Wednesday, 22 July 2015

London Film & Comic Con 2015 - A Detailed Review

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

• Hayley Atwell (Agent Peggy Carter in “Agent Carter” and other Marvel projects)
• Rose Leslie (Ygritte in “Game Of Thrones”)
• Carice Van Houten (Melisandre in “Game Of Thrones”)
• Iain Glen (Jorah Mormont in “Game Of Thrones”)
• David Bradley (Walder Frey in “Game Of Thrones” and Argus Filch in the “Harry Potter” film series)
• Michael Gambon (Albus Dumbledore in the “Harry Potter” film series)
• Rey Mysterio (Wrestler)
• James Remar (Harry Morgan in “Dexter”)
• Catherine Tate (Donna Noble in “Doctor Who”)
• Jonathan Pryce (The High Sparrow in “Game Of Thrones”)
• Julian Glover (Grand Maester Pycelle in “Game Of Thrones”)
• Alexander Siddig (Doran Martell in “Game Of Thrones”)
• Robert Englund (Freddy Krueger in the “Nightmare On Elm Street” film series)
• Jason David Frank (Tommy Oliver in the “Power Rangers” franchise)
• Kristian Nairn (Hodor in “Game Of Thrones”)
• Keisha Castle-Hughes (Obara Sand in “Game Of Thrones”)
• Jessica Henwick (Nymeria Sand in “Game Of Thrones”)
• Gemma Whelan (Yara (Asha!) Greyjoy in “Game Of Thrones”)
• Sean Gunn (Lucas in “Angel”, Mars in “Angel”, and Kraglin in “Guardians Of The Galaxy”)
• Gregg Henry (Sheriff Bourne in “Firefly” and Peter Quill’s grandfather in “Guardians Of The Galaxy”) 
• Peter Shinkoda (Nobu in “Daredevil”)

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 TheVampire 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.

This past weekend I attended yet another London Film & Comic Con (I will get around to retroactively writing my reviews of LFCC 2012, LFCC 2013 & LFCCW 2013 at some point!), held by Showmasters. The final few weeks before LFCC is always a very interesting time to be a fan of conventions because it’s arguably the largest in Europe at this point. A great portion of my early July period was dedicated to writing schedules, organising transport, brainstorming talking points for the guests, and checking the forums every half an hour to see if anyone else had cancelled. Those cancellations can be a right bitch! However, they are to be expected. Especially when you have over 130 guests on the line-up. This year’s cancellations were a mixed bag for me. On the one hand, Charles Dance, Kurt Angle, Emily Kinney, and Natalie Tena all cancelled on me. Charles, Kurt, and Emily were all in my ‘top 5’ guests that I was most looking forward to meeting, so I was particularly crushed when Charles cancelled a week before the event. In hindsight, a few cancellations did me good. Firstly, I’m moving house in 2 weeks. Refund money is very much needed right now. Secondly, my schedule would have been even more torturous without these cancellations and I’d have probably missed quite a few people, which would have been a shame.

LFCC took place at the Olympia in London this year, which is the same venue as LFCC Winter in 2013. However, unlike LFCCW 2013, this year’s LFCC wasn’t taking place over one was four floors. Oh, dear God! So many stairs! I’m not sure if the original plan was to go out instead of up, but the other halls were in use, all I know is that my feet are owwey with 13 blisters. In fact, just before starting this review, I burst the largest of them with a blade I bought at LFCC last year...con weapons are beautiful and practical, people! Blisters aside, my time at LFCC this year was brilliant, and I could definitely see a great deal of improvement from Showmasters since last year’s Saturday debacle. Of course, it’s not perfect and there are some glaring issues that still need fixing, but Showmasters do seem to be trying hard to improve the event as much as possible, which is definitely a step in the right direction. Out of the Olympia and Earls Court II (where last year’s LFCC was held), I think I slightly prefer the Olympia. I just wish it would go out instead of up.

Here are the basic floor layouts for LFCC this year (from ground to 3rd)...

For many people this year the hook of the event was the appearances of Michael J. Fox, Sigourney Weaver, Bill Paxton, Christopher Lloyd, Robert Englund, and Michael Gambon, most of whom were given the new and shiny label of ‘diamond guests’. Basically, you get goodies, talks, photos, and guaranteed autographs (more on that later). However, outside of a photo with Michael Gambon and Robert Englund, my interaction with the ‘A-List’ guests was fairly limited...something that my wallet is still thanking me for. As much as I’d love a picture with Michael J. Fox, I can’t afford £95 without selling organs that I’ve become rather attached to. This mostly worked in my favour for the weekend as it allowed me to head straight to virtual queuing tickets for the guests that I wanted to meet, while many people were heading in another direction for the headliners. For those of you unaware, ‘virtual queuing’ tickets are exactly like they sound. Instead of queuing up directly for an autograph with one of the more popular guests, you grab a virtual queuing ticket with a number on it. That number is your position in the queue. For example, if you receive a virtual queuing number of 51, you can join the queue once the board says that they’re 1-60 (or any time after your number has been called). It allows you to virtually place yourself in the queue, while also allowing you to go away and do other things until your number is called and you’re in a position time-wise to meet the guest and collect the autograph. Virtual queuing is a great aspect of conventions because it does allow you the freedom to go away and do other things. However, it does mean that when doors first open there’s a mad dash to get a low virtual queuing number. People were running, people were pushing, and people were stressed. Doors opened on Friday the 17th of July at 1:00pm, and myself, John, and Hannah were in the queue by 10:55am. Two hours of sun, heat, and a little more sun...yay. Just what my Irish skin tones needs – burning. Still, beats rain. Arriving a couple of hours before the event started allowed us to be roughly 150th in the queue. Unlike previous LFCC’s, there was no ‘early bird’ ticket this time around. There was simply a queue for gold ticket holders and a queue for regular ticket holders (plus one for people entering the Young Adult Literacy Convention). This seemed to work a little better for me personally because it was a lot easier to figure out which queue you needed to be in...follow the hordes of nerds. Unlike waiting to get in on Saturday and Sunday, time seemed to stop entirely on Friday. I swear, I checked the time at 11am, sat down, chilled out, talked, read, knit a sweater, went for a jog, had a nap, designed a tea cosy, and watched two episodes of “Buffy The Vampire Slayer” in my head, only to check my phone again and discover that it was 11:05am. What. The. Fuck. What kind of backwards, alternative reality have I stumbled in to where time moves at one-eighth of the rate?

Seventeen years later, it was 1pm and the doors opened promptly. I was surprised at how quickly the entrance queues moved, actually. We were in the venue within a matter of minutes and the doors opened on time! Much better organised than I remember last year’s entrance queues being. Barring my ass after 2 hours on a concrete floor, entrance into the event was a painless process. My itinerary for Friday was (not so) with Kristian Nairn, Jason David Frank, and James Remar. Autographs with those three, plus Peter Shinkoda, Keisha Castle-Hughes, Sean Gunn, Gregg Henry, and Julian Glover. With Friday ending at 8pm, that left me 7 hours to get this accomplished. However, we still needed to get to the ‘hotel’ (more on that later), unwind, shower, and get up at 5am the next morning, so my aim was to be finished by 6pm (with my final photo shoot being at 5:30pm). Out of the 8 guests listed above, I only envisaged Jason David Frank having a virtual queuing system implemented, and perhaps Julian Glover as he was only there on Friday. This turned out to be the case for Jason, and none of the other 7 people I was getting autographs from were using virtual queuing at the times I met them. Within seconds of entering the building, it was time to find Jason David Frank’s autograph queue to get a low V.Q. ticket number. Here is where preparation comes in handy. A week before LFCC, Showmasters released a list of which floor everyone would be signing on. I knew Jason was on  the first floor so I headed there straight away. Consequentially, I had V.Q. number 24. No problems there! Even with gold ticket holders (roughly 500 people) not needing virtual queuing tickets, I was sure to be seen with such a low number! One major stress out of the way! 

