We went to MCM Comic Con Manchester at the end of July, suffice to say it was a different and yet eerily expected experience at the same time. It has caused us to consider how we approach our Comic Con visits in the future.
The Content Problem
The main problem with Comic Con is one of content and distribution.
This tends to mean you’re often at a loss as to what to do for 2-3 hours in the afternoon. Ideally you’d spend just half a day there but that’s not easily done as the convention gets packed meaning it’s not feasibly to interact with the merchandise stalls in a comfortable manner.
This means you’re best paying for early entry, getting the best merchandise experience between 0900 – 1100 and then going for lunch. This is because the convention just gets ridiculous at 1100. It also means you may be eating at the available food options before everyone else.
When you come back from lunch you’ll notice a lot of people trying to find food, but the chances are there isn’t that much of interest in terms of guests and panels so you’re waiting for the Cosplay Competition. During this time you can hunt down some great Cosplay at take photographs but it always feels a bit anemic.
That is the Comic Con problem. We’ll come back to this.
The Channel Video
Birmingham V Manchester Comic Con
MCM Comic Con Manchester felt different to MCM Comic Con Birmingham, so much so it confused me. Ages ago I went to a Film and Comic Con (who aren’t MCM Comic Con) event in Newcastle and it was okay, but I decided it wasn’t for me. When I went to MCM Comic Con in Birmingham I expected to be like that but it was bigger, sufficiently spectacular and great.
I guess Manchester felt a bit more like that Film and Comic Con event.
While there was quite a bit of space it wasn’t as well used as Birmingham. The merchandise hall and the signing area were literally on top of each other. This was to the extent those queuing for autographs were getting in the way of people moving around and making purchases. The cosplay on the convention floor was just way less spectacular due to most of them being outside, the 501st wasn’t there in massive numbers and neither was there any ‘requested to attend’ cosplayers giving the convention floor a bit of a buzz. The cosplay was just more varied at Birmingham.
One thing Manchester did nail was the auditorium as the one in Birmingham was a complete and utter lighting disaster that had all sorts of technical problems while the Manchester one was a proper, stadium seating stage and it was great.
I liked the space and atmosphere of Birmingham but Manchester has one, big advantage: it’s not in a convention hall separated from the city, it is in the living, breathing heart of the city and this is it’s main advantage.
The New Comic Con Experience
The new Comic Con experience involves only going to one a year. Primarily because Comic Con is based on a template so if you’ve been to one you’ve been to most of them. I was all for this being Birmingham because it just felt bigger, more spectacular and more spaced out.
It was Jack that persuaded me this was the wrong decision. You see Manchester affords you a solution to there being only half a days content while at the same time seeing more of it.
How does this work? Well, you take advantage of the fact Manchester Comic Con is in the center of Manchester. It literally could not be any more central. This means you can come to Manchester for the weekend and book the hotel for a Saturday night. You pop in and out of the convention as necessary, picking and choosing from the two days (occasionally a guest might only speak on one day – like Billie Piper only talking on a Sunday).
You fill up the rest of the time by enjoying Manchester a bit. It essentially becomes a city break that just happens to have a Comic Con attached. Pretty good way to do it.
We now have a model for visiting Comic Con moving forward. I think it’s a better way to do it as it will allow us to pick and choose the content, not feel like we’re trapped in a remote convention hall and experience some of the city. I also suspect, potentially on a smaller scale, that the city will play host to the convention attendees in some way we’re just not aware of the locations.
We shall see how it all pans out in 2018.