Monday, 1 December 2014

Wales Comic Con 2014 Part II - A Detailed Review

Guests met and discussed in this review (with the franchise I most associate them with personally) :-

• Anthony Head (Rupert Giles in “Buffy The Vampire Slayer”)
• Emily Head (Anthony’s Daughter & Carli in “The InBetweeners”)
• Mark Sheppard (Badger in “Firefly”, Crowley in “Supernatural”, and King of the nerd TV shows)
• Ian Beattie (Ser Meryn Trant in “Game Of Thrones”)
• Road Warrior Animal (Wrestler)
• Booker T (Wrestler)
• Lance Storm (Wrestler)
• Doug Williams (Wrestler)
• Paul London (Wrestler)

Before we get started, a quick note...

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.

Also, thank you to Howard Crowe for allowing me to use some of his photos in this review. Finally, I had flu while attending this event (still do), so please excuse my lack of photos compared to previous convention reviews.

Greetings, gentle readers, and welcome to another addition of “Shangel Reviews Wales Comic Con”! Just 24 hours removed from the event, your friendly, neighbourhood Shangel is back to give his account! If there’s one thing I’m good at, it’s finishing quickly...keep that just between us. As some of you may remember, I attended WCC Part 1 earlier this year, where I met such wonderful people as Warwick Davis, Rikishi, Ian McElhinney, Ellie Kendrick, Mark Addy, Vader, James Cosmo, Aimee Richardson, Kerry Ingram, and The Walking Dead’s artist, Charlie Adlard. Full details of that convention and all the excitement, conversations, and trivia facts that accompanied it can be located here. For the second time in 2014, I moseyed over to Glyndŵr University in Wrexham, Wales, to attend an event filled with celebrities, activities, live wrestling, panels, Q&As, autographs, photo ops., and nerds dressed up as their favourite characters from various franchises. 24 hours removed from the event, I’m sat here at work on my lunch break, eager to relive the festivities and immortalise them in words that dozens and dozens of people will read. I jest, it’ll thankfully be thousands. As I mentioned in my review of the event earlier in the year, I like to think of Jaime’s “Wales Comic Con” as the ECW of the convention circuit in the UK. For those of you scratching your heads right now and asking what an “ECW” is, that’s a wrestling analogy. In the mid-90s, when wrestling had become rather stagnant and repetitive, ECW came along and created something different than put the other promotions to shame. While WCC isn’t as big as some of Showmasters’ events or MCM’s events, I like to think that it’s a better event by some margin. A part of the reason for this is that Jaime makes a conscious effort to make Wales Comic Con different. That’s the key, people, differentiate yourself! Like ECW, Wales Comic Con makes you feel welcome and a part of the show, as opposed to an attendee. It draws you into this rambunctious crowd of misfits (I use that term lovingly) and makes you never want to leave. Plus, it’s a convention that has something to offer everyone. Old people, young people, sports fans, sci-fi fans, movie fans, 80’s fans, 90’s fans, 21st century fans...if you’re a human being or even if you’re not, Wales Comic Con has something to offer you. From replica vehicles from famous franchises (such as “Transformers” and “Supernatural”), to a gigantic, inflatable Stay Puft Marshmallow Man from “Ghostbusters”, to a live wrestling show in the parking lot from the terrific athletes at Preston City Wrestling, to the usual autographs, photo sessions, and talks that are staples of the convention diet. What’s most striking about “Wales Comic Con” is the feeling of a family atmosphere. You don’t have to be a diehard convention attendee to enjoy this event. You don’t have to be going with a group of friends. If you go alone, you’ll soon find yourself talking to people in queues because every person at “Wales Comic Con” shares a plethora (good word!) of common interests. It’s every bit as much of a family day out as it is a gathering of sci-fi nerds. Don’t let the stigma of the word ‘convention’ scare you off, gentle readers. These events are not just comprised of a collection of basement-dwellers taking their annual trip out their parents’ basement. Granted, there are a few of those too, but mostly it’s a group of people that have been brought together because of their passion for something. That’s the word I’d most associate with “Wales Comic Con” in all honestly: passion.

 (Photo Credit: Howard Crowe)

Before diving into my day, I’d like to take a moment to specially thank the nine people at WCC that approached me and said “hi” because of this blog, and said that they attended Wales Comic Con because of my insistent nagging on my Buffyverse fan page on Facebook ( I really appreciate you guys coming over to say “hi” and to say that you enjoy my writing work! As far as friends that I saw at this convention goes, I’m going to avoid naming anyone. I have a habit of missing someone out and then I feel bad, so I’m gonna name nobody instead! However, I will tell my friend Sarah that her two girls are adorable...I just broke my own rule seconds after I typed it...