My first photo shoot of the day was with James Remar at 2:15pm in photo area C. For some random reason, photo areas B, C, and D were on the ground floor, while A and E were on the first floor, with F on the 3rd floor. Why, oh why, don’t photo areas have a floor dedicated to them? It would make clashes much easier as they’d be in close proximity to each other, and you’d eliminate the problem of people looking at the merchandise stalls getting caught up in the crowds at the photo areas. Showmasters, if you’re reading this, please consider putting photo areas together on the same floor/region in the future! I can’t see a reason why it couldn’t happen, yet there are reasons why it should happen. A dedicated photo shoot floor would be fabulous. As a general rule, it’s a good idea to get to photo shoots about 10 minutes before they start. You don’t need to get there earlier than that because the photo shoots are called in batches. You’ll just be getting in the way. This year’s LFCC was a little more complicated because it fell in the no man’s land between old style posted tickets and e-tickets. Therefore, photo sessions were called in the following order :- 

·       Diamond pass holders (for that specific diamond guest only) 
·       Gold pass holders 
·       Old style posted tickets 
·       Batchless e-tickets (before the batching system took effect) 
·       Batch 1 
·       Batch 2 
·       Etc. 
·       Old style posted tickets that were bought at LFCC itself (you could tell the difference between the posted ones and the ones bought at the event due to the ones being bought at the event having a highlighter mark across the ticket number) 

Well, damn, that’s confusing. Plus, some guests were announced after it all transitioned to e-tickets, so any old style tickets must have been bought at the event, but not all tickets had the highlighter mark on them. This led to people who’d only just bought their photo ticket going in before people who’d bought their ticket weeks/months in advance. This is exactly what happened with my Alexander Siddig photo shoot on Saturday. I tried to politely explain this to Justin on photo area D (before he’d started calling anyone for the shoot), and he snapped at me. Okay then. Won’t try to help in future. It made no difference to me as I had an hour free after the photo shoot, I was just trying to let him know because I knew other people would kick off. Of course, when he started calling old style tickets before e-tickets (which had been bought before the old style tickets), people kicked off. It’s not Justin’s fault, he was just calling the tickets in the order he was told to in his de-briefing, but someone should have made everyone aware which guests had been announced after everything had transitioned to e-tickets. This is all kind of moot now moving forwards as it’ll all be e-tickets from the start, so anyone with an old style ticket must have bought it at the event.

Jumping back to Friday, I had an hour free before my photo shoot with James Remar. How many autographs can I get through before I need to flit away at 2pm? First up, the wonderful Julian Glover.

Julian Glover – Julian is a unique actor in that he’s basically been in every major franchise ever except Star Trek. Harry Potter? Yep. Game Of Thrones? Yep. Indiana Jones? Yep. Star Wars? Yep. James Bond? Yep. That’s one hell of a résumé! I’d actually met Julian at LFCC 2013. I had a studio photo with him and also an autograph on a Star Wars 8” x 10”. Alas, I wanted a Grand Maester Pycelle 8” x 10” signed too, so I decided rather spontaneously the day before LFCC that I was going to go for it after Charles Dance and Kurt Angle’s last-minute cancellations. For a man that has been in so many franchises and been around the industry for 50 years, Julian is still so humble and talkative. As he was only there on Friday, I was expecting his autograph queue to be rammed (it was) and for the autograph process to be like a conveyer belt – “hi”, “hi”, 10 seconds while the autograph is being written, “bye”, “bye”, which is the normal process with really busy guests. It’s only fair as they have so many people that are desperate to meet them. However, even though his autograph queue was busy, Julian took a few minutes to talk to me about “Game Of Thrones” and the process of playing Grand Maester Pycelle for 5 seasons. We talked about Pycelle’s motives on the show, we talked about the deleted scene between Pycelle and Tywin Lannister from season 3, where Tywin sees right through Pycelle’s act of pretending to be feeble, and Julian ended the conversation with a memorable sound bite – “that old bastard just keeps on going, doesn’t he?”. Hilarious. Julian couldn’t have been nicer. It was clear to me that he was there because he wanted to interact with his fans, not because he wanted to line his pockets. Granted, that’s a great incentive too, but it’s so easy to tell which guests are there for money primarily and which guests are there to meet their fans primarily. Guest type: Responder.

For those of you asking “what the frick is a ‘responder’?”, I’ll explain. Previously, I devised a three-category process to label convention guests. These are :-

·       The Responder: This type of guest is often polite and friendly. If you ask them a question, they’ll happily answer. If you comment on something, they’ll respond or smile gratefully. However, they won’t carry the conversation forward, you have to. These are the most common type of guest, and this is what you expect when meeting someone at a convention. This is a great category to be a part of.
·       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. You cannot have a huge guest and expect to get above a minute 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 (extended = above 2-3 minutes), 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.

Good ol’ Julian Glover set a standard for the rest of the guests to try to meet. I always find that the first conversation is the hardest. You haven’t settled into your rhythm yet, you’re still a little disoriented and overwhelmed, and you’re trying to encourage your brain to function above a monkey playing cymbals while mumbling vowel sounds. After Julian Glover, I took a few moments to try to steady myself. Most of the other people I wanted to meet weren’t in the same zone of the first floor, and the ones that were weren’t at their autograph desks yet. I took this time to find John and Hannah once again, re-read my inordinate amount of paperwork for LFCC to soothe me (leave me alone!), and find my bearings. I recommend that everyone does this for 5 minutes after they’ve grabbed their virtual queuing tickets. Where do you need to be next? Where do you need to be this weekend? Do you know where the photo areas are? Do you know where the sales desk is? Is your underwear still clean after spotting James Remar from a distance...okay, that last one might be just me. Remember, in the sea of people, chaos, and adrenaline, you need to relax. Stay calm. Have a plan in mind. It’ll aid your mental health greatly over the day/weekend.

With James Remar arriving at his autograph table (alongside the legendary Sean Clark, agent to many stars and most of “The Walking Dead” cast), I decided to meet James next.

James Remar - I tend to find that when I attend a convention where I’m meeting many guests, one person suddenly jumps out at me as someone I’m way more excited to meet than I thought I’d be. For this convention, it was James Remar. I’m a huge “Dexter” fan, which is why I wanted to meet James in the first place, but as the convention loomed closer and closer, I found myself becoming as excited for James Remar as I was for the guests that I was desperate to meet. James seemed in high spirits and was infectiously greeting everyone with a smile and a handshake. After selecting a “Dexter” 8” x 10” to be signed, James quickly began talking about his experiences on the show. From his favourite season to his favourite scenes, from working with Michael C. Hall to the unique premise of the show. James stated that the first and fourth seasons (“the one with Lithgow!”) were his favourite to watch and be a part of because the stories were so rich and unexpected. Even though he didn’t outright say it I got the impression that like many fans James preferred the first four seasons to the final four seasons. However, while he didn’t like the final season that much, he did like the final scene between Dexter and Harry in the penultimate episode of the show. He felt like it was a fitting time for Harry to drift away from Dexter’s psyche. I mentioned that “Dexter” is kind of messed up when you think about the fact that the leading character and ‘hero’ is a serial killer. We talked about how without Harry’s code, the show would be sending a much darker message into the world...not that it’s sending hugs and rainbows with the code. James summised the premise by saying “That’s the 21st century audience. They want complex, grey-area characters that make mistakes and break the rules”. So true. Like Julian Glover before him, James was one of the more popular guests of the convention, yet he took his time to have an actual conversation with me, look me in the eye, shake my hand, and thank me for coming. Eye contact and handshakes can be the difference between a good encounter and a great one, so James really went above my expectations here. Surprisingly, he was also offering pictures with him at the autograph table too. Bonus! Guest type: Responder.

Two excellent encounters to start the weekend. With James and Julian finished, and with a virtual queuing ticket in hand for Jason David Frank, I decided to head over to the other side of the first floor to find Kristian Nairn. With people still piling into the building, I decided to get Kristian next as I deemed him to be the most popular guest remaining that I wanted to meet that I didn’t have a V.Q. ticket for. This turned out to be a smart move.

Kristian Nairn – The first floor and the ground floor were very, very hot all weekend. You could feel that the air conditioning was working on all 4 floors, but only the 3rd floor felt less than stuffy and hot. The 3rd floor became the unofficial chill-out section of the convention because it was so much cooler than everywhere else. Sadly, on Friday, Kristian was on the first floor (he was on the 3rd floor on Saturday and Sunday), and you could see that the heat was getting to him already. He was sweating and looked very uncomfortable. However, he was still pretty talkative and seemed quite happy. I asked him if he was officially appearing in “Game Of Thrones” season six, and he said that he hadn’t formally been announced yet, but Isaac (Bran Stark) has been, “so I’ll let you draw your own conclusions on that *wink wink*”. We briefly talked about his DJ’ing career and his upcoming gigging schedule before talking about how we both believe that Hodor isn’t as simple as he seems. There’s definitely more going on there than meets the eye. While the conversation wasn’t as long or as detailed as James and Julian, it was still a pleasant encounter. Guest type: Hodor (Responder).

