Monday, 18 April 2016

RETRO REVIEW: London Film & Comic Con 2013 - A Detailed Review

Guests met and discussed in this review :- 

• Peter Dinklage (Tyrion Lannister from “Game Of Thrones”)
• Lena Headey (Cersei Lannister from “Game Of Thrones”)
• Jason Momoa (Khal Drogo from “Game Of Thrones”)
• Norman Reedus (Daryl Dixon from “The Walking Dead”)
• Sarah Wayne Callies (Lori Grimes from “The Walking Dead”)
• Armin Shimerman (Principal Snyder from “Buffy The Vampire Slayer”)
• Clive Russell (Brynden ‘Blackfish’ Tully from “Game Of Thrones”)
• Finn Jones (Loras Tyrell from “Game Of Thrones”)
• Diamond Dallas Page (Wrestler)

Two quick notes before we get started...

1) If this is your first time on "Shangel's Reviews", I'm currently reviewing every single episode of "Buffy The Vampire Slayer" and "Angel" in depth. A list of all the reviews I've written so far can be located here. While these have been on hiatus for a while, they will be back in full force from early June.

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With that being said, let’s get started, shall we?

This is the first in a series of reviews I’m going to label “retro reviews”. I’ve been attending conventions for many years, but I only created this blog and started keeping details accounts after “Hallowhedon5” in October of 2013. Any conventions I attended before that date have been lost to time and merely exist inside my own mind. So, I’ll probably never get around to writing reviews on those because I’ll have forgotten so much of what makes my reviews standout – the details! I remember my interactions with the guests perfectly, but it’s not really enough detail to create a high quality review, so those will remain inside my brain, unless I ever create memoirs one day. However, it’s not all doom and gloom, gentle readers. Before “Hallowhedon 5”, I attended three other conventions in 2013 – “Cardiff Film & Comic Con”, “LFCC”, and “LFCC Winter”. After each of those events, I wrote a semi-detailed review and emailed it to my friend Jon. This means that I can go back and piece together the conventions from those emails and create reviews that I think are worthy enough to be published here. So, with that being said, welcome to the first “Retro Review”. These will be shorter than my usual convention reviews because some of the details will have been lost to time, but hopefully there’s enough here to hold your interest and give you a feel for what the event was like.

“London Film & Comic Con 2013” took place at Earls Court 2 in, you guessed it, London, over the weekend of the 6th and 7th of July. Now, ladies and gentlemen, this “LFCC” holds a special place in my heart for a few reasons and is my favourite edition of the event I’ve ever attended. Firstly, the guest list was absolutely brilliant for my tastes, with main cast members from some of my favourite shows, such as “Game Of Thrones” and “The Walking Dead”. Secondly, this was the last “LFCC Summer” event where the crowds weren’t insanely massive. I managed to get Peter Dinklage’s autograph, Lena Headey’s autograph, and Norman Reedus’ autograph without the need for a super-duper diamond pass, without needing to get to the entry queue at 5am to grab a virtual queuing ticket low enough to be seen. Nope, it was simply arriving at 7:45am (I miss those days so much!), joining the entry queue in 50th or so place, and grabbing the virtual queuing tickets as soon as I entered. Simple, easy, and similar to all the other conventions I currently attend now. This was also the last “LFCC” to take place over one floor of one building. “LFCC 2014” was spread over two buildings, with Stan Lee largely taking up a building to himself because of the gigantic queues he created, while “LFCC 2015” was spread over four different floors of the Olympia, highlighting just how much the event has grown in just three years.


