Saturday, 24 January 2015

A Recap & Ranking Of Conventions I Attended In 2014

So, halfway through my review of Buffy’s “Tabula Rasa”, I needed a break. Sometimes these really deep, intricate reviews can severely mentally drain you. Especially when you’re trying to juggle a full-time job, two part-time jobs, and two university modules at the same time. Therefore, to counteract all this work...I decided to create more for myself by writing this recap of my times on the convention scene in 2014, as well as giving some general advice and information about conventions and ticket types (primarily in the United Kingdom). Now, unlike my other convention-related posts, this one won’t be 20-25 A4-pages long. This is because, frankly, I’ve already written gigantic reviews of the conventions themselves, so most of the details are contained within those specific reviews. I will try to keep this post as brief as possible...but you know I get excited and fan-flailey, so bear that in mind. What this post will do is recap the year, talk about some of the highlights, talk about some of the best guests, and talk about advantages and disadvantages of different convention companies.

Before exploring the wacky world of conventions, I’d like to take a brief moment to explain why conventions are so special to me. Firstly, you have the experience and the atmosphere itself. Almost everyone that’s there is there because they love the same things you do. They’re obsessive and passionate about television, movies, video games, comic books, or something equally glorious. They spend months creating elaborate costumes to look like their favourite character and will happily stop and let you take pictures of them or pictures with them. There’s a buzz in the air. There’s an excitement that’s palpable. You can taste the nerves, the adoration, the exuberance, and the butterflies in people’s bellies...I wonder what a butterfly tastes like? It’s an exciting, magical, nerve-wracking, adrenaline-filled day (or few days), which you never want to leave. Secondly, you have what is referred to as your ‘con family’. As I mentioned, everyone is there for the same reason you are. You all share this passion and excitement for the same thing. Due to this, you easily make friends at conventions. Talking about the genre-specific weekend conventions in particular, you often see the same people at multiple conventions. You strike up conversations, stay in touch over social media, and before you know it you’ve found yourself genuine friends and a surrogate family. If you’re contemplating going to a convention, but are scared about going alone, DO IT! I’ve done it myself before and you never stay by yourself for very long as people are more than willing to scoop you up and befriend you. Finally, sometimes you have the incredibly opportunity to remain in contact with some of the celebrities you’ve met. While this isn’t common and usually requires some sort of reason to stay in contact, it does happen. Speaking from my own personal experience, due to lining up interviews for this blog, helping them promote their latest projects, or just generally hitting it off really well, I’ve stayed in semi-consistent or consistent contact with about 20 guests I met in 2014. It’s an awe-inspiring, jaw-dropping, flabbergasting thing to be able to say...especially when some of these people have been lifelong idols.

There are two types of convention: genre-specific weekend conventions and signing events. There used to be a time where genre-specific weekend conventions were referred to as ‘conventions’, while signing events were referred to as ‘signing events’. But, alas, signing events started putting the word ‘convention’ in their title and everything got confusing. Therefore, for the purposes of this review, I’m going to call them ‘weekend conventions’ and ‘signing events’. These terms aren’t technically correct, as signing events often take place over entire weekends and also include activities other than guests signing autographs (photos, talks, Q & A’s, cosplay competitions, etc.), but I’m too lazy to come up with better terms. Everybody clear?

Weekend conventions are smaller and more intimate than signing events. The ones I’ve attended before have ranged from 200-700 people, with 400 being the mean number. They usually take place over a Friday evening, a Saturday, and a Sunday (sometimes there’s no Friday evening), and you always get much more time with the guests...if you’re willing to pay for it. If you attend a weekend convention as a standard ticket holder, you can attend the talks and get an autograph with the guests (bonus guests come with an additional charge), but you can also do that at signing events. However, it’s rare that signing events have parties at the night time. Sometimes, if you’re very lucky, the guests (or some of them) will attend the parties and interact with you. They’ll dance with you, have conversations with you, and maybe, if you’re very lucky, let you grind against them on the dance floor, which is the case with someone I know. Therefore, the first major difference between signing events and weekend conventions is that weekend conventions are often smaller, more intimate, and gift you the opportunity of spending more time with the guests. If you go to a weekend convention as something other than standard, you get more perks. These perks and ticket options vary from company to company, so I’ll discuss them later when it’s relevant.