By this point in the afternoon, it was quickly approaching 2pm, so I decided to head downstairs to photo area C, ready for my photo with James Remar. Showmasters very quickly realised that the temporary staircase leading from the ground floor to the first floor was becoming overcrowded and dangerous, so they made the staircase an ‘up only’ staircase, with the four stairwells at the corners of the venue becoming up and down stairwells. This was a wise move and one that served them well throughout the remainder of the weekend. While Friday was still pretty busy (about 90% sold out, I’d estimate), it was less stressful than Saturday and Sunday because of that 10(ish)% less people. I never felt crushed or overwhelmingly stuffy on Friday like I did over the rest of the weekend. I arrived at photo C, waited for the session to start, and the photo was taken. The process is very simple. You queue, you get to the front, you say ‘hi’, the photo is taken, you say ‘thank you’, you leave. Every now and then you’ll get a little more of a conversation or something different will happen (like with Rose Leslie on Sunday), but that’s basically the norm. It’s not the time to give them gifts or have conversations. It’s a very quick, efficient, simple process. My own major complaint over the entire LFCC weekend is that almost all of my photo shoots started 5-20 minutes late. Ultimately, it worked out okay as I didn’t miss any photo shoots or autographs because of this, but it did lead to unnecessary stress. I understand that sometimes delays happen, but only ONE out of my fifteen shoots started on time. It has a domino effect. Instead of walking to your next photo shoot, you have to run. Instead of having time to stop and get a drink, you have to dash away to a talk. However, credit where it’s due, outside of that one major issue, Showmasters did a very good job as organising this convention. There were minor problems here or there, and there was a staircase issue on Saturday that I’ll talk about later, but overall it was a great improvement on last year from an organisational standpoint, and you could see Showmasters trying to tweak the process for the better as the weekend rolled along. So, well done Showmasters! Just a little note to attendees: If the crew says to come back in 20 minutes, come back in 20 minutes! Don’t just hover around the photo area getting in everyone’s way! They call each photo shoot in batches anyway. As long as you come back at the time they told you to you’ll be fine 99% of the time.


With James Remar’s photo shoot now over, I had until 4:05pm to collect a few more autographs. Hell, if I could get all 5 of the remaining ones completed before 4:05pm (my photo with Kristian Nairn), I could look around the merch stalls at my own pace before my final shoot at 5:30pm (with Jason David Frank). This is what ended up happening! I managed to get through 8 autographs, 3 photos, and merchandise hunting in just 4.5 hours, without needing to queue jump in the photo shoots for clashes at all. That was unexpected, but pleasantly surprising.

Back upstairs we went. Nothing like a few more stairs in a warm, crowded arena. Oh, speaking of ‘warm’, I feel I need to make another public service announcement...

Dear Convention Attendees,

Deodorant and anti-perspirant are your friends. Don’t be estranged from them. Embrace them. Grab that little roll-on stick and slide it over your armpits and body to your heart’s content. The alternative is much worse. I’ll take you back on a journey to LFCC 2014. It was a balmy Saturday in July, and I was patiently (sort of) waiting for my photo shoot with Anthony Head to begin. The air conditioning was either broken or proving as useful as nipples on a breastplate (Game Of Thrones jokes!), and people were starting to sweat profusely. Those of us that used that magic roll-on stick or aerosol were sweating too, but we still smelled acceptably fresh. However, those people that were anti-perspirantless quickly started to fill the queuing area up with a ripe smell. By ripe, I mean rotting skunk ass. One such unfortunate gentleman raised his arm into the air to stretch, and the teenage girl that was next to him – at armpit height – literally started crying because of the smell violating her nostrils from such a close proximity. Don’t be just another statistic; don’t make people cry with your body odour. Head on over to a supermarket or equivalent before the convention begins and buy yourself something to cover up your inevitable stink. There will be 40,000 people in the arena. Even with the air conditioning, it will be very hot. You will sweat, but you don’t have to smell.



...Where was I again? Ah, yes. Autographs!

Luckily, every guest I intended to get an autograph from on Friday was located on the first floor. This made the next hour and a half of my day much more convenient than Saturday and Sunday, where I had to constantly jump between the ground floor (photos), first floor (photos and autographs), and third floor (autographs).

Keisha Castle-Hughes – Keisha was absolutely lovely! Like many “Game Of Thrones” actors and actresses, she looks much more glamorous away from the television set, as most people on “Game Of Thrones” are sweaty and dirty from fighting or fuc-...’wrestling’. For those of you unaware, Keisha is from New Zealand (born in Australia). Even though I was aware of this fact, the accent still threw me at first. I first mentioned to Keisha that she’s had a fantastic year, being in two of the biggest shows on television almost simultaneously – “Game Of Thrones” and “The Walking Dead”. Not a bad credits list for the year, huh? I was aware of the fact that Keisha has read the “A Song Of Ice And Fire” book series that “Game Of Thrones” is based upon, so I asked her which characters she always envisioned being when she was reading the books. Keisha said that she always identified most with Arya Stark, and that she loves how feisty and strong Arya has become since the start of her journey. Keisha also told me that she received the news that she got the part of Obara Sand the same day that Oberyn Martell died in the fourth season of the show...gain a part, lose a father. Keisha also told me that her husband and herself are currently working on a screenplay for a feature film (originally a short) with a western theme. She did explain the premise to me, but I’m not going to divulge that information here just in case she doesn’t want that information out in the public yet. Having known little about Keisha before the past few months, I  didn’t really know what to expect of her coming into the event. However, I was pleasantly surprised to find that she’s a loving, interesting person that seems to really appreciate and care about her fans. Another great experience, and a photo at the autograph table too! Always a nice bonus! It was even better when I discovered that she had a ‘no posed photos’ sign up on Saturday and Sunday. Good thing I met her on Friday then. Guest type: Responder.

I’ve got to mention that the autograph queues and the virtual queuing tickets system all worked flawlessly for me this year. I had zero problems getting any autographs, and I have nothing to complain about whatsoever when it comes to autographs and the systems that Showmasters had in place. If you had a little experience and a little intelligence, you should have been fine getting pretty much all the autographs you wanted. Obviously, a few people like Sigourney Weaver were probably an exception to that rule, but as I didn’t meet them, I didn’t have those problems.

Sean Gunn – Sean Gunn was a special guest at LFCC for me because he was the only Buffyverse guest in attendance that I hadn’t met before. Sean, of course, played the Bracken Demon ‘Lucas’ in “Angel” season one’s “Hero”, and played the amusing character ‘Mars’ in season one’s “She”. Plus, let’s not forget that he played Kraglin in “Guardians Of The Galaxy” last year, as well as providing the movements for Rocket and Thanos on set. That’s a lot of interesting stories to tell. For LFCC, I wore my traditional black suit, black bandana, and red tie, only the tie I was wearing was new as I received it for my birthday last’s a custom-designed red tie with the “Angel” logo stitched into the bottom of the tie in black (thanks, Enza & Chrissy!). This was an obvious and useful ice-breaker for meeting Sean as he instantly recognised the logo on the tie and wanted to talk about “Angel”. Now, I’ve been obsessed with “Buffy The Vampire Slayer” and “Angel” since I was eight years old (eighteen years ago now!). I pride myself on my knowledge of the show(s) and my head is filled with random, useless, interesting trivia regarding both the shows. However, I never knew that Sean Gunn was runner-up for the part of Doyle in the first season of “Angel”. How much different would that season have been if Sean was Doyle and not Glenn Quinn?! For one, Doyle might have survived a little longer, as Glenn’s drug problems played a part in Doyle’s character being killed off a little sooner than originally planned. Sean told me that “Angel”, to him, is always ‘the show that got away’, so while he enjoys the show a great deal and enjoyed working on it, he can’t help but feel a little sad that he missed out on the part of Doyle by such a small margin. Sean appeared in an episode of “Bones” last year with David Boreanaz, and David remembered Sean’s audition tape for the part of Doyle. Pretty badass! Also, the character of Charles Gunn in “Angel” was named after Sean and James Gunn (James is Sean’s older brother, and the writer/director of “Guardians Of The Galaxy”). There you go! Dropping some of that useless trivia on you! In addition to talking about “Angel” and his experiences on the show, we also talked about “Guardians Of The Galaxy”. No, James hasn’t allowed Sean to read the first draft of the second film, which James completed a month or two ago. Poor Sean. Sean also filled me in a little about the process of being Rocket on set and how it differed to actually acting in a scene. This was easily my favourite conversation of the day thus far! Sean was interesting, articulate, and really engaged in the conversation with me. It felt like more of a conversation than a Q & A session (which is what the autograph table can feel like at times). Even managed to get a cheeky picture at the autograph table too! When I asked for the picture, Sean said “I’ve been told I’m not supposed to, but sure! I don’t understand why I’m not supposed to anyway!”. Interesting. There was no ‘no posed photos’ sign anywhere, which is the only reason why I asked in the first place. I’m not sure if Sean was confused or if there was supposed to be a sign up. Either way, yay for me. Guest type: Conversationalist.