Like LFCCW last month, this event was attended by myself and my friend Hayley. Due to people working, being absent, or generally being avoidy, we were down to a two-person team for WCC. Hayley and myself actually live together, so in theory the process of getting up and leaving the house should have been a relatively straightforward one. However, when your housemate has been out all night and crashed into bed somewhere around the 2am mark, getting up at 6am to start a 2.5-hour drive can be problematic. To cut a long and yawny story short, we left our house about 15 minutes later than scheduled. As many of you know, I have OCD. I incessantly plan conventions to the point that I know where i should be every 15 minutes. While some mean friends of mine have pointed out to me that this is madness, I like to think of it as organised and intelligent. Therefore, leaving 15 minutes late makes my brain go grumpy. We arrived at the beautiful Glyndŵr university campus at 9:15am, ready to soak up the gloriousness. After Wales Comic Con warning attendees that the weather was supposed to be shit (read: severely cold), it turned out to be okay. I might even go as far as to say pleasant. 9 degrees, relatively sunny. It was actually nicer weather than the first event in April, so thank you, global warming. Unlike the event earlier in the year, I decided to go to this one as standard entry and not an early bird. That meant that I could access the building at 11am instead of 10am. Therefore, an hour and three-quarters of waiting time was upon us, but at least we were near the front of the standard entry queue, which was needed as my first photo shoot was at 11:15am.

Like the last show, the event layout was primarily split over four buildings. You have the main building, which is the one you queue outside of to gain entry to the event. It’s where a few guests are signing autographs and where all the talks take place. Next you have the primary signing hall. As you can probably guess, it’s where most of the guests are setup signing autographs, as well as most of the merchandise stalls. Behind the signing hall, you have the photo building. This is where the two professional photo session rooms are located and where you collect your photos from once they’ve been developed. Finally, you have what I like to refer to as the ‘overflow’ building. It’s where a small collection of guests sign, in a little room by themselves, as well as a merchandise stall or two. In April, this is where Jonathan Ross was located when he was signing autographs for a couple of hours for free. This time around, it was dedicated to the cast members of “In The Flesh” that were attending. The entry queue for standard ticket holders started moving about 5 minutes ahead of schedule because the queue was snaking outside of the campus and down the street. Seriously, the queues were very impressive and definitely looked larger than they were in April (which were pretty big themselves).

 (Main Building)

(Autograph Hall - Photo Credit: Howard Crowe)

(Photo Building)
After getting into the building and receiving my WCC wristband, I quickly dashed over to the photo building for my studio photo with professional wrestling legend, WWE Hall of Famer, and six-time world champion, Booker T. Booker still works for the WWE as an announcer, so sadly he had to leave right after his photo session. To placate diehard wrestling fans, Jaime setup a special signing area in the photo building for Booker T so that he could sign autographs from 9-11am. It was a nice move on WCC’s part to open the doors at 9am instead of 10am for people that wanted to meet Booker and it was a very nice move on Booker’s part that he decided to attend the event even though his time had to be limited. A lot of guests would have pulled out entirely, but Booker decided to come for the 2.5 hours that he was still able to. By the time I got over to the photo building, Booker’s autograph signing session was mostly done. I did hear him talking to someone and roaring with laughter, before loudly exclaiming one of his catchphrases, “shucky ducky, quack quack”. I have no idea what it means either.

I had four professional photos booked for “Wales Comic Con” after Josef Altin (Pyp from “Game Of Thrones”) had to pull out before the event. These were Booker T, Lance Storm, Animal, and Mark Sheppard. Lance, Animal, and Mark’s photos were all taking place in photo area B and they all happened to be right after one another. My only photo in area A was Booker T. If you’ve never attended a convention before, the photo session is not the time to get a long conversation with a guest, that’s what the autograph table is for. A photo session is basically a quick “hi!”, the photo is taken, and you go on your merry way. However, even with that being said, Booker still found the time to talk to everyone a little bit between photos. With a smile plastered to his face and a Rolex watch on his wrist, he thanked me for coming and asked me who I was dressed as. I told him that I was simply dressed as myself and he laughed before saying, “right on, right on, I can dig that, brother”. Throughout the photo session, Booker was high energy, high excitement, and made everyone feel appreciated, which is about as much as you can except from a photo session. He went above and beyond what was expected of him, so I could ask for no more. Great guy and I’d highly recommend meeting him if you ever get the chance. This is a man who grew up in poverty and lost both his parents by the time he was fourteen years old. This is a man who grew up rough, made mistakes, paid for them in prison, and came out and changed his life. He’s an inspiration and a man who’s the very embodiment of dreams can be achieved if you want them enough. 