“LFCC 2013” also marked the final occasion that myself and my friends attended the event for just one day alone. In 2015, I needed to collect some 18 autographs and 17 photoshoots, so doing all of that in one day would have been impossible. Alas, in 2013, I was poorer, so one day was all that could be budgeted for, which wasn’t a problem. Myself and my friends Hannah, John, and Scott all decided to buy ‘early bird’ entry tickets, which meant that we could enter the venue at 9am, as opposed to the people with regular entry tickets who couldn’t enter until 11am. At the time, the queue for the early birds was the longest I’d ever seen for pre-bought entry, which is laughable now just a few years later. Oh, how times have changed. With doors opening for us at 9am, we were inside the building and ready to rock by 9:05am, so it was a mad dash to find where Peter Dinklage, Norman Reedus, and Lena Headey were located so that we could get the virtual queuing tickets necessary. In essence, you go up to the crew member stood by the guest’s autograph table and you collect a piece of paper with a number on it (for free – you don’t pay for the autograph until you’re in queue and about to meet the guest). Showmasters then call you in batches based on those numbers. You can join the queue any time after your number has been called, but not before. Quite simple, really. You’re able to virtually hold your place in the queue, while having the freedom to go away and do other things.

My agenda for the day was simple, if not a little bit hectic. I had five studio photos booked (Peter Dinklage, Lena Headey, Jason Momoa, Armin Shimerman, Norman Reedus), I wanted my photo taken on the Iron Throne prop that was there, and I needed to collect nine autographs (the five above, plus Clive Russell, Finn Jones, DDP, and Sarah Wayne Callies). With the virtual queuing tickets acquired, it meant I could go to my studio photos with Peter Dinklage and Lena Headey, reassured in the knowledge that the autographs were safe for later. Research and experience are invaluable with conventions the size of “LFCC”, people. Write an itinerary of what you wish to get, pre-buy the photoshoots, plan ahead, make a note of the photoshoot times, which are usually released on the Showmasters forums a week before the event is scheduled to start. Be smart and you should find that you get everything you want, irrespective of the number of attendees.

If I remember one word from “LFCC 2013”, it’s “FINE!”. This is because on numerous occasions, such as when a photoshoot was scheduled to begin or I was in queue for an autograph, Hannah would yell “FINE!” and want one too, even though she hadn’t planned on it. Case in point: my first photoshoot of the day was Lena Headey, which took place at 9:40am at photo area B. This is back in the days where there were only 3 photoshoot areas (there are now 6). I joined the queue for the photoshoot, I was quite near the front, when I suddenly hear a deafening “FINE!” behind me and turn around to see Hannah sprinting off towards the sales desk. The 20 or so gold ticket holders entered the photoshoot, then it was my turn! For those of you that have never attended a convention before and are planning to, photoshoots are a very fast process unless something goes wrong. It is not the time to give the guests gifts (that’s the autograph table), it is not the time to start a conversation (also the autograph table). The line needs to keep moving so that everyone gets their photo taken in the timeframe that has been allotted for that particular shoot. You have the time to say “hi” and perhaps get a hug if the guest is that type of person, but that’s about it. Surprisingly (as I didn’t see it happen to anyone else before me in the queue), Lena Headey hugged me and kissed me on the cheek after the photo was taken. I’m not going to complain, shockingly. The photoshoot experience went smoothly, I left happy, and the photo turned out pretty great too. For those of you unaware, Lena looks totally different in person than she does in “Game Of Thrones”. She’s got dark hair, lots of tattoos, and is a total rock chick, which I find absolutely badass.

Straight after Lena’s photoshoot finished, it was time to go around in a circle and join the queue again for Peter Dinklage’s photoshoot, which was taking place at 10:10am in the same photo area, B. It was apparent that a lot of people getting a photo with Lena were also getting a photo with Peter because the queue was almost an exact replica of the Lena queue. Thankfully, because I was near the front of Lena’s queue, I was also near the front of Peter’s. One thing that thoroughly impressed me about Peter was his ability to see someone for a second or two, make judgments about their personality and tastes, then pose in accordance with those assumptions. Peter had a different pose ready for everyone in a matter of seconds. He oozed star power and charisma during that photoshoot. One thing to note is that before the photoshoot began, we were told ‘no handshakes’, which is understandable as Peter had been signing autographs for 9 hours the previous day and needed to for another 9 hours. Peter told us later in the day that he’s high susceptible to hand cramps, which is why he was avoiding handshakes (basically, his wrists hurt like fuck from all the autographs). Two photoshoots down, two great experiences, two great photos too! Can’t ask for a better start than that. I believe this was the first convention where Showmasters had instant photo-printing technology, as the previous years I had to wait a couple of hours for them to be developed (which led to a shockingly grumpy Hannah the previous year because she was tired).

