MCM Lite: London Comic Con 2021
Nearly two years have passed coupled with ongoing restrictions and fears surrounding covid made this event an interesting test case for a return to ‘normal’ for the industry. Sadly It felt like they didn’t even try.
The first thing that was noticed upon entering was how empty it looked. It was hard to tell if space had been made for distancing or a lack of vendors to fill what is a normally overflowing room. Based on the feedback from vendors, both on-site and those who chose not to come, it seemed the biggest factor was disorganization and alienation of long-time vendors.
Price hikes, lack of choice, no communication, demands for payment and overall lack of information lead to an exodus of longtime vendors who feel deliberately driven away. Certainly, previous staff, who have worked at this convention for many years, have not been invited back.
Even the regular corporate stalls were missing (although this is believed to be more to do with covid). There was less of an “Artist alley” and more just “anyone who would come” vibe going on.
In the past, MCM has showcased costumes and experiences from upcoming relevant Movies, TV, and games. None of this was on show this time (except for one Wheel of Time stall showing 15 minutes of episode one). The event is often accused of being nothing more than a glorified shopping hall, but without these displays or installations that description felt particularly apt.
There was even just a general lack of advertising for, well, anything. Even the passes people carried were blank and contained only basic information. This felt like an MCM with no colour.
To the observer, it seems that MCM invested its time and money more into the big-name stars. Unusually big by MCM standards, as it headlined with Loki star Tom Hiddleston and his co-stars Sophia Di Martino & Jonathan Majors.
Sadly, due to the costs involved, many felt priced out of the experience and/or unwilling to engage with the current covid protection in place (perspex screens for photos, at booths, testing, etc). It is difficult to say whether the guests alone provided the expected value to the average punter.
Everyone will have to make up their mind on if this event was a success or not, and if it meets the expectations they had. For me, it was Comic-Con to forget and a little bittersweet.
MCM returns yet again in only two weeks in November at the NEC Birmingham. With such a short time between events, it is unlikely to be much different. But hey, Hayden Christensen (Anakin Skywalker) and Ian McDiarmid (Palpatine) will be attending and that’s pretty cool.