Signing events have some similarities with weekend conventions, such as autographs, professional photographs, and talks, but they also have a few key differences. Firstly, entry is cheap in comparison. Whereas you might pay £100 for a standard ticket to a weekend convention, a signing event may be £15 (note: that’s £100 to attend all the days of the weekend convention, whereas signing events are usually paid for with individual days). Signing events are much larger...especially with the growth of signing events in the past few years. There are more signing events in the UK than ever before and they’re only continuing to grow in popularity. I believe that both ‘MCM London’ and ‘London Film and Comic Con 2014’ topped 100,000 people over their respective weekends. Due to this volume of people, you get less time with the guests. This obviously depends on a few factors. Firstly, the size of the guest’s queue. Secondly, the guest’s preferences and temperament. Some guests might not like to talk much. Some guests might be shy and nervous...or some guests might talk your ear off. It really depends on the person and the situation. Whereas a weekend convention may have 5-10 guests, decent signing events can top 50 or 100. Therefore, you have a wider range of guests, covering a large number of fandoms, and you’re only paying for the people that you want to meet. One of the biggest downsides is that queues are way longer. Queues to get into the building, queues to meet guests, photo’s all going to be much longer on average than a weekend convention, which is why organisation is so important (we’ll get on to that topic later). There are many more differences and similarities between the two convention types, but I’ll address some of those later as they’re relevant. Plus, I’ve written about a lot of them in depth during various convention reviews already, so check some of those out for a more detailed analysis #CheapPlug.

Before the countdown begins, there is one last thing to mention. In my experience there are three types of convention guest. I have labelled them and given a brief description of each :-

·       The Responder: This type of guest is often polite and friendly. If you ask them a question, they’ll happily answer. If you give them a comment, they’ll respond or smile gratefully. However, they won’t carry the conversation forward, you have to. Examples include David Yost, Andy Umberger, Lena Headey, Summer Glau, Jim Parrack, Amy ‘Lita’ Dumas.
·       The Groucho/Big Guest: There are two aspects to this category. Firstly, you have the groucho. The groucho is there for monetary purposes or is generally just having a bad day, or is a bit of an ass. If you meet enough people, one of them is bound to be an ass! The grouchos aren’t interested in conversations above a few words. They’ll say ‘hi’ (sometimes they don’t bother with that), sign, say ‘bye’ (sometimes), and you’re on your merry way. Of course, in certain situations this is relevant and expected, which brings me to the second part of this category, the big guest. Some guests are going to be insanely popular. Such as Stan Lee at LFCC ’14, who had an entire building to himself basically. When you get a huge queue like that, the guest can’t take a lot of time with everyone. If they did, many people would go home disappointed at not getting to meet them at all. Therefore, the convention company and the guest want to get through as many people as possible. If one was being cynical, one could also mention that the more people a guest gets through, the more money the guest and the organisation makes. You cannot have a huge guest and expect to get above a minute or two with them, which is perfectly fair.
·       The Conversationalist: This is easily my favourite type of guest. They’ll answer your questions with a smile, ask you questions in return, and are happy to chat for an extended period of time, regardless of where the conversation leads or how long you’ve been talking. Obviously, there has to be some cut-off point if there is a queue behind you, but you leave the experience feeling euphoric and like you gained a lot more than just the autograph you queued for. Examples include James Marsters, Jonathan Woodward, DDP, Aimee Richardson, Anthony Head, Ian McElhinney, George Hertzberg.

Keep these three categories in mind while I run through the countdown.

Comparing weekend conventions to signing events is unfair as they’re so different. You can’t compare, say, a gold ticket for “Vampire Ball” to a standard entry ticket for “LFCC”. They’re two entirely different experiences and trying to fairly compare the two would be difficult. Therefore, the countdown of the seven conventions I attended last year will be split into two separate countdowns.

One final thing to note before the countdown! I’ve attended a lot of conventions before starting this blog. When I used to attend these conventions, I’d write up detailed reports of the day/weekend and send them to my friend Jon. I’m currently in the process of looking through these reports, editing out the swear words and snarky comments, and making them blog friendly. Keep an eye out for them over the coming months. These will include my experiences of meeting Norman Reedus, Peter Dinklage, Lena Headey, Jason Momoa, DDP, Jon Bernthal, Armin Shimerman, and many more!

