I’ve been to several Comic-cons over the years, usually for fun, sometimes for press but this is the first year I’ve been on the opposite side of the table. For London MCM Expo I’ve had the lovely experience of being behind the artist table, connecting with fans and seeing the differences in comic culture between two countries.
San Diego Comic-con is a staple to anyone in the comic industry. But as years pass and the industry changes, so did San Diego Comic-con, nature of the beast. Over the years, San Diego Comic-con has slowly made itself as the ultimate place for comic news and industry inside information but has also slowly gone away from the culture and spirit of independent comics. Several smaller comic conventions let artist build a fan base and connect with people who enjoy their comics. The MCM Expo is a combination of both.
MCM Expo runs twice a year and seems to cater to the independent comic industry. This year it drew the talent of wonderful web-comic artists like Simon’s Cat, Cyanide and Happiness, and Scandinavia and the World. On the other hand with sponsors like SyFy you get name brand talent to draw in crowds. Amongst some of the guest this year included: Matt Smith, Tony Amendola, Andrew Rothenberg, Alan Ford, Robin Dunne, Billy Boyd, Tembi Locke and many others.
I’ve noticed several differences between the MCM Expo and larger comic-cons like that of San Diego Comic-con. First off I can’t express how warm the environment was. People genuinely wanted to know more about you and your comics. There were several times I found myself being barraged with questions, which may have been because I was American but found several others around me in the same position. It is not just the people, it was the interest — not just sign this or that but people who have an interest in the mechanics and may have their own story to tell. One woman asked questions about technique and how we, Broken Record, were able to go from web to print so easily. While another expressed her enthusiasm of her story but was dishearten by conflicting information from comic publishers. When on the other side, meandering through the Independent artist stands of Comic Village, I found an artist eager to share their craft explaining everything from licensing issues to expressing the passion they have for their art.
Paul Alexander (sculptor) told me as he worked clay into a 1:1 scale of Yoda’s head for future molds that
It’s about creating, using your hands to bring life into something. It’s purely from your head and out from your hands. There’s no better tool than passion.”
As with most comic-cons, Cosplay has a huge roll at MCM Expo. The range of Cosplayers are just as varied as you’d expect from a larger comic-con but you do have a harder time recognizing some of them. Of course it is quite possible that I am more acquainted with the US comic industry and the pizzazz that fans and Cosplayers put into their outfits in the states. As one would expect there were several spot on Doctor Who fans, but what really amazed me were some of the Manga and Anime Cosplayers. Rather than a myriad of Avengers, Batman, and Spiderman costumes there was a fantastic show of beautiful Manga characters rich in detail.
London’s Comic-con the MCM Expo grows every year and looks to be well on its way to being the UK’s version of the San Diego International Comic-con. As of now though, there is a wonderful mix of industry related news, independent comic love, and the ability to connect with new fans. If you’re a budding artist, these types of comic-cons are worth checking out either as a visitor or as a visiting artist.
with permission from Paul Alexander via RS Prop Masters.