Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Prophecy - A Detailed Review

Guests met and discussed in this review :-

• Marc Blucas (Riley Finn)
• Anthony Head (Rupert Giles)
• J. August Richards (Charles Gunn)
• Stephanie Romanov (Lilah Morgan)
• Tom Lenk (Andrew Wells)
• Adam Busch (Warren Mears)
• Mark Lutz (Groosalugg)
• Brody Hutzler (Landokmar of the Deathwok Clan)

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. Yes, I haven’t written one in a while due to my degree, but I am starting up again in a matter of weeks so keep an eye out.
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With that being said, let’s dive in...

24 hours removed from my time at “Prophecy”, I’ve decided to forestall the post-con blues by writing a detailed review of my epic time at the event. For those of you unaware, my reviews tend to get a little long as I want everyone who was there to relive as much of the weekend as they possibly can, while also giving people who were unable to attend to have the opportunity to feel like they were. The record presently stands at 31 pages (excluding pictures). While I doubt this review will top that record, it’ll probably still be a thesis or two in length...what’s the plural of ‘thesis’? Thesises? Thesi? I digress.

Coming into the event, my expectations were lower than they should have been, which I honestly believe helped the event in the long run. A matter of weeks before the event was scheduled to take place the line-up changed dramatically, with Alyson Hannigan, Alexis Denisof, and Christian Kane all having to pull out. One could argue that these were three of the four headliners (with Anthony Head being the other), so it was a significant blow to say the least. With limited time available, Rogue pulled out all the stops, signing J. August Richards, Mark Lutz, Brody Hutzler, and Marc Blucas in relatively quick succession to join Anthony Head, Stephanie Romanov, Tom Lenk, and Adam Busch. Speaking as someone who has been attending events for many, many years, I never thought I’d get the opportunity to meet Marc Blucas as he’d never attended a convention anywhere in the world before and has declined invitations to do so for years. This softened the Alyson blow significantly. While I’d attended multiple Massive Events conventions, Starfury events, and even ventured into Europe for Buffy conventions before, I’d never been to a Rogue Events shindig (hootenanny?) and the reputation that surrounded the company from my friends and fellow convention obsessives was quite grim overall. Nevertheless, myself and Robyn left a dreary Gloucestershire on Friday afternoon to register and partake in a weekend filled with dreams, adrenaline spikes, and fangasms.

As is usual for my reviews, I’ll get the negatives out of the way first, before really diving into the review and starting to look at the positives. Believe me, there was much more good than bad here. “Prophecy” turned into one of my favourite conventions ever and it was largely down to the guests, my fellow attendees, the terrific crew, and the first-class photographers. Firstly, a little more attention to detail is needed with the event programme, as it contained the wrong dates for the convention on the front and quite a few grammatical errors inside. It’s not really a big deal I suppose, but it is something that should be addressed. More importantly, I wasn’t particularly pleased with the schedule for the event, as all of the talks happened at the same time as the photo shoots, which both happened at the same time as the lounges, so you had to miss large sections of the talks if you wanted any photos with the guests. As someone paying for an entry ticket that isn’t cheap, you want to be able to do as much as physically possible without having to pick and choose. When lounges are on offer as well, you know that they’ll likely take place at the same time as something else, but it’s a big no-no for me to have any of the three staples of the convention diet (photos, talks, autographs) happening at the same time, as pretty much everyone always wants to do all of all three of them. For instance, Starfury have the photos in the morning, the talks in the afternoon, and the autographs in the evening, which works perfectly as you’re not forced to miss out on anything unless you choose to do so. The schedule coupled with the horror stories I was hearing from my friends left me apprehensive when we left Gloucestershire. The first thing to note is that those horror stories have come from events where Rogue had many more attendees (four times as much!), so I was pleasantly surprised to find that pretty much everything I personally attended happened on time. Rogue even tried to placate attendees that had empty afternoons (due to the schedule) by airing episodes of Buffy and Angel in the main hall, and hosting a “Once More With Feeling” sing-along on the Sunday afternoon. I could appreciate that Rogue were trying to do everything they could to make sure their attendees were happy, which is about as much as you can ask for at events like these. I’m sure I’ll talk about this more as the review wears on, but overall I was thoroughly impressed with the Rogue Events operation. From the crew to the organisation, everything was terrific.

In addition to the above, I will freely admit that I absolutely adore the Hilton Hotel in Birmingham, where this event took place. Myself and Robyn attended our first fandom-specific event there, I spent three days in a green room with James Marsters and Emma Caulfield there, Jonathan Woodward chased me around the lounge firing marshmallows at me from a bow and arrow there, we really got to know Alexis Denisof, Brad Bell, and others there...basically, most of our best convention memories have happened at that hotel. By the end of this weekend, we’d have even more.

Myself and Robyn arrived at the Hilton just after 6pm on Friday the 17th of June (not the 19th as per the event guide). After registering for the event, we thought there’d be nothing to do until the following morning, until we spontaneously decided to buy two tickets to the meet and greet. In essence, you and a handful of other people stand around a little table while the guests come over and speak to you for five or ten minutes one by one. These meet and greets have always been a blessing as they give you the opportunity to get to know the guests before your one-on-one interactions at the autograph table. They’re an amazing ice-breaker and I’d recommend that everyone use them to their advantage in future if presented with the opportunity. Myself and Robyn stood at a table with our friends Beth, Tanya, Clare, and two other attendees that I didn’t know (both of whom were lovely). As a disclaimer to this review, I have to note that almost everything in here is from my memory. It may not be word-perfect, but it’ll still be pretty damn close to what actually happened over the weekend, but please bear in mind that my brain is not infallible. 

(The dates...)

Marc Blucas: The first guest to come over to our table was Marc Blucas, which means that our merry band of seven were the first attendees to speak to Marc properly at his first ever convention. As Beth rightfully said to him, we popped his cherry. You cannot take this away from me! As the only male at the table, I felt like the only person not drooling into my lap as Marc was talking...okay, I drooled a little. While it’s not a popular opinion, I will freely admit that Riley was my favourite character on Buffy when I was growing up. He’s not now, but for many years he was. When Riley first appeared on “Buffy The Vampire Slayer”, I was ten years old and already a big fan. I found it pretty hard to relate to broody vampires with cavemen brows or soulless vampires with cheekbones that could cut glass, so my empathy and attachment drifted towards Xander and Riley. While I saw more of myself in Xander, Riley was everything I wanted to be when I was older...tall, handsome, athletic, charming, and kind of a goofball. I wanted to be like Riley so much that I temporarily grew in that hideous curtains hairstyle of his during the fourth season too...that part might have been a mistake in hindsight. Anyway, I was instantly impressed with how relaxed and energetic Marc was. Ordinarily, first-time attending guests can be weary. They don’t know what to expect, they’re quite shy, and they have to be coaxed out of their shell like a turtle. From moment one to the end of the convention, Marc was up for anything. He took huggy photos, posed photos, messed around, talked to people in the queue a little bit, and was constantly making jokes or trying to get Anthony Head or someone else to laugh. Once actors have been attending conventions for a while, they tend to create a convention persona. They learn how to act on stage, how to be kind and appreciative with the fans, but also how to keep a professional boundary between them and you. Marc didn’t have that. Marc hadn’t done a convention anywhere before. So Marc was literally just being Marc. No barrier, no boundaries, no fake smiles. I’m curious to see if that changes over the years if Marc decides to do more conventions, but I feel genuinely blessed that I was able to get to know the ‘real’ Marc a little bit, which is a sentiment echoed by all attendees as Marc was easily the most popular guest of the weekend on social media.