With an hour to spare before my next photoshoot, myself and Hannah - who acted as my photographer for the day – headed over to Lena Headey’s autograph table. Unlike Peter Dinklage and Norman Reedus, who were walled off and hidden from the attendees that weren’t buying an autograph, Lena was out in the open next to Jason Momoa. As a general rule for the autograph table, unless the guest’s queue is entirely empty, you’re looking at a minute or so with them. Of course, this can vary guest to guest, but a general encounter would consist of exchanging pleasantries (saying hello, etc.), you asking them a question or telling them something, them responding, and you both saying “thank you” and/or “it’s nice to meet you” before leaving. For some reason, with a few notable exceptions of really big guests and grumpy guests, I’ve always seemed to be blessed with more time than this, with conversations usually ranging from 2-15 minutes, depending on the guest and the queue length. Lena was no exception. After witnessing everyone before me in the queue getting 30-60 seconds because Lena was a popular guest, I resigned myself to the fact that I’d be getting a limited interaction. Of course, for busy guests, this is not only expected, but often times necessary. If 500 people want autographs and the guest is talkative, only 200-300 might receive the autograph they craved, leaving 200-300 people going home empty-handed. Both guests and organisers seem to agree that everyone receiving some time is better than half the people receiving a little more time. There’s clearly a monetary aspect to this too, as more people = more money, but the optimist in me likes to think that most do it to be fair to their fans and not solely for the money.

Lena Headey: When I approached Lena’s autograph table, Lena spotted my forearm tattoo and excitedly exclaimed that she loved it, and asked for the story behind it. That particular tattoo is a large Celtic knot, which is the “Breaking Benjamin” band logo. After my best friend was hit by a car and passed away in 2007, I had the tattoo imprinted as a tribute to him as the Celtic knot was our wrestling tag team logo for many years. This led to quite a deep – albeit brief – discussion about death and Lena asked how I was coping. Bless her. In exchange, I asked Lena about some of her tattoos, which are numerous. Lena has this bird cage tattoo on her right forearm with the cage door open, which Lena said represented freeing herself in life from the things that restricted her. When I mentioned how much I like her tattoos and how much they suited her, she said, “Yeah, they look great now. In a decade or so, they’ll probably look gross when my arms are all saggy”. If you’ve ever listened to the “Game Of Thrones” audio commentaries or watched interviews with Lena, you’ll know that she’s got a very self-deprecating sense of humour and hates watching herself perform. She’s constantly making remarks about her teeth or her appearance, or her acting. Chivalrously, I built her up before I left. We then switched to “Game Of Thrones” for a couple of minutes before we thanked each other, shook hands, and I departed. This is where the second “FINE!” moment in an hour occurred, with Hannah also getting Lena’s autograph. Lena’s autograph and photoshoot was £25, which is a great price when you consider how much it will be in a few more years. I don’t recall if Lena had a “no posed photos” sign up, but I didn’t ask for one either way because my studio photo had turned out well. Guest type = Responder.

“What’s a responder?”

I’m glad you asked.

A few years back, after attending many conventions, I devised a system whereby to categorise my experiences with guests and their level of interaction in order to compare the quality of my experiences across conventions and time. I have O.C.D., shut up. The following three types were found :-

·       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.

Now you know and can bear this in mind for the rest of the review. Don’t you feel enlightened?

The guest sat right next to Lena, as mentioned, was Jason Momoa, who was also on my hit-list. By this point, it was about 10:45am, giving me about 20 minutes before I needed to head over to my photoshoot with Armin Shimerman. As it was still before 11am, the queues were only 5-10 minutes long, so I figured this was the perfect time to meet Jason, as he wasn’t using a virtual queuing system yet, but surely would be soon after 11am.

