Last year, myself, my youngest son Bam, and my friends Adam and Emily all took a trip to the MCM Comic Con held at the Excel in London. We had such a fun day out, but there was one we thing lacked… costumes. Everyone else was dressed up in fantastic cosplay, and we knew that this year we had to get in on the action!
Ad and Emily made their costumes, while I imported Bam’s and mine (at the last fricking minute), as well as doing a little DIY work myself.
This photo was taken outside the Excel Centre; an absolute behemoth of a building with an inside as large as the island we live on. Nearly. And it was seconds after this picture that things started to get a little weird…
We disengaged from this photograph (taken by the noble Kit Conrad who carried our shit and took photos ALL day) when a woman stepped to me, phone in hand.
“Hi,” she said. “Could you send a message to my son who couldn’t be here today because he’s ill?”
A little weird, but I’m an easy-going guy. I held my hand out to take the phone from her to text her boy.
“Ah, no,” she said. “Could we send a video message?”
Ok, that’s even more diverse, but – ever the showman – I obliged. So, wherever you are, Kieron-J, I hope you feel better, and enjoyed your very own ‘Captain America’ video.
Last year we queued for over an hour and a half to get into the Con, and we weren’t making that mistake this time round. We purchased priority tickets (giving us access from 9.30am) and sauntered past the masses already waiting behind the metal fences. We walked straight into a photo-op with some other cosplayers. Not bad, huh? Now, look closely at Carnage and you can see his nuts through his morph-suit. That’s your day ruined.
Into the Con itself, and we get stopped by a father who would like a picture of his son with Captain America. Sure. Done. And then someone else stopped me for a picture. And someone else… and…
Truth be told, I must have had over a hundred photos taken during the day. We were also filmed three or four times, and I had a couple of guys ask me to do an ‘action shoot’ where I throw punches or jump at the camera. (If any of you guys come across this blog, give me a shout and I’ll tie your videos in).
Ad and Emily went off to do their own thing, leaving Bam and I to explore. However, we never seemed to take more than a step or two before being asked for more photographs.
It was cool though. With all this attention and all these snaps, I was starting to think this is how my girlfriend feels most days. (She’s a model if you’re too lazy to click on the link.)
However, Bam said it best – ‘when are we actually gonna be able to do what we want?’
He was right. We were getting a little bogged down by cameras, so – a little selfishly – we put our heads down and tried not to make eye-contact with those who demanded our beauty. We were the Kim and Kanye of The Con.
Bam dove into a Pokemon and Yu-Gi-Oh stand (where I was again dragged into photos taken behind him while he surveyed the tables). There was an Asian guy sat at the head of a Yu-Gi-Oh tournament, playing some other kid. Apparently this dude is the best on earth. Bam walked up to him and said ‘I can beat you’. Bam’s got brass, but the Yu-Gi-Master wasn’t biting.
We found a Jurassic Park: Lego stage and played the new PS4 version for a while. So people took pictures of Spidey and Cap playing Jurassic Park: Lego. Then a group of Asians asked for pictures of my shield, then of them with my shield, and then of them with my shield and with me.
The Con is filled with stages, stalls, a video dome, and a variety of smaller, different venues hosting various things. Kit and I found a Victorian stage where they were holding a ‘Dunking Biscuits in Tea Championship’. Seriously. And it was fun to watch.
Then there were the cars. The first we found was the new Batmobile from the forthcoming Batman vs Superman film. I spoke to the guy in charge of it and asked if we could stage a picture of me – as Marvel’s Captain America – pretending to piss on the DC vehicle. He wasn’t buying it, and neither was the massive bouncer lurking at my shoulder…
The Mad Max car was present, and I enjoyed that, because I liked the film. But the crowning glory had to be the Back To The Future Delorean in which Bam got a seat and his photo taken. And I then got caught stealing the photographer’s sweets.
Hang on… I’m 39 years old and my son managed to sit in a Delorean before I did? I think I’ve failed in life somewhere…
Ad and Emily came across a gang of DC’ers and got a great photo with The Flash and Arrow. In the photo, Flash is moving so fast he’s actually a little blurry. True story.
