Wandering into MCM Birmingham Comic Con for the first time, you may be excused for being awestruck for a moment. The entrance is a visual assault on the senses, with banners hanging from the ceiling, videos playing non-stop on the monitors and hordes of costumers of surrounding you.
From traders and authors, to cars and robots, MCM Birmingham Comic legitimately had it all. Previous comic cons, despite being held over a weekend, could be easily visited in a day, but the November 2017 event was the first time where two days were needed to take everything in, due to the number of activities taking place.
Once again, the convention was spread across three halls of the Birmingham NEC, with a fourth hall dedicated to tickets sales and collection. The map provided inside the MCM show guide were useful in navigating the convention, but it would have been helpful if areas such as the comics village had been more clearly indicated.
MCM had invited some fantastic guests, including Pearl Mackie from Doctor Who and Anthony Daniels from Star Wars. Guests like Virginia Hey, who took the time to engage with their fans and chat to them, truly made the day unique.
If I had one criticism for the weekend, it would have to be the crowding. This could have been down to the new layout meaning the floor size was smaller, or that there were even more people than last time (we are talking tens of thousands of people). Saturday was worse, as there were so many people that it became claustrophobic and caused hassles. Some traders also found they were unable to connect to the wi-fi due to the number of people using it.
Sunday was not as bad, but it was still incredibly cramped in the trader zones. Some people gave up trying to browse the stalls, which was a shame as there was some fantastic gear on offer, such as the vegan/ethical Star Wars shoes by Po Zu and the chance to speak to authors like A. S. Chambers at their stands.
Despite the crowding, there remained an incredibly friendly and positive atmosphere. Much of this was due to the number of cosplayers who were present, from the casual cosplayers to those in full animatronic gear like Iron Man. It was also gratifying those who dressed conventionally were in the minority, compared to the number of cosplayers.
The shear breadth of costumes highlighted the diversity within the cosplay community. Costumes ranged from the classic Deadpool and Stormtroopers, through to some truly unique and creative interpretations of classic characters, which left even me guessing… ‘Is that a chicken?’
There were also some great cosplay discussions led by Tabitha Lyons of Artyfakes and others about the history of costuming and how some of their costumes were made.
Birmingham Comic Con proved that geekery is not just for the kids, as young and old alike were found to be dressed up. It was great to see a kids’ zone had been set aside for families, which included displays by the Silver Sabres fencing group. However, the presence of several gruesome zombies roaming the halls might have upset the more sensitive children.
Birmingham Comic Con is justifiably one of the most fun conventions in the Midlands. MCM have curated an excellent event by developing an incredible atmosphere of shared geekery and allowing it to flourish.
All photos by Rachael Griffiths.