towards Stannis during the first take, she slipped and ended up falling into him. She said it was the most embarrassing moment of her life.
They mentioned that during the filming of someone being beheaded, the cast played a trick on Isaac (Bran Stark), where they made him think that something had gone wrong and that the actor was actually beheaded. Poor Isaac.
Aimee told a story about the episode where she’s shipped off to Dorne by Tyrion. During filming, she’s supposed to be crying because she’s leaving her family behind. However, the man sailing the boat she was on kept trying to cheer her up by singing to her. To counteract this, the crew put Aimee’s mum behind the camera so that she could wave goodbye to Aimee with a sad look on her face. Apparently that made things worse because the look on her mother’s face was hilarious as opposed to encouraging Aimee to look more heartbroken. Aimee also did an impression of the face her mother pulled.
Ian mentioned that he’s one of the lucky few cast members who’s got to go to two different countries for “Game Of Thrones”. He was in Northern Ireland during the first season because Barristan Selmy was located in King’s Landing, but during the third season he’s with Daenerys so he was filming in Croatia (I think it was Croatia...they film in Morocco too for the Essos scenes).
*season four, episode two spoilers* An audience member asked if the cast were happy to see Joffrey killed off, which prompted a few people to grumble about spoilers. Most people knew already though. Some of the cast were happy to see him die, but Kerry mentioned that she was upset to see him leave because he was such a great character that everyone despised. Ian expanded on this by saying that a show needs a villain to succeed. You need a villain to rally against in order to give the heroes a person to fight. *end spoilers*.
Mark Addy explained that one of the great things about “Game Of Thrones” is that the characters are all shrouded in areas of grey. Almost no character is ‘good’ or ‘evil’ (except perhaps Joffrey or Ramsay Snow) and that if a character is ‘evil’, their reasoning for being so is displayed to give justification to their actions.
James Cosmo mentioned that he was primarily filming in Iceland with the young lads of the Night’s Watch and that he fell in love with the country of Iceland. He mentioned a particular scene where he was leading the Night’s Watch through a thicket of snow. He was trying to look commanding while also trying to not fall flat on his ass.

I’m doing all this from memory and that’s everything I can remember right now. As a former wrestler, I can use the excuse “I used to land on my head for a living”. If anyone else that was there remembers anything additional to the above, please leave a comment below! The entire cast came across as very humble, very down-to-Earth, and as though they thoroughly enjoy their job. I was impressed with all six of them.

The “Game Of Thrones” panel overran by about 15 minutes (things being 15/20 minutes later than scheduled happens at every convention and it’s known as ‘convention time’), so I quickly darted out of the hall in order to get over to the studio photo building, ready for my 1:45pm studio photo with Ian McElhinney. For those of you that haven’t been to a convention before, a studio photo session is very simple. You buy a ticket, queue up (like an autograph), and a professional photographer takes your photo with the guest. In Wales Comic Con’s case, the photos are printed on site (I believe this is the first year they were done on site) and take about an hour to be developed and ready for collection. It’s a pretty smooth process. If you want to talk to a guest, the autograph table is the place to do so. You only get a few seconds at the studio photo session because there are a lot of people to get through in a short space of time. The photos are a high quality and are well worth the money that Wales Comic Con were charging. I decided to get four studio photos... Ian McElhinney (£10), Mark Addy (£15), James Cosmo (£15), and Vader (£15). Some guests, like Aimee and Kerry, weren’t doing studio photos. It all depends on the guest’s contract. I guess it might have been an age-related issue with those particular two.

My first three studio photos were taking place in ‘studio photo B’ and all went off without a hitch. Without a hitch, that is, except me needing to reapply my eyeliner ready for the photos. I reapplied it in the bathroom and got the filthiest look from a man in there at the sink. He started muttering to himself about me...

What, a female’s allowed to do their makeup in the bathroom, but a male can’t? I have my needs!

I’ve got to commend the lady and her young daughter (eight or nine, I’d imagine) that were running the studio photo collection area because they were both brilliant. Apparently the Allison Mack photos had a problem and every one of them had to be edited on the computer by hand. It was a time consuming process, which meant that the photos were printed and available for collection an hour or two later than expected. Now, this could have been a disaster situation (as I’ve seen it be at other conventions), but the crew at Wales Comic Con defused the situation with one simple step...they told the conventioneers what was going on. So many times at conventions you hear “this is going to be starting half an hour later” without being told a reason why and it really annoys people. Honesty is definitely the best policy in this situation.

I witnessed the lady running the area and her daughter explain the situation to each and every person that asked where the photos were. If wasn’t just “they’re going to be an hour late”, it was “they’re going to be an hour late because...”. It makes all the difference in the world. I saw this time and time again throughout the day at Wales Comic Con. If something was going to be different than planned, the crew were quick to let everyone know and explained why the plan was changing. The entire event was organised so effectively and efficiently that I have absolutely nothing to complain about on that front.