Peter Shinkoda – Peter was the only person on my list who was a ‘maybe’ guest. If I could find a little extra money and a little extra time, I’d meet him. With Kurt Angle’s last-minute cancellation due to neck surgery issues, I decided to – incredibly spontaneously – meet Peter Shinkoda as his autograph queue had just become completely free. I am so glad that I decided to meet Peter because he turned out to be one of my very favourite guests of the weekend. Out of the 21 guests that I met at LFCC 2015, Peter was the happiest to be there. He radiated warmth and excitement. He never stopped smiling during the 5 or 6 minutes I talked to him. Absolutely phenomenal convention guest and I’d highly encourage you to meet Peter if you get the opportunity to in the future. We started off by talking about “Daredevil” and how the show was able to take the Marvel Cinematic Universe back to the street level instead of the global catastrophe level that most of the films centre around. What was amazing about Peter is that he’s a total fanboy as well! Peter grew up loving comic books and always wanted to be Spider-Man or one of the X-Men. After an extensive talk about “Daredevil”, our favourite comic book series, and how he did many of his own stunts as Nobu in that spectacular fight scene with Daredevil towards the end of the season, we transitioned into talking about equality in comic books. Peter is passionate about diversifying the superhero genre. He said that growing up he didn’t have any Asian (even though he’s Canadian) superheroes to look up to or emulate. Certainly no massive, leading superheroes. We discussed how there’s an alternative reality Spider-Man who’s black, and Jane Foster has just taken over the mantle of Thor, so it seems as though diversity from the norm (male, white) may be happening slowly. Peter said he’d love to be part of something groundbreaking that helps diversify the superhero genre because it’s something he’s been passionate about since he was a child. Between nerding out over comic books and discussing “Daredevil”, Peter also complimented me on my suit, my tie, and my eyeliner. He told me that he used to wear eyeliner a lot as well when he was younger. When I asked if I could take a picture with him, he enthusiastically said “yes!” and said that he wanted a picture with the ‘cool tie guy’. I’ve never felt so complimented by a guest! Meeting Peter blew away my expectations. Not only was he really friendly and enthusiastic, but he also talked to you like you were on the same level as him. No barrier, no keeping you at arm’s length. What an absolutely phenomenal gentleman! A+ guest! Guest type: Conversationalist.

Gregg Henry – Like Sean Gunn, Gregg Henry is someone who appealed to me for Marvel and Joss Whedon related reasons. Not only was he in Firefly’s “The Train Job”, but he also played Peter Quill’s grandfather in “Guardians Of The Galaxy”. This is not where the Gregg Henry-Sean Gunn relationship ends, as Gregg is good friends with both Sean and James Gunn, and often makes appearances in James Gunn’s projects. As something of a diehard Browncoat, I needed to meet Gregg. There are so few actors that appeared in the short-lived phenomena that when they arrive in your country, you grab the opportunity with both hands. Like most other people I met, Gregg was in high spirits and seemed to be enjoying himself. Ironically, our conversation didn’t start by discussing “Firefly” or “Guardians Of The Galaxy”. We talked about his role as Dennis Rader in “The Hunt For The BTK Killer”. Gregg told me that playing a well-known serial killer was exciting, but also daunting because in researching Dennis Rader, he couldn’t find anything redeeming about him whatsoever. Usually, fictional villains have something that you can latch on to. What makes a great villain great is the knowledge that they think they’re right and they’re doing the right thing. This was impossible to do with Dennis Rader as he was a real person, who not only killed people, but bound, tortured, and killed them (hence the ‘BTK’ nickname). Gregg said that filming “The Hunt For The BTK Killer” for six weeks was gruelling and a very dark time because it was hard to shake off Dennis after he left the set and returned home. It was very interesting to hear his techniques on dealing with playing such a despicable psychopath. Next, we discussed “Guardians Of The Galaxy”. I told him that I hope to see him appear in the 2nd film, even if it was just a flashback. After all, Gregg appears in almost all of James Gunn’s projects, so it would be disappointing if Gregg wasn’t in the 2nd film. Gregg laughed and said that he likes the way I think and that he’ll have to talk to James Gunn about making a cameo. Even if he was just playing an alien that was serving drinks or something. Gregg didn’t disappoint. Yet another excellent guest to meet...and a photo at the table too! Guest type: Responder.

With seven autographs down (and seven g0od-great experiences), it was time for the final one. Using my one virtual queuing ticket of the day, I headed over to Jason David Frank and joined the back of the queue.

Jason David Frank – Now, I will readily admit that I’m a little bit of a Jason David Frank fanboy. The first two things I ever remember loving in life were wrestling and the “Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers”. I used to wear my VHS tapes out by watching them so frequently. So, when the opportunity to meet Tommy Oliver arose, it couldn’t be turned down. Sadly, because Jason David Frank’s queue was so large,  I didn’t get a great deal of time with him. I’d say about 90 seconds. However, those 90 seconds were blissful. As I knew he’d be discussing “Power Rangers” all day, I decided to talk to him about his mixed martial arts career, and whether a potential fight with CM Punk is on the cards (as Jason has previously requested it). Jason told me about his recent training and said that he’d love to fight CM Punk in the UFC. I finished our conversation by thanking him for coming. It was a genuine pleasure to meet the original green/white Power Ranger. That’s ¾ of the original male Power Rangers down, just Austin St. John to go! Guest type: Responder.

By this point it was approaching 4pm, so I headed over to photo area A (also on the first floor) for my Kristian Nairn photoshoot, starting at 4:05pm. Queuing was fine, the photoshoot went off without a hitch (although, again, a little late), and I left feeling warm and fuzzy...happiness or heat and light-headedness, you decide! You can’t actually see it in the photo, but Kristian was semi-sitting on a chair for the shoot. His back was clearly giving him trouble because he was walking around all hunched up throughout the weekend. After Kristian’s photo, myself, John, and Hannah wandered around the merchandise stalls for an hour, during which time I bought a badass Daryl Dixon action figure and a Rick Grimes action a great price too because I bought both! Then I headed over to photo area C for my 5:30pm photoshoot with Jason David Frank, which also went off without a hitch, and was also a little late.

10 hours after leaving home, my day was finally over. The three of us decided to head back to our room at the W6 Guesthouse, ready to relax, unwind, and mentally prepare for the expected horrors of the next day. When we arrived at the W6 Guesthouse, we couldn’t get in.  The key didn’t work to the outside door. Then, after being let in by the house’s supervisor, we arrived in our room to discover that the sheets and pillow cases were on the bed ready to be constructed by us! Excuse me? Am I house-keeping as well as a paying customer? It’s okay though, gentle readers. After we’d finished making our beds, we could relax in the shared bathroom and make beautiful microwave meals and tea in the shared kitchen (neither of which were advertised on the website as ‘shared’). And, just to be extra kind, the lovely staff of the W6 Guesthouse left us someone else’s half-drank bottle of water, a can of Pepsi under the bed, and a condom (used) in the upper section of the wardrobe, just in case we needed anything particularly salty in the middle of the night. Ahh, sweet, relaxing bliss...not. To be fair, the beds were pretty comfy once made up and I was too tired to care about switching to another place to stay. Tired and a little concerned that I could smell the salty condom wafting out through the wardrobe, I fell asleep for 2 hours.

Saturday. The day of dread for many convention attendees. As a general rule, it’s overcrowded and the most chaotic day. People are more stressed, more pushy (both physically and verbally), and getting from point ‘A’ to point ‘B’ is twice as challenging as Friday and Sunday. However, gentle readers, I was not to be deterred. The itinerary for Saturday was almost identical to Friday – four studio photos, seven autographs. However, with Rose Leslie’s cancellation on the Saturday morning (she was still appearing Sunday), the amount of autographs required dropped to six. Luckily, my photo with Rose was booked for Sunday, so I didn’t have to worry about getting that rescheduled for Sunday...or as it’s otherwise known, ‘Studio Sunday’, as I originally had 13 photos booked for that day (it was eventually down to 7). The autographs required for Saturday were Rey Mysterio, Rose Leslie, Carice Van Houten, Hayley Atwell, Jessica Henwick, David Bradley, and Alexander Siddig (who was a last-minute replacement for the irreplaceable Charles Dance). Looking at that list, I expected everyone to be virtual queuing except perhaps Jessica Henwick. This was indeed the case, except Alexander Siddig was also not virtual queuing. Even though Charles Dance was scheduled for the 3rd floor, his replacement was sat down on the first floor...and arrived at 1:30pm instead of the previously scheduled 9:30am. No matter, he was only announced a few days before the event. I’m sure he had to fly in from somewhere and was probably pretty exhausted. This left 4 virtual queuing tickets to grab as early as possible on Saturday morning. The last thing I wanted to do was miss someone, so myself and John (Hannah took the day off Saturday) left our beautifully grotesque room at 5:45am on Saturday morning and walked to the Olympia. We were in the queue by 6:05am, and were roughly 80th-100th from the front. Three hours and one incredibly numb ass later, it was time to enter the venue once again.  Yet again, we were in quickly and there were no delays or problems.

Due to the 2nd and 3rd floors not being used on Friday, we had no idea how to get to them. However, after a little confusion on the first floor, we figured out the way pretty promptly. Within moments of arriving on the 3rd floor, I had grabbed all of the virtual queuing tickets I needed...Hayley Atwell #96, Rey Mysterio #13, David Bradley #7, and Carice Van Houten #41. Woohoo! All of those should be absolutely fine! To be honest, after you’ve grabbed your virtual queuing tickets, a lot of the stress of the day drains away. You can relax and live comfortably in the knowledge that you can return later when it’s more convenient and get the autographs then. Also, once again, that sweet, sweet 3rd floor air conditioning was blissful. If it wasn’t for photo shoots, I’d never have left that floor. My first scheduled photo shoot was David Bradley at 9:30am in photo D. However, due to needing virtual queuing tickets, I decided to go to the afternoon shoot at 2:35pm. With Charles Dance’s cancellation as well, this left my first photo shoot of the day being Rey Mysterio at 10:55am in photo B. This gave me just over an hour to grab a few of the autographs. There was just one problem...Hayley Atwell and David Bradley were away in photo shoots, while Alexander Siddig, Rey Mysterio, and Jessica Henwick weren’t at their tables yet. This narrowed down my first autograph of the day to one person...