Marc talked about his farm a little bit, he talked about doing up his house, he talked about his career, but there were three points that really stuck with me...1) Marc used to get a lot of hate from Buffy fans because Riley was such a disliked character as he was the nice guy that came along after Angel departed Sunnydale. Even over the course of this weekend, Marc mentioned that a lot of people said to him at the autograph table that they loved him, but hated Riley. LOLs. 2) Marc never attended a convention before this one because he doesn’t like being away from his family, even for a weekend, and also because for a long time conventions were looked down upon. They were where you went after your career started to fail. Now, however, studios actively encourage actors to attend them and the negative stigma that used to be associated with them has now disappeared entirely. 3) “Buffy The Vampire Slayer” was Marc’s first proper acting job ever! He didn’t go to drama school, but instead played professional basketball in Manchester, England and spent his early 20’s touring Europe as part of the team. I couldn’t believe that Marc had little acting experience during his time on Buffy, as at no point during his run on the show did I think he was a bad actor or any worse than anyone else in the cast. He did a first-class job throughout, which is all the more impressive when you think about how inexperienced he was. He said working under Joss was a particularly useful lesson as Joss has his scripts planned to a science and would make Marc redo the scene if a word or two was missed out or changed sometimes. I was thoroughly impressed with Marc during this meet and greet, which is something that would only grow as the weekend wore on. Oh, also, Marc hasn’t aged a day since “Buffy The Vampire Slayer”.

J. August Richards: Next up was Charles Gunn, two n’s. I was pleasantly surprised to find that J. remembered me and Robyn from when we met him last year. He shook my hand, asked how I was doing, and said it was great to see me again. We filled him in on what had happened over the past 7 months, including Robyn moving over from Austria to live with me. J. and Robyn then had a conversation about the transition and what life had been like since she moved here. The first thing you need to know about J. is that he genuinely cares about his fans and people in general. He’s such a beautiful human being inside and out. I was saying before that some guests develop a convention persona and keep a little barrier between you and them, but J. has never been like that in my experience. He’s always been open, honest, and has taken a legitimate interest in what we’ve had to say. I’ve met hundreds of celebrities over the years and there are just a handful that stand out as being head and shoulders above the rest. J. is one of those. As is Marc now. We talked a little about Marc and about how it was Marc’s first convention. J. asked what Marc’s answer was as to why he finally decided to attend, so I filled him in on the family section of Marc’s answer. Beth mentioned that nobody but me was listening as everyone else was too busy drooling, which J. thought was hilarious. Clare proved that this wasn’t the case as she gave J. the other half of Marc’s answer, so at least one female at our table could drool and listen in unison. Kudos!

It’s at this point that my memory starts to get a little foggy. I remember most of what was said, but I’m not 100% sure of the order we met the remaining six guests. After a while you forget the order entirely and just remember the experience and the conversation, which is the more important part anyway. I’ll make a guess at the order...

Tom Lenk: Out of the four guests I’d met prior to this convention, all four remembered me, which was humbling and set my geeky heart a’flutter. While I arrogantly expected J. and Mark Lutz to remember me, as I’d only met them 6 months earlier, and I was fairly certain Anthony would remember me as I’ve met him so many times (albeit not in 18 months before this convention), I was genuinely surprised that Tom did, as I’ve only met him once before and it was three years ago. That made me so happy. Predictably, most of the conversation centred around Tom’s recent #LenkLewkForLess. In essence, Tom got bored and started copying famous celebrity outfits and fashion, using items that are almost exclusively lingering around his household. It’s legitimately one of the funniest things I’ve seen all year and you should definitely check out his Instagram to see what I’m talking about - Trust me, you won’t be sorry. Tom mentioned that his friend Jenny Mollen (Nina Ash from “Angel”) had a new book coming out so he was going to do a Lenk Lewk For Less of her book cover over the convention weekend, which he has since done. The previous time myself and Robyn met Tom he was sick, so as a result he was pretty quiet and grumpy, which is understandable. This time we got to meet cheery, healthy Tom, who was simply a delight. If you want to imagine what Tom is like, picture Andrew from “Buffy The Vampire Slayer” without the Dragon Ball Z knowledge. So hilarious, so sassy, so camp, and makes me laugh more than pretty much anyone I’ve ever met.

Mark Lutz: Mark is probably the most positive guest I’ve met in my life during the two times I’ve been lucky enough to interact with him. He’s always so smiley and happy, and energetic, and just seems to exude his love for life. During the course of this conversation, we actually found out a little about why he always appears this way. Somebody on our table (I forget who) mentioned being really drained and tired because of the travelling to the venue, etc. Mark mentioned that he has a theory about exhaustion, after talking to us about a psychological study he was reading recently...he’s such a well-read man. Over the course of the weekend he also talked politics, science, space, and meditation. Anyway, Mark said that he simply tries to be himself in every situation and he’s found that this gives him great energy. Many people seem to have different personas throughout their lives, acting a certain way around their parents and a little differently around their friends, and a little differently still around their colleagues. Wearing all these different hats and being all these different people drains us of our energy because we have to constantly be something we’re not. So he basically thought “fuck it” and just decided to be himself all the time around everyone. It’s a good attitude to have.

Anthony Head: Anthony wished me happy birthday for Tuesday (tomorrow as I write this), as he remembered that “Prophecy” was a birthday present from Robyn when I told him a couple of months back. Firstly, good memory. Secondly, thank you! The conversation with Anthony was really varied. Beth asked Anthony whether or not it was true that the house and horse used in Buffy’s “Lessons” was actually Anthony’s house and horse. It was. Anthony said it was bizarre to wake up in the morning and have the makeup and prep done in his own house while shooting a Buffy scene. Must have been pretty sweet too though, as he probably got to stay in bed longer than he ordinarily would on a shooting day. Evidently, it started pissing down with rain the night before the shoot, so Joss had to direct most of those Giles/Willow scenes on the fly the morning of the shoot. Also, the riding jacket Giles wears in those scenes is actually Anthony’s and it comes from Australia. Crikey, mates! Someone also asked what it was like working with David Tennant in Doctor Who’s “School Reunion”, to which Anthony had nothing but positive things to say. He also said that David invited him to his wedding reception at the Globe Theatre. Now that’s a wedding you’d want to attend. Anthony was basically his usual self. He’s very quick to laugh, has lots of interesting stories and trivia facts, and is the most relaxed guest ever (or appears to be) at events like these, especially the more intimate events like “Prophecy”.

Stephanie Romanov: The first thing that was instantly apparent about Stephanie was that she’s a loving mother. Not only has Stephanie largely dedicated her life to raising her daughter over the past decade, but she just has such a tremendous warmth about her and she just makes you feel so loved and appreciated, which is wonderful. Stephanie showed us a picture of her daughter and in turn Beth showed us a picture of her son. There was parental vibes a’flowing, I tell ya! Stephanie also told us that she’s a cat person while her husband is a dog person. Stephanie lives in a house with a lot of land, pretty much in the middle of nowhere. There are even mountain lions and shizz! Stephanie had a cat for seven years or so, which she absolutely adored. It was an indoor cat because of all the wild animals that lived nearby the house. One day, either her husband or her daughter left the back door open and the cat went outside and got eaten! Must admit, wasn’t expecting the cute cat story to end in brutal death, but it made us feel closer to Stephanie and empathise with her for sure. I mentioned that I’m getting Robyn a kitten for her 30th birthday next month, and Stephanie wrapped Robyn in a motherly hug and told her that she didn’t look old enough to be turning 30. True. Six guests down, six lovely conversations.

Brody Hutzler: Brody was the wildcard of the convention for me as I’d never seen any interviews with him. I didn’t really know much about him, I just knew that he was in the Pylea arc of “Angel”, which is one of my most beloved television arcs of all time. I don’t even know why! It’s just so unique for the Buffyverse and it feels like a contained three-hour story that you can watch in an afternoon and leave feeling pretty positive...until Willow shows up at the end to announce Buffy’s death and leaves us all miserable. But this is Joss Whedon, so any happiness whatsoever is a blessing. The conversation with Brody was more of a chilled interaction than a question and answer session in that we largely talked about where we were all from, the convention scene, people with germs, and the very important debate of handshake vs. fist-bump. Most came down on the side of fist-bump. Brody’s a lot less green in real life than he was on “Angel” as well. He also briefly mentioned his time working with Sarah Michelle Gellar in “Ringer”, which is a criminally underrated show.