Jason Momoa: The first thing that was apparent about Jason, even while he was sat down, was that he was frickin’ huge. Very tall man! Although, since this event, I’ve met people like Conan Stevens, who’s 7’1.5”, so my definition of “huge” has stretched (pun-believable!) after the fact. The second thing I noticed about Jason was that he wasn’t Drogo-sized. Jason was solidly muscled and clearly in absolutely amazing shape, but he was not the same size he was when he was playing Drogo. Not close. As at this point I’d only seen Jason in “Game Of Thrones”, I had little reference for what to expect when I met him, as Khal Drogo is a vicious killer. I’m happy to report that Jason did not kill I could have reported that he had killed me, I don’t know. Due to Jason’s brick-shithouse status, I was expecting Jason to be one of those manly men, with a strong handshake, a gruff exterior, and little in the way of conversation. I was wrong. Jason was very friendly, very talkative, had a big grin on his face, was quick to laugh, and quick to banter. We talked about “Game Of Thrones”, the auditioning process, what Jason’s pre-filming training consisted of (muscle growth, learning Dothraki, fighting with weapons, etc.), and the minutes passed quickly. Almost too quickly. The five-minute conversation was over in what felt like a heartbeat, but I left feeling satisfied and as though I more than got my money’s worth. The £20 spent was also a good investment for the future, as Jason’s career will only improve, which will also make his autograph price rise. Two great photos, two great experiences at the autograph table. We’re rolling, kiddies! Guest type = Responder.

Due to Jason being more talkative than expected, my journey over to Armin’s 11:15am photoshoot at photo area A went from a walk to a run. Armin’s queue length was about half of Peter and Lena’s, which is still very respectable. Of course, Peter and Lena both had two photoshoots that day, plus a duo photoshoot together, while Armin had just the one. This was also the first year where the biggest guests had their photoshoots split into two halves as far as I’m aware. One in the morning before 11am so that early birds could get theirs done and one in the afternoon for the regular entry ticket holders and people who couldn’t/didn’t want to attend the first session. Even during the photoshoot, Armin was very friendly and talkative because his queue was just short enough to allow a little more interaction. He shook my hand enthusiastically, we exchanged pleasantries, then the photo was taken. Another nice experience.

Three photos down, two to go. Two autographs down, seven to go. Two and a half hours down, six and a half to go if we stay until closing.

DDP: Next up was former wrestling world champion and creator of the YRG (yoga for regular guys/gals) yoga program, Diamond Dallas Page. This ended up being one of my biggest highlights of the day for a multitude of reasons. Even though DDP was 58 years old at the time of this event, he was in phenomenal shape because of his diet and his YRG yoga program. When DDP entered the latter stages of his wrestling career in his early 40’s, his body was breaking down. His back was in rough shape, his neck, his knees...everything, which is what happens to many athletes as they enter middle-age. DDP created a yoga program to aid his recovery and rehabilitate his body. It worked so well that he turned it into a full-fledged program over the next decade and started to sell it. At the time, it was primarily aimed at athletes, but has since been reworked and reshaped to include everyone. It comes with the YRG workouts, a nutrition guide, cooking advice, weight loss tips, and even a series of inspirational podcast mp3’s to encourage people to take ownership of their life. After attempted suicide and subsequently defeating depression in late 2011, I started using DDP Yoga as part of my road to recovery. It worked incredibly well, so I can say first-hand that not only did it help my joints (from my years of wrestling) and my flexibility, but it also helped my mental state.

