Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Em-Con 2017 - A Detailed Review

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

• Arthur Darvill (Rory Williams from “Doctor Who” & Rip Hunter from “Legends of Tomorrow”)
• Bonnie Wright (Ginny Weasley from the “Harry Potter” movie franchise)
• David Yost (Billy Cranston from “Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers”)
• Joe Altin (Pypar from “Game Of Thrones”)

Two quick notes before we get started...

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

Em-Con took place over the weekend of the 29th and 30th of April at the spectacular Motorpoint Arena in Nottingham. It was my second event under the ‘Em-Con’ banner and my 3rd organised by Lee Wallis and his team, having been to ‘Worcester Comic Con’ last year. Coming into the event, my expectations were quite high, but not too high, which is always the best place to position yourself. If you go in negative, you might not have fun. If you go in too positive, it’s very hard to have your expectations met. Nevertheless, I was quietly confident that Lee and the team could put on a great show as the previous year’s ‘Em-Con’ was solid. Far from perfect, but still one of the better signing events I attended last year. In my review of the 2016 edition, amongst the cascade of positive things I mentioned, I highlighted three areas that needed improvement or had irked me, so I thought I’d start by re-addressing those. A little fun side-by-side comparison, if you will.

Oh, also, this review won’t be as long as many of my convention reviews. The length of the review is often dependent upon how many days I attended (this was one day), how many panels I attended (zero), and how many guests I met (four). I’d expect this review to ultimately end up in the eight A4-pages area (excluding pictures). This is a huge benefit to me right now as I just handed in my FINAL EVER MASTER’S DEGREE ESSAY YESTERDAY so my brain is fried right now. Totally fried. I have mental fog coming out of my ass...that’s a disturbing sentence if taken literally. Imagine if that was the plot to ‘Ghostbusters’ instead...“When there’s something strange coming out your ass, who you gonna call? Your doctor!” It could work. I’ve seen Hollywood come up with worse (I’m looking at you, Michael Bay).

...Where was I?...

Ah, yes. Comparing the issues I raised last year vs. how they were handled this year. The first issue I raised was selfie charges. Unfortunately, over the past couple of years, ‘selfie’ charges (read: a picture with a guest at their autograph table) have infested the U.K. convention scene and kicked everyone in their respective ball sack/vagina. This isn’t an issue exclusive to ‘Em-Con’. Almost all U.K. signing events now have selfie charges. The only shining example against this trend is Showmasters, who refuse to let the guests charge for selfies. Either they don’t do them at all or they do them for free. It’s weird to think that a few years ago, many people, myself included, saw Showmasters as the enemy. The wealthy, unstoppable force that charged too much for autographs and studio photos. Now, compared to ‘Heroes and Villains Fan Fest’, ‘Walker Stalker’, and selfie charges, Showmasters has almost become a cheap alternative to many of the other larger shows in the U.K.! Didn’t see that coming. Frickin’ American companies coming over here and charging twice as much as U.K. companies! When American companies are charging £60-90 for studio photos and they’re selling out in minutes, every company realises they can raise their prices too and still sell well. It’s lose-lose for the fans and win-win for the companies, the agents, and the guests. There’s something not right there.

Anyway, last year at ‘Em-Con’, most selfies hovered around the £5 range if you were getting an autograph anyway or the £10 range if you just wanted the selfie and no autograph. I think the averages this year have doubled or tripled since last year. This is no fault of Em-Con’s, as the guests and their agents set the selfie charges, but it just reeks of money-grabbing! How can you justify charging someone £25 to take up 10 seconds of your time and get a picture with you on a mobile phone? It’s stupid. To be honest, I completely disagree with selfie charges, irrespective of price. The only notable exceptions are if A) The money is going to charity, or B) You’re not getting an autograph and you just want to blag a free picture. The guests do need to make money and meet their guarantee, so charging someone for a selfie if they’re not getting an autograph is okay. If you are getting an autograph, how much extra time does the selfie take up? Seconds? However, we live in a scene now where selfie charges are everywhere. If I have to tolerate them, I think £5 should be the limit. For everyone. I think the average ‘selfie’ charge at ‘Em-Con’ this year was £15. That is an estimate on my part and I have used no calculations to come up with that figure. I’m just basing it on the selfie charges I saw advertised at the autograph tables. It’s a sorry state of affairs when a £15 selfie with Arthur Darvill seems ‘reasonable’ because lesser known actors are charging £20-25(!!!). Again, that’s not a negative point aimed at ‘Em-Con’ in particular as these charges are basically everywhere now, it just sucks that the passionate, hard-working, dedicated fans are being drained of even more money by agents and guests alike.