Adam Busch: Whenever I see Adam, I think of Warren, so before this event I couldn’t look at a picture of Adam and smile warmly or think of anything nice at all. That’s just a testament to how good his acting was that he was able to make that character so hateable. Not hateable like the Joker, where you love to hate him. Hateable as in you wish someone would come along and flay him alive...if only someone was able to do that! Now that I’ve met Adam, I can finally smile when I see pictures of him. Adam was completely different to what I was expecting in that he was such a deep thinker! Everything he said was so philosophical and deep over the course of the weekend that I couldn’t help but be a little in awe of him. During the closing ceremony, when Adam was giving his thoughts on the weekend, J. August Richards actually recorded Adam on his phone and said afterwards he did so because he knew Adam was going to say something incredible. During the course of this conversation, there was pretty much only one topic: dogs. See, Adam grew up in a house without any pets. He’s never owned a dog or a cat in his life until the end of last year, when he finally got a doggy! We started talking about dog training, talking about the traffic light system of dog collars, and Adam sounded just like a parent. He said for a long time he used to listen to the advice of people around him or things he read online then just decided to do things his own way and start from scratch, and since then things have been going amazingly well. He also said that she’s never done anything wrong, so he’s clearly doing a good job raising her!

The whole meet and greet must have run for about an hour and I personally thought it was well worth the money. It gives you the opportunity to get to know the guests a little, break the ice and interact, which in turn can help you think of things to say in the talks and at the autograph table. It really helps set the tone for the event. By the time we exited the meet and greet hall it was just after 9pm, so myself and Robyn met up with some friends in the lounge of the hotel and spent the next four hours or so talking and catching up, as many of us hadn’t seen each other in a year or two. While there was a party going on, I’ve always been the type to be more inclined towards the bar than the dance floor because I’d rather talk to people, catch up with friends, or get to know new ones, as opposed to busting out my limited dance moves. If you remember Giles flailing around trying to get his jumper over his head in “The Yoko Factor”, that’s basically my dancing abilities...only with a little more dropping it like it’s hot.

All too soon Saturday morning arrived and brought with it a very jam-packed schedule due to the panels and photographs taking place at the same time. As myself and Robyn had attended the meet and greet, we decided not to go for any lounges during this convention. A ‘lounge’ is basically half an hour with one of the guests and a handful of other attendees. It’s an opportunity for an intimate conversation. Robyn didn’t have any photos during the course of Saturday morning, but I had to somehow fit 6 in while also trying to see as much of the panels as possible. Alas, I missed most of the panels Saturday, but managed to see most of them on Sunday. Therefore, my notes on the panels won’t be as detailed as they usually are for an event like “Vampire Ball”, so I shall present them together in bullet-point form. If you were at “Prophecy” and wish to fill in the stuff I missed, feel free to do so in the comments section below! :-

(Photo credit to Ying-Sung Mak)

·        As the fifth season of “Buffy The Vampire Slayer” was drawing to a close, Anthony Head told Joss that he wouldn’t be coming back as a main cast member for the next season as his contract was just for five years and he was ready to go back to England and spend more time with his family...then Joss told him that his contract was actually for seven years! Anthony called his agent and realised that was indeed the case. Oops. Joss very graciously came up with a compromise anyway where Anthony could be recurring and get the best of both worlds. Naww!
·        Anthony was not aware of the drinking game where you take a shot every time Giles gets hit on the head or knocked out, but he was aware of the drinking game for when Giles cleans his glasses or when Buffy has a bra strap showing.
·        Serena Scott Thomas, who portrayed Gwendolyn Post in Buffy’s “Revelations”, warned Anthony just before filming that she had terrible aim so hoped it didn’t take too many attempts to get the scene right where Gwendolyn smashed Giles over the back of the head with a statue. It ended up taking 30 attempts, but Anthony assures us her aim was perfect and she kept hitting him in the exact same place during each take...he would have like it more if she hadn’t!
·        Someone requested that Anthony sing to us a little bit, so he sang some of “Sweet Transvestite” from The Rocky Horror Picture Show. His voice is just as beautiful in person.
·        After Buffy and the Scoobies left High School, Anthony approached Joss and asked what Giles’ role in the group was. Joss chalked this up to Anthony having a mid-life crisis, so decided to give Giles a mid-life crisis too to reflect what he deemed was happening in Anthony’s real life. LOLs. “Something red, shiny, shaped like a penis”.
·        Recording “Once More With Feeling” was a dream for Anthony as he’s such a huge fan of musical theatre and singing. It only took a couple of days to record his lines, but he kept going back to the studio anyway to hear everyone else record theirs. Who said actors can’t be fanboys (no, auto-correct, I did not mean ‘farm boys’...frickin’ predictive text)?

(Photo credit to Ying-Sung Mak)

·        Marc Blucas was traumatised that his first ever convention panel was following Anthony Head and a YouTube video of Anthony Head’s cover of “Behind Blue Eyes”, as he didn’t think he’d ever be able to match up.
·        Marc asked the children in the front row how old they were and how advanced their swear word vocabulary was, as he occasionally lets a bad word slip out. It’s the first time he’s been away from his children for a while, so he’s gonna go a little wild, swear a little, and be an excitable puppy, basically. He compared himself being at the convention to a sailor on leave.
·        Marc had a scholarship for law school, but changed career paths and ended up playing professional basketball in Europe, before falling into acting after his basketball career ended.
·        While he empathised with Riley and saw himself in him, he wished that Riley would “man up” a little more and stop taking so much shit from everyone.
·        Marc can’t watch himself on screen. He’s never watched his episodes of “Buffy The Vampire Slayer” because he can’t watch his acting without cringing. It was his first ever major acting role after all. He finds his acting on the show ‘embarrassing’. Personally, I never watched the show and thought he was any worse than anybody else...meaning they were all brilliant, not all terrible...okay, Bianca Lawson (Kendra)’s accent and David Boreanaz’s accent in flashbacks left a lot to be desired, but overall everyone through the 12 seasons of the Buffyverse’s acting was superb, Marc included.

(Photo credit to Ying-Sung Mak)

·        Tom Lenk, ladies and gentlemen (or ‘gentle readers’ in this case), has never seen Dragon Ball Z. That’s right, Tom and Andrew aren’t the same person. This is brand new information. How dare he not be identical to his character! Actually, Tom didn’t know the difference between a cartoon and an anime. He also said “Goku who?!” and “sorry about that, sir” at the indignance of the question asker. LOLs. Tom’s so sassy.
·        In fact, Adam and Tom are significantly less nerdy than you’d expect. They also didn’t know how to play Dungeons & Dragons during their flashback scene in “Flooded”, and a crew member had to teach them. Bless. When someone said to them both that they needed to prove their geekiness, Adam sassed back that it was the narrow-mindedness of the question asker that limited ‘geekiness’ to television shows, Dungeons & Dragons, etc. Adam was almost as sassy as Tom in this panel. Love it!
·        One thing to note about the “Prophecy” weekend is that all the pairings worked terrifically. While Marc Blucas and Anthony Head did solo panels, J. was paired up with Stephanie, Tom was paired up with Adam, and Mark Lutz was paired up with Brody. J. and Stephanie clearly got along very well, as they stayed up until 7am Saturday morning catching up. Mark and Brody had great chemistry too, while Tom and Adam were obviously close friends in real life and have remained in frequent contact over the past 15 years. Their rhythm together on stage was close to the best I’ve seen (that distinction is currently held by Jonathan Woodward and Jeff Ricketts from “Vampire Ball 5”). Case in point: Adam started spinning Tom on his chair during the panel.
·        Both Tom and Adam talked about their time on “House”, as both have guest-starred. Tom’s character had extreme diarrhea (“thanks for bringing that up!”), while Adam’s character was attracted to his step-mother and covered up for this by pretending to love cows instead. I kid you not. During the read-through for Adam’s episode, Hugh Laurie got into an argument with the episode’s writers about House’s use of his walking cane during the episode. Hugh suddenly turned to Adam and said, “what do you think?!”, so Adam meekly agreed with Hugh and quickly looked away.
·        Tom and Adam sung the praises of Hugh Laurie’s audition for the role of House. They said it seemed as though Hugh didn’t care at all whether he got the part or not, which is Tom’s motto for auditions (“don’t care, don’t prepare”). They also praised Russell Brand’s audition for “Forgetting Sarah Marshall”. Both are shared here for your convenience. You’re welcome.