One photo down and half an hour free before my next three photos, I headed to the autograph hall with Hayley, ready to get one or two of the seven autographs I had planned. There were more than seven guests that were worth meeting, but with a limited budget, I decided to restrict myself to the essentials. For example, Mark Addy, James Comso, and Jerome Flynn are all awesome people and definitely worth meeting, but I’ve met them all before, I decided to give them a miss this time around. If I had the money, I’d have happily met them all again. Coming into the event, I was expecting Mark Sheppard and Anthony Head to have the biggest autograph queues. Much to my surprise, Mark’s queue was quite short when I first entered the building. I figured out why later in the day (more on it then). I originally intended to give Anthony Head a miss because I’ve met him numerous times before, but I decided I couldn’t come to a convention with Tony and not say “hi”. I’ve bought an autograph, a photo, or both with Tony at every convention we’ve been to together, so I ultimately decided I didn’t want to break tradition. Tony’s queue was implementing virtual queuing, so I grabbed myself a ticket number and decided to find someone else to meet in the interim. A virtual queuing ticket is a very simply system. For the biggest guests with large queues, you’re given a ticket number, and then the event calls people in batches to avoid humongous queues. For example, they’ll call numbers 1-20, then 21-40, etc. You can join the queue at any time after your number has been called. I had number 52 and I ended up joining the queue a few hours later when they were up to number 90. It’s a great system because you don’t have to waste time in queues and movement problems are reduced because there’s rarely more than 10 people in a queue at any time.

With Tony unavailable, I decided to do a circuit of the hall and familiarise myself with where everyone I wanted to meet was located. While on my travels, I decided to stop off at Road Warrior Animal’s autograph table to get an autograph. Like some wrestlers who’ve come before him, Animal was charging an additional £5 if you wanted to get a photo with him at the autograph table on your phone. This system is absolutely fine if you’re told ahead of schedule, which I was in this case. The gentleman who was crewing with Animal told me that if I wanted a photo for an extra £5, that was an option. Animal is, in my opinion, one half of the greatest tag team in professional wrestling history, the Road Warriors (also known as the Legion Of Doom). I was pleasantly surprised to find that his autograph was just £15 (I was expecting £20), so I was more than happy to pay another £5 for a photo. Some guests have signs up that say “no posed photos” at the autograph table. Sometimes this is because the convention or the guest wants to maximise professional photo ticket sales and sometimes it’s because of contractual agreements, or because a guest’s queue is too big and some people may miss out on meeting that guest because of time constraints. Therefore, the £5 photo at the autograph table can work wonders for people that are on a budget. Granted, people who do them for free are better for people on a budget, but £5 is perfectly acceptable in my eyes because it’s cheaper than a professional photo, so at least the attendee can get some sort of picture if they’re strapped for cash. Animal brought the classic Road Warriors spiked shoulder pads with him from the United States and was allowing you to wear them during the photos with him. He asked me if I wanted to wear them and I declined because it would have looked ridiculous over a suit and tie. I thanked Animal for coming to the event and told him the story of how I became a wrestling fan. I watched the Summerslam ‘92 event during its initial airing in the UK and from that moment on I’ve been hooked. I barely remember anything from the event because I was three years old, but I have two distinct memories: the main event between Bret Hart and The British Bulldog, and these two huge men riding to the ring on motorcycles, sporting huge red and black spiked shoulder pads. By that logic, Animal is one of four men in the world that was responsible for me becoming a wrestling fan. Two of the others are now deceased. I thanked Animal for introducing me to a part of my world that helped me survive my adolescence and Animal thanked me. He seemed sincere, so I was pretty happy with the conversation. He asked which picture I wanted signed and I’ve got to be honest, it was a tough choice. He had black and white art photos, pencil drawing photos, and the classic 8”x10” photos that you usually see at conventions. I decided to get a black and white art print signed in the end because it looked absolutely badass. See for yourself...

We shook hands, said goodbye, and I drifted back into a sea of people.