After my photo with James Cosmo, I had about an hour and a half to kill before my final studio photo with Vader. In that time, I had three autographs left to get – James Cosmo, Aimee Richardson, and Kerry Ingram. I’m glad that I waited until after the Q&A panel to meet Aimee and Kerry because I knew very little about them coming into the event. It gave me the opportunity to see their personalities, get to know a little about them, and give me some topics to discuss at the autograph table.

Meeting Aimee and Kerry was another of the biggest highlights of my day. I think having the two of them sat next to each other worked well because they were able to bounce off of each other. If one of them had an empty queue, they would join in with the other one’s conversation. They had someone else to lean upon during their first convention, which worked terrifically. I have a confession to make, I adore the Irish accent. It’s my favourite accent in the world. My grandfather was Irish and even after he moved to England, he kept his Irish accent for his entire life. Ian McElhinney sounds just like my grandfather and Aimee’s accent is also amazing. I could listen to those two have a conversation together all day.

Upon meeting Aimee at the autograph table, I expressed my disappointment over the fact that she didn’t get to play Hodor. She quipped that she could totally have carried Issac for more than 2 seasons without needing a wheelbarrow. Even though Aimee hasn’t read the books, her mother has and she knows what’s to come for her character. We discussed her role thus far and both expressed how excited we are to see her role grow over the next few seasons. *SPOILERS* In Dorne, a female can become a ruler, unlike the rest of the Seven Kingdoms. Therefore, after Joffrey’s death, Dorne try to declare Myrcella as the rightful heir to the Iron Throne, not Tommen. This leads to Myrcella’s role in the series increasing. Another thing that happens to Myrcella in the books is that she loses an ear. Myself and Aimee both talked about how awesome it would be if they kept that in the show. Aimee mentioned that having the makeup on for that would be fantastic...the first time or two *END SPOILERS*. She mentioned that the greyscale makeup that Kerry has to wear takes a long time to apply. This brought Kerry into the conversation and we continued talking about the series. We also talked about their Instagram followers, Twitter followers, and a whole host of other things. I slid over from Aimee’s autograph table to Kerry’s autograph table to continue the conversation while receiving Kerry’s autograph. Shireen’s singing voice in “Game Of Thrones” is indeed Kerry’s voice. Seriously, how talented is that girl?!

Both Aimee and Kerry were fantastic and alongside Ian were the most easy to talk to guests of the day. Plus, they were only £10 each, so it was another example of decent prices being applied at Wales Comic Con. They also both took a photo with me, which was great! They’re probably my favourite two photos of the day...

(myself and the beautiful Aimee Richardson)

(myself and the fabulous Kerry Ingram)

After a highly enjoyable five minutes with the two ladies, I moved on down the aisle to meet James Cosmo, my last autograph of the day. By this point, I’d met James Cosmo at the studio photo session, but I hadn’t had the opportunity to talk to him properly. For a man that looks rather intimidating on screen, James couldn’t be nicer if he tried. He extended his hand, had a big grin on his face, and we spent the next few minutes talking about his career and his time playing Jeor Mormont in “Game Of Thrones”. He was a classy guy through and through and took a photo with me on phone as I was leaving his table.

(myself and James Cosmo)

At this point, I realised that I had 20 minutes until my photo shoot with Vader, but I’d completely forgotten to put any “Shangel’s Reviews” business cards out. I gave Jon (who had basically been my ‘glamorous’ picture taking assistant all day) a handful of business cards and between the two of us we put a hundred or so out between the autograph hall and the photo shoot building. While in the photo shoot building, I had my final photo of the day (in photo area A), with Vader, who was yet again a gentleman. He shook everybody’s hand and thanked each and every person for coming. He also proclaimed that he’d sign any of the studio photos for half price, which was a very nice gesture on his part.

Charlie Adlard’s “The Walking Dead” Q&A panel was scheduled to begin at 5pm. However, it was running 20 minutes late due to Charlie being so busy with sketches. Yet again, the crew at Wales Comic Con made everyone aware of this before the event was due to begin. Plus, they explained that it was running late due to Charlie having so many sketches to complete. The people waiting for sketches had already paid for them, so he had to get them finished before the building closed at 6pm. They explained the situation, so everybody was okay with it. Due to it starting a little late, I decided to skip the talk (Jon stayed) because I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to grab my Vader photo from the printing area and to have one last look around the merchandise stand. I bought a cool Sirius Black wanted poster before taking a victory lap around the autograph hall. While taking my final trip around the hall, I bumped into Ian McElhinney. Ian caught my eye, stopped, extended his hand, and told me to have a safe journey home. These are the moments that make some guests become your favourite of all time. Ian clearly cared about his fans, he was clearly there to give back to the fandom....I got that impression from almost everyone at Wales Comic Con, which is extremely rare.