The second point I raised last year was that one of the two studio photo areas had very questionable contrasts on the finished product. All my studio photos in one area looked great, all my photos in the other looked as though they were paintings because everything was so highly contrasted. This time around, both studio photo areas were tremendous! No contrast issues whatsoever. Plus, they were using new backdrops this year, which looked way better as well. The backdrops were fine last year, but I prefer the 2017 ones. Definite improvements compared to last year! Big thumbs up to Lee and the team!

The final issue I raised last year was making sure that cancellations were announced via the appropriate channels. After I released my review last year, I was informed that Miltos’ cancellation wasn’t announced on social media, but he was changed to ‘cancelled’ on the website. I had no way of checking this by that point, so I gave them the benefit of the doubt. However, the same thing happened this year with Laura Pradelska. Laura was supposed to be at Em-Con both days, but wasn’t there. I have checked Em-Con’s Twitter, Facebook, and website thoroughly and cannot find any reference to her cancelling. If I’m missing something, please link me to it in the comments, but I had a thorough investigation just so I didn’t end up with egg on my face and I couldn’t find a cancellation announcement anywhere. You must have a 100% success record with announcing cancellations, irrespective of whether it is a headlining guest or a lesser-known guest, because you never know how important that guest may be to one of your attendees. While this wasn’t one of those times, I’ve been to conventions before just to meet one person. If Arthur Darvill, Bonnie Wright, Joe Altin, and David Yost weren’t going to ‘Em-Con’, I would have still made the two-hour journey north-east just to meet Laura. If I’d arrived at the venue to discover she wasn’t there, with no announcement anywhere, I’d have been furious. I understand that sometimes cancellations happen last-minute, sometimes the morning of the convention, and there might not be time to announce it straight away, but Laura was scheduled for Saturday and Sunday. If she didn’t arrive on Saturday, why not announce it Saturday evening for the people going on Sunday? Again, if I’ve missed an announcement (I don’t think I have), let me know and I’ll delete this paragraph.

Raising negative points and offering constructive feedback is always a touchy issue, particularly if you’re friends with the organisers. However, it is my responsibility to do so. I can’t remove all my integrity just to keep friends 100% happy. There’d be no point writing the review if it wasn’t honest and accurate. There was much more good to this show than bad. It was a better show than last year overall (and last year was a decent show too!).One of the things I respect so much about Jaime, the primary organiser of ‘Wales Comic Con’, is that he’s able to take onboard constructive feedback, think about it, and amend the next one accordingly. Not everyone is able to do that.

Now, onto the more positive aspects of the show, as it was a great convention overall!

First and foremost, the crew were phenomenal. Not just the ‘Em-Con’ crew either, but the Motorpoint Arena crew. Granted, some of the Motorpoint crew at the food and drinks area looked like they should be placed on suicide watch as they were so miserable looking, but 99% of the Motorpoint crew were smiley, helpful, and enthusiastic. Every single one of the ‘Em-Con’ crew were great. Not a dud amongst them. They kept everything tightly organised and running on time, they made sure everyone was where they needed to be, and they worked their asses off. Most of the crew at all conventions are unpaid volunteers, working a very stressful job simply because they’re passionate about conventions, fandom, and geek culture. As they are unpaid volunteers, you could potentially forgive one of them for being a little snappy or disorganised, but none of them were! The crew should all be damn proud of themselves. From Lee to the senior crew, all the way down to the newbies.

Secondly, the arena is great for conventions. It’s big enough to allow growth and room to move, while just about being small enough to keep the atmosphere electric. The arena I would liken this to the most would be the Motorpoint in Cardiff. They’re both very similar. One key difference, however, is that the Motorpoint in Nottingham has lots more seating, which is amazing. Honestly, at 99% of conventions, you struggle to find a seat. Anywhere. Not only does the Motorpoint in Nottingham have seating, it has enough to accommodate everyone who may need one. I cannot overstate how helpful this is. Amusingly, like the Motorpoint in Cardiff, I was worried about the arena lighting when I first entered the venue at ‘Em-Con’. Frequent readers will know that I loathe the lighting at the Motorpoint in Cardiff. It’s atrocious. Half the arena is yellow, the other half is white, and the whole fucking thing is dark. Due to that, trying to get decent table pictures at ‘Film & Comic Con Cardiff’ is basically an impossibility. It’s an abomination of a convention arena and it’s literally all down to the lighting. When we first entered the main hall at ‘Em-Con’, it was pretty dark. However, by 11am, it was perfectly lit. Bright enough to have great photos, but not too bright that they are all over-contrasted. I can only assume that the arena has energy efficient lightbulbs or something.

