Maybe I'm getting old.
Maybe I'm not down with the kids anymore.
Maybe I was expecting something a bit more, what's the word, Awesomer.
So I went to Manchester Comic Con on the 30th July and was terribly underwhelmed.
It started well. The security/crowd control was totally first rate outside Manchester Central...
Then I got into the Con.
Look, I wasn't expecting San Diego to be thrown deep into north-west England. And I am not by any stretch of the imagination a veteran at these things (virginity broken, I think, in Cardiff about a billion years ago), I was just expecting something that wasn't this.
So, I'll try to take the positives out of the experience. Firstly, I'd pre-arranged with Incognito Comics (highly recommended for those looking for cool stuff online in the UK) to pick up a bag of goodies, and pay for it there. And then I got to meet John McCrea and he got this done for me! He did, though, subtly asked to leave him alone so he could finish it...
And then I struggled to spend any more money. So my Con experience lasted approximately three hours and this included the cup of coffee I had outside. And I was dragging it all out.
So, me being the kind of guy I am, these would be my recommendations to the organisers of this thing next year (and I promise that I won't take a consultancy fee);
1. More room at the venue. I thought it was small, I know I'm six foot of testosterone-filled muscle, but avoiding guys with capes and women with tails, with my natural poise and gracefulness becomes tiring after a while. The event space was laughably bad.
2. More exhibitions. They really struggled to get anyone in and it showed. There were the regular guys you'd expect to see at these things (Craig Charles, and the bloke who was in R2-D2 for example), some older footballer and some stalls. Diamond were exhibiting (Well I think they were exhibiting, it was like seeing a car showroom with no cars). Couldn't the organisers rustle up some help from other UK comic players? No 2000AD? no D.C. Thomson? no FP?
3. Manga dominated this event, which is fair enough. But, I was itching to burn some cash on American comic books, and walked away with two cheapo X-Men hardbacks. Maybe, it's just me: but aren't Comic Con's supposed to be about, y'know, comics. All comics. I could think of at least three comic retailers that would've loved to take up a few tables if they had been asked.
4. More and better creators. While I appreciate the British big players tend to do San Diego and other American Cons, it can't have taken a genius to look around and find some UK based talent. Meeting John McCrea was cool, but the other didn't exactly inspire me. I'd have loved to met any of the following: Pat Mills, John Wagner, Sean Phillips, Warren Ellis, Alan Grant, Warren Ellis, Alan Moore, Kevin O'Neill or Simon Bisley. One of those must have been available?
5. C'mon guys! A television showing trailers is not an exhibition. That's just laziness.
I know that this sounds like a total bitching here. But the organisers really missed a true opportunity to make this Manchester show really awesome. And I think that I might not be the only one with a sour taste in my mouth. God knows what the guys who waited over an hour, in the boiling sun, to get in must have thought of the experience later that day.
It reminded me of a company that I used to work for. This company, based inside the
M25, somehow got it into it's head that there was no culture, no interest and no money outside of London. This meant that nothing cool in the range ever came to other parts of the country, parts of the country that were crying out for this stuff. Basically the company cost themselves an awful lot of money by not being ambitious enough, although they kept telling everybody (in their usual standard, uncaring way) that they were always testing the market (although blatantly ignoring their own staff about the said market).
And this is what this event felt like: just an experiment. The event organisers must have group-thunk themselves into thinking that people outside London had very little reading ability. That people in the north still walk around in flat-caps with their whippets. That we still use imperial money.
The trouble they have here is that I won't go next year, because this show was so really, really underwhelming. I was originally exited before the event, as were a few others in the Que, and this excitement was not fully rewarded.
Well, at least I got an original Hitman out of it!