Sorry blogging world! I've not forgotten you! May is just my hectic month, cramming three conventions in a row. I'll be a better blogger in June, I promise!
Last weekend was Bristol Comic Expo. BCExpo is actually one of the first conventions I ever attended, after the London Comic Art Convention ceased to be. It was, for years, held at the Passenger Shed by Bristol train station, with panels and talks taking place at adjacent hotels. I think the station is taking the venue back into service or something though, because BCExpo was forced to find another location, and it did in the form of the Future Inn at Cabot Circus.
Honestly? Yeah. I've been attending BCExpo for absolutely years, and this was my third year as a vendor there. The Passenger Shed was a huge venue, with plenty of space and a huge variety of dealers, independent comic creators and merchandise stalls. I spent a lot of money last year on art supplies from an art store there, had my photo taken next to a full size TARDIS and generally had a lot of fun mooching around the vastness and the variety of the place.
This year, we had one small hotel room, upstairs on floor six. In that small room were five aisles of comic vendors, which made Saturday an absolute nightmare to walk around. Despite the crammed aisles though, there were so many vendors missing from the convention. I don't know if they limited table sales, since I ordered mine way back in October last year, but I guess they must have because there simply wasn't the room to have added more even if they'd wanted to.
In terms of atmosphere, the convention was lovely. Everything being in one place was great. The main room was mainly independent artists and comic creators with only a couple of merchandise retailers, so that was nice. Downstairs, in the foyer , was a small 'Steampunk' showcase (Professor Elemental was one of their guests, who ran a panel and performed Saturday evening), some professional artists and a couple of retailers. One thing I noticed was that they were all forced to pack up in the evening to turn it back into a restaurant/bar area - not something I'd be happy about doing myself.
Had this been my first BCExpo, I'd probably not fault it all that much, but sadly the previous ones have set the bar pretty high. My takings were horrendously down on last year - a complaint I heard from a lot of dealers. BCExpo is one of the more expensive tables to book, too (the table being a similar cost to those in the Comic Village at MCM London, the UK's largest convention) I think I took about £30 all day Sunday. It wasn't worth being a two-day convention at all this year, and if I'd booked a hotel and traveled a greater distance for it (thankfully Bristol is 'local' to me and we all made plans to stay with my buddy Luke who lives there) I'd have been a little heartbroken. Admittedly, Saturday was decent in terms of trade, but the crush put a lot of people off, and, having read some feedback from visitors, I fear a lot of people won't rush to return. The convention was due to finish at 5:30 on the Sunday, but people started packing up as early as three, which kind of shows how worthwhile the second day really was from a vendor's perspective.
It was just so underwhelming.
I didn't get to any panels and missed the cosplay competition, I rarely do since I'm usually behind a table, but I'll say that having it all in one place was a nice touch. Despite the grumbling here, I like hotel conventions. A lot. I prefer them to conventions held in halls. I like everything being in one place, and that you can walk around the halls in silly costumes and meet other people doing the same. There's a lovely sense of community at hotel cons, but BCExpo was lacking so, so much in its transition that I'm curious to see where it goes from here. I've heard the hotel has been contracted to them for three years, so there's no hope of moving venue right now. Hopefully they'll find more space to utilize though, and get back some of the familiar faces we lost this year.
I've heard some really exciting things on the grapevine in terms of Bristol conventions, so all is not lost! Let's just call this one a little blip and a bumpy transition, and look forward to seeing what BCExpo 2015 has to bring. :)
I'm Selena, an artist, blogger and gamer - but maybe not always in that order! Dream Somehow is a blog dedicated to travel, geeky adventures, vintage style and a little bit of Disney Dreaming! If you'd like to learn a little more about me, click here.