Carice Van Houten – Surprisingly, since the event, I’ve read a lot of stories of Carice being aloof or unresponsive at the autograph table. In fact, it’s even been reported on some Dutch websites that Carice and her boyfriend broke up over LFCC weekend (no idea if it’s true). In addition to all of that, as Saturday rolled on, Carice became sick and didn’t return to LFCC on Sunday. Just my luck, my photo with her was booked for Sunday. That’s 3 conventions where I’m supposed to have had a photo with her that have now been cancelled. I SHALL GET IT ONE DAY, DAMN IT! However, it wasn’t all bad, as I did manage to get my autograph. Meeting Carice early turned out to be an excellent stroke of luck because it was before she was feeling sick and starting to not say very much at the autograph table. I had a very pleasant 90-second conversation with her about “Game Of Thrones” (of course) and her music career. Carice gave eye contact the entire time that she wasn’t writing (a lot of people didn’t have that same experience from what I’ve read), she was smiling constantly, and she couldn’t have been friendlier! I was so surprised to read some of the stories that have emerged on the forums since LFCC’s conclusion. Carice seemed genuinely flattered and excited that I listen to her music, and she also offered some theories and ideas for how she sees Melisandre’s story continuing now that Stannis is no longer in the picture. It was exactly what you expect from an autograph encounter. Very friendly, very polite, nice eye contact, and a wonderful experience. When you add in the rumoured break-up and the sickness, this experience becomes even more miraculous. Guest type: Responder.

Soon after I finished talking to Carice, Jessica Henwick arrived on the 3rd floor, so I joined the back of her 15-person queue that had formed while people waited for her to arrive. The only annoying thing about this experience was that a vendor was at the front of the queue and must have had 30+ items to get signed. Now, I’m not against vendors getting items signed. They need to and they have as much right as everyone else if they follow the same procedures as us. However, there should be a 5 or 10 autograph cap. That way, people wouldn’t be stuck waiting for ages, and the vendor could always go back later in the day to get 5 or 10 more. The diamond guests have a maximum of 5 autographs allowed (you can always queue again), and I think that non-diamond guests should too. However, once I got to the front of the queue, Jessica was terrific.

Jessica Henwick – Like many people at conventions, Jessica assumed I was in cosplay and asked who I was dressed as. Between guests, crew members, and attendees, this happens about 30 times a day at LFCC. I don’t mind it at all! In fact, I take it as a compliment that my regular look is so unique people think it must be something off the television or from a book series! From then on, whenever I saw Jessica, I was known as ‘not a cosplay suit guy!’. LOLs. Jessica told me that she had to train with a bullwhip for six months in preparation for her role as Nymeria Sand of “Game Of Thrones” season 5. Now that’s dedication. SIX MONTHS! I’d have given up after 6 weeks and just gone to Nandos or something. Jessica also told me that Keisha (Obara Sand) and Rosabell (Tyene Sand) had to learn how to act while she extended the bullwhip and cracked it backwards because it would make such a loud noise that they’d jump. It took a little while to adjust to the sound without flinching.  Obviously, Jessica couldn’t talk about Star Wars Episode VII, but I did express how excited I am to see her, Miltos (Syrio Forel from “Game Of Thrones”), and Gwendolyn (Brienne from “Game Of Thrones”) in the film when it’s released. Finally, we talked about what it was like filming in the Alcazar of Seville, which was used as the set for the Water Gardens in “Game Of Thrones”. Like Toby Sebastian last month and Alexander Siddig later in the day, Jessica was blown away by the set and couldn’t believe that they were allowed to film there. In addition to that, everything you see on screen is legitimate. There was nothing added to the set or altered whatsoever (according to Jessica and Toby). I must visit the Alcazar of Seville at some point soon. It’s absolutely beautiful on screen. Like Peter the day before and Rose the following day, Jessica didn’t stop smiling the entire time I was at the autograph table, and she made eye contact frequently. These are the little extras that you look for to make an experience great! You need to feel that they are happy to be there and genuinely excited to meet you (and their other fans). Jessica radiated positivity and excitement, which coupled with the conversation, made for a great experience. Keisha and Jessica both had ‘no posed photos’ signs up at the autograph table. As I had a picture with Keisha at the autograph table the day before, I didn’t want a picture with one Sand Snake, but not the other, so I very, very quickly dashed down to the ground floor to buy a studio photo ticket. The photo session was scheduled to start 10 minutes after I left Jessica’s autograph table. Have you ever tried to run down three floors, queue up, buy the ticket, run back up one floor, and get to the appropriate area in 10 minutes, while 40,000 other people are trying to get to their own destinations? Not a fun experience or pretty sight. However, I got there just in time and the photo itself turned out great, so it was definitely worth the suicide run. Jessica greeted me warmly in the photo shoot and remembered me from the autograph table by name. Always a nice little bonus! Guest type: Responder.

Tired and seeing funny little spots in front of my eyes, it was time to head back down to the ground floor for my 10:55am photo session with Rey Mysterio in photo area B. It’s at this point that I’ll give a shout-out to three very important crew members from the LFCC weekend (Saturday and Sunday in particular). First, is Luke (and Chris!), who was organising photo area A most of the weekend. I’ve been to a few events with Luke before and he’s always been absolutely phenomenal. A lot of the big guests were at photo area A, and photo area A was not ideally located. Yet, given the space and time constraints, Luke held that area together for two straight days. Every photo I had in area A went smoothly. When I had a clash, Luke allowed me to join the queue early. By Sunday morning, Luke’s voice was gone, so he was communicating primarily through Chris or his white board – and keeping everyone entertained with amusing notes along the way. Luke was able to diffuse tension when shoots started late, and he managed to make people smile while they were exhausted and frustrated. Kudos! Also, why don’t the crew members at photo areas have megaphones or something?! Insanity. Secondly, is Stuart, who was running photo area B for most of the weekend. Once again, like Luke, Stuart was incredible. Unlike some other photo areas, Stuart was clued up on the order to call tickets in. He kept things organised, had a booming voice, and helped people out wherever he could. I actually went up to Stuart on Sunday afternoon and thanked him for doing such a great job over LFCC weekend. Crew members like Luke, Stuart, and Phil are invaluable. They really are the difference between a shit weekend and a great weekend sometimes when it comes to photo sessions. It’s not just the organisation skills either. It’s making sure nobody queue jumps, it’s checking that people are being honest about their batch number, it’s making jokes and keeping people entertained while they’re exhausted and waiting for a photo shoot that’s running 15 minutes late. Finally, I must give a shout-out to my friend Phil. Those of you that have read many of my convention reviews will know Phil as the man who organised Stan Lee’s final photo session over LFCC weekend last year. The most unenviable of tasks. This year, Phil was organising Hayley Atwell’s photo sessions on Sunday. Once again, a very unenviable task when you think about how many people there are to get through. Plus, you have people hovering around even though they’ve been told their batch will not be called for 20 minutes, you have people constantly badgering him with questions, and you have people shuffling forwards into the white line zone allocated for active queuing. Somehow, some way, Phil kept it together and got that queue running like clockwork. I can genuinely say that crew members like Luke, Stuart, and Phil made my weekend vastly better and allowed me to get everything done that I intended to do. If you’re reading this, thank you.

Rey Mysterio’s photo session went off without a hitch. I must mention how terrific Rey is with the children in his photo queue. He made an extra effort to talk to every one of them that was there when I was, pressed his head against theirs, and made them feel special. To many people – especially young people – Rey Mysterio is a real life superhero. He’s the closest you’re going to get to a real Spider-Man, so watching Rey interact with these kids was a special moment. It tells you so much about the type of man he is. Plus, Rey was also terrific with all the adults too! An absolutely tremendous man!

My next photo session was scheduled for 11:15am at photo area A. It was Dumbledore himself, Michael Gambon. As you can imagine (especially as he was only there one day), his queue was insanity. Yet, once again, the team at photo area A held it together very well! I must admit, I did feel very sorry for Michael. He was on the 1st floor all day, he had hundreds of photos and autographs to get through, and he looked totally exhausted. After all, the man is 74 years old! I wouldn’t have objected to him being sat down in his photo session like Stan Lee was last year, yet Michael seemed game for everything. It’s definitely one of the highlights of my life to meet the actor behind one of my favourite characters from my co-favourite ever book series (from Azkaban onwards of course). By this point, it was 11:30am. I had two photo shoots remaining and four autographs left. However, due to some shoes that were less comfortable than expected, I already had 5 blisters on my feet. One of which was large and just below my toes on my left foot. This made walking...challenging...for the rest of Saturday and most of Sunday. Alas, I soldiered on, back up to the 3rd floor for some much needed air conditioning and autographs.

