Monday, 7 November 2016

Wales Comic Con 2016 Part II - A Detailed Review

Guests met and discussed in this review :-

• James Marsters (Spike from “Buffy The Vampire Slayer”)
• Nicky Brendon (Xander Harris from “Buffy The Vampire Slayer”)
• Kristine Sutherland (Joyce Summers from “Buffy The Vampire Slayer”)
• Manu Bennett (Deathstroke in “Arrow” & Crixus in “Spartacus”)
• Tom Wlaschiha (Jaqen H’ghar from “Game Of Thrones”)
• Mark Addy (King Robert Baratheon from “Game Of Thrones”)
• Ian McElhinney (Ser Barristan Selmy from “Game Of Thrones”)
• Ian Hanmore (Pyat Pree from “Game Of Thrones”)
• Joe Altin (Pyp from “Game Of Thrones”)
• David Bradley (Walder Frey from “Game Of Thrones” & Argus Filch from “Harry Potter”)
• Ric Flair (Wrestler)
• Billy Gunn (Wrestler)
• Chris Rankin (Percy Weasley from “Harry Potter”)
• Josh Herdman (Gregory Goyle from “Harry Potter”)
• Matt Ryan (John Constantine from “Constantine”)
• Thomas Ian Nicholas (Kevin Myers in “American Pie”)
• Kevin McNally (Joshamee Gibbs in “Pirates Of The Caribbean”)
• Corin Nemec (Christian Campbell in “Supernatural”)
• Gareth David-Lloyd (Ianto Jones in “Torchwood”)
• Naoko Mori (Toshiko Sato in “Torchwood”)
• Kai Owen (Rhys Williams in “Torchwood”)

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.
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With that being said, let’s dive in...

NOTE: The studio photos shown in this review are pictures of the photos taken off of my crappy phone. I’ll switch them out for the high-quality digital version once they’re available online...if I remember.

“Seeing people so passionately enthusiastic...actually about anything. To see people motivated to that degree, to a sort of pitch of...near lunacy...that is actually terribly moving because the big enemy in this world is apathy, but these are people who care. My God they care.” – Hugh Laurie, talking about Comic Con fans on “The Graham Norton Show”.

The above quote from Hugh Laurie is relevant to most conventions I’ve attended over the years. Getting thousands and thousands of people together in one place, where everyone shares common passions and interests, is a magical thing. It’s so easy to talk to people you’ve never met and to make new friends. Certainly vastly easier than I find it to talk to humans in the ‘real world’, as outside of convention circles I’m largely not a fan of people.

There are a few conventions and signing events that are special to me. I love the people at “Starfury”, I love the people at “Em-Con” (and I’ve only been to one so far!), but nothing compares to “Wales Comic Con” for me. Once every 6 months for the past three years I’ve hauled my ass up to North Wales to attend what has basically transformed into a family reunion for me. I know half of the crew, I know a large percentage of the attendees...Hell, I even know a quarter of the guests pretty well at this point! Finding a place in the world where you feel like you belong is a very, very rare and a very, very special thing, and it’s something I’ve always struggled with. I was brutally bullied throughout school, I’ve never been one to make close friends at work, and the former place I felt like I belonged – with my fellow wrestlers back when I was one – dissolved upon the passing of my two closest friends. Ever since then, when I was eighteen, I’ve been subconsciously (and consciously) looking for something to fill that void. To fill that empty chasm of community and surrogate family. Steadily, over the past three years, “Wales Comic Con” has evolved into that place. It’s the one place in the world where I feel totally welcome, totally loved, and totally respected by an entire group of people. I see old friends, I make new friends, I always have a bunch of people come over and say they love the blog or only attended “Wales Comic Con” based on my’s a very humbling experience. To use a wrestling analogy, I once referred to “Wales Comic Con” as the ‘ECW’ of the convention scene. They’re not one of the ‘Big Two’ (Showmasters and MCM), but they’re still a decent sized company, and one that exudes more passion, more heart, and more love than the ‘Big Two’ combined. This would also make Jaime the Paul Heyman of the convention world...with significantly more hair and less of a waist.

...Those are Hayley's nails, not mine.

To say that I’m a fan of “Wales Comic Con” and the team behind the event would be an understatement. Make no mistake, the show does still have a few issues that need addressing, like all conventions, but I’d defend the company until the bitter end because I feel their level of service and atmosphere is unparalleled and has been for years now. Nobody pays me to say that. I don’t say it because I know the crew and the organisers. I say it because it’s the truth. I’ve received a small amount of backlash here and there from other events because I’ve gone on record as telling the truth. I’d rather be honest and be hated than be loved for being something I’m not. Alas, before diving into the play-by-play review of the event (yes, this is still intro. My reviews are long. Numerous people told me this past weekend that they set aside entire evenings to read them, which is both humbling and hilarious), I’d like to address a few things...

Firstly, I will spend little time talking about the venue and the layout, as it’s remained largely unchanged for the past few years, and I’ve written about it in depth before here

Secondly, I’d like to address the photo printing situation. As many attendees are aware, the trial version of the ‘instant printing’ resembled something of a nightmare situation on paper, with photos taking 2-3 hours to be printed in some cases. This situation sucks for everybody involved. It sucks for attendees because they have to wait for their photos to be printed. It sucks if they can’t wait because it means they have to wait for it to be posted to them. It sucks for WCC’s team as they receive backlash. It sucks for the photo company as they also receive backlash. It’s lose-lose for everyone. My understanding of the subject is that after the...erm...challenges faced with the printing of photos at April’s edition of the event this year, “Wales Comic Con” parted ways with “Rogue Events” (who historically handled the printing) and hired a new company. What more could “Wales Comic Con” do? They listened to fan feedback and they changed the frickin’ company they were using in order to try to give fans a better, more quality experience. I personally don’t think any blame can be placed on the “Wales Comic Con” team here. It’s also my understanding that four printers were supposed to be running over the course of the weekend, but only two showed up. I don’t know the reason why, nor do I wish to speculate. Out of those two, one was having some issues on the Saturday. Could it be that this new company didn’t quite anticipate the demand? Possibly. However, this is an entirely resolvable situation. They know for the next event exactly what to expect, so can adjust accordingly. You may call me a deluded optimist (I’ve been called worse...usually by friends), but I feel that this won’t be an issue again at next April’s event. I have faith in both Jaime and his team, and in the team running the photo area.

