Having never done an MCM before (nor ever having been to the ExCel) it’s fair to say my first one was nothing like I imagined it would be. I’ve tabled at comic cons, run comic cons and been part of various events in the past, but MCM was quite unique.
A massive venue filled with so much stuff for three long solid days is quite tiring to think about, let alone be involved in. Luckily I had enlisted horror writer Craig Jex to help me out for the weekend so I had someone to hang out with and hold the fort while I went for a wander. But first, we needed to set up.
I found Comic Village and was enormously pleased to discover it was not in a hall of its own. I think I’d drawn this conclusion because there’s so many things going on that I assumed we’d be tucked away in a separate room. But MCM is all open plan, allowing punters to walk through everything unencumbered. Though I am sure many people never ventured over to Comic Village, there were plenty of people who don’t normally read comics that did come by, take a look and have a chat with creators.
Once me and Craig had set up and met our table neighbours (the über talented Mr Picto and Yannis Rubbis) we were ready for action. I’d brought my SG to display Rock In Purgatory and unveiled the characters from Heads! who I’d had made as models for the table. I hoped that these unique elements would help start conversations and get people interested in my comics. This really did help get some people over who may have missed out otherwise, and as a result I actually sold out of Rock In Purgatory half way through day two! I spent a lot of time talking guitars with people, which was really nice; it turns out a lot of rock and metal guitarists love comics as much as me too. Heads! captured imaginations as well and the unofficial launch of the book went really well. I was surprised at some of the people who did and didn’t take a punt on it, so I’ll certainly be hearing that in mind when I start marketing it again in due course. Talking to comics fans what makes these events worthwhile. It’s all well and good tweeting away all day and having a bit of online banter, but actual face to face conversation makes such a difference in getting my comics across to people and seeing what really excites them about my work. Oddly, almost all of the men who introduced themselves to me were called Chris, which at least made it easy to say hello to them again when I saw them the following day.
I managed to escape from the table plenty thanks to Craig and got to experience the rest of the show. I saw a horror panel, failed to meet some cool guests due to timing (but did wave to Amanda Conner) and got lost amongst various awesome trader stalls many times. I got round Comic Village and met some great people. I finally met Ken Reynolds in person, ran into Wimbledon Comic Art Festival exhibitors Richy Chandler and Silvia Carrus, traded abuse with Matt Garvey (obvs), and drank far too much coffee with Josh Harris.
By the end of the event I was knackered, but really pleased to have unleashed my comics on so many new people. And I had two really wonderful high points. Firstly, a fella came over to buy a copy of Rock In Purgatory because he’d been following it online. This one person who knew my work and sought it out really made the weekend for me. Great as it is to find new readers, it’s the first time someone I have never met has tracked me down to get one of my comics, so this meant a lot. Secondly, apropos of nothing Ken Reynolds told me how much he thought my art had levelled up lately. I agree – I’ve been looking back on older stuff and am really proud of how my current work is looking, so it was fantastic to know that someone as talented at Ken not only acknowledged this but has been watching me develop as well. Cheers Ken!
Those of you who were following my antics on Twitter will know I also spent all weekend tallying up the various cosplayers I fist bumped. That was a good laugh, so here’s the list of everyone I got:
- Harley Quinn (loads of them!)
- Dick Tracy
- Michael Myers
- Frank from Donnie Darko
- Amanda from SAW
- John Constantine
- Doctor Who mistaken for John Constantine
- Ghost Rider