·        Adam mentioned he’d be wearing the same outfit over the entire weekend. I think he was joking. I hope he was joking. Tom said, “why do you have a massive suitcase if you’re only going to wear one outfit?” to which Adam replied, “I have four different versions of the same outfit”. So funny.
·        Tom and Adam were then asked the plural of “nemesis”, which has been an on-going debate since Buffy’s “Gone”. Tom said that when he was a child he used to sit around and think about the plural of penis – penesis, peni, peepeenis. Adam: “We had very different childhoods.”
·        Adam said that Donald Trump will be the next President of the United States. He doesn’t want him to be, but he says it’s basically a foregone conclusion by this point. Tom said if that actually happens, he’ll be accepting marriage proposals from everyone in the room, as he’d leave America immediately.
·        Adam and Tom mentioned that they both hang out together a lot, and still both hang out with Danny Strong, their fellow Trio member, too. They’re all big musical theatre fans and often go to see musical theatre together.
·        If the Trio were in the musical episode, Tom would have wanted them to have a boyband number. They actually performed a little something for Marti Noxon and tried to fight their way into the episode, but as the musical was scored before season six started filming (and before they were cast), it was too late to add another song into the episode.
·        Adam said that if Warren were around now, he’d be at the forefront of ‘Gamergate’ and revenge porn.
·        Just before filming “The Killer In Me”, where Willow turned into Warren, Alyson went into Adam’s trailer so that they could practise Adam mirroring Alyson’s facial expressions and movements for the episode.
·        Neither Tom nor Adam wanted to leave the panel when the time was up. They said they could have easily gone on for another half an hour or more!

(Photo credit to Ying-Sung Mak)

·        I saw almost nothing of J. and Stephanie’s panel, but I did stick around long enough to see J. laughing his ass off because Stephanie was looking all around the room trying to find where the microphones were for the question asking. She was looking into the middle of nowhere while the first two questions were being asked. Bless her.
·        Stephanie used to joke about a musical episode of “Angel” being needed. Behold, a year later, “Buffy The Vampire Slayer” had a musical episode instead. J. would have loved to be in the musical episode. In fact, he started singing a little song about wanting to be in the musical, then he started dancing. For those of you unaware, J. is always singing and dancing, and he’s damn good at both.

(Photo credit to Ying-Sung Mak)

·        I also missed most of Mark Lutz and Brody’s panel, but I could instantly see that they had good chemistry. Brody kept going into the crowd while Mark was talking. In the end, he started trading various sweets (“candy”) he was collecting from the audience. He ended up with a Jelly Baby, which was used for multiple sexual puns as he rubbed it between his fingers for a good 20 minutes of the panel. Anyone wanna lick his insides? Nibble on his head? Squeeze until the fluids leak out?

While the rest of the panels were going on, I was trying to flit back and forth between my photoshoots and the panels. For instance, at 9:30am, I had Anthony Head’s panel, Adam Busch’s photoshoot, and Tom Lenk’s photoshoot. Stupidly, I forgot to take my TARDIS with me, so I had to resort to seeing some of Anthony’s panel, going to my Adam photo, going back to see a little of Anthony’s panel, then going to my Tom photo. Even though the photoshoots were taking place at the same time, they were smartly handled in that while one photoshoot was being called in group letter order (A,B,C,...), the other photoshoot would start halfway down the group letter list (F,G,H,...), meaning that most people didn’t have to rush to get both done. If the photoshoots happened at a different time to the panels, I think this system would work really, really well.

The photoshoots went about as swiftly and efficiently as they could, which is something that my friends had criticised Rogue about historically, so I was really pleased to see how things were progressing. One thing to note is that my photos in photo area 1 came out way brighter than my photos with Kayte in photo area 2. It shouldn’t be a problem, as when the digital versions are released I can probably amend the lighting and contrasts enough to make them look good, but photo area 1, for my two photos there at least, were too bright, especially my J. August Richards photo. Just before it was my turn with J., the queue was halted for a few minutes as there was a technical problem with the camera. I can only assume that this was the cause of the over-exposed photoshoot, but, again, this should be salvageable so I’m not too fussed about it at present. The actual photos themselves, while too bright, look pretty good other than the brightness. In contrast (see what I did there?), my four photoshoots at photo area B turned out terrifically. I ended up really liking all four of them (Marc Blucas, Brody Hutzler, Tom Lenk, and Stephanie Romanov). The only guests I didn’t get photos with were Anthony Head (I have enough to make wallpaper and I was partaking in a duo photo with him and Marc Blucas the following day) and Mark Lutz (I got a decent photo with him at “Wales Comic Con” in November of 2015). Six photos, five ran smoothly, one ran a little late due to a technical error, four photos turned out great, two turned out good, albeit too bright. Overall that’s a pretty happy experience for me!

J. was his usual lovely self and we ended up chatting a bit before and after the photoshoot was taken as there were still a few camera issues. I was also pleased to find Tom Lenk way more interactive in the photoshoot than in 2013, and he was pulling funny faces and posed in pretty much every photo. Tom without a cold is way better than Tom with a cold, like most people! Stephanie was a delight and a total classy lady, as usual. More impressive of all was Marc Blucas, who was up for anything during his first convention photoshoot ever. Any pose you wanted, he’d do (as far as I’m aware)...deep cuddles, silly photos, prop photos...sometimes at conventions you’re told “no hugging”, “no kissing on the cheek”, or even, “no touching”, but this wasn’t the case with Marc. Just as Kayte was about to take the photo, Marc spontaneously decided to grab my tie to give the photo something different to the usual smiling together generic look. It turned out well! Marc was later worried he might have damaged the tie, but he didn’t. As it’s a completely customised tie that was bought for me by some friends for my birthday last year, it’s for the best that the tie survived the photoshoot unharmed. Very impressed with everyone’s interactions during the photoshoot, particularly Marc. Also nice to have some music playing on both sides, with Adam Busch’s phone on the left and Kayte’s iPod on the right. Helps relax me, personally. Not sure if other people feel the same?

Ironically, after a very busy morning, half of the attendees were left with nothing to do after 1pm until the party started at 9pm. The afternoon was reserved for group photoshoots (myself and Robyn didn’t have any) and autographs for the first half of the attendees, which I believe ended up being groups A-H, with I-K and any additional autographs people wanted taking place on the Sunday. As myself and Robyn were group ‘D’, we knew we had a couple of hours to kill, so we headed to the Resort World around the corner from the hotel with Melly and Katrin. After a badass milkshake and some decent conversation, we checked the live Twitter feed that Rogue offer (which is a very good idea, by the way! So useful!) to find that they were already calling up to group ‘D’ for the autographs, about half an hour before we figured they’d be doing so! We rushed back to the hotel and got into the queue, sweaty and ready to mingle. Just what you want for the autograph table, sweaty palms and an air about you that reads “we’ve just been having sweaty sex”. Nice start, Shangel. Nevertheless, the autograph experience was amazing. The only downside was that the autograph lines for certain guests seemed like they were barely moving because the guest was taking their time with everyone *cough* Mark Lutz *cough*. Obviously, when you’re at the front of the queue, you love that! You love that the guest cares enough to engage in a lengthy conversation. When you’re at the back of the queue, you’re begging for the sweet release of death (I now have “Rest In Peace” stuck in my head again).