Furthermore, within the “Wales Comic Con” discussion group on Facebook, someone noted that perhaps the photo printing error arose because “Wales Comic Con” had over-sold to try to squeeze more money out of the attendees because all they care about is money. This is such bullshit that I don’t know where to begin. Yes, there are many convention promoters in the U.K. that extort as much money out of attendees as possible. It could be argued that making money is kind of the whole point of a company anyway. Isn’t maximising profits their job? I digress. In the case of “Wales Comic Con”, I’ve never encountered a group that care more about their attendees and customer feedback. They routinely respond to fan comments, they try to adjust anything they possibly can for their next event, and they’re a collection of stand-up, quality human beings. The problem with photos over this weekend was simple: the printers didn’t keep up with the demand. That’s it. Like I said, I’m sure the photo company will adjust for the next event. I know how broken up Kayte and her team were personally by the way the printing unfolded, so I have complete faith that they’d never let that happen again.

This isn’t to say that I don’t empathise with the attendees...I was one of them! I was ready to leave at 4pm on Sunday, eager to start the three-hour drive home before getting into work at 6am the following morning. My last photo was printed at 5:50pm. Those last two hours of waiting were tough. My feet were dead, I was achy, and I was slowly losing the will to live. I’ve never been so close to kissing Dave as I was when he handed me my Manu Bennett photograph. However, sometimes shit happens. It sucks. It’s annoying. But shit like this happens at conventions all the time. As long as the issue is addressed and resolved, it’s not that bad. Ultimately, the quality of the photograph is the more important factor as you’re stuck looking at it for life. If you had to wait an extra couple of hours for a photograph that you absolutely love, it’s a necessary evil. I have said before and will likely say many times again that Kayte and her team are the best photographers on the convention circuit, bar none. Bar none. Nothing but love for Kayte and her team. The people these printer issues sucked for most are, of course, the people who’d travelled furthest and wanted to get their photos signed. They may not have the opportunity to do that again, which is a huge shame. I’m sure Jaime, Ash, Kayte, and everybody else will brainstorm and eliminate the issue for the future. They have my total faith.

As always a special shout-out to the crew. The best crew in the world as far as I’m concerned. I’ve never been snapped at, insulted, or disrespected by any crew (or attendee) at “Wales Comic Con”, which isn’t always the case elsewhere. Most of these ‘crew’ are unpaid volunteers, performing stressful tasks to tight deadlines, while being bombarded by attendees asking questions. I don’t envy their position and they’re definitely the unsung heroes of “Wales Comic Con”. I could forgive a crew member for snapping at me. It’s a stressful job! Usually for no money! Yet, it’s never happened at “Wales Comic Con”, thanks to their professionalism and crew daddy, Mav, choosing his team wisely.

Also, big shout-out to Ash for trialling a hundred ‘Gothic’ Wales Comic Con wristbands, available for sale for £3. I’ve always wanted to buy one, but blue and yellow just aren’t my colours to wear. Black and white, however, is right down this little Gothic fucker’s alley. #Representin’ #No‘g’ #Gangsta. Shout-out to Kerry Ingram for teaching me how to hashtag like a teenager too.

To those people that asked, yes, my review of last weekend’s “Film & Comic Con Cardiff” is coming. I actually finished writing it a week ago, but couldn’t find the time or energy to upload it yet...but I’m uploading the “Wales Comic Con” review within 24 hours. What does that tell you about the quality of the two events? Outside of “London Film & Comic Con”, I actually rank “Wales Comic Con” and “Em-Con” way above Showmasters for organisation, guest quality, and the amount of passion and effort going into the events.

Finally, my last note before diving into the review revolves around hygiene. Ladies and gentlemen, even on a cold and windy day in November, anti-perspirant is your friend. Get to know it. Learn to love it. At a convention, you will be walking around a lot. You will likely be running around. You will likely meet celebrities and sweat. This sweat creates an odour. This odour is often of the bad variety. This bad variety odour infects the nostrils of those around you. There is a way to cure this problem. Many stores, including supermarkets, sell these sprays or roll-on sticks that’ll cover up your funk. I’d also recommend washing and using a little soap. The next time you do your weekly food shop, put one or two of those little suckers in the trolley. They’re not very expensive, but they’ll aid the people around you. Buy one or two, depending on your personal level of funk. Crowded autograph halls and stinky humans do not mesh well together. Case in point: LFCC 2014. Anthony Head’s photo queue. A man raises his arms to stretch. The girl next to him – who happened to be nose-level with his sweat-stains – literally burst into tears. Don’t be that guy (or girl). Don’t be the person to make teenage girls cry. – A public service announcement, brought to you by Shangel’s Reviews.

Ladies and gentlemen, my planning skills are legendary. I plan conventions with military precision. Taking into account ‘Con Time’ (photos/talks will likely be 10-15 minutes late) and everything. Therefore, when myself and my friend Hayley departed Gloucestershire at 7:15am on Saturday morning, I was determined. For the first time ever at “Wales Comic Con”, I applied for press passes at the encouragement of WCC’s crew. The application was successful! The single greatest thing about the press passes for me was the ability to not queue outside in the freezing cold for hours. I’ve done it for years. It’s brutal. We were gifted the ability to show up as doors were opening, collect our press passes, and be on our merry way. There was a little unforeseen traffic on the way to Wrexham, so we parked up at 10:05am and were in the building by 10:10am. I can only assume that early birds were let in at 10:15am or something, as it was just V.I.P.’s and disability pass holders inside the venue at this time. We grabbed our passes, said “hi” to some friends, and made our way to the main hall. The main hall is where most of the guests and most of the merchandise stalls are located. Within 30 seconds of entering the hall, I clocked Tom Wlaschiha, A.K.A. Jaqen H’ghar from “Game Of Thrones”. Best of all, there was just one person in his queue as early birds weren’t in yet. I joined the back of the one-person queue and started off my convention weekend with a bang.

