By rights, this ought to be the easiest convention of the year for me. The London MCM Expo is right on my doorstep, requires no elaborate travel or accommodation plans and there's little to no heavy lifting involved. Despite all of that, I still find it the most exhausting gig on the circuit.
Some 40,000 people apparently attended the Expo this year, and I'm pretty sure I met most of them. The cool thing about helping out on a dealer stand (other than the fact that this is one of the few opportunities a Londoner has to loudly announce, "let me in, I'm a dealer" without risking arrest) is that you get to scout round the venue before the show starts and take pictures of people and things that'll later be entirely obscured by densely packed, frequently grumpy human flesh. Here are a few examples:
Ronny Cox and a bunch of people I'd never heard of but who probably play sulky TV vampires or something). I toyed with the idea of getting Mr. Cox to quote me a line from one of his movies, but couldn't decide between "I'm cashing you out, Bob" (Robocop) and "I don't give you enough information to think!" (Total Recall). In any case, there wasn't much time for fanbushing* celebrities once the actual show started.
I was again astounded by the number of people who wanted to talk to me about Cancertown. The Expo is very broad-based and, historically speaking, has usually devoted most of its limited comics wing to manga. This year, by contrast, there was a lot more comic stuff going on in general and a much wider variety of styles within that. I signed books, chatted with readers and basically got to feel like a proper professional writer - doubly so on signing the contract for Gamebreaker. Bonus!
Highlights were many and various, but Bryan Talbot's input in the Steampunk talk was predictably wonderful, and I somehow managed to shoehorn my way into a satisfyingly lengthy and wide-ranging conversation with Jacen Burrows and Insomnia's own Ollie Masters (writer of Dead Goats and body double for a major villain in Slaughterman's Creed). Great fun. The Ragged Man preview art Neil Van Antwerpen sent me to take along was extremely well received, and I got to plug the book a bit to Dave Monteith and Barry Nugent, whose Geek Syndicate table was right next to Insomnia's on the Saturday.
I should also mention that Ferret's Bad Rain quilt, which dominated the Insomnia area, was a huge hit with convention-goers throughout the weekend. Considering the number of costume-makers and fabric fanatics on hand at the gig, the quilt had a real crossover appeal to it. Thanks are due to Ferret for once again going above and beyond.
...and yes, there were cosplayers. To be perfectly honest, I was staggered this year by the quality of the costumes. The bar has definitely been raised over previous years. I still don't understand the dress-up urge myself, but I do have to admire the time, money and effort that goes into some of these costumes.
I'll leave you with a few of my favourites, plus a video I shot of the weird alien autopsy/stripping scientist stage show that inexplicably broke out on Saturday afternoon:
*"Fanbushing" is a term I'm hoping to popularise, referring to the practice of stalking up behind the object of one's geekery, waiting patiently six inches behind them and then exclaiming, "Oh, are you such-and-such?" in fake surprise when they turn around in alarm to see who it is that's breathing on the back of their neck.