I attend many conventions around the United Kingdom that are organised by multiple companies and organisations. Out of all of those different companies, different events, and different fandoms, I firmly believe that Kayte is the best photographer. In addition to doing most of Rogue’s photos, she also does 50% of Wales Comic Con’s photos as well, and I can honestly say that I’ve loved 99% of my photos that she’s taken. Unlike other convention companies, Rogue offer unique 8” x 10” photographs of the guests that were taken over the course of that weekend. These cost £5 each. They’re fucking beautiful! They’re all black and white, and each look completely different to one another. You’ll see a few of these just below. Firstly, this offers attendees the opportunity to buy 8 x 10’s that are totally unique to the event, showing the guests as they look when you met them, including the same clothes they were wearing. Secondly, they’re so well shot that they’re easily worth the £5 that’s being charged. Some other events charge £10 for generic 8 x 10’s, so these really felt like a bargain. Thoroughly impressive from Rogue.

Marc Blucas: Myself and Robyn battled the autograph hall from right to left, jumping from queue to queue, as opposed to joining the shortest queue, then moving to the next shortest. This left Marc Blucas as our starting autograph, which turned out to be a great thing as Marc instantly relaxes you and puts you at ease for the rest of the conversations at the various autograph tables. We talked about how Marc’s weekend was going and whether or not the convention met his expectations as to what one would be like. I also mentioned to Marc that Riley was my favourite character while growing up. Marc seemed genuinely happy to receive this news, as he later said that pretty much everyone had been going up to him and saying, “we hated Riley, but you’re awesome!”. Bless. It was a really nice conversation between myself, Robyn, and Marc, as me and Robyn pretty much decided to tackle the majority of the autograph tables as a duo. I would start the conversation, then Robyn would pick up where I left off or add her own points or questions once it was her turn. I think this worked great for both of us overall! Guest Type = Responder, but this would change to a ‘conversationalist’ by the end of the weekend. Keep reading for the details. I could be wrong, but I get the feeling that Marc was told to or assumed that he needed to sign pretty quickly as he had a lot of people to get through. By Sunday he seemed way more chill.

(Later in the convention, Marc said he was 'average looking'...lying bastard)

For those of you asking what a ‘responder’ or a ‘conversationalist’ is, allow me to explain. Those of you that have read some of my convention reviews before can go ahead and skip the explanation as it’s literally a copy-and-paste job.

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.

Feel free to let me know your experiences with the guests in the comments! You can even borrow my categories to label them, like jars on a shelf.

J. August Richards: Next to Marc, if I remember correctly, was J., so we headed to the back of his queue next. Anyone who’s ever had the opportunity to meet J. knows what a terrific human being he is – genuinely caring, appreciative, humble, quick to laugh, thought-provoking....he’s basically the model convention guest. If you were to mould a guest that would give you the best experiences as an overall package, people like J., Marc, and Anthony would be at the very top of your list. As I was getting my “After The Fall: Epilogue” comic signed (read: the end of “Angel” season six), the crew member with J. asked me if I would ask J. if he’d read the comics because she wanted to know, so I did. J. has not read the comics, but he knows the gist of what happened. He always expected Gunn to eventually become a vampire in the show, as it’s the embodiment of becoming what you hate. J. hasn’t read the comics because he hates the idea of reading Gunn’s next chapter without getting to play the part himself. He was not aware that the entire arc ends up being rewound at the end of the ‘season’, so we had a little fun with that. We also talked about his impending new show, “Notorious”, and he was able to tell me a little about the show, the premise, and when he starts filming. I’ll save those details for a little later, as I don’t want him to get into any trouble for saying anything he shouldn’t have said. I also showed J. my cool “Angel” tie, as I’d somehow forgotten about it when we last met. After wrapping up our wonderful conversation and handing over to Robyn, I asked J. to make sure Jacqui brought him back to the U.K. soon! He said he’ll try to get back as soon as possible, but it’ll probably be a couple of years as he’s busy filming “Notorious” and working on his other projects. Always such a gentleman, and he even wrote “always a pleasure” on my autograph. Legend. Guest type = Conversationalist.

Mark Lutz: A.K.A., the Queue of Death, A.K.A. the Queue That Took Longer Than The Others Combined...Almost. Myself and Mark chatted about our memories of “Wales Comic Con” the previous November, before we started to discuss “Angel” a little more, which is ironic as I had a very long conversation with him at “Wales Comic Con”, and we barely discussed “Angel” at all. I mentioned that the Pylea arc of the show was basically my main form of escapism during the most turbulent, depression-filled years of the past decade, to which Mark seemed genuinely touched. Mark said that his job as an actor is really fun and actors who say that it’s hard work are largely kidding themselves, as they get to do what they love for a living, even if the hours are long. Mark said that if something he’s done can even help one person through something or deal with something painful, then he’s living a very blessed life. We also talked about the hilarity of Groo being made to look like Angel, and he told us his plans for a meditation centre in Canada down the line...I think he was kidding, but it woudn’t surprise me in the least. Guest type = Conversationalist.

Brody Hutzler: Unlike pretty much every other convention I attend, I came into this event note-free for the autograph table. I did little research and I had little prepared because I simply didn’t have the time to do what I usually do. Between uni exams, work, and a slither of a social life, my energy levels in the month before this event were fucked more than Casanova. Therefore, I knew next to nothing about Brody as we approached his autograph table, other than he liked rolling Jelly Babies in his fingers and he played Landok on “Angel”. Therefore, my conversation with him largely followed the same vein as my conversation with Mark Lutz, only Brody also talked about his upcoming projects. Brody will soon be hosting a criminal-style show in America, where he interviews people. He has a little experience with hosting before, but not much, so this should be an interesting experience for him. If it manages to make its way to England, I will check it out for myself...or there’s always the option to find it online if it doesn’t. Brody was lovely. Really funny throughout the weekend, really interesting, but I feel I got to know him least out of the eight guests that were there. I hope to get to know him better in the future...that sounded just a little bit stalkerish, didn’t it? Unique 8” x 10”, decent conversation, nice guy! Guest type = Responder.

Halfway through the autograph hall!

Stephanie Romanov: When myself and Robyn got to the front of the queue, Stephanie told us that she probably wouldn’t come and party with us because she’d only had 90 minutes sleep the previous night. When Robyn asked J. this earlier, he basically echoed those same sentiments. Turns out they stayed up talking most of the night because they hadn’t seen each other in almost a decade! That’s cute. As Robyn rightly mentioned, for someone who’d only slept for 90 minutes, Stephanie looked stunning. She looked stunning all weekend, actually. She hasn’t aged a day since “Angel” ended either. I think leaving Los Angeles and raising a daughter surrounded by woodlands probably helped with that. We talked about the complexities of Lilah and how it was an interesting, needed addition to explore Lilah’s mother being in a nursing home, and entering a relationship with Wesley, etc., as it allowed Lilah to develop more than almost any villain in either “Buffy The Vampire Slayer” or “Angel”, with the screentime to match. We also talked about the impending kittenage that’s going to arrive in our house next month. While you could tell that Stephanie was tired, she was so energetic, friendly, talkative, and positive, that it made her lack of sleep all the more impressive to us. A must-meet guest for any “Angel” fan. You won’t be disappointed. Guest type = Conversationalist.