Tom Wlaschiha: I have no idea how to pronounce his surname. I’m not even gonna try it. The first thing I noted about Tom was how casual he was. By which I mean that he seemed totally at ease. Tom’s only done a handful of conventions before, so I thought that perhaps he might be as nervous as some of the attendees were. Nope. Not only was Tom completely relaxed, he was so talkative! I thought perhaps he was talkative to us because we got there so early, but everyone else I know who met him has echoed my sentiments. He was taking the time to talk to everyone. Not just a couple of sentences of small-talk, but actually holding a conversation. In addition, he was drawing a little skull-and-crossbones on each 8” x 10” and writing “Valar Morghulis”. I must admit, when he first started drawing the skull, I thought it was a lightbulb and almost blurted out, “a man has an idea!” Thankfully, I contained that particular impulse. I read that Tom speaks five languages, so we started talking about that a little, as my girlfriend, Robyn, speaks four or five herself. I asked him if it was difficult to transition between them or if any were particularly easy to get mixed up. He highlighted Italian and Spanish as being the most challenging to not mix up (Shangel Note: I asked Robyn the same question last night. She also said Italian and Spanish before I told her Tom’s answer). We talked about conventions, we talked about Europe (he’s been travelling to quite a few countries lately), and, of course, we spent a large section of our time talking about “Game Of Thrones”. After buying my Longclaw replica last weekend, I was particularly eager to get some more behind-the-scenes style gossip from the set, so Tom filled me in on what it was like working with Maisie and was to film in Belfast in November (read: “fucking freezing!”). Croatia is evidently beautiful. Tom was unaware that he’d be returning to the show after his stint during the second season, particularly as Jaqen changes his face at the end of it. He got the call to return, jumped at the chance, and had a greatly expanded role to enjoy. I must have chatted to Tom for about ten minutes, at which point the early birds were coming in, so I thanked Tom for his time and left. Not before getting a free picture with him at the autograph table. That was the most surprising part of all. Tom was one of the headline guests of the event and he was charging nothing for pictures at the autograph table all weekend. He could have charged £5 – or £30 in the case of a certain Mr. Ric Flair – for pictures and made an extra few grand over the weekend, but he didn’t charge. That shows me he’s there for the fans and the experience, not just the money. Trust me when I say I’ve seen lesser guests charging for pictures. Guest Type = Conversationalist.

(Regular readers, you can skip this section)

“Shangel, what’s a ‘conversationalist’?”

I’m glad you asked. Many years ago, after attending numerous 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 guests in the comments below or on social media!

You’ll see the word “conversationalist” appear a lot in this review. More so than any convention I can ever recall attending. Almost everyone was so talkative!

It was at this point my schedule started to go out of the window. I know this will likely sound monumentally arrogant, which is certainly not my intention, but at “Wales Comic Con”, I feel a little like a rock star. So many people there read my blog, I know so many of the crew, I know so many of the attendees...people run over and say “hi” all the time. I love it. Over the next hour, I made it halfway around the main hall. I couldn’t go more than four or five steps without bumping into someone I knew or someone that reads the blog. I caught up with so many people! I met so many new people! Plus, everything else I wanted to try and get done in that hour was done later in the day or the following day, so it was win-win! I will, as much as possible, try to refrain from naming people in this review. This is because I’m always fearful that I’ll forget to mention one or two people and feel awful about it once I realise I forgot to mention them. Therefore, I’ll just say, “you know who you are”. All the crew, all the attendees, all the people who said “hi” or came over for a conversation, I appreciate every single one of you. The whole reason I love “Wales Comic Con” so much is because of this family atmosphere.

It was now 11:30am and my first photoshoot was scheduled for 12:00noon. I decided to head over to say “hi” to Chris Rankin and Josh Herdman before setting off for the photo building.

Chris Rankin: Wales Comic Con is well known for bringing in a mixture of new faces and recurring faces. Out of those recurring faces, Chris Rankin, Gareth David-Lloyd, and Mark Addy are likely the most recurring. It doesn’t feel right if any of them are missing. Not only was Chris back with a vengeance, but he brought with him a Polaroid camera he found at home. This meant that he was able to offer pictures at the autograph table (free) or an instantly-printed Polaroid picture with him for £5. I, of course, went Polaroid. It’s such a unique thing to do. I don’t recall ever seeing it at a convention before. You get to receive the picture instantly, meaning that you can get it signed if you so wish. I told Chris that I was going to go for an overly-excited pose, which he mimicked. The photo turned out spectacularly. It’s hilarious. Before that, when Chris was taking a picture with the people in front of me, as he came around the desk, he came over and shook my hand. Lovely bloke! I’ve always gotten along really well with Chris and consider him something of a friend by this point. We seem to meet up every six months at “Wales Comic Con” and catch up on what we’ve been up to between events. Chris filled me in on his new job, I filled him in on my final university module and thesis (ugh!). As I said, it just doesn’t feel right to travel to Wrexham and not get a hug and conversation with Chris. His autograph is only £10, so he’s an inexpensive guest too. If you’re attending a “Wales Comic Con” event and are on the fence, do it! Chris is totally worth the money and the time. Guest Type = Conversationalist. Bonus points for the totally unique Polaroid retro-selfie.

...My oh-so-fabulous photograph of photograph skills do not do this justice. It's amazing.

Josh Herdman: Another great guy! I’d not had the pleasure of meeting Josh before, as he had to pull out of “Wales Comic Con” back in April due to being a physical mess after his amateur mixed martial arts (read: cage fighting) fighting debut. He won via decision. As a former MMA practitioner myself, we had a lot to talk about, ranging from Jiu-Jitsu to wanting to test ourselves as amateurs. At this event, Josh had a broken thumb from recent training. Ouch. I’m not sure if it was his writing hand or not, but I can only hope it wasn’t for his sake. In addition to talking about fighting, we spent the rest of our time discussing “Harry Potter” and what it was like auditioning for such a large franchise at such a young age. Originally, Josh auditioned for Dudley Dursley. He had four auditions and got down to the final two, before the casting directors decided to go in a different direction entirely and chose neither of them. Instead, Josh was cast as Goyle and went on to be one of only a handful of people to appear in all eight of the films. Josh came across as a really interesting and polite person. His autograph price was £15 and table pictures were free. Guest Type = Responder.