Weekend Conventions Countdown

In 2014, I attended three genre-specific weekend conventions. I will freely admit that weekend conventions of this type are my preferred choice of convention. There are fewer people, the atmosphere is much more relaxed, you get more time with the guests, and everything runs a lot more smoothly on average. As all three I attended in 2014 were organised by different companies, I shall also look at their ticket options and what one is best to buy in each situation. To be fair to all three companies, each of the events I attended in 2014 ranged from ‘very good’ to ‘amazing’ when all was said and done.

3rd Place: Massive Events’ “Hallowhedon 6”

“Massive Events” is the weekend convention sister-company of Showmasters, one of the two leading signing events companies in the United Kingdom. “Hallowhedon 6” wasn’t my first weekend convention with Massive Events, nor was it my first one of the ‘Hallowhedon’ franchise. As the name suggests, the genre of choice for this particular convention was the works of TV and film writer/director God, Mr. Joss Whedon. While the title ‘Hallowhedon’ would suggest a line-up that catered to fans of many of his projects, the guest line-up of this particular convention was limited to “Buffy The Vampire Slayer” and “Angel” (even though Andy Umberger did briefly appear in an episode of “Firefly”).


-          This event suffered greatly due to a lack of bonafide headliner(s). No main cast member of any Joss Whedon television show or film was accounted for. Furthermore, Danny Strong – arguably the biggest headliner of the bunch that were scheduled to attend – had to pull out at the last minute due to his promotional commitments to “The Hunger Games”.
-          I’d already bought a gold ticket for this event before Danny’s cancellation. £210 for four guests (below the average) and no real headliner was poor value for money.
-          There was a real lack of communication between Massive Events and the fans while Massive Events were trying to sign guests to the convention. After a couple of announcements at the end of 2013, there was virtually no communication from Massive Events for about 8 months.


-          The guests that did attend (Clare Kramer, Andy Umberger, Troy Blendell, and Mark Metcalf) were all wonderful.
-          Due to the poor value for money, Massive Events handed out some perks. Us gold ticket holders received an extra ‘meet and greet drinks reception’ with the guests, an Amber Benson autograph, and a free group photo with all the guests (with you in it, obvs.).
-          With weekend conventions like this one, a poor line-up can be partly negated if you have a lot of friends that are going. A party on Friday night, Saturday night, and Sunday night ensures that they’ll always be fun to be found if you’re looking for it.
-          My studio photos all came out pretty great.

So, if you’re thinking of attending a “Hallowhedon”, what ticket should you go for? Like all conventions, it depends what you’re going for in the first place. If you love the line-up, want a picture with everyone, an autograph with everyone, and want to get to know the guests as much as possible, a gold ticket or V.I.P. ticket is the way to go. Excluding ‘bonus/sponsored guests’, a standard ticket will get you into the talks, into the parties, and an autograph from everyone. A silver or gold ticket will get you all of that, plus one photo with everyone. Gold will also get you a drinks reception with the guests, which is basically you and about 10 other people talking to each guest individually for 10-15 minutes...with wine. Don’t forget the wine. V.I.P. gets you all of that and a ton more, but it costs £895. If you’re not Tywin Lannister and you don’t shit gold, a gold ticket might be best ironically. So, if you wanna meet everyone, get an autograph, and go to the talks, but you aren’t overly fussed about photos or a drinks reception, go standard. If you want photos with most/all of the guests as well, go silver. If you want to get to know the guests even more, go gold for the drinks reception. Of course, if the guests come down to the parties, all types of ticket holder will get to interact with them anyway. Additional photos with the guests range in price from £10-25(ish), as do the autographs. Regardless of your ticket type, you can bid on ‘guest encounters’, which are intimate meetings between one of the guests and 10-12 of the attendees for about 30 minutes (usually).

Top 3 Guests Of The Convention (Go To The Review Itself For Reasoning)

As there were only 4 guests for this convention, this is gonna come across as really mean to Andy Umberger. To clarify, Andy was awesome! Really nice guy, really funny, really informative, really funny. I simply got to know the other three better, had more time with them, and more in common with them.