Adam Busch: After talking about his dog so much the previous day, I decided to start the conversation with a fun little interaction – is he enjoying the event more than he’s missing his dog? Ooooh, dilemma! Adam basically said that both were true in equal measure, while chuckling to himself. Ironically, the conversation took a political turn after that, and we ended up talking about some deep stuff! I said that Adam should look into bringing his dog with him next time, and Adam said that England have some strict laws about that (“those bastards!”). Adam countered that we have much better gun laws though, which led to the tangent of discussing the recent Orlando shootings, President Trump, and the looming E.U. referendum. That was unexpected, but very cool. Sometimes it’s nice to talk about real, troubling issues concerning the world around us. It humanises the guests and makes you firmly understand that they’re just the same as you are...only cooler, richer, and on television. Adam was the quiet assassin of the convention. He didn’t talk that much unless you prompted him, but everything he said made you think and left you wanting to hear more. Such a cool human being! Didn’t want to flay him whatsoever. Guest type = Responder.

Tom Lenk: Tom, Tom, Tom...the Queen of Sass. I will freely admit that I think Tom Lenk is absolutely hilarious. Everything he says has me in stitches. Speaking of stitches, we largely discussed #LenkLewkForLess, as last time Tom was in the country for a convention, we discussed his one-man shows. I asked if he’d ever thought about combining the two – Lenk Lewk For Less and his one-man show! Stand-up comedy meets fashion, meets sass. Tom said that’s actually something that’s been on his mind recently, so I’m made sure to tell him that if it ever comes to fruition, the United Kingdom needs to have some dates on the agenda. I also told him that he could try and get the Olsen twins to sponsor the event, as he must have mentioned them about fifteen times over the weekend...Tom said he’s more likely to get a cease and desist letter. Hilarious. Guest type = Responder, but bonus points for making me laugh like an hysterical school girl.

Anthony Head: Anthony actually signed this autograph ‘Tony’, as he said we’ve met so many times it feels odd to write “Anthony Head”. Not that I’m bragging or excited, or anything, but I’ve officially been given permission to call him ‘Tony’ from now on, in writing. Surely that means he’s now some roguish uncle of mine? I’ve met his daughters, after all. Tony (see, I’ve already switched!) is basically exactly what you’d expect. He’s super charming, really friendly, and the perfect gentleman (not the tall, skeletal, creepy kind that take your heart out). There aren’t many guests I’d meet more than once or twice, but Tony is one of those exceptions to the rule because he’s been such a huge part of my childhood and adult life, while also being a total class act. After catching up a little bit, I told him how much I loved his CD, “Staring At The Sun”, after I bought it off him at “Wales Comic Con” 18 months earlier (available to buy here - - #CheapPlug). The first thing to note about Tony is how quick to laugh he is. He’s always smiling and giggling, and bursting into laughter, which is wonderful, as it’s so infectious. He’s the chlamydia of the convention world. After talking about “Behind Blue Eyes” and the fact that everyone’s now hounding him for a cover of “Free Bird”, we talked about “Cool To Be Kind”, a campaign that he and his wife run for helping to feed and house animals in need. You can buy wristbands or other items in their farm’s shop and the proceeds all go to aiding animals in need. It’s a really beautiful cause. I actually told Tony that he’s been a hero of mine since I was eight years old, and that they say to never meet your heroes because you could be disappointed, but the more I get to know Tony (and his family), the more impressed I am. They are all such caring, compassionate, thoughtful, wonderful people, and it inspired me to have a family like that myself one day. It’s a nice reminder to look at my wrist each day and remember that there are people and animals in need, and that there are more important things in life than your own petty little problems. If you have a spare five minutes, by all means buy the wristbands or something else, and help contribute to a great cause! You can actually bulk-buy the wristbands, use the money to buy more, and do what you want with the excess money. Myself and Robyn are intending to do just this ourselves, with the excess money being donated to Teckels animal shelter in Whitminster, Gloucester, where Robyn volunteers. I happened to mention that my friend Clare has also worked with Tony’s wife, Sarah, before as she records and edits videos of horses for a living. The kitten that myself and Robyn intend to get next month will also likely come from Teckels animal shelter. Contribute if you can, people! As I said to Tony, the more I meet him, the more impressed and inspired I am. Whenever I’m attending the same event as Tony, I will always make a point of going to say “hi”, as people like him are worth supporting. I encourage you all to do the same. Guest type = Conversationalist.

Out of the eight guests at “Prophecy”, one autograph with six of the guests was free, as it was included in the entry ticket price. Anthony Head and Marc Blucas were not included. Tony was £20 per autograph, while Marc was £10 for the first autograph and £20 for subsequent ones. I think the first being £10 was to appease fans, as Marc was originally announced as an included guest, then changed to a ‘sponsored guest’ the next day, meaning the first autograph was no longer free. Additional autographs with the other six guests were £15 each, I believe. The website seemed to change between £10 and £15, and as I didn’t get any additions with the six included guests, I’m not sure what the final figure was.

With the eight autographs collected, it was time to chill out for the rest of the day. The autograph session was scheduled to end at 5:15pm, but ran until about 6pm if I recall correctly, as myself and Robyn were in the last handful to leave. This left the group photo running an hour behind schedule as well, but this didn’t affect us. The rest of the evening was given over to Austria (Robyn’s native country)’s Euro 2016 football match against Portugal, where Austria shockingly held Portugal to a 0-0 draw, with Cristiano Ronaldo, the most arrogant and dramatic sportsman in the world, missing a penalty. LOLs. After the game ended, we headed downstairs at 10pm, ready to socialise and party! This was the first Buffyverse weekend event where none of the guests came down to party with us all weekend! Unless I missed something, I didn’t see anyone after 9pm whatsoever. Alas, drinks were had, selfies were taken, socialising was accomplished, and I even danced a little bit with Robyn and partook in the “Once More With Feeling” sing-alongs on the dancefloor. I probably made a fool out of myself while dancing, resembling something of a love-child between Shrek and Bambi first learning to walk, but damn it I tried! In the end, myself, Robyn, Katrin, Rebecca, Jer, Melly, Hannah, and Dirk stayed in the lounge socialising, drinking (some of us!), and messing around until almost 3am. I didn’t really care how much I drank or how late we stayed up, as I only had one photo the next day, the Marc and Tony duo photo, which ironically turned out to be my favourite of the weekend! Let that be a lesson for the future, people. The more you drink and the less sleep you have, the better you look. Take that advice for free, use it, abuse it, and thank me later, when you have bags under your eyes and look a decade older than you actually are.

Shockingly, I woke up at 6am without a hangover. The ice cube trick struck again! Drink everything with ice, wait for the ice to melt, drink all the icy water, and you’ll feel pretty good the next day as you won’t be dehydrated. Even with copious amounts of whisky, I felt fine. Stupendous! After announcing that an inpromptu “Once More With Feeling” sing-along would be taking place at 4:30pm, right before the closing ceremony, it was time for another day of fun, only this time there was less to juggle for myself and Robyn, as we only had one photoshoot each (the same one), and all our autographs were completed...until I decided to get an additional autograph from Marc Blucas. Basically, after starting to explain to him the history behind my bandana (he asked) in the photoshoot queue (more on that later), he was whisked away by the I wanted the opportunity to finish my story! This left us with a pretty easy day...miss most of the Mark Lutz/Brody panel to get our photoshoot, sit and watch the other 4 panels, get one autograph later in the day, then attend the “Once More With Feeling” sing-along and the closing ceremony. By 6pm, everything would be finished, giving us a couple of hours to socialise before my dad collected us at 8pm. That’s a pretty chilled convention day, right there! When I compare this to what “London Film & Comic Con” will be like next month, a cold shiver runs up my spine (120,000 people over the weekend, being shuffled around like cattle, very limited talking time at the autograph table, a conveyer belt photo system, stuffy area, blistered feet...why am I going again?).

The photoshoot between myself, Marc, and Anthony was one of the most spontaneous and memorable of my life, and the story behind it is just as amusing. As myself, Robyn, and Rebecca were queuing for our duo photo, Marc came over to me in the queue and the following exchange took place...

Marc: "Shane, we were actually talking about you last night."

Me (surprised): "Oh?"