Adam and I attracted different crowds with our costumes. Kids and the happy people of the world flocked to get a picture with Captain America, while the brooding cool kids took snaps with him as Deathstroke. It made me think that this is basically how Marvel and DC are viewed; one’s a massive mainstream event, while the other is more laid-back and a bit cooler. We got to see two different sides of fandom, as well as representing those opposing sides… yet without all the dickhead fan vs fan you get all over Facebook.
Mind you, there was a DC VS Marvel rumble outside the east entrance at 2pm!
Word spread quickly. The buzz about a DC/Marvel face-off got Bam especially excited, and we all got our asses outside for the 2pm deadline.
It was a flurry of colour, costumes, and LOUD voices as characters taunted and yelled at each other. It was such a shambles to begin with it was like herding cats, but once someone (I think it was Starlord? Or maybe The Joker) started shouting louder and organising things, it started to fall together.
Everyone lined up against the Centre wall; a sea of heroes and villains facing a plethora of photographers. The idea was to run towards the paparazzi as they took lots of pictures to piece together later.
And it worked. After a couple of abortive attempts. And it wasn’t without its very, very funny moments. One of the Arrows who started alongside me slipped on a water bottle, and I saw a Harlequin impale herself on a bollard, and various other characters fell as they ran.
But how could I stand out in this wave of lunacy? I’d have to use my brain… or my shield.
As you can see, there were some fantastic and imaginative costumes, ranging from a mechanised Iron Man, to a Groot who was far too big to move. There were also some great Harlequins, but like The Joker, Deadpool, and Spidey, there were waaaaaay too many people dressed as them. As far as I saw, there were only three of us Captain Americas, and I was the only one with a helmet, which is maybe why I got so many photos taken. And I didn’t once remove my helmet that day. I couldn’t risk ruining the magic. Or people’s photos.
The DC/Marvel event rolled on, but we wanted to check out more of the Con so ventured back inside. We found a few tables where celebs were signing autographs, but I could only see the big, loud bird from Eastenders, sat – bizarrely – with Boy George.
“Dad, wait,” said Bam, and pointed at an attractive girl behind a desk. “I want to meet her. She’s in Primeval.”
Sure enough, there sat Hannah Spearritt.
Bam really wanted to meet the former SClub7 girl, so we queued for our turn. We had a quick chat and a photo with her, and she signed an autograph for Bam which he clutched tightly from that moment on until we got home later that day.
On the other side of Hannah and the big, loud bird was someone else I recognised. Sean Kelly from Storage Hunters! My missus would be so pissed if I met him without her… so I text her and sent her a photo of the occasion.
Sean was as friendly and nice as Hannah had been. I asked him to sign an autograph for my girlfriend and we had a brief chat about how posh her name was. I also told him that she spent six hours a day watching Storage Hunters. He laughed, but she failed to see the funny side when I told her what I had said…
Onward we moved, posing for more photos and videos for strangers. The atmosphere was fantastic, and everyone so amicable. I went to my first Comic Con roughly 20 years ago, and they were friendly (but a lot smaller) events then than they are now. In fact, the Cons seem more appealing to all ages and cultures these days, as the world allows us to embrace our geekdom and fan-love. Heck, I remember getting my ass kicked at school for admitting to liking the stuff I love now!
As Bam and I drew our day to a close, we took a final walk through with Adam, Emily, and KIt, when a thought struck me.
“Hey,” I said. “You know what? You’d never see a fall-out or fight at one of these things. Everyone is having such a good time.”
“You’re right,” said Ad. “But imagine how spectacular a brawl would be with everyone dressed as they are!”
(A quick special mention to the girl in the picture above. She looked great, which is why I had the photo taken with her, and NOT because every time she took a step the back of her outfit rode up and showed the world her arse.)
(The above photo was robbed from someone. I can’t recall who, so shout if it was you!)
Civil War… coming soon.
(Cap and Bucky, Cap and Bucky, and Cap and Bucky.)
Update June10th 2015: As mentioned above, the wonderful Brad Spice filmed Adam and I, and made us into motion photos! Play the video, and the click on each character to see a moving photo of them. I’m mid-left, and Adam is bottom right. It really is a great work of art. Enjoy!