When I got to the front of DDP’s autograph queue, he shook my hand and greeted me with a big smile and a very loud, excitable “Hi! Nice to meet ya!”. All you have to do is Google DDP to know that he’s very loud, very positive, always smiling, and always enthusiastic. He’s a born spokesman and motivator. During the course of our conversation about wrestling, yoga, and life, I mentioned to him that I was a practitioner of DDP Yoga and with its help, I lost 30 pounds and refound my mental stability during the most turbulent four years of my life (the depression-battling years after my two closest friends died in 2007). If you want to know what type of man DDP is and that he didn’t create this program just to earn money (he was already a millionnaire from wrestling), look no further. A year or so before this event, DDP turned a section of his house into an area called ‘The Accountability Crib’, then flew in two former wrestlers who had been battling drug addiction and alcoholism for many, many years. Both were on the brink of death, both were battling depression, both had given up. Within one year, both had lost a lot of weight, stopped drinking alcohol, were clean from drugs, and had turned their life around, all thanks to DDP, his enthusiasm, his outlook on life, and his yoga program. When I look at real life human beings that I find inspirational, DDP is right near the top of that list. He’s a genuinely caring guy. So, of course, when I shared my story with him, DDP went from friendly and warm to ecstatic and overjoyed. Until meeting Nicky Brendon and Tad Looney years later, I’d never felt more emotionally connected to a guest than DDP. We must have talked about DDP Yoga, my life, his life, and everything else under the sun for a solid 20 minutes, while the queue behind me was forming. Don’t get me wrong, while I love getting lots of time with the guests, I’ll never go overboard and make other people angry in order to satisfy my own selfish desires. However, every time I tried to leave, he kept talking to me! I’d thank him sincerely and attempt to shuffle off, and he’d call me back and say something else! What a fucking legend. During our conversation about DDP Yoga, he said to me, “Bro, I’m gonna give you my personal email address on the back of the autograph picture. Send me an email with a couple of before and after pics, detailing your story. We’ll get you on the website, and I’ll keep you updated about when I’m over in England for DDP Yoga seminars! Come along, join in, and we can catch up”. Finally, I asked if I could grab a quick picture with him at the autograph table before I departed. He responded with, “You’ve already said the magic words (‘DDP Yoga’), you go to the head of the class. Come round this side of the table and we’ll do a proper picture. None of this over-the-table crap!”. So I shuffled over to the guest’s side of the autograph table, much to the annoyance of the Showmasters crew members. We took a picture using DDP’s famous “diamond cutter” hand gesture, with his hand doing one half while my hand made up the other half. Then, after that, he said, “Bro, I’m gonna give you the Diamond Cutter (that’s his finishing move in wrestling), sell it”. “Sell it”, in essence, means to act like it’s painful, even though it isn’t. So we also took a picture performing this pose as well. THEN, after I thanked him again, shook his hand, and started to walk off, he called me back to remind me to email him. Then he called me back again to remind me to go to a DDP Yoga seminar with him next time he’s in England. I can say hands-down that he’s the most friendly, talkative, warm, charming guest I’ve met to this day. I’m unsure as to exactly how long this process was, but it must have been around the 20-minute mark. When we started talking, the queue was empty. When I left, it was about 20-people long. Just as a side note, after the convention had finished, I posted a little message of thanks to the DDP Yoga Facebook wall with a before and after picture. The page has some quarter of a million likes and receives messages many times every day. Yet, within a few hours, DDP had personally replied to it, which I discovered was quite the rarity after scrolling down the wall for a while. One of the best convention experiences of my life. 20-minute conversation, 2x pictures at the autograph table, an autograph, and an email address, all for £15. Bargain! Guest type = Conversationalist. 


Euphoric, I pace-walked across the length of Earls Court 2 to collect my autographs with Peter Dinklage and Norman Reedus, as both queues were calling virtual queuing numbers with which I could gain entry. Due to the virtual queuing system, the waiting time for both was down to around 10 minutes each. Peter’s queue was a little longer than Norman’s, but moved faster as the Showmasters staff were trying to usher as many people through as quickly as possible, which I don’t appreciate, but is a necessary evil as I explained earlier.