Ric Flair: Widely considered the greatest professional wrestler in history, Ric Flair’s antics are legendary. He lives hard, he works hard, he parties hard. Even now at the ripe old age of 67. There’s a phrase in wrestling circles known as ‘Naitching’ (his nickname is ‘The Nature Boy’), which is where you end up spending thousands of dollars in one night on a bar tab. Ric is notoriously well-known for walking into bars and buying everyone’s drinks for the night. In fact, I believe that Ric was tipping the crew members $60 for taking him back to his hotel from the venue! He’s always in a suit (which I can appreciate), he’s always immaculately presented, and he dresses like a sixteen-time world champion. Suffice to say, I was excited. While it was clear that Ric was there primarily for financial gain (£30 for a table picture!), it didn’t stop him being a class act. He was very courteous, took the time to talk to me, looked me in the eye, shook my hand twice, and we discussed his career, his daughter being the first female to main-event a WWE pay-per-view a couple of weeks ago (he’s so proud, bless him. He was there. He cried), and we discussed the year he wrestled with two torn rotator cuffs. When he talked about his plane crash in 1975, I exclaimed that it was a miracle that his life hasn’t been turned into a movie yet! Ric broke his back in that plane crash and was told he’d never wrestle again. He ended up wrestling another 40 years! I didn’t go for the table picture as I had a professional studio photo booked for the following day. Plus, if you can spend £30 on a phone picture or £30 on a studio photo, which are you going to go for? Personally, I think anything about £10, even for bigger guests, is too much for a quick snap at an autograph table. The autograph and ‘selfie’ prices are, however, out of Wales Comic Con’s control and come from the guests and their agents. Guest Type = Responder. I can now say that I’ve met Ric Flair and Ricky Steamboat. Both this year, both at “Wales Comic Con”. #Believe.

With the Potter (and Naitch) section of the day complete, it was time to head over to the Catrin Finch building for back-to-back photos in Hall A with Billy Gunn and Tom Wlaschiha. Both photos went smoothly and started pretty much on time from what I can remember. Billy was wise-cracking between photos and interacting with every attendee, while Tom was polite and relaxed, as always. Easy! The only downside to “Wales Comic Con” having photos in the Catrin Finch building is that you queue outside unless you’re V.I.P. or have a disability pass. Not such a problem for the April event, but in November that Wrexham wind is brutal. When the wind wasn’t blowing, it was bearable, but when that wind started howling through I was ready to get inside. Next up was the “Game Of Thrones” panel! After attending the panel at my first three WCC’s, I sadly missed the next two due to being too busy. Thankfully, I was able to slot the Saturday panel into my schedule this time around. Notes and highlights include :-

·        Ed did a great job hosting the panels all weekend. He was the perfect blend of engaging and funny, while also giving the guests time to talk and not cutting them off. Great job!
·        This panel contained Tom Wlaschiha (Jaqen H’ghar), Ian McElhinney (Ser Barristan Selmy) and Ian Hanmore (Pyat Pree). This was an interesting dynamic as Ian McElhinney is a self-confessed fan of the show and has read all five books that are available in the “A Song of Ice and Fire” series, while Ian Hanmore knows virtually nothing about the show outside of his scenes. Tom sat somewhere in the middle between those two extremes. While Ian McElhinney would give a complex, intricate answer, Ian Hanmore would say “yes” and hand the microphone back comically, or cover the microphone while mouthing his answer.
·        First question: Snog, marry, avoid. Westeros edition. Ian McElhinney would snog Arya, but wouldn’t marry her as he recognised that the age difference would probably mean she’d make him do things that he doesn’t want to do. So funny. Instead, he’d marry Catelyn Stark and avoid Cersei. Tom was enraged by this answer, as he’s snog and marry Cersei without, avoid the Mountain. Nobody else needs an exploding headache. Finally, Ian Hanmore would give Daenerys “a peck on the cheek in a fatherly way”, snog a dragon (kinky bastard!), and avoid Craster. However, bizarrely, he noted that there’s something attractive about Craster...nothing like incest to cause attraction, right?
·        Ian McElhinney, as I mentioned, is a huge fan. He predicts that Bran Stark will be important to the end-game of the show because it all kicked off with Bran being pushed out a window. Bran has since developed powers and is continually told that he will fly. Whether that means warging into a dragon or something else, he doesn’t know. Ian said that the end will likely disappoint at least some people as everyone has different dream-ending scenarios. He said the best way forwards would be a nuclear holocaust wiping everyone out.
·        Tom said that it doesn’t matter who ends up on the Iron Throne in the end as it could always be Jaqen wearing someone else’s face. He said the credits should roll on the final episode before cutting back to whoever is on the Iron Throne taking their face off to reveal that they are Jaqen...basically, Tom wants to sit the Iron Throne.
·        Someone asked Ian and Ian what three names they’d give to the Faceless Men. Ian and Ian initially drew a blank, which prompted Tom to mutter, “looks like I’ll be out of business soon”, which got a big laugh from the crowd.
·        Someone asked what character they’d like to portray other than their own (standard con question). Tom would be Cersei, Ramsay, or Joffrey. He wants an excuse to be a dick. Ian McElhinney would be the Hound or Bronn. Ian Hanmore said that when his character, Pyat Pree, was burned alive, there were other people around. He wants to be any of the other people that survived...did I mention that Ian is hilarious?
·        Someone asked what the next wedding would be on “Game Of Thrones” and what colour it would have (ala the ‘Red Wedding’ and ‘Purple Wedding’). Ed, the host, quipped to avoid the ‘Brown Wedding’...oh dear. Not a mental image I needed.
·        All three mentioned that they’ve met more of the cast of “Game Of Thrones” from conventions than they did while actually filming the show. Not surprising really considering the scale of the cast and the various different locations.
·        Ian McElhinney talked about how he found out about Barristan’s death. He’d guessed it was coming based on the number of pages he’d been sent for the season, which was less than the previous year, even though theoretically there should have been many more as Barristan’s role expands in the books around the time of season five. Ian was frustrated that Barristan was to be killed, particularly as Barristan is still alive in the books, but he was more upset about the fact that nobody called him to tell him before getting the scripts. He said that he understands the needs of books and television series differ, so if Barristan was to be killed, so be it. However, there’s a correct way to do things and giving someone a heads-up phone call after working on a show for five years would have been the right thing to do. Gotta say I agree with him there.
·        Due to the panel starting 20 minutes later than scheduled, I had to dash out of the hall and miss the last five minutes, lest I miss my photograph with the delightful Kristine Sutherland. From the 20-25 minutes I saw, I thought it was great. Tom, Ian, and Ian all brought something different to the table, which is what you want in a talk panel such as this.