Just down the line from some of the wrestling guests, you had some of the “Game Of Thrones” guests, like James Cosmo and Ian Beattie. Originally, I hadn’t intended to meet Ian Beattie, but after seeing an interview with him from LFCC with ‘Flicks And The City’ (great videos, check them out on YouTube!), he seemed too enthusiastic and interesting to skip. Plus, at just £10, he was a bargain. Ian was my first big conversation of the day and he went on to be in my top 3 favourite people from the convention. Before getting onto “Game Of Thrones”, we talked about LFCC from four months earlier, which was Ian’s first ever convention. The young woman that was with Ian at the autograph table was also terrific and really joined in the conversation, but not in a pushy way. Ian was only at LFCC on the Sunday, so he avoided most of the insanely packed building on the Saturday, so myself and his crew member were filling him in on the nightmare that was LFCC Saturday. We talked about it taking 45 minutes to get from one end of the building to the other, we talked about people going outside for a cigarette and not being let back in because the building was at max. capacity, we talked about people sneaking in through the fire exits, and we talked about the crowds that Stan Lee drew. After this, we got onto “Game Of Thrones”. Ian told me that, “if you think I was a bastard before, waiting until you see season five”...oh dear. Who’s he going to brutalise in this coming season?! One of the things I loved about Ian was the fact that he was so normal. He swore a lot, he talked with humongous enthusiasm for his role on the show, and he completely hyperactive! You can just feel that he’s so proud and pleased to be a part of the show. I asked him if he’d read the books and he told me that he read the first one, but then made a conscious effort to not read the others because to him the books and the show are two separate entities and he wants to see what happened on the show without knowing what’s coming. I mentioned that I agreed with him after the first two seasons. The first two seasons very much followed the books. So much so that they took actual dialogue from the books and inserted it into the show. Since then, the show has slowly distanced itself further and further from the source material and morphed into its own entity, merely using the books as a reference point. Ian told me that when a new season of the show airs, he and his wife will record the first nine episodes, avoid spoilers, then watch them all in a row (one per night), ending with the 10th episode on the last night during its original airing in the UK. I love the fact that he’s a huge fan of the show! For some of the cast it’s merely an acting job, which is perfectly understandable, but I love meeting the guys that are actual fans themselves. I told him of a fan theory that Syrio Forel killed Meryn Trant in the first season/book and took over his appearance (ala Jaqen H’ghar as they’re both from Braavos). That’s not spoilers, people, it’s just guesswork from readers. Ian’s response was absolutely hilarious. He loudly exclaimed that Syrio is “as dead as yesterday’s old fish” and that he killed him. He then loudly boomed, “I killed Syrio! I killed him! There’s no way he’s alive!”. It was so funny and many of the passersby stopped to stare and giggle at his enthusiasm over killing someone. I got my autograph and even snagged a picture with him at the autograph table. After a very pleasant 6 or 7 minutes of talking, I left his autograph table beaming...and later realised when I got home that I left the frickin’ autograph behind! Ugh! What a moron...

Finally, with 15 minutes to spare before an hour of photos, I headed over to Mark Sheppard with Hayley, who was also getting his autograph because she’s a huge “Supernatural” fan. Mark is, basically, the King of nerd shows. “Firefly”? Check. “Dollhouse”? Check. “Supernatural”? Check. “Chuck”? Check. “Star Trek”? Check. “Battlestar Galactica”? Check. “Doctor Who”? Check. “X-Files”? Check. I mentioned this to Mark and he quickly stated that it’s his goal in life to be in every show I watch. I knew Mark was probably going to spend his entire day talking about “Supernatural” or “Firefly”, so I took a different approach and asked him about his time on “Chuck”. Mark really enjoyed his time on “Chuck” and is still close friends with Zachary Levi, who he just saw a few days before WCC. We then proceeded to have a mutual fanboy conversation about “Chuck” and both expressed our annoyance at how underrated the show seems to be. Mark also mentioned that as I was wearing a suit and tie, I could have cosplayed as Crowley. As Mark’s queue was starting to grow by this point, I didn’t want to take up too much of his time. I got the autograph, we shook hands, and he was all smiles and eye contact, which I love. I hate the guests who don’t make eye contact and barely acknowledge your presence while signing. It’s rude. Three autographs down and three positive experiences. Batting 100% thus far.

A little later in the day, I returned to Mark Sheppard’s autograph queue to get one for my friend Rachel because she’s been having a tough time physically recently. During our second conversation, I asked Mark if it was true that Joss originally wrote the part of Badger in “Firefly” for himself. Mark said that it was true and that the network wouldn’t allow it, so he had to cast an actor. I jokingly asked Mark if Joss ever gave him evils from behind the camera as if to say, “I could totally have done this role!”. Mark joked that Joss would occasionally throw menacing glances his way between takes. We then proceeded to talk about “Firefly” and the legacy that the show has created. Mark said that “Firefly” is so popular because it was stolen from us. It didn’t fade out slowly or drop off in quality, it was just getting started and it was snatched away. Both times I met Mark, he was awesome!

