As you probably know from my previous blogs, I recently made the step up into the Comicon world, starting with Eastbourne Wyntercon and Reading Comicon in the Autumn of last year. These were great and I enjoyed them so much, but they are regional events and I've been wondering about moving into larger events at Wales Comicon, Manchester and London. With these in mind, I attended the Spring Comicon at Olympia, London yesterday, 29th February, taking my boys with me (husband and son) to do some research. What I discovered was good and if you've ever thought about going/trading at one of these events this information might prove beneficial.
Initally, my plan had been to go up the night before, as if I was doing a rehearsal for trading there. I planned to take my son because if I do actually trade, he'll be a great help, not least so I can go to the toilet etc. LOL. At almost the last minute, I decided to invite my husband too, feeling guilty at leaving him at home alone when he so often pays for our trips and luxuries.
He suggested it would be much cheaper going up by train and coming back the same day and doing a group booking. He was right, as always. One night for three people, even in a bottom end hotel in London, isn't cheap. Plus, I'd still have to pay for the train and because we were going one day and coming back the next that was going to cost more money. The research trip, that was going to cost over £400 with food, tickets etc, ended up costing me £108 for all three of us excluding food; £57 for tickets and £51 for a group booking return on the train using any service. - Tip 1. I'm lucky if I make £100 at an event, let alone £400. My accountant has already said,
"It's an expensive hobby, not a business."
"It's not for the want of trying," I tell her! (but she is right so far)
Arriving at London, we discovered that the train to Olympia only runs at weekends and when there is a specific event, which was fortunate for us. The dog-leg over-land line took us as near to the building as possible. We arrived at 0930 wanting to avoid the rush at 0900 when it opened. I'd been assured that this was a much smaller event than the Summer Comicon I was considering, so I didn't expect much in the way of crowds, viewing it like the regional ones where folk wander in and out all day.
What a mistake! We left the station premises to see in front of us a fairly long queue, but it was moving rapidly and heading around the corner into what looked like the building. Wrong. It went around the corner alright and became three queues! We joined the outer one and I was dreading that it was a snake queue where it winds back on itself like at Disney. Fortunately, they were three separate queues and the waiting was about thirty minutes in the light rain. Bring a foldable umbrella - Tip 2. Outside some folk had come dressed up and ready to kill, a few literally! Several worn contact lens and wigs in prelude to their big 'coming-out' outfit. It was quite entertaining trying to guess what folk were. Inside all bags were searched and as we were starving by now we opted to eat first grabbing a delicious sausage in a fresh crusty bun. Superb.
Spring Comicon is set out in the main hall using the ground and first floor. On the ground floor there was a huge exhibit for the new James Bond film, 'Time to Die' and apart from a cinema seating area where you could view trailers? There was also an area where you could enter a secret place and become a 00 agent. We didn't join the queue, though I might have if I'd been alone. The star attraction was the gorgeous Aston Martin (see photos on my conference page) with machine guns coming out of its headlights and deep scratches down both its sides. My husband reliably informed me it was a 'wrap' because NO-ONE would really do that to an AM.
The ground floor was stuffed full with traders, many selling the same thing and also items you could easily purchase on-line. Several stalls were selling Wobble heads of every Sci-Fi fantasy and horror icon. There were T-shirt stalls with witty slogans, many were brilliant puns on Sci/Fantasy phrase etc. My husband purchased one saying Miyagi Do Karate, after the Karate Kid film. (He is heavily into Karate). In addition there were traders selling autographed photos, some up to several thousand pounds. There were toys stalls and jewellery and badges. I was surprised by two things, first the amount of Fudge stalls - that is all that about? And second, by the lack of traders selling things like Comicon costumes and accessories. If ever there was something lacking, it was that.
I would have purchased a mauve wig and pointy ears in a heartbeat. I regretted not organising my wardrobe the night before watching all the fans walking around. At home, I have much more suitable clothes and jewellery than I wore to the event, which would have fitted in so well, if only I'd considered them. - Tip 3. These are clothes you purchase then never know where to wear them. (excuse the double wear) Comicon is exactly where. I'd made a bit of an effort donning my latest sparkly peacock top and military coat, but I could have worn my beautiful mauve DMs, they would have fitted in so well. My dragon pendant, my cat rings. Lots of things. Pah!
Back to the Comicon, upstairs on the first floor were rows and rows of celebrities signing autographs and chatting to folk who'd paid. Every one of them had a large poster up behind them showing their picture and their credits. There were several I didn't have a clue about but I saw Sylvester McCoy, and Jerome Flynn from Game of Thrones, who I didn't realise had been from Soldier, Soldier and later sang with Robson Green. My goodness. I also saw a very elderly Christopher Lambert, who looked nothing like I remembered. Throwing caution to the wind, I ran over to him, ignoring his 'bodyguard' and told him "I fancied you like crazy when I was younger." Another elderly gentleman was Colin Baker, a Doctor Who reincarnation and then there was Ben Crompton from Games of Thrones. I told him it was "good to see someone who still looks like themselves. There were loads of Games of Thrones stars and Doctor Who actors, the latter from times gone by.
Also upstairs were artists and authors. I scanned each of these and they weren't doing much business. The majority of people came upstairs to meet their idols not purchase books. So if I'm having a stall it will be downstairs in possible. Tip 4. That's if you are allowed to.
Finally, before we left I spoke to the staff regards having a stall,. They advised going on their website, Summer Comicon and all necessary information regards costs etc is under the Exhibitors tab. Tip 5. Next, I'll be costing the event and figuring out how to transport books etc there and back. I'm sure this will be covered in later Blogs.
Please see the Comicon costumes on my Conference & Events page, because although I haven't commented on them this time, they were pretty amazing. Special commendation to the man with a mobility issue who came as a Thunderbirds puppet, complete with scissors and cut strings above him. Absolutely Brilliant.
A note on my writing. I've started Quest for Courage again and written several thousand more words and I'm on my third literary agent.