3rd: Mark Metcalf
2nd: Troy Blendell
1st: Clare Kramer


2nd Place: KLZ Events’ “Buffy Fanmeet”

KLZ was the first and only new organiser that I used in 2014 in relation to weekend conventions. This particular event took place in Frankfurt, Germany, and was my first time attending a convention outside of the United Kingdom. There were a few key differences between Massive Events and KLZ Events. Firstly, KLZ Events allowed you to video record the talk panels if you desired. This is strictly forbidden with Massive Events and Starfury Conventions. Secondly, their equivalent of a gold ticket didn’t come with photos like the gold ticket for “Hallowhedon 6” did. Well, it came with one. I chose Eliza Dushku for mine.


-          The scheduling of the event was majorly weird. They had large numbers of people walking out in the middle of talks to go to a photo shoot, leaving a smattering of people behind to listen to the talk and ask the guest(s) questions. So, so weird.
-          Due to the location, it was way more expensive than a convention would be for me here in the UK.
-          This isn’t a con for me personally, but a con in general. For the final 3 months or so before the event, the entry tickets went to 50% off. In the case of the Vampire Pass that I had, this was a difference of €115. Luckily, we bought ours after the sale started. If I was one of the people that bought it before the sale, I’d have been highly annoyed. KLZ placated those people by giving them an additional one-hour talk with all three of the guests that was exclusive to them.
-          Some of the prices were ridiculous, such as €60 for a one-hour party with the guests. This ‘party’ was basically a one-hour drinks reception, which would have been included in the ticket price with Massive Events or Starfury Conventions with a gold ticket. Some of the two-person group shots were €130 too, which seemed steep to me personally.


-          The line-up, while small, was fantastic. Three bonafide headliners, which is rare. One of them, Eliza Dushku, isn’t a regular convention attendee in Europe either.
-          The backdrop used for the photo shoots was glorious. Seriously, it can make all the difference in a photo. I tend to find that Showmasters/Massive Events’ light blue backdrop is too light, which means that the photos are often brighten than I enjoy. I’m pale, people. If you make it too light, I look transparent.
-          All three guests were amazing. I’d already met James Marsters by this point and had spent a considerable amount of time with him at “Vampire Ball 5”, so it felt like catching up with a friend, while Nicky Brendon and Eliza were both delightful.
-          The ability to record the talk panels. You get to record your memories forever.

Top 3 Guests Of The Convention (Go To The Review Itself For Reasoning)

“Buffy Fanmeet” only had three guests, so all three are included! Everyone’s a winner!

3rd: Nicky Brendon (I simply spent much more time with Eliza and James)
2nd: James Marsters (he’s 2nd only because I spent a lot more time with him at “Vampire Ball 5” than I did here)
1st: Eliza Dushku (what a legend!)


1st Place: Starfury Conventions’ “Vampire Ball 5”

This event was special because I was attending it as Jeff Ricketts’ agent (he was one of the guests). That meant that I basically had a backstage pass to everything. I could hang out in the green room all weekend, I had more time with everyone, and the other guests treated me tremendously well. Hugged by Emma Caulfield in the green room? Check. Drinking scotch shots with Jonathan Woodward? Check. Having conversations with James Marsters in the green room? Check. Going out for a meal with Jeff, Jonathan, and George Hertzberg? Check. It was magical. After this event, the theme of “Vampire Ball” was changed from vampire TV shows to any Joss Whedon project (the same as “Hallowhedon”). This means that future Vampire Balls will have “Firefly” guests, “Dollhouse” guests, maybe even an “Agents Of SHIELD” guest or two, which is very exciting stuff. In fact, most of the “Vampire Ball 6” line-up is already complete and it looks just as good as last year’s line-up (this one). 2015 will see J. August Richards, Julie Benz, Fran Kranz, Clare Kramer, and Reed Diamond grace the stage of Starfury Conventions! All the information is located here.


-          I legitimately can’t think of anything.