Two more photoshoots in a row, but this time in Hall B. Kristine was scheduled to start at 2:15pm, hence why I had to leave the “Game Of Thrones” talk early. However, Kristine ended up starting closer to 3:15pm. Evidently, both halls were running nearly an hour late due to issues with James Marsters in Hall A and Manu Bennett in Hall B. Sadly, this also meant that the hour I’d left aside to go and get extra autographs/table pictures was scrapped and was replaced by an extra hour outside queuing for photoshoots. Suffice to say I was miffed. I’m not a fan of standing outside in the cold and wind in November. Mercifully, Kristine was so warm and loveable that I ended up not caring too much about the shoot taking an hour longer than intended...under the proviso that I didn’t miss any autographs or pictures I wanted the next day (which I didn’t). Due to a few last-minute cancellations from “Game Of Thrones” guests, the group photo line-up consisted of David Bradley, Ian McElhinney, and Ian Hanmore. While still good value for money at £25, I wish I’d skipped it, as I also had the group photo booked for the following day, which consisted of the same three people, plus Mark Addy and my friend Joe Altin. Hindsight is a bitch. At the time I booked it, Kerry Ingram was a Saturday-only guest, so I figured that I needed both in order to not miss anyone. No matter! As I said, it was still good value for money, and David, Ian, and Ian were all talkative and lovely blokes. I told Ian that it was nice to see him again...and then I told the other Ian...and then I told David (who I’d met in May at “Em-Con”). Kayte, photographer extraordinaire, said “what about me?!” I was in total photo-mode at the time and stared at her with a look of confusion on my face before registering what she meant...“it’s always nice to see you Kayte!” The following morning when I went to collect my four studio photos from the day before, three were there and one wasn’t. The one missing? Game of Thrones group. I told Kayte that I think she did it on purpose because I blanked her (they re-printed it for me immediately).

All four photoshoots for the day down, leaving just enough time for the “Buffy The Vampire Slayer” panel...and perhaps an autograph or two after that. Highlights from the Buffy panel include :-

·        The panel consisted of James Marsters (Spike), Nicky Brendon (Xander), and Kristine Sutherland (Joyce). Coming into the panel, I summised to Hayley that James would be the storyteller, Nicky would be the hilarious goofball, and Kristine would be the sweetheart. I was correct.
·        Nicky’s most embarrassing moment on set was Sarah Michelle Gellar and Alyson Hannigan ‘pantsing’ him during the dodgeball game in season one’s “The Pack”. In addition to his trousers being around his ankles, the underwear he was wearing was...well...Nicky was a male in his mid-20’s. Washing his white underwear wasn’t high on his priority list. Kristine’s most embarrassing moment was during “The Body”, where the cast and crew decided to present her with her goodbye cake while she was covered in grey and blue spray-paint, while pretending to be a corpse. James’ most embarrassing moment was tripping over a cable and falling through a prop wall while fighting demons in season four’s “Doomed”. Evidently, there was a James-shaped hole in the wall and James jumped straight back through it and carried on fighting.
·        Someone asked whether they’d encountered other television shows or movies that had directly been influenced by “Buffy The Vampire Slayer”. Nicky mentioned that Shonda Rhimes, creator of “Private Practise”, hired Nicky to portray a rapist because the person she thought of that was least likely to commit a rape was “Xander from Buffy”. She also said that the scene would be stealing from Buffy and having no music or backing sound, ala “The Body”. James mentioned that Russell T. Davies told him during dinner that “Torchwood” was his (Russell’s) Buffy. Meaning that while Joss used Buffy as subversion to highlight that girls could be heroes, Russell used “Torchwood” to show that gay people could be heroes too.
·        There was an adorable little kid that asked James what it was like to be brought back as a ghost before saying, “...My mum liked Buffy”. Bless. James said he loved it because it meant that he still had a job. Money is always helpful. Particularly to an actor that was basically broke before being cast on “Buffy”.
·        Kristine’s only stunt on Buffy was smacking James in the back of the head with an axe during “School Hard”. The axe was evidently heavy.
·        Who would win in a fight between Buffy and Twilight? According to James, Buffy would win by demoralising the Twilight characters with superior dialogue. HAHA! Nicky followed this up by saying, “words are good”. It’s hard to separate where Nicky ends and Xander begins. They’re so similar.
·        Kristine said that during “The Body” it was hard to stop crying long enough to play dead. The crew and cast were so wonderful that she didn’t really want to go. Tara’s death made James sad for weeks. Not only was Amber a good friend, but Tara was the nicest character on the show – “Kill anyone, anyone but Tara! C’mon!” Kristine quipped, “so you weren’t sad at my death?!” to which James replied, “I wasn’t there!” Spike doesn’t appear in “The Body” at all. Joss told James that Spike wouldn’t be in the episode and James agreed that Spike shouldn’t be within 10 miles of it. Nicky joined in and said, “Joss told you that you weren’t going to be in it? He didn’t tell me that I wasn’t going to be in ‘Conversations With Dead People’! I was just flicking through the script like *acts it out*, did you guys talk a lot? *he acts jealous*”. I was in stitches. James then apologised to Kristine and said that while she was filming her death scenes, he was on holiday for a week on the beach whooping.
·        Someone asked James who he thinks Spike should have ended up with. James said that Spike ended up with everybody, to which Nicky blurted out, “and I was his favourite”, which led to them talking about the ‘Spander’ fan fiction stories online. Truly traumatising...James: “Do you read it?”, Nicky: “Only when you’re making love to me.”
·        Nicky never thought about who Xander would end up with as he always assumed that romance was doomed in the Buffyverse as Joss is a cynic about love. The romantic aspect of the show will never end well. This led to Nicky and Kristine talking about the time that Joyce made a pass at Xander in “Bewitched, Bothered & Bewildered”, and when she also makes a pass at Xander in Xander’s dream sequence in “Restless”. Nicky acted out the scene where he slow-turns while peeing to discover that he’s being watched.
·        “If you ever want something to happen, tell Joss you don’t want it to happen.”
·        Someone asked Kristine who she’d wanna date: Spike or Angel. Kristine said that Angel represented the older guy crush, while Spike was more complicated and a more mature, realistic version of a romantic interest. Nicky said, “Not that you’ve given this much thought...” and then proceeded to act out Kristine flicking through her dissertation on the subject. Nicky kept people laughing throughout the entire panel.
·        Nicky’s favourite episodes are “Once More With Feeling” and “Hush”. Kristine’s is “Band Candy”. James’ are “Once More With Feeling”, “The Body”, “Tabula Rasa”, “School Hard”...he reeled off a list. He also noted that “School Hard” ran long. The episode’s director, John Kretchmer, knew that he was likely committing career suicide by running long, but he felt there was too much magic happening, so kept adding additional scenes and takes. He was never invited back to Buffy because it went long, but he said it made his career.
·        Nicky joked (I think...) that his story in “Conversations With Dead People” was cut because he was quarrelling too much with Joss at the time and saying “no” to too many things. So Joss wanted a Nicky break.
·        James was in the audience for the first ever showing of “Star Wars: A New Hope” in the world. He was 13. George Lucas and co. invited all the local drama nerds to watch the movie, which started three hours late as they were literally editing the filming before showing it. After it finished, the audience gave the film a 15-minute standing ovation, which resulted in George Lucas crying. All George’s friends told him he was insane, he was wasting his time on science-fiction, and that ovation vindicated him. James referred to Star Wars as the most successful piece of submissive art in history, with the Empire representing the United States government.
·        Nicky wants to act with Rupert Grint (“the red-head from Harry Potter”) because they could do a comedic buddy-cop movie.
·        During “Lovers Walk”, Spike’s hand is set on fire. This was an unprotected gag. Meaning that it’s real fire and it’s really James. There was a layer of protective gel over James’ hand, but it would only last for about five seconds. James thought it’d be funnier if Spike woke up slowly and saw the flame for a few seconds (“ooh, pretty fire!”) before realising it was his hand. Therefore, James burned the shit out of his hand by taking twice as long as the protective gel holds. He burned his hand really badly, but didn’t want to tell anyone as he’d never be able to do stunts again if he was brought back in the fourth season. So he snuck off set to go to hospital. Nicky’s most uncomfortable moment was the sex scene with Faith, as he’s only got a ‘cock sock’ on, she’s only got ‘pasties’ on, all the network is there watching, and it’s very, very awkward and uncomfortable. Kristine couldn’t think of an uncomfortable or challenging stunt-related moment from the set, so she said “I feel like such a loser” as it was the last question of the panel. Nicky joked, “You should”, and the panel ended.
·        Tremendous! One of the best panels I’ve ever been to. All three of them have such great chemistry together. You can tell that they get on well behind the camera too. It was the perfect blend of informative and hilariously funny...usually due to Nicky.