By this point it was midday, so I headed back to the photo building because I had three back-to-back photo sessions, starting with Lance Storm at 12:05pm, then Animal at 12:25pm, and finally, Mark Sheppard at 12:45pm. There’s not really much of note from the photo sessions themselves. I’m sure you all know how taking photos works by this point. You say “hi”, smile at the camera, shake hands, and leave, more often than not. Lance came across as a friendly guy, it was nice to see Animal again, and Mark Sheppard was hilarious through his photo session. I wasn’t around for Anthony Head’s photo shoot, but out of the ones I saw, Mark easily had the biggest photo session queue. This explains why his autograph queue wasn’t as large as I was expecting earlier in the day. Often people have to choose between the two due to finances and it appears that most people took the photo option. His queue snaked the photo building inside and went outside the door and past where I could see! It was a minimum of 300 people and I’d imagine it was probably closer to 500. I’m not the greatest at counting crowds, so I could be wrong. Either way, it was a lot of people. Mark was joking around with people and was inviting them into the picture, trying to break up any nerves people had. For example, with some people, he’d yell “come here, you!” when it was their turn for the photo. He also allowed people to kiss him on the cheek (so long as they wiped his cheek afterwards), hold a knife to his throat (I’m assuming it was a prop knife, but I can’t be sure), and generally do most things that people asked. Not everything, but most things. Very rarely do you find a guest that will do anything. Nicholas Brendon is one of those hilarious exceptions. Hayley managed to get a photo with Mark too, under the most lucky of circumstances. Mark’s photo session was sold out. However, the person before Hayley in the photo ticket sales queue wanted to exchange her Mark Sheppard photo for someone else. Therefore, Hayley managed to nab the ticket that was just handed in as an exchange! Lucky cow!

After all my photo shoots were over, I could relax a little bit. Photo sessions are stressful! You have to try and look good and smile and stuff! What’s that about?! I never seem to completely relax at a convention until all my photos are out of the way. I don’t mind photos on a camera phone, but the professional ones always stress me out a tad. After arriving back in the autograph hall, I decided to go meet Tony Head...again. This was my 6th time. I’m so glad I did. When it was my turn, Tony looked up at me and remembered me! He remembered our previous meetings, some of our previous conversations, and greeted me like an old friend. I can die happy. “Buffy The Vampire Slayer” and its spinoff, “Angel”, are my favourite television shows in history. I’ve been watching them since I was eight years old, I’ve seen the episodes more times than I can count, and I just adore them. This year, I’ve had the amazing opportunities to hang out with James Marsters, Emma Caulfield, Jonathan Woodward, and George Hertzberg in the green room of “Vampire Ball 5” all weekend, I’ve met many of the cast members this year and before 2014, and now Tony Head remembers me! Hello, life, when did you get so awesome?!

Tony has a new album out titled “Staring At The Sun”, which features 10 tracks, including covers of “Behind Blue Eyes” (which he sang parts of on “Buffy The Vampire Slayer” fifteen years earlier) and “Under My Skin”. The album is beautiful. I downloaded it the day after it was released on the website (located here). Go, go! Buy, buy! After internally calming down from Tony remembering me, I mentioned to him that I love his new album. He talked about the process of recording the album and we got into a discussion about “Behind Blue Eyes”. Tony mentioned that Buffy fans have been begging him to release a full cover of the song since he sang it briefly on Buffy’s “Where The Wild Things Are”, but he didn’t know how to record it. Eventually, he settled for a piano and vocals cover and the end result is wonderful. I mentioned to him that his new album isn’t the first musical venture of his that I have. I have a vinyl record of him singing “Children Of The Night” with the Johnny Coppin Band from late 70’s/early 80’s. I mentioned to Tony that he signed it for me once and he remembered that the cover had his “mad 70’s hair”. We had a little giggle over the atrocity that was that hairstyle (“it was the style then!”) and I mentioned to him that I lived right next to the Everyman Theatre in Cheltenham, which is where Johnny Coppin was the musical director for “Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat”, where Tony played Joseph. Tony filled me in on some of his time working on that record and what it was like working in the Everyman. We then spent some mandatory time talking about “Buffy The Vampire Slayer” and the legacy of Rupert Giles. I told Tony that I was his last autograph before his lunch break, so now he could go and have a well deserved rest. Tony smiled, giggled (people who’ve seen drunk Giles know the laugh), and said “it’s really nice to see you again”. Again, I can die happy. I’ve said this many times before, but Tony is the perfect gentleman. Getting five solid minutes with him one-on-one is a treat.