Marc: "Yeah, Tony mentioned that he's met you a bunch of times before, he always enjoys meeting you, and he's never seen you without your bandana on! (Note: Tony actually has seen me without my bandana on once before, the first time we met, many years ago)....what's under there? What are you hiding?"

Me: "...A forehead?"

Marc: "Hmm...I have a theory that you have Tony's name tattoo'ed under there and you put it on when you meet him to try and keep some tact."

*Just as I go to explain the story behind the bandana, the crew steal him away....twice...*

I get to the front of the queue, stand between Marc and Tony, then Marc says the following...

Marc: "Tony, I've spoken to Shane and he has confirmed that he does indeed have your name tattooed under there."

*Tony bursts out laughing. Kayte tries to take the photo, but just before she clicks the button, Tony falls apart laughing again. He has the best laugh in the world. After Tony finally pulls himself together, Marc checks to see what's under my bandana just as the photo is being taken. I'm in love with the end result. It's unique, hilarious, contains a wonderful memory, and Tony's laughter is completely genuine as opposed to a photo smile.*

After the photoshoot was completed and my euphoria reduced ever so slightly, it was time to head back into the main hall, just as Mark Lutz and Brody were coming off stage and being replaced by J. and Stephanie. Due to Robyn wanting to visit the merchandise room, we missed most of Adam and Tom’s talk, but we attended J. and Stephanie’s panel, Tony’s panel, and Marc’s panel in their entirety. Hightlights below! :-

·        J. started singing “Man, I Feel Like A Woman”, while Stephanie got up and danced to it. I don’t think there was any reason behind this other than J. had the song stuck in his head. Random, but excellent. I love the spontaneity that can occur in panels like this!
·        J. said that Lilah was too sexy for the Wolfram & Hart office in “Angel”, and Stephanie quickly quipped, “what do you mean was too sexy?!” J. responded with “Lilah WAS sexy, Stephanie Romanov IS sexy,” at which everybody laughed.
·        The last scene J. filmed on “Angel” was actually the final scene of the episode, which happens a lot less frequently than you’d think. He was glad that this was the last thing he did as Charles Gunn, as the message behind that final scene is beautiful. J. said that even to this day he often thinks about the finale of “Angel” and the enforcing meaning behind it – that you always keep fighting, no matter what. When life gets hard, do you do the right thing even though you face inevitable hardship or do you run away? J. uses this episode in his real life all the time when he’s having a hard time. J.’s personal head-canon is also that everyone died in the alleyway. How cheery.
·        J. and Stephanie also talked about becoming what you hate. How Gunn becoming a vampire was poetic as he became what he hated. Stephanie told a very personal story about her father and how he was a cheater, so for a while in her youth, Stephanie used to cheat as well as she expected the males she was dating to do so. That was very honest of her. More honest than guests often are on stage. Kudos.
·        They also talked about what makes them cry. Stephanie is a self-confessed cry-aholic, while J. also said that he cries quite frequently, one of the most recent causes of which was “12 Years A Slave”.

(Photo credit to Ying-Sung Mak)

·        Tony loves tequila. While most alcoholic drinks are downers, tequila gives you a happy feeling, so he likes drinking tequila. Buy his tequila. Buy me tequila too.
·        In the last 90’s, before social media existed and conventions were much rarer, the “Buffy The Vampire Slayer” cast used to go along to the Buffy forums posting parties, where the members of the forums living in Los Angeles would meet up and talk about the show. How awesome is it that the cast used to go along to these?! Very few shows would do that today or then. Anyway, a fan approached Tony and asked if he’d sign her ass cheek. Before waiting for a reply, she started to pull her trousers (“pants”) down. Tony quickly said “I’m sorry, but no”, and her response was, “well, Nicky did it!” before walking off in a huff. Nicky would do anything, by the way.
·        Someone asked Tony, if he were a flower or plant, what would he be and why. This is a question that I think came up in every panel on Sunday from the same person. Amusingly, Tony said ‘moss’, as he’s always been fascinated by moss. Who’s fascinated by moss? WHY MOSS?! It’s so random that it’s hilarious. We laughed, he laughed, it was a laugh-fest.
·        Tony misses Robin Sachs (Ethan Rayne), who passed away a few years ago. In addition to working on Buffy together, they also attended “Hallowhedon 2” together a few years before Robin’s passing. Tony mentioned how much he loved working with Robin, in particular the scene in “A New Man” where Giles and Ethan get drunk together, while Ethan slips Giles a pill that will turn him into a Fyarl demon. Tony also mentioned that he was a fan of Robin’s work on projects other than Buffy, with one of his favourite films being “Galaxy Quest”.
·        Tony talked about some rumours regarding the costume department, clothing, and unwashed clothing in regards to the conclusion of Buffy’s run on television, but I won’t talk about that publically as it’d probably get Tony into trouble, I’m merely mentioning it so other people that attended “Prophecy” can remember it if they read this review years later.
·        After Timothy Dalton failed to connect with the masses as James Bond, the Daily Star decided to lie and pretend that Anthony Head was the front-runner to replace him because they found the news that Pierce Brosnan was being courted for the role “too boring”. There was never any truth to those rumours. Tony read about it, got all excited, called his agent, who called the James Bond team, who said “nope”, leaving Tony all disheartened.

(Photo credit to Ying-Sung Mak)

·        Marc came out by saying he was disappointed with us. On Saturday, all day, he was wearing a green shirt that he stole from the Buffy set, and nobody noticed all day! He said that so many people took books for him to sign with Riley wearing the exact same shirt he was, but nobody noticed.
·        Someone asked Marc what type of alcohol he’d be, and Marc replied that he’s never had any alcohol in his life. He doesn’t have an alcoholic in the family, it’s not a religious thing, he just decided not to as he was an athlete at the time everyone started drinking and then it stuck with him. He won’t judge you for your opinions on alcohol and he doesn’t want you to judge him. He did say he got a lot of stick for it during high school and college. He eventually decided that he’d be a room temperature, flat beer.
·        Marc didn’t steal anything from Buffy except the shirt, but he does still have all his original scripts, complete with his annotations.
·        Marc mentioned that he got along really well with James Marsters during his time on the show, which is no surprise to me after meeting them both as they’re both such good people and have such warm personalities.
·        Someone asked Marc if he has any hidden talents and Marc replied with, “fuck, I don’t have any obvious talents!”. It was the biggest laugh of the weekend. I was crying. Obviously not a true statement, but damn funny.
·        Marc and his family live in a 300-year-old farmhouse. He said that in the United States everyone makes a big deal out of it when he tells them as it’s quite a rare thing over there. He said when he comes to England everyone’s like “so?”, as we have thousands of them. Haha, poor Marc.
·        When Marc first went to Los Angeles to become an actor, he went to an open-audition for “Pleasantville”. He’d only been in Los Angeles a week and he somehow got the part, largely because the part was a non-speaking one that involved playing basketball, which Marc had experience with as a former professional player. Marc made a bet with Gary Ross, the director, that if Marc took a shot from half-court, over his head, while facing the other way, and it went in, Gary had to give him a speaking line. It fucking went in! Marc said he was trying to play it cool like, “don’t even look back, don’t look back”, while inside he was screaming. Gary eventually kept Marc around for most of the film and gave him numerous speaking lines. Such a cool story!
·        Marc ended his panel with arguably the best speech I’ve heard during a convention. He said that he wanted to say two things before he left – 1) This was his first convention, so he wanted to thank us for being there and experiencing it with him. 2) He wanted to talk about failure. Failure has a bad reputation, as you can’t succeed until you’ve failed. Failure isn’t failure, but merely a redirection in your life. He compared life to a pinball machine, saying that life’s going to “knock the shit out of you”, but if you’re passionate and work hard, you’ll find your path and find your place. “Look at me, I’m an average actor, with average looks and average skills that’s had the pleasure to live an incredible life”. I’m not doing this justice with words, but it left myself and Robyn inspired and stunned in equal measure. Stunned that he cared enough to tell us these things. We stayed after the panel finished just to talk about that speech for another 20 minutes together because we were so inspired by it, which is quite the rarity. However, average look, my ass! He hasn’t aged a day since Buffy and he’s a fucking handsome man. I’m straight, and even I got lost in his eyes at the meet and greet. If he’s a man with “average looks”, I’m the troll you see living under the bridge in fairy tales.