5:00pm. One hour until the convention closed for the day. This gave me just enough time to get Ian Hanmore’s autograph, go and say “hi” to Ian McElhinney, and blag a picture with Thomas Ian Nicholas. Thomas was friendly and more than receptive to the picture, which I asked for as part of the press pass for the review. I must admit, Thomas looked exhausted by this point. I don’t know if he was sick or jet-lagged, or just tired, but I felt like giving him a pillow and letting him get some rest. Bless him.

Ian Hanmore: I’d never met Ian before this event. I can proudly say that I’ve met over 70 of the “Game Of Thrones” cast...and am trying to meet everyone from the show as I’m such a huge fan...but Ian was a newbie for me. He couldn’t have been nicer! Talkative, informative, interesting! We started by talking about conventions in general and how his day had been before we shifted onto “Doctor Who”, as Ian was in the second series’ “Tooth & Claw” with David Tennant and Billie Piper. Ian talked about how great it was filming with them both and how filming on both “Doctor Who” and “Game Of Thrones” were two huge career highlights for him. He talked about the castle where they filmed the exterior of the episode, he talked about the early starts and late nights because a lot of the episode was filmed in the dark, and then he transitioned to how beautiful Croatia is, as that’s where a large section of his “Game Of Thrones” scenes were filmed, along with Belfast. He talked about Emilia Clarke in the highest regard and said that while it was a shame to die on the show, he was pleased with his death scene, even with the gel and prosthetics for the burning taking hours to apply. Ian was just a lovely man! No barrier, no felt just like talking to someone you met at work or in the pub as opposed to talking to someone you’ve admired on television. I mean that as the highest form of compliment to Ian. Guest Type = Conversationalist. Free picture with him at the table too! Plus, the autograph was only £10. Decent conversation, autograph, and picture, all for £10? Yes, sir.

Ian McElhinney: This was my third time meeting Ian at “Wales Comic Con”. While I’d already gotten studio photos and autographs from Ian at the previous two, I still wanted to go over and say “hi”...and perhaps get a picture with him at the autograph table (he didn’t charge me). Ian reminds me so much of my grandfather that I can’t help but gravitate towards him. He’s got a strong Northern Irish accent and is just the greatest storyteller. He remembered our previous times meeting and said that he recognised me instantly. We talked about the most recent season of “Game Of Thrones”, which Ian admitted to both watching and loving, even though he wasn’t a part of the season and had his issues with how he left the show. We talked about the revelation of Jon’s parents, which was vindicating for me personally as I put forth my theory about Jon’s parentage to Ian years ago...and I was right on the money about everything. We covered the sixth season in some depth before we talked about his upcoming projects, including “Zoo” – three weeks ago he was filming in Africa, standing next to a baby elephant that was the same height as him! We also talked about “Barbarian’s Rising”, whose cast is littered with “Game Of Thrones” alumni, including Ian, Ian Beattie, Kerry Ingram, Fintan McKeown, and Richard Brake. The conversation was both lengthy and wonderful. Ian always seems to take the time to talk to everybody who approaches him. Lengthy conversations are definitely not a rarity at Ian’s autograph table, which I can attest to as I’ve currently had four. If you get the opportunity, I highly encourage everybody to meet Ian. Totally worth the money, and one of my favourite guests of all-time. Guest Type = Conversationalist.

By the time I’d finished talking to Ian, it was 6pm. It was closing. The only thing left to do was to go back to the Catrin Finch building to collect my four photoshoots from the day. It. Was. Chaos. People everywhere. No room to move. Here’s a verbatim conversation between myself and Gareth, one of Wales Comic Con’s senior crew members and a friend of mine...

*I take two steps inside the building*
*Gareth spots me and puts his hand on my shoulder*
Gareth: “Come back in the morning and get them. Trust me.”
Me: “Cool. See you tomorrow!”
*Walks two steps backwards and leaves*

Thankfully, I was in the privileged position to be able to come back and collect them the next day without any fuss. Myself and Hayley drove the seven-minutes to the Wynnstay Arms hotel, checked in, went to dinner for a couple of hours, and relaxed for the remainder of the night. Not before I checked the wardrobe space for used condoms...last year at LFCC, the B&B we stayed in had a used condom in the wardrobe. Half-filled with jizz and everything. Lovely. With thoughts of jizz still floating around the back of my mind uncomfortably, I attempted to sleep.

Sunday. Much like the day before, I had four photos and a handful of autographs and table pictures to get through. Theoretically, if everything ran on time, it should be my most relaxed Wales Comic Con day in 18 months. Please note that ‘relaxed’ by my standards is still pretty busy in general.