Rey Mysterio – Ugh. This was the only guest of the weekend that I was starstruck by. It’s so rare these days that I get starstruck because I’m quite used to the process by now, but occasionally someone will come along that will turn my insides to goo and force my tongue to become four times larger than it usually is. THANKFULLY, by the time I got to the front of the queue, I’d remembered how to talk again. Vowels and everything. The first thing Rey did was offer his hand for a handshake and said ‘hi, nice to meet you’. After a second or two of me staring at his face, I remembered, once again, that this is the time to use those pesky words that I just remembered how to say. I said ‘hi’ back, and Rey looked at the 8” x 10” and asked if it was from a video game or if it was actually him (THQ must be beaming over that comment – the quality of the characters these days are so lifelike!). I responded that I thought it was from the video game, but I wasn’t sure. After this, it was time to discuss wrestling! Yay! We talked about his time in WWE, WCW, Eddie Guerrero, and what he’s up to these days. We talked about the current state of his knees. Finally, I couldn’t contain all my euphoria any longer. I had to thank him and tell him how much it meant to me to meet him. So, I did. I talked about my childhood, my teenage years, and how Eddie Guerrero and he altered the course of my life in some ways. Rey seemed genuinely touched at the sentiments (which flowed out of my mouth much faster than intended – it was like a flood of words in a matter of seconds, I swear), and thanked me. Shockingly, Rey allowed a photo at the autograph table as well! I don’t recall ever getting a photo at the autograph table with a £25 guest before! Very cool little addition to the experience for sure. Guest type: Responder.

How do I speech? How do my vocal cords work? What is this life? Where am I? – Oh, look, a Lego Batman cosplay! This was the state of my brain after meeting Rey Mysterio. Of course, I played it totally cool when talking to John about it, but inside I was pudding. No time to soak up the moment though, Shangel. It’s time to meet Hayley Atwell!

Hayley Atwell – I knew coming into the event that Hayley was going to be very popular and busy. Not only is she the leading actress in “Agent Carter”, but she’s appeared in the Captain America films, and only cost £20! Seriously, when Hayley was first announced as a guest for LFCC, I dreaded opening the thread (same goes for Michael Gambon). I was expecting £30-40 for a photo or autograph. I was shocked to see that it was £20 and actually believed it to be a typo at first. Then, when the photos were released on Eventbrite at £20, I was pleasantly surprised. That’s a great price! Alas, the downside is that I knew her queue was going to be longer than the list of 70’s entertainers currently facing jail time, which meant that time for conversation would be at a minimum. This was the case. However, I did get a nice 60 seconds with her at the table, which seems to be more than most people did, so I can’t complain too loudly. I thanked her for coming and told her how refreshing it was to see a kickass female leading a television show once again (there haven’t been many since the Buffy/Xena days). Hayley thanked me and told me to look out for a little more ass-kicking in “Ant-Man” (which opened right before LFCC weekend). I then told her how awesome the Dub-Smash wars were between “Agent Carter” and “Agents Of SHIELD”, and she told me that herself and James D’Arcy flew to Atlanta just to get Chris Evans to appear in one of them so that they could win the ‘war’. Absolutely hilarious to think how much money they spent on plane tickets just to win a mock war against Clark Gregg and Chloe Bennet. Even though the experience was relatively brief, I thought it was fantastic! A) I got 60 seconds, which was more than expected. B) The autograph was personalised to me, which some of the bigger guests don’t have time to do (luckily, every autograph in my collection is personalised to me!). C) She gave eye contact and smiled constantly, even though she was jetlagged and her queue was huge! Woohoo! Guest type: Big Guest.

David Bradley – After finishing up with Hayley (I stand by that choice of phrasing), I headed over to David Bradley, who was right next to her on the 3rd floor. I’ve since read on the forums that people didn’t get much time with David because he was really busy, so I must have caught him at a different time to those people because I talked to David for a solid 4 or 5 minutes! And, I wasn’t even leading the conversation! He was! I didn’t want to take up too much time because the queue was so large, yet David just kept talking about “Game Of Thrones” enthusiastically. When I first arrived at the table, I told him that I love him as Walder Frey, even though he’ll always be Filch to me because of my childhood with Harry Potter. I then said, “now, don’t take this the wrong way, but I do hope that Arya Stark kills Walder Frey in the most violent way possible very soon”, which got a big laugh from David (his laugh is terrific). After that, I asked him if filming the Red Wedding was as horrific as watching it. David said that he must be a little bit of a psychopath because he absolutely loved filming it. He said he couldn’t get enough of it because he knew that they were filming something special that was going to ‘absolutely destroy the fans’. David then told me that the speech Walder Frey gives just before the wedding took 70 takes to get absolutely perfect! SEVENTY TAKES! FUCK. THAT. Apparently, those 70 takes took about a day to shoot, and the next week was dedicated to the massacre aspect of the Red Wedding. To this day I still get chills when I hear “The Rains Of Castamere” play. David went on to say that he hopes that Arya kills Walder Frey one day too because it would be the most fitting death for the despicable character he portrays. I thanked David for his time, and he responded with “it was my pleasure, Shane!”. Using my name = appreciated bonus. I love it when the guests are personable with you. Finally, David was also offering photos at the autograph table! Just like Rey Mysterio, that was totally unexpected (and not something he was doing all weekend). Guest type: Conversationalist.

With five autographs completed and just Alexander Siddig remaining, myself and John decided to head downstairs to the ground floor in preparation for my photo with David Bradley at 2:35pm in photo area D. However, as we approached the stairwell/lifts part of the 3rd floor, we realised that it was impossible to move. The stairs were filled with people, the queues for the lifts were longer than some of the photo shoot queues, and people were getting very frustrated. Ultimately, it took 20 minutes to get from the 3rd floor to the 1st floor. While this isn’t as bad as LFCC was on the Saturday afternoon last year (it took 45 minutes to get across the hall!), it was still a major fire hazard. If the alarm suddenly went off, people would have been trampled to death or burned alive. A little while later, the goods lifts were opened up and used as well, which took a little pressure off the crush of people, but not much. Sunday didn’t have this problem whatsoever as far as I could see.

While myself and John were sat down outside photo area D waiting for David Bradley’s photo session to begin, I heard the crew members asking if anyone else was there for Sean Gunn (whose photo session ended about 15 minutes before David Bradley’s was to begin). Knowing the hectic photo day I had on Sunday, I spontaneously decided to ask if I could have my photo on Saturday instead (I had it booked for Sunday). Sean still had a few minutes left in his session, but there was nobody left to get their photo, so the crew said it was absolutely fine. Phew! One less thing to worry about the next day. As always, Sean was a thoroughly nice guy in the photo session and remembered me from the autograph table the day before by name. Ahh, glorious. Not long after this, David’s photo session began (after starting 10 minutes or so late). Just like with Sean, David remembered me by name and said ‘hi Shane!’ before the photo was taken. It’s little additions like this that I’ve grown to adore over the years. Straight after David’s session ended, it was time for Alexander Siddig’s photo session in the same photo area (D) as Sean Gunn and David Bradley. This was the time where the unfortunate incident happened with crew member Justin as I was trying to explain to him what was going to happen if old store tickets bought on the day (or the day before) were called before the e-tickets. He snapped, called them first anyway, people got annoyed, and half the people with e-tickets pushed into the queue anyway. No matter, it was my last photo shoot of the day and the only autograph I had remaining was Alexander Siddig, who couldn’t be in two places at once unless he’s way more skilled at cloning than I’ve given him credit for. Alexander was very friendly in the photo session too. Gave everyone a handshake, greeted them, smiled, and looked positively thrilled to be there considering he must have been exhausted.


Alexander Siddig - By 3:40pm, Alexander Siddig’s photo shoot was over, so I decided to head up to the first floor (by myself, as John had a photo session) and queue up for Alexander’s autograph. I was about 5th in the queue, which was fortunate as it started to get crowded just after I left. Considering Alexander was only there from 1:30-6pm(ish), his queue wasn’t insanity as expected. It was a nice, relaxed pace, and I spent about 4 minutes at the autograph table with him talking about, you guessed it, “Game Of Thrones”. Due to Alexander being such a late announcement, I didn’t really have time to plan anything to say to him. So, I relied on my old method of winging it. We discussed Doran Martell’s secret plans from the book series and discussed whether or not the show was going to implement them in the coming season. We also discussed how we thought they might differ from the book series if they did decide to add them to the television show. Alexander also told me about the surreal experience of working in the Alcazar of Seville, which only heightened my desire to want to go there one day soon. In addition to having the 8” x 10” signed, I also got my House Martell art print signed, which I bought at “Stoke Con Trent” (greatest convention name ever) earlier this year, and had signed by Toby Sebastian (Trystane Martell) at “Collectormania: Milton Keynes” a month before LFCC. If we exclude the Sands from the equation, it’s just Pedro Pascal needed for that House Martell art print! C’mon Pedro! Come to England! I’m still bitter he cancelled on LFCC last year. Basically, Alexander was lovely. He really made you feel welcomed and appreciated. Plus, I don’t think he stopped smiling once. I love that almost everyone I met over LFCC weekend seemed genuinely excited to be there. Guest type: Responder.