Stiff-legged, tired-eyed, and weary, we left Wrexham at 6pm with some amazing memories, photos, and autographs that will last a lifetime. After attending my first “Wales Comic Con”, would I return? In a heartbeat. The event was highly enjoyable and I’d recommend each and every one of you to give it a try next year. Keep an eye on the website ( for details of next year’s event. I will be posting details of next year’s “Wales Comic Con” on this blog as well, so keep your eyes peeled...I’ve never understood that expression.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my review of “Wales Comic Con”. If you attended the event, please leave your own thoughts about the event in the comments section below! If you didn’t attend the event, feel free to leave a comment anyway. Whether it’s your own theories about “A Song Of Ice And Fire”, giving your own stories about celebrities you’ve met, or just generally wanting to leave a comment, I read each and every one of them.

Thank you.



  1. Seems like WCC was a huge success! It's great for those of us who can't attend to be able to read such an in-depth review that makes us feel like we were actually there with you :). I also hope you gave that guy a sassy/evil stare while you re-applied your eyeliner, that man obviously doesn't have any sense. Anyway, awesome review, can't wait to read more :) ONWARD TO LFCC!!!!

    - The idiot who tripped over Adam Baldwin's foot <3

    1. I was just about to text you to let you know the review was up, Hannah! :P. I love that you signed your comment "The idiot who tripped over Adam Baldwin's foot"...there's nothing wrong with that at all ;). If you're gonna trip over someone's foot, make sure it's someone from "Firefly"!

      Thanks for reading, bestie! ^_^

      - Shangel

    2. I really want to meet Adam Baldwin! <3

  2. .me and my other half have been working as part of the Wales comic con crew for the last two years. It's amazing experience and I haven't some truly awesome people. Last year I spent the day helping out the actor that played greedo (Paul blake) in the original star wars films and the year before I spent the day helping the actress that played zhaan (Virginia Hey) in farscape. .... This year we couldn't make it and we were gutted. It's been great to read such an in depth review, it's great to know how much of a success it's been this year. Fingers crossed we will be back on the crew for the next event.

    Thanks for an awesome review of what sounds like an awesome convention and day.


  3. It was great to read what you thought of the con mate. I can't believe I missed the no posed photos sigh for Mark Addy! Whoops. I asked. And he gave! Although it was 5:30 and the only person in his que. Which is astounding considering how mental it had been all day!

    I had a great day as well. Only pity with knowing a fair few people from previous cons is that we only get brief conversations sometimes. But it was nice to run into you and have a proper chat before the end.

    James Cosmo and Mark Addy were two of the nicest guests ever. But the highlight of the day for me was the torchwood talk. It was so bloody funny. Eve miles and Gareth David Lloyd seem like such fun individual's. Glad you enjoyed your time in Wales xD

  4. Wow, first, I will be coming back to read the rest, but while the computer is on - I want to watch Game of Thrones just from reading the first half of this! I can't wait to read the rest. I wish we had stuff like this down here in New Zealand!

  5. Your review, as always, is so fun to read! Lots of anecdotes, fun facts, and the impression that you're the biggest fanboy ever (which is a compliment in my eyes!). And yes, it makes me want to watch Game of Thrones. This review actually reminds me of the first of your reviews that I read, Hallowhedon 5. I had no idea that such a convention existed, and your review made me feel like I was there. Thank you Shane!!

  6. I was a guest assistant at this years WCC and I have to point out that charging people for photos at the table is a very US thing to do. My guest had the standard photo shoots for £15 and was charging £5 for a photo at the table with your own camera. She explained that at US shows they always charge at the table - usually $10. Lots of people paid to have a photo with her and she was always very careful to make sure everyone checked their camera to make sure they got a good photo or if need be take another one so everyone left happy. If theres a choice between no posed photos and this I would always prefer this. No waiting around in a queue for shoots and no waiting around to pick up your photo, simple and quick. It's just a case of us here in the UK not being used to it, it's either an expensive shoot or free.

  7. Great review! I know some of the WHO guests take a charity donation if you want a pic taken with them with your own phone ... I think that's a great compromise. My worst experience was at a show several years back when composer Jeff Wayne was there. I love WAR OF THE WORLDS and decided to get a very expensive CD set from his own table to get signed. When I gave it to him to sign, he said it was another £20 to sign it! I was disgusted and turned my back and walked away. If I had brought my own CD then fine, but to charge on top of the already high price from his own table was, I felt, out of order. Luckily I've not had other bad experiences with folks at events, and Wales Comic Con is certainly one of the best that we attend!

  8. I like your Thrones theory :-)

  9. Well done, love! It truly sounds like a wonderful experience and your review lets me think I was there was well ;). Getting to meet like-minded people who are as passionate as we are about great TV shows/ books and and having funny, riveting conversations with them is such a great joy! On top of that, when that stuff is coming from someone like you who clearly has so much passion for it all, it is a hundred times more enjoyable to be a part of the experience as well!

    Can't wait for our next adventure.. :)

    <3 Robyn <3 xxxxxx

    PS. Oh, and I'm looking forward to my Hedwig cuddly toy ;)

  10. The wrestlers that just come for the money aren't as bad as some media guests that do the same. Plus the trend of a couple causing a lot of drama with young females etc

  11. At the SFBAll in Southampton the studio photos have an autograph included in the price of the photo and convention times are from 10am until 1-2am the next morning.