Sat right next to Tony was his daughter, Emily, who’s been in “The InBetweeners”, “The Invisibles”, and more. In fact, Emily played Tony’s daughter in “The Invisibles”, which he wasn’t aware of until she was cast. It was a pleasant surprise to him that Emily had auditioned and got the part. Emily was a total sweetheart and was everything you’d expect from the daughter of a national treasure. After spending some time talking about conventions and how she was finding the day, we quickly transitioned to “The InBetweeners” and her favourite experiences working on the show. I said it was a shame that she wasn’t in the second movie, but it was understandable considering how Carli (her character) treated Simon. Emily looked up at me and said, “yeah, Carli was a bit of a bitch to Simon constantly, wasn’t she?”. Tony’s daughter swears. Love it. Towards the end of our conversation, Tony, without looking up, said “Emily, I’m going to lunch, are you coming?”. Emily said “I’m with Shane right now, dad! But I’ll come afterwards!”, to which Tony looked up and responded, “sorry, Shane! Sorry, mate! I didn’t see she was talking to you!”. I said that it was absolutely fine and in my head added, “especially as you called me ‘mate’.” I’m a fanboy for Tony, get over it. I told Emily I didn’t want to keep her from lunch, so we wrapped our conversation up shortly afterwards. I asked for a photo with her and just before it was taken she said to me, “sorry about dad!”, and I responded, “no worries whatsoever!”. Lovely, lovely woman! Photo turned out pretty cool too... 

It was 1:20pm by this point and I wanted to go to the “Game Of Thrones” panel that started at 1:30pm. Hayley had a photo shoot scheduled with Andrew Lee Potts at the same time so we arranged to meet up again after my talk finished. The “Game Of Thrones” talk is always huge for WCC. The queue went through five corridors to the back of the building and then snaked back down through four corridors. It was insane and it was very, very hot in that corridor. However, because of the way it was laid out, it wasn’t cramped at all. I managed to get a pretty decent seat in row 6. The panels at WCC take place in two beautiful lecture halls. The “Game Of Thrones” talk was taking place in the larger one. There was plenty of room. The “Game Of Thrones” talk consisted of Lino Facioli (Robert Arryn), Jerome Flynn (Bronn), James Cosmo (Jeor Mormont), Ian Beattie (Meryn Trant), and Ian Whyte (White Walker, some giants, and The Mountain in season two). Ian is 7’1” tall. Highlights from that panel:-

 (Photo Credit: Howard Crowe)

·       Only two actors of the five have read any of the “A Song Of Ice And Fire” book series. Ian has read the first book (as I previously mentioned) and Ian Whyte has read the first three and parts of the 4th. While reading “A Feast For Crows”, Ian’s son pulled his bookmark out of the book. Ian was too disheartened to re-read the book and find where he was up to, so he abandoned the books for now.
·       Ian Whyte hasn’t seen any of the show past season two, episode two. He said that the start of the show coincided with the birth of his son, so if it isn’t on Cbeebies, he hasn’t seen it. Now that his son is four, he’s able to branch out and watch adult TV again.
·       Somebody mentioned that “Game Of Thrones” is known for its frequent scenes of nudity (big cheer from the crowd!) and did the actors get paid more for nude scenes. Ian Beattie said that in his case he’d have to pay the show more.
·       James Cosmo mentioned that his death scene was particularly upsetting because while he was lying down on Sam’s lap, dying and celibate, everyone else was getting to be naked with the beautiful female actresses that were playing Craster’s wives.
·       James Cosmo’s favourite day on set was when Jeor Mormont passed his sword on to Jon Snow. He said that he appreciated the subtext of Jeor approving of Jon and viewing him as a worthy son in place of his own son, Jorah, who disappointed him. Jon is everything that Jeor wants in a son and him giving Jon his family’s sword was a passing of the torch moment.
·       While filming Tyrion’s trial in season four, Ian Beattie couldn’t remember the speech he gives to testify against Tyrion. After much anguish on Ian’s part, he promised the director that he’d know it by the name day and would remember it for the rest of his life. The next day, Ian recited the whole speech and still remembers it to this day.
·       Ian Whyte was sent 1,000 Ian Beattie trading cards by accident instead of his own.
·       Somebody directed a question to “the younger members of the cast” and Jerome Flynn instantly responded with “why, thank you”, while wearing the most smug expression he could muster...