Another huge positive for the show was the atmosphere. Everyone was buzzing! Zombies were roaming around the arena, scaring children and having fun. In fact, one of the zombies seemed to be following me and Hayley around all day! Also, music was playing throughout the arena, which was great. It was a combination of nerdy TV show themes, Ed Sheeran, movie musical scores, Ed Sheeran, Taylor Swift, Ed Sheeran, and a little more Ed Sheeran. Thankfully, I’m an Ed Sheeran fan! The point is that the music put everyone in a better mood. Walter Jones was dancing away at his autograph table all day, Cybermen were ‘shaking it off’ to Taylor Swift, and half of the crew were dancing pretty much continuously. It was great to see. Sometimes, events can be tense. Particularly if there are a lot of people attending and there’s fear over getting everything done. The vibe at ‘Em-Con’ was, thankfully, to quote the 9th Doctor, ‘fantastic!’

Another positive was that all my studio photos were printed within the timeframe given on the website. A lot of people don’t like waiting for studio photos at all, which is understandable. However, I’m fine with waiting as long as the event sticks to the advertised times. If they say the photos will be printed within 10 minutes and I’m waiting 90, I’ll kick off. If they say the photos will be printed within 45 minutes (which was the case with ‘Em-Con’) and they are printed within 45 minutes, I’m happy. All of my photos were available within 30-45 minutes of them being taken. Works for me! I remember waiting longer than that at ‘Em-Con’ last year, so improvements have been made, which is all I’ve ever asked any convention for. In fact, I’ve got to mention that ‘Em-Con’ was well organised throughout the entire day that I attended. We were let into the venue on time at 10am and all of my studio photos started bang on time. I have absolutely zero complaints about the organisation. It was impressively scheduled throughout. Furthermore, the panel and studio photo schedules were on the website a month before showtime! This is unheard of! It definitely helps with your planning as you can figure it all out well in advance.

How the space was used inside the arena was mostly all positive too. There were a lot of merchandise stalls and there was a great amount of variation between most of them. I ended up getting Robyn (my girlfriend) a Vampire Diaries pen and bookmark from one stall, while getting myself a ‘Winter Is Coming’ light of sorts from another. It’s the Stark’s Direwolf sigil hand-drawn onto a piece of glass, with the words ‘Winter Is Coming’ hand-written on the glass just below. The glass slots into a wooden base and the wooden base contains lights. You can choose the colour of the lights that come with your base. I went for a bluey/purpley colour, which looks breathtaking against the glass. The lights run off of a battery, not electricity. All in all, it cost £16, which I thought was a bargain for the unique, hand-designed piece, plus the wooden base plate, plus the lights, plus the battery! It’s my favourite article of geeky memorabilia since I bought a replica of Jon Snow’s sword, Longclaw, last year. The only downside to the space was that the guests were all placed within a ‘U’ shape at the end of the hall, which was different to last year. Unfortunately, that left a bottleneck during the peak hours of the day. It got very congested around that area at times. I know that Lee and the team are simply experimenting with the space they have and trying to tweak the system, which is smart and advisable, but I’d prefer to see the guests out in the open again next year...or at least some of them. However, between the Saturday and the Sunday, the information desk was moved out of the ‘U’ and some of the bigger queues were moved around so that they jutted away from the ‘U’, so kudos to everyone for making changes overnight on the Saturday in order for the Sunday to flow more freely. Can’t ask for more than that on such short notice. With Ed Sheeran’s music on repeat all weekend, I guess the ‘Em-Con’ team were just in love with the shape of ‘U’. I’d love to take credit for that hilarious joke, but the truth is I saw Em-Con post it yesterday and thought it was too funny not to share.

I think it’s about time I jumped into the play-by-play of my day, don’t you?