We arrived at the venue just after 9am, as I had to go and collect my photos from the previous day. Three of them were grouped together and waiting for me (with three different crew members taking credit for grouping them together for me), while the other was unaccounted for and re-printed immediately. I had a little free time before the convention got kicking at 10am, so I chatted to Emma (A.K.A. Bunny) and Ash for a little bit, before myself and Hayley headed to the Buffy building. James, Nicky, and Kristine had a room to themselves to try to lesser the queuing load of the main autograph hall, just like James and Amber Benson did in April. Wonderfully, Jase was queuing people inside until the three queues were full, so we managed to stay in the warm until Kristine, James, and Nicky arrived just after 10:30am. Honestly, I don’t mind queuing or waiting if I’m in the warm. Hayley needed James and Nicky’s autographs, while I needed Kristine’s, so we decided to go to James’ queue first.

James Marsters: I love James. I’m in no denial over my fanboying. I’ve met not too far off of a thousand guests by this point. James ranks as #1 on the list of my favourites. He makes everyone feel special, he makes everyone feel appreciated, he takes the time to talk to you, he looks you in the eye a lot, and I’ve had the incredible privilege to spend quite a bit of time with him over the past few years, including three days in a green room together...have I mentioned that before once or twice? Yep, the man whose poster covered an entire wall of my bedroom for a decade was once in a green room with me for three days. I will likely mention that fact on this blog at least ten times a year until my death. In addition to seeing James again, I got to meet Theresa (co-producer of ‘ViDiOTS’, owner of, general badass) and Mark Devine (co-star of ‘ViDiOTS’, James’ partner in crime, and general badass) face-to-face for the first time after numerous social media conversations. Both were incredibly lovely to me. I finally got around to subscribing to ‘ViDiOTS’ (I’ve been swamped under uni work for months...this last module is time-consuming) and got my activation code from Theresa at James’ autograph table. I chatted to Theresa and Mark about all things ViDiOTS and my thesis before it was time to see James! While it was technically Hayley’s autograph, I got some talking time in too because James knows me and because Hayley is shy...particularly around childhood crushes. James saw my ViDiOTS activation card and said, “Dude! You’ve got ViDiOTS! Awesome!” and raised his hand for a high-five. For a split-second, my alter-ego popped into my head and said, “leave him hanging for fun”, but I simply couldn’t do it. I high-fived James with so much enthusiasm my hand was ringing. We chatted about ‘ViDiOTS’, chatted about Wales, chatted about celebrating the end of my degree together next year, and just had a general good ol’ catch up. Seeing James is always delightful. It’s hard to put into words how special of a human being he is, but anyone who has ever met James can attest to the fact that he makes you feel so appreciated and unique. I should probably actually explain what ‘ViDiOTS’ essence, it’s James and Mark being goofballs and playing video games on the PS4. They rope in celebrity guests, while Mark tries to figure out how to game. From the teasers I’ve seen, it looks hilarious. So, if you’re a fan of James...or gaming....or laughing...or people acting like idiots...then this is for you. All relevant information about the show, including subscribing, is available here - . Go, go! Subscribe, subscribe! I actually offered #TeamJames my services in regards to embedding ViDiOTS-related content on my blog, etc., so I must remind myself to contact Theresa about it. Guest Type = Can He Be My Dad (Conversationalist)?

Nicky Brendon: Oh, Nicky. It’s so nice to see Nicky in such a good place. The last three times I’ve met Nicky, it’s been entirely different. In December 2014, Nicky was his usual self, but his smile didn’t reach his eyes. You could tell that behind the jokes and smiles was a man going through some shit. The next time I saw Nicky was April 2015. I took Nicky a bag filled with fan letters/presents/etc. that I’d collected in order to try and give him some words of encouragement during a difficult period of his life. Once again, you could see Nicky was trying hard, but you could still see that he was struggling. In addition to the letters and gifts, me and Nicky had a really deep talk about personal shit. He talked about his battles with depression and attempted suicide, I talked about my previous battles with depression and attempted suicide...we bonded. Seeing Nicky this time was great as he looked so good! I don’t mean physically. Physically Nicky’s always the same. He looked good emotionally and mentally. His smile reached his eyes. He looked healthy psychologically, which just made me so happy as I’ve been exactly where he was when I last saw him. After the briefest of reminders (helped along by his crew member, Elaine, telling Nicky that I’m always at “Wales Comic Con” – thanks for the assist, Elaine!), Nicky remembered our conversation from our previous meeting and we got to talking about how he’s doing now. He also remembered that “you’ve (I’ve) been through some shit too!” and we got to talking about that. While on the surface a little more reserved than people like James, if you take the time to prise Nicky out of his shell, you discover just how much he wears his heart on his sleeve. I’ve got nothing but love for Nicky. Guest Type = Conversationalist. More so based on previous meetings as his line was pretty slammed when I saw him at this one, but he was still awesome.

Kristine Sutherland: Out of everyone, coming into this event, I was most excited to meet Kristine. Not only was she a main Buffy cast member I’d never met, but she’d been on my ‘to meet’ list for a lot of years – particularly after I couldn’t make “Hallowhedon 4” a few years previously. I kicked myself for missing her. I’d built up Kristine in my mind to be a lot like Joyce – caring, friendly, considerate, respectful, and absolutely lovely. I’m happy to report that she’s all those things and more. Such a classy lady through and through. She was classy in the photoshoot the previous day and she was even classier here where a conversation was able to transpire. The person who met Kristine before me happened to talk about Welsh mountains with Kristine, which gave me an unexpected lead-in....Salzburg! My girlfriend is from Salzburg, Austria. I’ve spent a lot of time there. There are mountains everywhere. Every direction you look. They’re right next to you! As Kristine had just mentioned her love of mountains, I asked her if she’d been...she has not. She’s been to Vienna, she’s been to other mountainous regions, but she hasn’t been to Salzburg. An Austrian-based conversation ensued before I told her how much her work on Buffy meant to me. We talked about “The Body” and then shit got deep. It wasn’t on my list of topics to discuss, but I mentioned to Kristine that I first saw “The Body” when I was ten and while I loved the episode, I didn’t fully appreciate it. When I was eighteen and lost my two closest friends, the episode was revealed to me as the masterpiece it was. Everything about it. The lack of music, Xander putting his fist through a wall, Willow freaking out and crying over which sweater to wear, Buffy staring into space, Dawn’s breakdown, the overwhelming was so close to my real life experiences that the first time I watched “The Body” after losing my friends, it was the first time I really cried about everything. It broke me...but in a good way, if that makes sense? It was like releasing this thousand-tonne weight off of my chest. Kristine appeared really affected by the story and divulged to me that she lost her boyfriend when she was sixteen. She talked about the accuracy of “The Body” and then mentioned that another tough part was that none of her friends really knew how she felt as none of them had experienced death like that. Some of them didn’t for decades. I felt so connected to Kristine in that moment. It was as though we’d had the same teenage years in that regard. Ugh. I thanked her sincerely for coming and I departed. Guest Type = Conversationalist. Not only that, but a conversationalist about real-life events. It was a genuine moment of connection between human beings at an emotional level. Doesn’t get much better than that.