-          EVERYTHING! This was my favourite weekend convention ever by some margin. I was in the frickin’ green room all weekend with some of my childhood heroes! I used to have a gigantic poster of James Marsters on my wall in my early teens that took up almost the entirety of the wall. Thanks to Sean at Starfury and Jeff Ricketts, I was able to hang out with James in the green room for a whole weekend. Plus, Emma Caulfield. Plus, George Hertzberg. Plus, Jonathan Woodward. Life doesn’t get much better than that.
-          Drinking shots of scotch with Jonathan Woodward and Jeff Ricketts (he wasn’t drinking) in the bar of the Hilton.
-          Going out for a meal with Jonathan, Jeff, George Hertzberg, and a select few of my convention family after the event drew to a close.
-          Jonathan firing a bow and arrow that ejected marshmallows at me (and other people) while in the lounge of the Hilton.

So, if you’re thinking of attending a “Vampire Ball”, what ticket should you go for? Just like with “Hallowhedon” and “Buffy Fanmeet”, it depends what you’re after. Starfury only offer two ticket types, which keeps the process a lot simpler. We have standard and we have gold. Standard tickets are £95 and include an autograph with everyone (excluding ‘bonus guests’), entry to the parties, and entry to the talks. So if you want to talk to the guests at the autograph table, listen to all the panels, go to the parties, and hope to bump into the guests there, go for a standard ticket. If you want all of that plus the drinks reception, an autograph from the ‘bonus guest(s)’, seats at the front of the talks, and priority during the autograph session, go gold. Photo shoot tickets are not included in either of these ticket types so that aspect of the discussion is irrelevant. To keep it simple ask yourself this: how much do you like the line-up? If you’re desperate to get as much time with them as possible, gold is always the answer. You get the drinks reception, you’ll get the bonus guest’s autograph included, and you’ll be near the front of the talks. If you’re not too fussed about that stuff, go standard. As far as the photo shoots go, do they make it more expensive than attending a Massive Events convention? It depends on how many people you want photos with. Photos range from £10-20 as far as I’ve seen (there may have been some £25 guests historically, but I’ve never seen one) and the current price difference between a gold ticket at Starfury and a gold ticket at Massive Events is £50. Another badass thing about Starfury is that they let you mix and match your photos. For example, one of the photo sessions could be James Marsters, Emma Caulfield, and George Hertzberg all doing their photos simultaneously. If you’ve bought a photo with James and Emma, you can either have a photo with James and a photo with Emma, or a photo with James and Emma together (one, not two). This mixing and matching of guests (so long as they’re in the same photo session) is terrific. One last thing...I’m a Starfury guy and a Wales Comic Con guy. They’re easily my favourite signing event company and weekend convention company. I know Jaime (Wales Comic Con) well and we talk quite frequently, and I really appreciate and respect Sean for the way he handles business and allowed me to chill out in the green room all weekend at “Vampire Ball 5”. If you were sat on the fence and couldn’t decide between “Vampire Ball” or “Hallowhedon”, obviously it’s line-up dependent and that should always be your first swaying factor, but I’d choose “Vampire Ball” of the two. There’s more of a family atmosphere, the scheduling is done in such a way that you can attend everything if you so choose without having to miss out on things, and the general pace and attitude is relaxed and carefree, which is vital to having an enjoyable time at an convention.

Top 3 Guests Of The Convention (Go To The Review Itself For Reasoning)

As I attended this convention as Jeff’s ‘agent’ it wouldn’t be fair of me to include him in this section. Therefore, he’s omitted from the ‘top 3’ discussion.

3rd: George Hertzberg (family man, caring, warm, funny, and the perfect gentleman)
2nd: Jonathan Woodward (the class clown and the most interactive guest I’ve ever met)
1st: James Marsters (I can’t describe how appreciated and special he makes you feel)


Signing Events

While weekend conventions are my preferred type, signing events can still be pretty fecking awesome. This section won’t be quite as detailed as the weekend conventions section because I usually only attend these events for one day, so there’s less of note that happens. Furthermore, there’s very little differences in signing events as far as prices and ticket types go. So, without further ado, let’s get ranking (good job I proof-read this, the ‘r’ in ‘ranking’ wasn’t an ‘r’ the first time around).