·       Someone asked the cast what their favourite book series was. Which book series meant as much to them as “A Song Of Ice And Fire” means to us? For Ian Whyte, it’s “Lord Of The Rings”. He first read the book series when he was eight years old and he’s been reading it every couple of years since then. Ian Beattie’s favourite series is Harry Potter. He also mentioned another series, but I forget what it was.
·       “If you could adopt one character from ‘Game Of Thrones’ into your family, who would it be?” – Jerome chose Arya because she’s his favourite character. He was going to say Tyrion, but then he quickly retracted that and said that he couldn’t have Peter Dinklage living in his house (they’re good friends). James Cosmo chose Jon Snow, which is adorable when you think of the father-son connection that Jeor and Jon had. Ian Beattie wants Olenna Tyrell (Dame Diana Rigg).
·       Someone asked Jerome Flynn if Bronn was going to be in the next season of the show, as Bronn is largely absent from the books after Tyrion’s trial. Jerome said that Bronn will be in the next season and that just as Bronn is about to leave and try and setup his new life, he’s pulled back into the politics and world of King’s Landing...he then quickly mentioned that he probably shouldn’t have said that.
·       Someone asked the cast if they’ve been able to keep anything from set. Ian Beattie mentioned that all he’s managed to keep is one pair of socks...and even one of those has a hole in the right toe. Jerome, meanwhile, has upstaged Ian and kept three pairs of socks. Greedy bastard! James hasn’t kept anything from “Game Of Thrones”, but he does have a helmet from “Troy” to remind him that he should never ride a horse with a non-fitting helmet, as your head and the helmet constantly collide.
·       Someone asked the cast which character they’d like to play other than their own. Jerome said “whoever is nearest to Daenerys!” and then mentioned that his answer came from a certain part of him. Everyone laughed. We all knew which part me meant...
·       Jerome joked that he spends a month in Soho preparing to play Bronn again before returning for another season.
·       To conclude, the panel was great. Really funny, really engaging, and poor Lino Facioli looked incredibly nervous. However, he did a great job and he should be proud of himself! Especially when you consider that he’s just 14!

(Photo Credit: Howard Crowe)

The “Game Of Thrones” panel started about 15 minutes late because of the sheer volume of people in the queue. Therefore, by the time I left the lecture hall and made it back to the autograph hall, it was 2:30pm. Due to Hayley having to be home by 6:30pm, we needed to leave WCC by 4:00pm. This meant that I had an hour and a half to meet Doug Williams and Paul London, collect my photos, and have a little look around the merchandise stalls. After we collected our photos, Hayley decided that she wanted her Andrew Lee Potts photo signed. She ended up getting that signed, an 8”x10” signed, and a little card signed that Andrew was handing out about his new web-series. Three autographs for the price of one! Bargain! Soon after this, we took 30 minutes to look around the merchandise stalls and explore sections of the event that we hadn’t had time to visit yet, such as the “In The Flesh” room and the TARDIS that was setup in the parking lot under a white tent that was playing host to the wrestling earlier in the day.

 (Maleficent Cake!)

As Doug Williams and Paul London were both situated in the corridor of the main building, we decided to get their autographs on the way out when we headed to the car park. Paul was yet to arrive at the convention because he had to wrestle for PCW earlier in the day, but Doug was there. I managed to get Doug’s autograph and a photo with him on my phone for just £10, which is definitely worth the money. Doug is one of the greatest wrestlers to ever come out of England, so this price was an absolute bargain! I mentioned to Doug that I watched him wrestle a month previous in my home city of Gloucester, where he main-evented against AJ Styles and Rampage Brown (it was a phenomenal match, by the way). I was in the front row! Doug said that he really enjoyed working on that show and that the crowd was great. We talked about his time wrestling for TNA and what he’s been up to since returning home to the UK. Another great guy! By this point, it was approaching 4pm and myself and Hayley were knackered. When you add driving into the equation, conventions are very long days. All that travelling, all that queuing, and the rise and fall of your adrenaline throughout the day really takes it out of you! However, I wanted to wait a little while longer to see if Paul London showed up and I’m so glad I did.

At about 3:50pm, we returned to the area where Doug was signing and Paul London was there, wearing the most colourful shirt in history! We waited for him to finish talking to three guys in front of us, before I proceeded to talk to Paul for a solid 15 minutes. Like Doug, I watched Paul wrestle from the front row of “Superclash II” in Gloucester the month before. Paul asked how to pronounce ‘Gloucester’ and then told me about his experiences on the show. His wrestling entrance these days is legendary, by the way. He goes around and high-fives everyone in the audience! It took at least 10 minutes at “Superclash II”. Since that wrestling event, I’ve spoken to Paul numerous times on Twitter and I even managed to convince Matt to book Paul on the card for “Superclash III” in May! Paul was also supposed to be £10 per autograph, but he ended up giving me three signed 8”x10” pictures for that price. One of which is a picture of him and some monsters standing outside a cave in Los Angeles. Paul explained to me that this cave has been used on television shows such as “Batman” and “Star Trek”. He said he liked to bring his own photos because he got tired of every wrestler having nothing but topless pictures to sign, as he wouldn’t want to put a half-naked picture of a man on his wall if he were in the shoes of a male wrestling fan. I asked Paul if he’d been in England since the wrestling event I saw him at six weeks earlier and he said that he’s been living between the UK and Europe for the past two months. He was going to stay until January, but now he’s trying to make it home in time for Christmas. I mentioned to him that PCW were wrestling in the parking lot earlier in the day and Paul told me that he wrestled for PCW four times over the same weekend as WCC. Once on Friday, twice on Saturday, and once on Sunday morning. He told me that his match on the Saturday morning was with Roderick Strong and he was particularly proud of it. Paul also filled me in on some of the places he’s been on his tour of Europe and some of the cool things he’s encountered. We talked about the state of wrestling, we talked about his career, and we had a general chat about life. Towards the end of our conversation, Paul looked behind me at Hayley and asked how she was doing, before wrapping her up in a huge hug! What a lad! I got a photo with Paul on my phone in addition to my three autographs, all for the insanely good price of £10 (total)! Paul shook my hand (four times). Paul actually shakes forearms, not hands. He explained the origin of the ‘handshake’ and that originally it was a way of discovering if someone had a concealed weapon. As my forearms were bare (excluding bandanas), I passed his weapons test. My conversation with Paul was one of the greatest I’ve ever had at any convention. He was so genuinely happy to meet people and he spent a considerable amount of time talking to me. He was so respectful and so friendly that I couldn’t help but leave feeling elated. I’m so happy that I managed to convince Hayley to hold out for another 15 minutes in case Paul showed because it was one of my favourite experiences of the day, if not my very favourite.