The next three hours were dedicated to photoshoots. Hayley had photos with Nicky Brendon and James Marsters, while I had back-to-back-to-back-to-back shoots consisting of the Torchwood group photo, Ric Flair, the Game Of Thrones group photo, and Manu Bennett. All four ran pretty much on time, Kai Owen said I looked great, the five “Game Of Thrones” guests greeted me like an old friend, and Ric Flair spent most of the photo session trying to flirt with Kayte. He didn’t ask if you wanted to ride Space Mountain did he, Kayte?

With an hour left before the official closing at 4pm, it was time to dash back to the autograph hall and get my remaining pictures and autographs on something of a goodbye tour of sorts.

I got a picture with Matt Ryan, who was as delightful as I remembered him to be. On a side note, not one guest charged me for a picture at the autograph table all weekend. I can only assume it was because of the press pass because I offered to pay every single one of them. I got a picture with Kevin McNally, right after he’d finished a prop sword fight with an attendee...she ended up winning that particular round with an accidental blow to the testicles. Ooof. Kevin was a great gentleman too. So energetic all weekend!

I got a picture with Corin Nemec, right after his love-affair with Mr. Motivator had come to a close. They really hit it off and started following each other on Twitter. I also spent a good ten or fifteen minutes chatting to Joe Altin. I won’t go into details as to what as it was almost exclusively personal stuff as opposed to work-related things. Joe’s become a friend of mine over the past 6 months or so, and seeing him is always an honour. Granted, I saw him and his daughter the weekend before in Cardiff, but it’s still always great to see Joe. Probably the most positive and inspiring guest you’ll find. He’s always encouraging people to keep fighting and chase their dreams, which are sentiments I echo wholeheartedly.

I went to go and say “hi” to Mark Addy, who is the only guest to have appeared at all six Wales Comic Con’s with me. If Mark’s not there, it doesn’t feel right. Out of everyone, Mark is the face of “Wales Comic Con” for me personally. He’s a big name, he’s almost exclusive to “Wales Comic Con”, and he’s been at the last six straight shows (if not more). He was only announced a few days before the event this time and he only attended on the Sunday, which I presume was a response to a number of last-minute “Game Of Thrones” cancellations, but having Mark there should be a priority for every future event as far as I’m concerned. He’s a great laugh, he’s easy to talk to, and he was filling me in on his day and also what it was like to film the Comic Relief “Game Of Thrones Musical” sketch with Coldplay and a bunch of other actors last year. Total class. Tremendous gentleman. Grabbed a picture with him at the autograph table again too because you can never have too many Addy pictures.

Finally, I took my Polaroid ‘retro selfie’ over to Chris to show him how it turned out and to get it signed. Chris being Chris, he labelled me as “Legend” below the photo and himself as “Dick”. Hilarious! Chris signed the Polaroid and also signed an 8” x 10” for me for free, with the inscription “until next time!” These “Wales Comic Con” regulars are starting to feel more and more like family, every bit as much as the crew. I said goodbye to Joe Altin, to Ian Hanmore, to Ian McElhinney, and then to a multitude of crew members. I said goodbye to Mav, who works tirelessly to organise the crew for these events. I said goodbye to Elaine, to Jase, to Gareth, to Charley, to Ben, to Kimmy, to Bunny (and Howard and Gareth!), to Key, and to the rest of the rag-tag Land of the Misfit Toys crew...I say that with love!

As I mentioned earlier, waiting from 4pm to 5:50pm for the last photo to be developed was tiring, but as I’ve also said, these things happen! Show me a perfect convention without delays or problems and I’ll show you a bullshitter. Would I return to “Wales Comic Con” again? In a heartbeat. As I said at the beginning of this review, “Wales Comic Con” is a family reunion. There’s nothing else on Earth like it for me. Does it have issues that need addressing? Sure! Every convention does. But the level of passion, the level of dedication, the level of caring across the board is presently unequalled.

How tired was I by the end of the weekend? Allow me to tell you one brief story to close out the review. This morning, before setting off to work at 6am, I opened the fridge...

Me (out loud): “What is that smell of onions?! Jesus Christ...I bet it’s that soup.”
*Completely ignores the large bowl of cut up onions in front of me. Eyes start to water.*
Me (out loud): “Oh, for fuck sake...”

Yep. I’m sleep-deprived, I’ve been running off of no energy for a couple of months now, but I couldn’t be happier. I’ll upload the “Film & Comic Con Cardiff” review later in the week, and then I’ll catch you all at “Reading Comic Con” at the end of the month and “Vampire Ball 7” at the beginning of December. Stay strong, stay safe, and thanks for reading. Sharing with your friends and on social media is also really appreciated.

FINAL SCORE: 9.5/10. I know for other people it will likely be lower due to the delayed photos, etc., but this didn’t affect me much personally except the final couple of hours of Sunday. Outside of that, this was as close to perfect as you can get. The guests were phenomenal. Arguably the best WCC yet from a conversation standpoint. The crew were awesome and the venue feels like home. Once the printing issue is addressed, this will be the convention equivalent of a holiday in my eyes.


  1. Always a great review Shane! Makes me wish I could actually attend!

  2. I have to say, I caught bits and pieces of your reviews via IMDB before actually taking the time to read through them entirely and I'm so glad I did. I hope you feel proud of your writing and how thorough and detailed you have the rare ability to make us feel like we were there. I also wanted to comment on "The Body" - in addition to everything you mentioned (i.e. Xander putting his fist through the wall, Willow's outfit crisis which was so much more than that, etc.), I also found Anya's reaction to it all particularly significant. Her genuine, almost child-like lack of understanding of how to deal with death and loss was so heartbreaking - and her signature bluntness in this episode made sense to me.

    Anyway, thanks for taking the time to put all of your experiences into words - it's much appreciated. Keep writing! <3