Showmasters are arguably the largest, most successful signing company in the United Kingdom (alongside or just behind MCM, I’d wager). For the past few years now they’ve ran two events in London per year called “LFCC”. As the title to this sub-section suggests, in 4th place is the winter version of the LFCC event. There was nothing wrong with this event! As far as signing events go it was perfectly respectable. It was way easier than the summer version of LFCC in some ways because there were significantly less people. Outside of Jerome Flynn, pretty much everyone’s queues were normal and didn’t need to implement virtual queuing. However, there was nobody at this event that I was desperate to meet and I think that was reflected in the score I gave it. The people I did meet were mostly cool, the event was pretty well organised,  there was just less “oh my God!” moments than at the other three signing conventions.

Top 3 Guests Of The Convention (Go To The Review Itself For Reasoning)

3rd: Andrew Rothenberg
2nd: Ralph Macchio (the original ‘Karate Kid’ was so much more humble and talkative than I was expecting)
1st: Jerome Flynn (head and shoulders above everyone else at this convention for me)


3rd Place: Showmasters’ “London Film And Comic Con 2014”

This is the summer version of Showmasters’ “LFCC” event, and it was easily the most polarising event I’ve ever been to. On the one hand, the guests were amazing, I was hanging out with friends all weekend, and the atmosphere was electric because of the sheer volume of people. On the other side of that, the atmosphere was exhausting because of the sheer volume of people. It was cramped, it was stiflingly hot, people were getting temperamental, and it took 45 minutes to walk from one end of the arena to the other during the peak of the Saturday. Sometimes if an event is a little shit it can be made up for by great guests. One could deem this event one of those occasions. The event was disorganised (I bought a photo shoot, went to the correct photo area, and was told the photo shoot wasn’t taking place, so I should ‘bugger off’ back to the sales desk to get a refund...charming), the arena was over capacity, and it was boiling hot. Although, saying that, shout-out to my man Phil for being legendary at organising Stan Lee’s photo shoot queue. If you put THAT task in the hands of a less experienced man with a less powerful voice, it falls The event was somewhat saved by superb experiences with the guests themselves. Anthony Head (again), Juliet Landau, Summer Glau, Robert Knepper, Gethin Anthony, James Storm, and the others I met that I spent less time with were all superb. I didn’t have one bad experience with a guest all weekend.

Top 3 Guests Of The Convention (Go To The Review Itself For Reasoning)

3rd: Robert Knepper (So talkative, so friendly, so funny, so open)
2nd: James Storm (Talked to ‘The Cowboy’ for ages, he’s really a wrestling encyclopedia)
1st: Juliet Landau (I talked to Juliet and her husband, Deverill, for quite an extensive period of time and both of them went above and beyond my expectations)


“Wales Comic Con” was the only new signing event company that I attended a convention for in 2014, and they are without a doubt the best on the whole convention scene right now. The guest selection is top notch, the communication between the “Wales Comic Con” team and their attendees is fantastic, the level of appreciation from Jaime and the rest of the team is evident, and they really, really work hard on trying to be better and more unique with each passing convention. Live wrestling outside in the parking lot? Check. A gigantic inflatable Stay Puft Marshmallow Man next to the signing hall? Check. An owl sanctuary stall in the parking lot? You betcha! Plus, Jaime is a big “Buffy The Vampire Slayer” and wrestling fan, so he tends to bring in guests that meet my needs perfectly. I’ve said it before, but WCC is the ‘ECW’ of the U.K. convention scene. That’s a wrestling analogy, folks. WCC makes you a part of the show, they draw you in, captivate you, tell you they appreciate you, then make it so you never want to leave. Unlike the ‘LFCC’ events, “Wales Comic Con” takes place across Glyndŵr University in Wrexham, Wales. This allows lecture halls to be used for the panels and a variety of different buildings to serve different functions for the event. What makes WCC stand above the rest right now is that they care. They make you feel appreciated and like you’re a part of the team. Why wouldn’t you want to attend and help them out if you feel like you’re a part of the team? The respect level is there and it’s a two-way street. The same can’t be said for every convention company. Jaime and the team listen to their attendees, take on board their guest requests, their praise, and their complaints, then they try to improve for the next one. What more can you ask for? Just one more thing...great experiences with the guests themselves. I attended two WCC’s last year and every single guest I met at both of them was fantastic. I’ve stayed in contact with some of them, befriended some of them, and had some truly memorable conversations and moments at Glyndŵr University. I’m sure they’ll be more to come this year. Check out the website here and buy tickets for “Wales Comic Con 2015 Part I” here (entry) and here (photo shoots). You won’t regret it. Mark Addy, Warwick Davis, Ben Miller, Eve Myles, Emmett Scanlan, Nicholas Brendon, Kevin Nash, Jason Flemyng, and more are already confirmed!