Myself and Hayley left Gloucestershire at 6:30am on Sunday morning, giving us two hours to drive there, 30 minutes to park up and get to the venue, and an hour to wait in line for doors to open at 10am. In a great turn of fortune, we parked the car at 8:58am, meaning that we applied for the pre-9:00am ‘early bird’ parking costs. Instead of it costing us £20 to park all day (which it would have if we arrived at 9:01am), it cost us £7.50! Sweet! That was an unexpected surprise! We were off to a good start! We arrived at the Motorpoint just after 9:00am and were basically the first people in the queue. Once again, this was helpful. I’d pre-ordered studio photos with Arthur Darvill, Bonnie Wright, and David Yost, but the tickets hadn’t arrived in the post (update: they arrived on Tuesday the 2nd of May. Em-Con posted them out on April the 19th according to the envelope, which should have been plenty of time...frickin’ Royal Mail!) so I needed to go to the photoshoot kiosk right after doors opened, so being at the front of the queue was helpful – particularly as I needed to get into the arena soon afterwards to get low ‘virtual queuing’ numbers for Arthur and Bonnie’s autographs.

Doors (read: barriers) were opened on time at 10:00am and we headed straight to the photoshoot kiosk right in front of us. I explained that my photoshoot tickets didn’t arrive in the post and the problem was resolved in a matter of minutes. Great organisation! Getting it sorted was easy. I assume that because the photo tickets were posted out recorded delivery, it was easy to track and discover that I was telling the truth and hadn’t received them. I wonder why ‘Em-Con’ haven’t converted to e-tickets for the studio photos yet? It would theoretically save them money in postage costs and they wouldn’t have to worry about tickets not arriving.

We were in the main hall by 10:05am and I had my virtual queuing tickets for Arthur and Bonnie a couple of minutes after that – Arthur #9, Bonnie #15. No problem with numbers that low! In actuality, by 4:00pm, both Arthur and Bonnie were open-queues so the virtual queuing tickets ended up being redundant for me, but it’s definitely still better to have the headliners under a virtual queuing system just in case. My agenda for the day was a breeze by my chaotic standards – studio photos with Arthur, Bonnie, and David Yost at 12:00noon, 12:45pm, and 3:30pm respectively, autographs from Arthur and Bonnie, plus finding the time to go over and chat to Joe Altin when his queue was quiet. I first met Joe at last year’s ‘Em-Con’ and over the past year he’s become a friend to me. I’ve seen him five times since, I’ve met his daughter, we talk quite frequently, and he’s an absolute class-act. Just the nicest human being ever. So finding the time to go and chat to Joe was as high of a priority as meeting big guests I’d never seen before, like Arthur and Bonnie.

We decided that I’d get my autographs later in the day after the early morning queues had died down. This is always a bit of a risky game as guests can sometimes leave early if their queue goes quiet. Thankfully, nobody I needed to meet left early on this occasion. This gave us a couple of hours to kill before my first studio photo of the day, Arthur Darvill at 12:00noon. There was only one thing for it – merchandise hunting! It’s so rare that I have the time to merchandise hunt at conventions. It’s always a thrill to get to do so, but my wallet rarely appreciates me for it afterwards. Compared to last year, this guest line-up didn’t fit my personal tastes as much. That’s not a criticism or a knock on ‘Em-Con’ whatsoever as line-ups are entirely dependent upon personal tastes and passions. I’ve met the Red Dwarf and Power Rangers guys before (excluding not getting a picture with David Yost when I met him previously), I’ve not seen ‘The 100’, I rarely tune in to the DC television shows, and I’ve met the likes of Josh Herdman, Terry Molloy and Jeremy Bulloch before too. For some people, this would have been the greatest line-up they’ve ever seen in their life! It’s entirely down to what franchises you love and the people you’ve met before. The two huge draws for me personally were Arthur Darvill (I’d not met Arthur before and I love Rory in ‘Doctor Who’) and Bonnie Wright (Harry Potter is one of my favourite franchises ever and this was Bonnie’s first U.K. convention appearance from what I’m told), with David Yost, Laura Pradelska (who cancelled) and Joe Altin being the icing on a delicious convention cake. Believe me, I’m okay with my convention day being a little quieter than it sometimes is.

After checking out the merchandise stalls a couple of times each and chatting to a ton of crew members and attendees I knew and had bumped into, it was time for back-to-back studio photos with Arthur and Bonnie. It was very smart to have Arthur and Bonnie’s photo sessions early in the afternoon as if there was a printing back-log (there wasn’t), it could be resolved before the end of the show while most attendees were still meeting guests and checking out the merch. Both photo sessions started on time, went smoothly, and the end-products were great. I have no complaints and a lot of praise for the studio photo area. The crew were awesome – particularly Clare, as receiving high-fives after having photos taken is cool – and everything was organised to perfection.