(The 'Batcave' Picture)

We left “Wales Comic Con” at around 4:20pm and then proceeded to nearly crash twice on the way home (I wasn’t driving). Our glorious day very nearly ended with us half-dead on the side of the road, but luckily we just avoided crashing. The guy in front of us pulled an emergency-break out of nowhere and we just stopped before smacking into the back of his car. A little later on our journey home, the same damn thing happened again! It was uncanny! It was made up for by the beast of a Burger King I got in one of the service stations’s important I tell you these important details.

To sum up, “Wales Comic Con” RULED. Everyone I met, from the guests, to the crew, to the attendees, everyone was awesome. Everyone was friendly, happy, and in high spirits. Would I attend another “Wales Comic Con”? You’re damn right. In fact, I’ve already attended one before this and will definitely attend next year’s event(s). You can find Wales Comic Con’s website here and it will be updated with all the details of the next event very soon...after Jaime’s had a much deserved break, I imagine. Great event, great guests, lots of variety, and some truly memorable conversations, moments, and pictures...what more could you ask for from an event? If you’re undecided as to whether to attend in future, do it! It’s definitely worth the money. The ECW of the convention world just created another piece of history.

Oh my God, I almost forgot one of the best parts! As myself and Hayley were heading to meet Paul London, Hayley slid on a leaflet and fell flat on her ass. You might think it’s cruel that I’m laughing my head off while typing this, but Hayley falls over or walks into something pretty much every time we go somewhere, so it’s tradition by this point. It was so funny. It wasn’t the most graceful fall, she took a leaflet rack down with her. Ahh, good times.

FINAL SCORE: 8.5/10 


  1. First one to comment, heeeere we go! :D
    One of these days I'm going to visit Glyndŵr University and get myself acquainted with the wonderful family atmosphere you describe - perhaps after finishing some other big tasks more or less quickly this year :P. Indeed, as I could witness myself, conventions are not solely populated by the Spencers of the world or soggy Sunnydale-like basement-dwellers (Xander would have so gone to a convention if he had the money, and I bet he did in his spare time! :P), but by very passionate people who give their heart and soul to the characters from their favourite TV shows. I completely understand your fanboying over meeting Tony Head for the 6th time and enjoying such a nice chat with him. :) His daughter Emily seems equally lovely and I cannot express how much I enjoy having people like that as role models in my life. Forging a connection, no matter how small and short, with people you admire is always a great boost - so long as the photos turn out all right in the end. :P Did I mention I was already in a state of flutter over imagining myself posing next to James Marsters? It IS a brutal process and you can never fully relax until the photo shoot is done and over with. ;) I'm also giddy along with you that you got to meet Road Animal Warrior, who seems to be one of the biggest reasons as to why you got hooked onto wrestling in the first place, not to mention getting to schmooze with more GOT people about your theories and wax poetic about the wonderfulness (and brutality, apparently, "I killed him!") of is the show. :P Big thumbs up, a very enjoyable and passionate read! <3 xxx

  2. What an awesome review Shane! Anthony Head seems to be a perfect gentleman, and it looks like you had a great time! Thank you again, looking forward to meeting you at one of those cons soon :)

  3. Oh my word!! That gif at the end. Poor Hayley! Once again, I felt as though I was there!! Thank you!

  4. It was great to meet you!! I think I may have confused you a little by randomly talking about your Blink wristband so sorry about that. I did end up getting an autograph and a chat to Tony at the end of the day so thanks for the tip! Hopefully next time I won't be too shy to ask you for a photo, since my friend doesn't believe I met you there!