With the panels coming to a close, it was time to chill for a couple of hours before we went to get my 2nd Marc autograph. As Rogue were calling groups I-K first, then allowing people from any groups to get any additional autographs they wanted, we had some time to kill, but somehow spent most of it talking about Marc’s speech and visiting the merchandise room for the 27,000th time because the stalls were so cool.

Marc Blucas – Back With A Vengeance: After my conversation with Marc was cut short during the photoshoot earlier in the day, I wanted to fill Marc in on some things. Firstly, I was so humbled, shocked, and honoured to hear that Marc and Tony were talking about me at all, let alone outside of the convention hotel. Wow. Secondly, I filled Marc in on my history, how I started to wear a bandana when I was training to be a wrestler, how life pinballed me in another direction (I used his speech’s message during the conversation, active listening at its finest!) after my best friend died, and how I wear the bandana to this day as a tribute to him. Marc seemed touched by the gesture and some part of me thought that he could appreciate it, former athlete to former athlete. I also told him that the pinballing landed me on being one year away from completing my Master’s degree, so Marc used this information during the autograph, like a pro! Very cool of him to do. I told him that I only wear the bandana on special occasions like conventions and parties, not at work or during the shower, to which Marc replied, “suuuuuuure, ‘course you don’t *wink*”. I also told Marc that I intend to get a temporary tattoo of Tony's name on my forehead for the next time I see Tony, and I'll reveal it to him and freak him out. Watch this space! I thanked Marc for coming, and we headed out of the autograph hall. Guest type = Upgraded To A Conversationalist After This Discussion And Our Conversation During The Photoshoot Earlier In The Day.

By the time we left the autograph hall, the “Once More With Feeling” sing-along was up to the start of “I’ve Got A Theory”, so we stayed and watched the rest of the episode. Myself and Dirk sang as loudly as we could, and we sounded my head at least. After the episode finished, it was a short break before the closing ceremony, which was the best panel of the weekend. It made me really wish there was an opening ceremony to start the weekend. In addition to making the event feel more connected and giving us a sense of unity, it’s also really nice to start the weekend by seeing all the guests together. I hope Rogue add this to the schedule for “Prophecy 2”. After announcing this event as a one-off, it was so successful that Rogue have officially announced that a second one is coming. It’ll be sometime in “mid-to-late 2017 in London”, with the exact dates and location to be confirmed at some later point. I would expect the line-up to consist of the guests that cancelled on this one – Alyson Hannigan, Alexis Denisof, Christian Kane, Amber Benson...some combination of those four, with other recurring characters thrown in too. I could be wrong though, so don’t book just off my theories. You can buy tickets to the next event on the website at some point very soon, so keep an eye out! Personally, while I came into the event apprehensive, I will definitely be attending again if the line-up is good, as this event exceeded my expectations. If the schedule was just a little different, this event would be close to perfect, as the guests were phenomenal, the hotel was beautiful, the prices were reasonable, the crew were amazing, and the whole weekend was magical. As I’m sure you’ve noticed, 98% of this review has been overwhelmingly positive.

(Photo credit to Ying-Sung Mak)

Closing Ceremony: Like the panels that preceded it, the closing ceremony was a Q & A situation, with people approaching a microphone and asking questions. While all the males were out on stage, Stephanie was running  a little late as she had to re-apply her make-up. This meant that when she arrived, they were a microphone down as they only had seven. Cute microphone tag teaming followed. The guests evidently went to eat in the Cock Inn the previous night, which led to an avalanche of sexual puns. Mark Lutz started out talking about enjoying people appreciating something he’s worked hard on, Stephanie laughed at ‘hard on’, so Mark continued to make sexual puns. Right after this, a little boy approached the microphone to ask a question (and stole the show by being so adorable!), to which Tom asked how old the boy was and wished his parents good luck in explaining the puns later that night. So funny! Tom also mentioned that he wanted the little boy to be his outgoing voicemail as he had such a cute voice, to which Stephanie replied, “you sound just like that!”...Bwahahahaha! Also, Tony was laughing at everything. To the point where he was making a deep “heeeeeerp” noise into the microphone, which made the audience roar with laughter every damn time, which made the guests start laughing. He also has a hidden party trick where he can do a very good impression of Roadrunner from “Looney Tunes”. Honestly, everyone was so happy during this panel. I could feel the love radiating from the attendees and guests alike. Stephanie talked about her love of these type of intimate conventions as you get more time with each other and can get to know each other more, guests and attendees alike. She also talked about the love and passion of Buffyverse fans and said she’s never experienced anything like it. People are so warm, so loving, and the community is one big family, which is so true. Adam also echoed these sentiments and was his usual philosophical self, making everyone glow with pride and appreciate each other even more. I will admit, I was enjoying myself so much during this panel – looking around at my fellow attendees, smiling at the guests, jesting with my friends, that I don’t remember half of what was said, which I don’t think matters too much with this panel as it was more about joking and having one last laugh together than telling stories or trivia facts. Tom did say that someone once gave him fan art of himself, and Tom has hung it up in his bathroom over the toilet, so his guests have to watch him watching them charming.

To sum up this eighteen-page review (excluding pictures), I loved my time at “Prophecy”. As I’ve always said the mark of success of any convention, ultimately, comes down to a simple question, “would I go again?”. The answer to which in this case is an emphatic “yes!”. I went in with low expectations, I left feeling blown away. Kudos to Wayne, the Rogue Events team, and the crew members, as they all did terrifically. Even Flash and his terrible jokes. From the photographers to the stall-holders, to the volunteers, everybody I interacted with was nothing but professional, dedicated, hard-working, and a joy. Without the crew, these events don’t happen, so thank you to all who helped put this event together. Also, a big “thank you!” to the guests, for arguably being the greatest group of guests as a whole that I’ve had the pleasure of meeting at a convention. All eight of you absolutely ruled! A damn impressive event from start to finish. Finally, a big “thank you!” to my partner-in-crime, in life and love, as well as at the convention, Robyn, for making the event all the more enjoyable, and a big “thank you!” to my friends and Scoobs for creating memories with me.

If you’ve made it to the end, I thank you. I thank you for the support and the love. If you ever see me around a convention, please come and say “hi”. I’ll be at “LFCC” next month, “Worcester Comic Con” in August, “Bournemouth Film & Comic Con” in September, “Gloucester Comic Con” in October (my homecity!), “Wales Comic Con” in November, and Starfury’s “Vampire Ball” for the fourth consecutive year in December. I would also really appreciate it if you took the time to share the review on social media and with your friends! There are handy little buttons to do this just below the end of the review. If they’re fans of conventions or the Buffyverse, this blog has a lot of reading material to offer, a list of which can be found here. Can’t believe I’ve hit 1.36 million views in 2.5 years! Thanks again.

FINAL SCORE: 9.5/10 (joint highest in two years, alongside “Wales Comic Con 2016 Part I”)


  1. Love the review! Great pic too ☺

  2. Really excellent review as always. They help me relive my weekend and remember all the great times I had. Thank you for all the effort you put into these.

    Your fan from France,


  3. Great work once again, my friend. Need to meet Marc now! :'D

  4. It was such a wonderful weekend, definitely the best convention Rogue have organised. I was so pleasantly surprised by how awesome Marc Blucas was. It was lovely meeting you, see you in December!

  5. Great review. The weekendal was awesome. Rogue really pulled it out of the bag! Can't wait for P2.

  6. Awesome review Shane! Marc sounds like an absolute treat and so sweet that Tony remembered you, and J was it? So cool!