Top 3 Guests Of The Convention (Go To The Review Itself For Reasoning)

As I said, everyone I met at “Wales Comic Con Part II” was fantastic. However, three guests stood out above the rest, so this decision wasn’t that difficult (unlike the next one)...

3rd: Ian Beattie (doesn’t stop talking, full of energy, full of passion for his job, and absolutely, indescribably nuts)
2nd: Paul London (I’ve found that wrestlers can be a surly, non-talkative bunch sometimes. This cannot be said for Paul London. We talked for a solid 15 minutes towards the end of the day and he couldn’t have been nicer or more interesting)
1st: Anthony Head (I’ve met Anthony Head multiple times before. So much so that he knows me by name. However, this was without a doubt the greatest conversation that I’ve ever had with him. If you look up ‘perfect gentleman’ in the dictionary, you’ll find a picture of Tony Head’s warm, smiling face)


Honestly, the hardest part of this whole recap has been trying to choose between “Wales Comic Con Part I” and “Wales Comic Con Part II”. Both signing events were spectacular, both had a great line-up, both appealed to my personal tastes, and I had highly memorable experiences and conversations at both. Simply, the only thing that separated the two in the end was longevity. I’ve stayed in touch with more people from ‘Part I’ than I have from ‘Part II’. That’s it. That’s all there is to separate them. If you live near Wrexham, if you’re a convention goer, or even if you’re not, I implore you, find a way to be there. Best. Signing. Conventions. On. The. Market. OH! ALSO, “WALES COMIC CON” HOST AFTER PARTIES WHEN THE CONVENTION FINISHES! HOW BADASS IS THAT?!

Top 3 Guests Of The Convention (Go To The Review Itself For Reasoning)

You can tell a signing event was superb when you can’t choose between the guests as to who belongs in your top 3. While I did manage to successfully widdle it down to three people, I could easily have included another 5 in this list.

3rd: Ian McElhinney (easily one of the greatest people I’ve ever met. He’s so talkative, so knowledgeable, so well-read, so interesting, so friendly, and he has an accent to die for. He went out of his way to come over to me at the end of the convention to say goodbye. A pure class act)
2nd: N/A
1st: Aimee Richardson & Kerry Ingram (what do you mean I can’t choose two people together?! I can and will. Wanna know why? Because when I talked to Aimee, I was talking to Kerry too. When I talked to Kerry, I was talking to Aimee too. They’re real-life besties and it’s both impossible and mean to try to choose between them. Aimee and Kerry brought a younger, funnier, livelier flair to “Wales Comic Con”. When they weren’t lighting up the stage in the panel, they were making me laugh at the autograph table. I’m also really pleased to say that I’ve stayed in touch with both of them (more so Aimee) and I should be interviewing both of them for this blog at some point in the future!)


So, there we have it, the countdowns are done. Will 2015 be as memorable as 2014 was? I’m already confirmed to be attending “Cardiff Film And Comic Con”, “Wales Comic Con Part I”, “London Film And Comic Con”, and “Vampire Ball 6”. Plus, “Em-Con” (my first!), “Hallowhedon 7”, “Wales Comic Con Part II”, and “London Film And Comic Con – Winter” are all on the table potentially as well, so the opportunity for 2015 to be as good or better is certainly there.

Thank you for reading, thank you for supporting me, and thank you for making it to the end of this recap. Virtual hugs and cookies for all!

If you have any convention related questions or simply want to talk about your own convention experiences, please drop a comment below! Oh, and sharing this on social media is also greatly appreciated!


  1. Loved this too! I agree with you with the Frankfurt Buffy Fan Meet and Vampire Ball, without any doubt two great conventions, my favorite ones for sure. So much love for James, Nicky, Eliza, Jeff, Troy, Mark, Clare, <3

  2. Thank you for taking the time to do this Shane!! I've always wanted to go to a UK convention/signing event (in 2015, hopefully!), and this will probably help me choose which one will have the honor of being my first :-D

  3. Woo! This is an awesome review! I wish I could go!