Arthur Darvill: After leaving Bonnie’s photo session, we had a little rest on the ample arena seating before heading over to Arthur’s autograph queue at about 3:00pm. I believe Kev was in charge of the guests and the area surrounding them – he certainly appeared to be – and he did a great job throughout the day. He made sure everything ran smoothly, that everyone was happy, and that there were no issues. It’s an unenviable task as it is a very stressful job, plus people only usually talk about it after the event if it went badly! Kev did an amazing job, as did all the other Em-Con crew that were around the guests’ area of the hall. When we first got to Arthur’s autograph queue, it had just closed so that the crew could get their autographs signed. Kev came over and joked that I would mark down the event for this. Of course, I won’t. The crew all work damn hard and are often the unsung heroes of every convention. They more than deserve their autographs and to reap some rewards from the success of the event. Within 10 minutes, the queue was open again (now an ‘open-queue’) and I was face-to-face with Arthur a matter of minutes later. The first thing immediately apparent about Arthur is that he’s very relaxed as a human being in general. He’s not an excitable puppy and he doesn’t sound bored or like he’s going through the motions. He seems like he’s enjoying meeting the fans and he’s totally at ease with the proceedings. This is great as it instantly puts you at ease too. Any anxiety or nervousness that I was feeling evaporated within 2 seconds of talking to him. As Arthur was a very busy headliner, I knew that my time with him would be fairly limited and it was. That’s no problem whatsoever as it’s something that should be expected. We discussed how he entered the entertainment industry in the first place as both of his parents are involved in the theatre. We talked about ‘Broadchurch’ a little bit before the conversation inevitably turned to ‘Doctor Who’. I always wonder if guests get bored talking about the same topic for hours and hours at conventions. If Arthur was bored, he didn’t show it. I asked Arthur if “P.S.” was originally scheduled to be filmed as opposed to being storyboarded with Arthur’s voice-overs. Arthur said that originally it was going to be filmed, but unfortunately Mark Williams (Brian Williams) became unavailable. Plus, they discovered that they likely didn’t have the budget to film it anyway. It’s a shame that it was never filmed in live-action because it’s wonderful. Arthur noted that it was the perfect exclamation mark on the departures of Amy Pond and Rory Williams. For those of you that haven’t seen it, here it is...

Beautiful, right? I thanked Arthur for his time and we had a picture taken together at the autograph table. It was a ‘reasonable’ £15 for the selfie if you were getting an autograph too. Guest Type = Big Guest.

(Regular readers, you can skip this section)

“Shangel, what’s a ‘Big Guest’?”

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!

After leaving the definitely-worth-meeting and oh-so-tired-looking Arthur behind at his autograph table, we headed back to the studio photo area for my final snap of the day: David Yost. When it was my turn, David asked if I wanted me and him to hold the two Morphers he’d brought along with him...I think they’re called ‘Morphers’ anyway. It’s the little handheld thingys the Rangers use to call their Zords. I requested a regular picture instead. Just as it was about to be taken, David moved as he needed to re-adjust his t-shirt in order to look as buff as possible for the photo. Hilarious! For those unaware, I have a natural little tremor. It’s nothing significant, it doesn’t affect my life in any way whatsoever and there’s no medical reason for it. My hands just shake a little bit naturally. Ordinarily, this is no problem, but when you throw fatigue, adrenaline, and excitement on top of it, my hands shake quite a bit, so they would have been shaking a little bit when the photo was taken if I was holding the Morpher, which would have been embarrassing for me. If I was at home holding it, I wouldn’t shake at all (or not enough to be noticeable), but coupling that tremor with adrenaline can be a bitch at times. No matter, the photo turned out great, I high-fived Clare on my way out, and it was time to head over to say “hi”/”bye” to Joe Altin.

Now, I’m going to do something rare here. I’m not going to write about my conversation with Joe whatsoever. As Joe is a friend and we were just catching up, most of what we talked about was either personal or about upcoming acting roles of his that he hasn’t announced yet. Suffice to say, there’s some great stuff coming up! From upper-class New York accents to filming a scene in a big movie franchise. That man is going places and it couldn’t happen to a nicer human being. Seriously, I cannot overstate how easy Joe is to talk to or how worthy he is of success. I can’t think of an actor or person I’d love to see make it huge more than Joe. Guest Type = Conversationalist. Towards the end of my conversation with Joe, Joe brought Fady Elsayed into it to discuss whether or not Fady has a working relationship with Game Of Thrones’ casting director, Nina Gold. This was my first time talking to Fady. I’ve been to two conventions with him now, but as I’ve not seen ‘Class’ yet (Doctor Who’s spin-off), I’ve had no reason to go and meet him. Fady is also a totally ‘class’ act (see what I did there?). Really easy to talk to!