All six autographs acquired, all four (which turned into six with Sean Gunn and Jessica Henwick) studio photos completed. After a quick look around some of the merchandise stalls that I didn’t get to the day before, myself and John decided to head back to the W6 Guesthouse. The rancid smell of body odour at LFCC simply couldn’t compare to the smell of stale semen at the Guesthouse. After going out for an exciting dinner of Subway and reduced (25p!) chocolate shortbread from M & S, we decided to head back to the Guesthouse and chill for a few hours after the hectic drama that is LFCC Saturday. One of the best things about the Guesthouse (one of the only good things, I should say) is that the shared bathroom has one shower cubicle...with three shower heads! I felt like I was in a particularly choppy rainstorm. It was bliss to wash away all the sweat and grime of conventioning...just in time to go to bed and do the same thing the next day!

Sunday morning followed the same process as Saturday, only with the additional hassle of putting all the bags in the car before heading to the Olympia due to needing to check out of the W6 Jizzhouse...sorry, Guesthouse. Once again, we arrived by just after 6am, once again, we were about 80th-100th in the queue. It was during this queuing process where I discovered that Carice Van Houten had cancelled (no photoshoot for me! Waaaah!), and that Rose Leslie was definitely attending LFCC Sunday (yaaaaay!). With Carice cancelling, with Sean Gunn completed the day before, and with the previous cancellations of Emily Kinney, Natalia Tena, Kurt Angle, and Maja Stojan, the amount of photo shoots I had to whizz through on Sunday was reduced to six (Iain Glen, Rose Leslie, Catherine Tate, Robert Englund, Jonathan Pryce, and Hayley Atwell). Plus, three autographs to attain – Iain Glen, Rose Leslie, and Gemma Whelan. Carice was scheduled to be my first photo shoot of the day at 9:30am, so her cancellation allowed me to grab virtual queuing tickets for Iain Glen and Rose Leslie, which would have otherwise been collected by Hannah or John for me. I will admit, LFCC Sunday was blissful compared to Saturday, due to my schedule changes. After collecting the virtual queuing tickets (#18 for Rose Leslie (which was hand-written as they weren’t ready) and #40 for Iain Glen), I decided to head back down to the ground floor (from the 3rd fucking floor again! – So much walking!) and chill out by photo area B, ready for my 10:05am photo shoot with Iain Glen. Iain Glen is a beautiful man, isn’t he? So very dashing. The photo shoot started late (shocking!), but wasn’t so late that it impeded my photo shoot with Rose Leslie at 1025am in photo area A (on the first floor!). Rose Leslie’s photo shoot was particularly memorable for a few reasons...

1)       She didn’t stop smiling the entire time, regardless of whether she was talking, having her photo taken, or waiting for the next person. Absolutely incredible!
2)      About 5 places in front of me was someone cosplaying as Ygritte. Rose Leslie exploded with delight at the cosplay and spent a good 20 seconds telling her how fantastic she looked before the photo was taken. Then, after the photo was taken, Rose asked for a 2nd one to be taken, where Rose and the girl cosplaying as Ygritte were holding the bow outstretched with an arrow notched. Out of everyone I met at LFCC, Rose seemed the most genuinely excited to meet everyone. People like Rose Leslie, David Bradley, and Peter Shinkoda (amongst others at LFCC) are the reason you attend. They make you feel so special.
3)      Two places in front of me in the queue was a gentleman wearing a t-shirt he designed. It had a picture of Ygritte on the front, with the caption “Jon Snow knows two things – nothing and how to lick pussy” surrounding the picture. Rose’s face was hilarious when she saw it. Initially, she saw the picture and smiled. Then, you could see her face register the words and it was classic. She looked half-embarrassed and half-amused. It was awesome. She asked where they sell that t-shirt and the gentleman in question told her that he designed it himself.
4)      Rose took a few seconds to talk to everyone before the photo was taken. She looked everyone in the eye before it was taken, said ‘hi’, and had a brief second of chit-chat. Class act through and through.


Straight after Rose’s photo (in the same area – A) was Robert Englund’s photo. The queues were once again pretty ridiculous. Firstly, you have people lingering around photo area A for Rose Leslie’s shoot, which hadn’t quite finished yet – plus, she had to get through all the photos from Saturday and Sunday because she had to cancel on Saturday. Then, you had everyone waiting for Robert Englund’s photo. Luckily, I was batch 1, so it was only diamond pass holders and gold pass holders before me, so I was in and out pretty quickly. I’ve seen many studio photo pictures of Robert Englund with fans before, and they’re always pretty wacky. He seems to want to pull a pose in every picture. Mine was no exception. Within seconds of getting to the front, he grabbed my tie (which he loved) and had the picture taken in full Freddy persona. It was great! And turned out to be one of my favourite pictures of the weekend.


Within the space of an hour and a quarter, my first three photo shoots were finished. However, there was no time to relax, as right after Robert Englund was Hayley Atwell, down on the ground floor in photo area C. Up, down, up, down, up,  down. My poor blisters (which now numbered 13) were killing me. No matter, Agent Peggy Carter should help take the uncomfortable sensation away. Hayley’s photo area (as mentioned above) was manned by legendary Showmasters crew member, Phil. With Phil at the helm, everything ran smoothly for me and I was in pretty quickly as I was batch 1. Of course, Phil was also clued up to the highlighted old style tickets, so there was no drama with the order things were called in either. Alongside Robert Englund, Hayley Atwell’s photo was probably my favourite of the weekend. Even with the size of the queue, Hayley still took the time to look me in the eye and say ‘hi’, which isn’t something everyone got from the autograph table on Sunday, so once again I was feeling pretty euphoric.


With four photos down by midday and my next one (Catherine Tate) scheduled for 2:30pm, I had a couple of hours free to collect the three autographs I had left for the weekend. With Iain and Rose’s queues looking rather long, I decided to go and meet Gemma Whelan first. Also, special shout-out to the 3rd floor once again. Your air conditioning was spectacular, and I love you. While waiting to get to the front of Gemma’s autograph queue, I browsed the Showmasters forums on my phone and discovered that Robert Englund wasn’t signing autographs on Sunday due to how long it takes to get the Freddy Krueger makeup applied (the makeup photo shoot was part of the diamond package). This included people with a diamond ticket! One of the major perks of the diamond ticket was a guaranteed autograph. Not a great precedent to set to have one of the diamond guests not complete all of the guaranteed autographs during the first convention using them. However, Showmasters did try to appease people by offering A) the opportunity to get it at another convention that Robert attends (with free entry into the event), or B) getting a refund for the cost of the autograph, plus an extra £5 refunded, so at least they were trying to make it okay. However, still not a great precedent to set for future diamond pass guests.

Gemma Whelan – I always wondered what Gemma would look like if she smiled. While it’s a rarity on “Game Of Thrones”, in real life she doesn’t seem to stop. As I got to the front of the queue, Gemma looked up at me and asked if I minded if she called the pub quickly to book a table for the pub quiz. I said that was totally fine and then proceeded to hum quietly to myself while she was on the phone so I didn’t hear her phone number (which she needed to give the pub). A lesser person might have memorised it, but not this guy! Mostly, it’s because I didn’t hear the 3rd or 4th digits, but that’s beside the point! Gemma thanked me for my patience and we began our little conversation. I told Gemma that I’m a big fan of her stand-up comedy, and I asked her if she had any dates lined up. She said that she doesn’t at present, but she did have one last Saturday, which went very well and the crowd was large and loud. Our conversation then transitioned to, once again, “Game Of Thrones”. We talked about her role on the show, particularly her first episode in the 2nd season, where Yara rides a horse with Theon. Gemma told me that this was her audition scene and she had to can I put this delicately...wanking off an imaginary person in front of her during the audition scene. Well, that sounds like a ridiculously funny and uncomfortable audition, doesn’t it? She got the part though, so she must have been doing something right...I wonder if it was the hand action that swayed them? I then told Gemma that I hope to see her back next season, and she said that she’d love to return, but wasn’t sure if Yara was back in season six yet. I told her about the casting calls for season six, and how one of them sounds exactly like Euron Greyjoy. If that’s the case, Yara will almost definitely be back! I asked her if it was okay to get a picture with her at the table, and she said, “YES! Of course! Especially after telling me I’ll be back next season! How exciting!”. So, if Yara isn’t back, that’s my bad. However, it does look promising. Lovely 5-minute conversation, photo at the autograph table, and a wonderful experience. All for £10! Bargain! Guest type: Responder.