Peter Dinklage: After getting to the front of Peter’s queue, with Hannah next in line behind me, the first thing Peter did was look at the studio photo of us both together as that was what I was getting signed. Obviously, due to my appearance, Peter saw a little bit of a rocker inside me, as the pose he used for the photo was hilariously expressive. Peter looked down at the photo, laughed loudly, and said, “What the Hell am I doing? I look totally crazed!”, which was an instant ice-breaker. With the little time available that was gifted to me, I swiftly entered a brief discussion with Peter about “Game Of Thrones”, before transitioning into “The Station Agent”, which is a film that Peter is the leading actor in that I’d watched a few days previous in preparation for this event. As a general rule, finding something a little more abstract to talk about works well for you, as it’s something they haven’t already discussed 200 times that day, which often results in a longer, more energised conversation. We thanked each other, we fist-bumped (no handshakes, remember), and I was on my merry way to Norman Reedus. As far as big headlining guests go, it was an above-average conversation length and quality, which I was appreciative of. Guest type = Big Guest.

Norman Reedus: Alongside DDP, Norman was probably my other biggest highlight of the day, which is saying a lot as everyone I met at the event was fantastic. Norman was unlike any other ‘big guest’ I’ve met in that he took the time to talk to everyone. When the Showmasters crew members were trying to speed him up, he would ignore them and continue to talk to you anyway. Hannah queued with me even though she wasn’t getting an autograph and her photography skills weren’t needed due to the “no posed photos” sign on the wall behind Norman, because queuing by yourself can be boring. Norman took the time to hug Hannah too, say “hi” to her, and kiss her on the cheek, even though he was making no money off of her. Classy move. It happens less often than you’d expect. Myself and Norman discussed “Blade II” and “The Walking Dead”, and what could be expected from the 4th season, which had wrapped filming a few weeks before the convention. Also, Norman had the crossbow with him from the show, which was a great little addition. As I was leaving, Norman reached over and wrapped me into a hug and shook my hand. Twice. Like DDP before him, as I was leaving, Norman started talking to me again, so I went back, much to the chagrin of the Showmasters crew member. Earlier, I said that Peter Dinklage oozed star power. Norman was the opposite. It felt more like bumping into an old friend at the pub and then staying for a while to shoot the shit. Plus, let’s be honest, he usually looks a tad like a homeless person. Norman was so down to Earth, so chilled, and somehow managed to make everyone feel like they were the most special person in the room, even though his queues were the longest of the day alongside Peter Dinklage. A little earlier in the day, I bought an A3 (that’s quite big) poster of Norman Reedus to get signed, which is exactly what happened. As I was leaving (for the second time), I told Norman that I’d see him a little later in the day for the photoshoot. Guest type = Big Guest.

Armin Shimerman: We headed straight from Norman to Armin, as he was located not too far from Norman’s private walled-off area. Like with Peter Dinklage, I asked Armin Shimerman to sign the studio photo of the two of us and Armin, not me and Peter. That would be weird. As Armin’s queue was quite large at this point, my time with him was fairly limited, so I spent the time I did get with him talking about “Buffy The Vampire Slayer”, which will come as a shock to nobody, I’m sure. Armin was also interested in asking me some questions about myself as well, such as where I’d travelled from, how my day was going, etc. The usual politeness you can expect from the nicer guests. Armin was very friendly and I’d happily meet him again. During the car journey home, my friend John told me that when he met Amanda Tapping, Armin (who at this point in the early morning had an empty queue) was walking up and down the queues of other people talking to everyone to keep them entertained. What a lovely man! Guest type = Responder.