Bonnie Wright: Finally, while waiting for my David Yost photo to be printed, I headed over to Bonnie’s autograph table, which had just started to get quiet (there were just two girls in front of me in the queue, who were talking to Bonnie concurrently). I’m so glad I went over to get Bonnie’s autograph. She was an absolute delight to talk to. As there was nobody behind me in her queue, we got to talk for quite a long time. I asked Bonnie what made her want to switch from acting to directing (mostly) over the past couple of years and Bonnie passionately talked about her desire to explore the industry from every possible angle. We talked about the lack of female directors, we talked about the process of directing and how this compares to acting. We talked about how Bonnie was going to University while filming the two ‘Deathly Hallows’ Harry Potter films, which naturally led into a conversation about my Bachelor’s degree and my Master’s degree as well as I’ve been juggling full-time work and full-time education for 6 years now...36 days left until the final exams are over for good...not that I’m counting. Finally, of course, we discussed Harry Potter too and how the films have not only shaped Bonnie’s life and changed the course of her destiny, but also how they’ve shaped and helped so many other people’s lives too. For me, Harry Potter was a huge source of escapism while I was going through hardships in my childhood and adolescence. In fact, alongside “Buffy The Vampire Slayer”/“Angel”, it was my primary form of escapism. Granted, that was more because of the book series and not the film series, but the film series was still great on its own merit. I probably talked to Bonnie for a good 10 minutes or so (it’s hard to gage how much time has passed when you’re partaking in a conversation at a convention). It’s interesting to note that Bonnie wasn’t offering selfies whatsoever. That was obviously her call. I’m not sure what the reason was for it as she could probably have made a killing off of selfie charges. Either way, she was great to talk to. Really interesting, really engaging, gave excellent eye contact and wished me the best of luck with my exams next month. Definitely a great experience. I must admit, I was a little apprehensive about meeting her because a couple of crew had implied to me that she was a bit of a diva. Thankfully, from an attendee standpoint, she was great. Guest Type = Conversationalist.

We collected my studio photo with David Yost, grabbed a beverage from the oh-so-happy staff at the food and drink area just outside the main hall, headed back to the car, and were travelling back down to Gloucestershire by 4:30pm.

Would I return to ‘Em-Con’? Absolutely. There is so much more good about this convention than there is bad. It was definitely an improvement upon last year, which was a very respectable con in its own right. I literally only have two complaints that aren’t trivial. The first of which is happening at all cons now (selfie charges), so I can’t see it going away. The second of which really does need to be fixed though as it can have bad consequences for some attendees (announcing cancellations). Other than that, everything was positive pretty much! The crew were fantastic, the venue is very complimentary for a convention experience, Nottingham is beautiful, the atmosphere was buzzing, Ed Sheeran was with us all day, and the guests I met were tremendous. ‘Em-Con’ just announced that over 8,000 people attended this past weekend, making it their most successful show ever. I can’t foresee a scenario where ‘Em-Con’ doesn’t go from strength to strength over the coming years, so it’s only a matter of time before they’re competing with the ‘big dogs’ like MCM and Showmasters. It won’t happen for a few years yet, but it’ll happen. Instant printing is definitely something that should be considered over the next year or so though as the attendance is only going to increase, which means that the waiting times will have to accommodate the extra photos that need to be printed. Cutting down on those printing times will be very helpful to them in the future.

My overall, over-arching thought about this event is that it was better than last year and a very, very solid show as a whole. A couple of minor tweaks, a little more communication on cancellations (all need to be announced, not most), and this will be a truly superb event. It’s a great event now to be fair, but a couple of tweaks (all of which cost nothing!) will push this con over the edge.

I’ll see you all at ‘Telford Fan Zone’ on Sunday the 21st of May, ‘Collectormania: Birmingham’ on Saturday the 3rd of June, and all three days of ‘LFCC’ at the end of July. I have loads more cons coming up after that too, but those will almost definitely be the next three (unless something truly unmissable pops up in the interim). Don’t be afraid to come over and say “hi” if you see me! I rarely bite hard.


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