Iain Glen – After leaving Gemma’s autograph table, Iain’s queue looked a little smaller than Rose Leslie’s queue, so myself and Hannah decided to go and meet Iain first. I later discovered that Iain was so busy that he wasn’t personalising (he was only there from 10am-5pm) for a large portion of the day and wasn’t actually personalising when I met him. However, nobody told me that (they told Hannah just after me), so I asked for my autograph to be personalised to me, which Iain graciously did. How was I to know? Nobody told me! Even though his queue was rammed (so very rammed), Iain still took the time to have a little chat with me about the process of learning the fight scenes for season five, which was a particularly physical season for Jorah. Iain told me that he had a lot of fighting experience from previous projects, but this was a little different because there was so much of it – particularly the fighting pit scene in episode 9, “The Dance Of Dragons” (A.K.A. The episode where Shireen burns). Even though the conversation was brief (3o seconds or so), Iain came across as a genuine, warm human being. It’s funny, after every convention I read about many other people’s experiences, and a lot of them seem to have a few negative ones amongst the mostly positive ones. However, everyone I met at LFCC ruled! 99.9% of people I’ve ever met at conventions have ruled! I don’t know if it’s lucky timing or something else, but I always seem to have a terrific time with everyone. Guest type: Big Guest.

Rose Leslie – Ironically, my last autograph of the weekend was also the best in many ways. After seeing Rose interact with everyone (including me) at the photo shoot, I knew that Rose was going to be wonderful. She just glows when you’re around her. She never stops smiling, she’s constantly warm and friendly, and she likes to have a conversation with all of her fans. So much so that by 1:30pm, her virtual queuing numbers were only up to 70 (while people like Iain and Hayley Atwell were at 300-400). Remember, gold ticket holders don’t need a virtual queuing ticket for non-diamond guests, so I’d imagine she’d signed 250 or so autographs by 1:30pm.  I have since heard that later in the afternoon Rose was talking a little less so that she could meet more people (and less people would go home empty handed), but at the time I met her, she was still in talking mode. When I got to the front of the queue, one of the Showmasters crew members asked if a disabled gentleman could pop in before me. Of course, I said that was totally fine! I had an hour until I needed to do anything else, and this gentleman had literally only came back on Sunday to meet Rose. After Rose and this gentleman’s conversation had finished and he left, Rose turned to me and thanked me sincerely for my patience (as did the crew member). Just watching Rose interact with the disable gentleman was lovely to be honest. She’s so warm and appreciative of everyone! Just like Rey Mysterio was the day before with the children. Myself and Rose had a lovely 4-5 minute conversation about “The Last Witch Hunter” and “Game Of Thrones”. Firstly, we talked about “Game Of Thrones”, and how difficult her last episode was to shoot. Not only because it was her last episode, but because 75% of it was one gigantic battle sequence. It took A MONTH OF NIGHT SHOOTS TO COMPLETE THE EPISODE! A MONTH! Then, at the end of that month, her final scene to shoot was her death scene (shows rarely shoot in sequential order). She said that she’s glad it was her final scene because she doesn’t think she could have come back to play Ygritte again after dying in Jon Snow’s arms. After the filming was completed, the crew presented Rose with Ygritte’s bow as a gift (in a nice display case and everything!). What a lovely story! Rose said that the grind of a month’s night shoots wasn’t easy because it messed up her body clock so she was tired a lot, yet she said it was probably the most gratifying episode of “Game Of Thrones” to film for her from a physicality perspective. After we finished talking about “Game Of Thrones”, we transitioned to “The Last Witch Hunter”, which is a film based on a book series, starring Rose and Vin Diesel as the two leading actors (as far as I can see at least). Rose recently came back from six months living in Pittsburgh for the role. She said that she can’t say much about the film yet, but she really hopes that I enjoy the film when I see it, and she adored living in Pittsburgh and would happily live there again. What a woman! Guest type: Conversationalist. This is actually a totally unique guest type, as I’ve never had a ‘big guest’ conversationalist before. Kudos to Rose for being so friendly and passionate about her fanbase.

Luckily, there was no crush of people when trying to get from the 3rd floor to the 1st floor today. Myself and Hannah were able to go down in the lift (due to blisters!) relatively quickly after finishing talking to Rose. While Hannah went off merchandise hunting for a while, I stayed close to photo area A because my feet were killing me and my right shoulder was aching from 3 days of hauling around a heavy bag (at one of the photo sessions, one of  the crew members asked if I was carrying around a bag of bricks!). A joyous (no, that’s not sarcasm) 45 minutes passed before it was time for my photo session with Catherine Tate. Catherine was lovely. Even though I only had a brief moment with her because it was a photo shoot, she looked me in the eye,  smiled, said ‘hi’ (are you sensing a theme for what makes me happy?), and the photo was taken. Also, the photo shoot started on time! Hooray! Just when I didn’t need to be anywhere for another 2 hours! Typical. After the photo was taken, I headed downstairs to photo area B and waited for an hour or so before my final photo with Jonathan Pryce. I also did a little merchandise hunting because my ass was becoming numb. Dude, over 3 days, I sat down on a concrete floor for over eight hours. That’s a whole work day! No wonder my tail bone was aching! My photo shoot with Jonathan started about 15 minutes late (probably because Jonathan had to go from the 3rd floor to the ground floor), but Jonathan seemed very friendly as well. He was wearing a little black brace around his hand, so I can only assume a day’s worth of autographs were getting to him a little bit. Even so, he was friendly, approachable, and greeted me with a smile and ‘hi’. What more can you ask for?


With my entire body aching, we walked the 15 minutes back to the car and made our way home. Was a traditional Burger King purchased on the way, you long time readers ask? Yes, it was. I got home about 8:45pm on Sunday night, which gave me a little time to reflect on the weekend before starting work at 6am on Monday morning. Was the weekend worth the money? Yes, it was. Sure, LFCC is chaotic, stressful, and exhausting, but it’s arguably the biggest convention in Europe. No other can boast guests like Michael J. Fox or Sigourney Weaver, that’s for sure. Also, upon reflection, this was my second favourite LFCC or LFCC Winter ever (second to LFCC 2013). The guests were all ‘good’ to ‘fantastic’, the atmosphere was electric (if not a little sleepy), the venue was an improvement on Earls Court II overall, and an amazing time was had. It was definitely worth the jizzy condom room, the 13 blisters, the aches, the pains, and the exhaustion. Would I attend again? I most definitely shall be.



  1. Shangel!!

    One more awesome review, which let me think I was there too! :D And damn... I really wish I was there... it sounds amazing! And it seems like you meet a lot of cool people! I have to admit, I don't know everyone of the guests you met, but the guests I know I really like to meet more now :D
    Especially Rose Leslie sounds amazing! I do you love Ygritte in GOT. And now I love her even more. The picture of you two is soooo beautiful <3. And you met Freddy Kruger!!!! You really met Freddy... I am freaking out :D and "Jorah" aaaww... so cool ^_^
    And the "deo announcement" is really cool and a bit funny I have to admit :P ... even if the reason for the announcement is not cool and never funny ;)

    Thanks for your reviews! They are awesome!
    All the best,

  2. Hayley Atwell and Katherine Tate, I'm officially jealous hahaha <3 This was an awesome review, I've never been to a con - unfortunately -_- - but reading this I feel like I'm there with you, it's so frigging cool! I wish I could've met Hayley <3 such a beautiful, smart and badass woman! Also her and the rest of the Agent Carter and Agents of Shield's Dubsmash wars are hilarious :'D

  3. As usual, a great review!! Waw, those Game of Thrones actors really are making the rounds :-D
    So jealous that you got to meet 2 of my favorites, Hayley Atwell and Catherine Tate! 2 amazing kick ass ladies!
    And yay for the tie!! :-D

  4. Oh wow, this sounds like it was your busiest con ever! So stoked for you that all the guests were wonderful!

  5. Hehehe, I'm not gonna lie, I'm a little bit jealous you got a photo with Alexander Siddig. I adored him as Bashir on Star Trek. But, he was so lovely to meet when we finally caught him at the autograph table at the end of Saturday, and when we asked for an autograph to the both of us because we could only afford one, he waved it off and did us one each anyway :D I felt really sorry for Michael Gambon when I had my photo with him, as he looked exhausted (he'd been slouching around most of the weekend looking like the quintessential grumpy old man lol) and he didn't really smile, but he did say smile when I said thank you to him after the photo. And Kristian Nairn was so lovely!! Huge though! I don't know if anyone met Richard Dean-Anderson, but he literally walked past me on the ground floor, and I swear, that is the not the man I swooned over in Stargate lol, he looks so ancient! And wrinkly!

  6. Ditto on the Alexander Siddig. He is such a gentleman. I also loved him in Lawrence of Arabia. I just want to sit and watch him talk...not to me, to anybody. Also, Agent Carter a plus and Michael Gambon another lovely talker. I finally had the time and the energy to live vicariously through your post and it was a dream! Thanks.

  7. I've been thinking of going to a con from time to time, but it's always a HUGE turnoff to see that in order to be permitted a picture, you have to pay $50+? I'm guessing that's for those photoshoots you've mentioned, which makes me wonder how many of those autograph table selfies I see on Twitter are all that legal.