It was just after 1pm by this point, with three out of five studio photos complete, and six out of the nine autographs collected. Progress was being made in very good time. With my next studio photo not scheduled until 3:10pm, I had a couple of hours to kill. So myself and Hannah rejoined Scott and John, and headed over to the merchandise stalls to soak up all the nerdy goodness. Scott bought a katana from a stall that sold weapons, while I bought a beautiful black and white “Game Of Thrones” art print, and a poster of Dexter Morgan from “Dexter”. By the time we’d finished faffing around, it was time to head over to photo area A for Norman Reedus’ photoshoot. This was easily the longest queue I was a part of all day, as I’d managed to get Peter Dinklage’s photoshoot in the earlier, quieter session. As Norman’s first shoot clashed with Peter’s, and as I’ve yet to finish manufacturing my TARDIS, I was forced to go to Norman’s second shoot, which involved many more people. No matter, I was still pretty near the front. A few places in front of me in the queue was a father and his very young son. I’d estimate somewhere in the 2-3 months old range. Norman held the child into the air for the photo, then waited for it to be developed so he could take a picture of it himself on his mobile phone. I later discovered that Norman had shared the picture of him with the baby on his social media accounts. After keeping an eye on the proceedings the previous day, I knew that Norman was likely to be wearing his baseball cap and sunglasses for the photoshoot. While that annoys me personally (I’m paying for a photoshoot with your whole face, not half), it did lead to arguably my favourite studio photo of all time with a guest. The cunning rouse was set: if Norman happened to be wearing his sunglasses, I’d bust my own sunglasses out of my suit pocket, and we could “Men In Black” this mo’ fucka. When it was my turn, Norman looked to me, smiled, said “It’s you! Hi again, dude!”, and shook my hand in the ‘cool guy’ way (hands up, not down). I said, “I’ve got this, Norman”, whipped my sunglasses out my pocket, and put them on. He loved it. The photo was taken, it turned out amazing in my opinion, he pulled me into a hug, gave me another man-shake, and said “take care of yourself, brother”. Great experience!


Straight after Norman’s photoshoot, it was a mad dash to Jason Momoa’s photoshoot, which was scheduled to start at 3:50pm in photo area C. The queue swiftly went awry and then totally fell apart. The lines turned into one abstract circle, everyone got confused, and we were re-queued. This worked to my advantage as I somehow ended up going from 50th in queue to 10th. Works for me, as my feet were starting to ache by this point. Jason is absolutely the opposite of what you’d expect if you’ve only seen him as Khal Drogo. He’s always smiling, really warm, and wrapped me into a massive 6’5” Hawaiian hug. Just as I was fearing this was going to be a Lenny situation and he’d accidentally crush me to death, I realised that the hug wasn’t bone-crunching at all. Good stuff all around! We ended the photoshoot with a manly handshake, and as I was leaving he told me to take care of myself.

It was now 4:15pm. All five photoshoots were complete, and all five autographs from those people were also complete, plus DDP. I’d been on my feet for 9 hours and in a suit for close to 12, in 30-degree weather. While the building was air conditioned, after a certain point there are simply too many people and it gets too warm to notice. I was starting to get a little cranky. However, the perfect cure was afoot – my final three autographs and the Iron Throne photo.

Clive Russell: I moseyed on over to meet Clive Russell, A.K.A. ‘Blackfish’ from “Game Of Thrones”. At this point, season three of the show had not long finished, so the Red Wedding was still firmly implanted in everyone’s minds. Therefore, after a few minutes talking about “Game Of Thrones”, what it was like filming the Red Wedding, and a whole host of other fun things, Clive added “Blackfish IS ALIVE!” to my autographed 8” x 10”. He also said he loved my tie, which I shall appreciate to the very end of my days. He totally gives off these warm and loving grandfather vibes when you meet him, which is great. Totally friendly man, totally willing to have a conversation with you, and an absolutely wonderful experience. My only regret was not asking for a picture with him! It completely slipped my mind....I blame the lack of sleep the previous night. Stupid, stupid Shangel. Guest type = Responder.

