MCM LONDON COMIC CON REVIEW (EXCEL CENTRE, 22nd-24TH OCTOBER 2021)

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A big Comic-Con. A large-scale pop culture event.

What is this you speak of?

After eighteen months (and still counting) of no large scale, slowly we are starting to see the return of events. Well, the return of MCM London Comic-Con certainly makes it seem like a return to the norm. However, this convention was a strange one. Somethings felt right and somethings felt wrong.

I will add that I only attended on the Friday (opening day), which is usually a relatively quiet day compared to Saturday and Sunday. It’s a day when you can actually look around and take your time. There aren’t three people deep at a vendor’s stall or a huge line for the food trucks. It was nice to be able to walk around with a lot of room to spare (additionally helpful if people are apprehensive about returning to big events at this present time). But… that’s where this MCM felt wrong. It was missing many of the big vendors. No Universal Pictures. No Sony Playstation. No Nintendo. No Funko (shock! horror!). And when you have those, and more, missing from an event of this size it suddenly shows the MCM skeleton a bit too much. It shows the bare bones of the event. I have no idea whose decision it was to not have those big vendors attend this year. It did leave massive holes across both sides of the convention halls and as such it felt like a convention missing something. However, as much as those vendors not turning up seemed like a missed opportunity (certainly people were spending their money. There was no shortage of cash being flashed), there were a few vendors who took advantage of that. One such one was Lush, a cosmetics company that specialise in all sorts of pampering gifts. An oddity at a pop culture convention for sure. However, their section not only had a medium sized shop but also on the other side was a pink garden that you could have your photos taken in as you walked the small path. A hugely creative idea considering the amount of cosplay at MCM events and also it helped drive traffic towards the actual shop. So as much as it is possible to scoff at someone like Lush turning up to the convention party (a bit late too), at least they put on a real eye-opening attraction.

Activations were thin on the ground as well. There were the few small ones and then Amazon brought a medium-sized booth to promote the forthcoming TV series The Wheel Of Time. But this had been put on at the end of the one side of the convention centre, and as such looked completely lost because there was so much room in-front of it.

The same can be said for quite a few of the vendors too. The usually bustling Pop Asia area was reduced to a handful of food stalls and a small floor-level stage.

The majority of big-name guests – Tom Hiddleston, Sophia Di Martino, Jonathan Majors, Charlie Cox, Deborah Ann Woll, Gabriel Luna, Ben Barnes and plenty more – were only there Saturday and Sunday. However, a few of the special guests did make an appearance on the Friday including Jim Cummings, the man known for his voice work as Winnie The Pooh, Tigger, Darkwing Duck and about a thousand more. Cummings also appeared on the live stage discussing his career so far.

One thing you can always rely on with MCM Comic-Con events and that is the high level of cosplay. There were some excellent works on display. It really felt like the game had been upped this year in terms of how professional a lot of cosplay was looking.

And I think herein lies the energy of this year’s event: The attendees. They all made it pop! It wasn’t the event itself (so much missing and so much empty space), it was the people who had come back after being away from these types of events for so long and were ready to return to something they loved.

As for ReedPop’s UK arm MCM Comic-Con. Was this the BIG return to pop culture events? No. Did it feel like a soft return? Yes. But nobody is officially saying that.

Photos by Samantha Payne

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