Finn Jones: Sat next to Clive was Finn Jones, who was also on my hit-list. Finn was ridiculously hyper and friendly. I don’t know who’d let Finn into the sugar jar, but he was buzzing. As someone who’s familiar with Loras’ story in the books post-“A Storm Of Swords”, we speculated on what was to come for Loras in the show and also whether or not Loras would survive his potentially mortal wounds in the books. Finn summed it up nicely when he said, “He can’t be dead. I just think that would be a total fucking waste. There’s so much story left to tell with him”. Gotta say I agree! Also, that’s right. On a day where I met Lena Headey (listen to the audio commentaries on “Game Of Thrones” for verification that Lena swears a lot) and Norman Reedus, Finn was the only person to openly swear. The conversation with Finn went on for quite a while, which was a nice way to start winding down the day. As a general rule, most conventions start to clear out about 4pm. Suddenly everyone’s (almost) lines greatly decrease and the level of conversation you get increases. However, the risk that runs parallel with that is that sometimes guests leave early if their queues have reduced to zero for a little while, so it’s not always worth waiting until the end to meet people. I also blagged a picture with Finn at the autograph table! So did Hannah, even though she didn’t get an autograph. Guest type = Conversationalist.


Next up was getting my photo taken while sitting on the Iron Throne. I’ll sum up this experience with an extract from my review of “Cardiff Film & Comic Con 2013”, which took place a few months later. At Cardiff, I had my photo taken on the Iron Throne again, which turned out terrific. This one, however, did not. :-

“It certainly turned out much better than the one I had taken at ‘LFCC’ a couple of months earlier, which was shit for two reasons :- 1) The photographer was subpar and there was a humongous black shadow covering the bottom half of my face. 2) The pose I went with made me look entirely uncomfortable carrying the burden of the throne.”

No matter, everything else all day had been amazing, so I wasn’t sweating it too much. Plus, in hindsight, I got a terrific photo a few months later, so it wasn’t a big deal overall, it was just a wasted £5.

Sarah Wayne Callies: By the time I headed over to Sarah’s autograph table, it was 5pm and many guests had started to leave. I noticed that Sarah had also packed her things and was just shuffling away from her desk. The Showmasters crew member told me the line was shut as Sarah was leaving, but Sarah (while walking away) overheard, called over “no, let him through!”, and returned to her autograph table. What a classy thing to do! Especially when you consider that I found out later in the day that Sarah was leaving early because she felt sick. Total respect to her. We talked about “The Walking Dead” for five or so minutes and she didn’t stop smiling throughout, regardless of illness (which I was unaware of) and almost being home free. She didn’t try to rush through it because she wanted to go, she sat there and happily talked for a solid five minutes. We also discussed that as long as Rick and/or Carl live on “The Walking Dead”, Sarah is able to return to the show via flashbacks or hallucinations, which could be a very interesting thing to explore down the line. Sarah signed the 8” x 10”, “Hi Shane (not that one!), lovely to meet you, I’m glad I stayed!”, which was a nice touch too. The “not that one!” comment was, of course, referring to Shane from “The Walking Dead”, her scorned lover. She also drew two arrows to the zombies in the background of the 8” x 10” and wrote “RUN! RUN!”. Another nice extra touch, which was appreciated. Unlike Clive, where I forgot, I didn’t ask Sarah for a picture because I didn’t want to keep her any longer. In hinsight, I regret this a little, as it would have taken a matter of seconds and would have been a nice way to immortalise my experience with her. Hopefully I’ll get that opportunity in the future. Guest type = Responder.

The race was run, everything was completed, and it was time to head home. The mark of any convention is the simple question “would I return?”. The answer is an obvious “yes!”. This was my favourite “LFCC” event, the whole day was incredible, and I’ve attended every “LFCC” since. In some ways, it’s not the same because there are far more people now so the experiences you get with the guests are more limited often times, but it’s still one of the best shows of the year, and the show when it comes to getting A-Listers to attend. I shall be at “LFCC” in 2016.



  1. I see all the hate Sarah gets for various repugnant reasons (can't please everyone) but personally I absolutely love her. I think she's gorgeous & very talented and THAT is why she keeps getting work. And my initial instincts about her were correct: that she's an awesome girl all around. I'm certain you'll treasure those 5-10 minutes for a very long time.

    1. And I'm currently watching an episode of House and guess who just showed up on screen :), she's the main patient.