Tomorrow after work I'm driving 4 hours up to Manchester for BUCK! It's the third BUCK and my third time selling there, so I'm pretty excited to be back! For those who don't know what BUCK is, it's a Brony convention in the UK. For those of you who don't know what a Brony is, and you've somehow missed that phenomenon, it's basically an adult fan of the new My Little Pony cartoon, 'Friendship is Magic'. 'Friendship is Magic' kinda took off in a huge way when it came out a few years back, which for an old-school MLP collector like myself, was pretty weird! I mean, I spent my childhood being teased for liking My Little Ponies, and now they're the cool thing to like? Bizarre!
Anyway, suffice to say, the emphasis at BUCK is on My Little Pony merchandise and goodies, so I'm taking along a bunch of rainbow horse art. I'm also going to throw in some of my video game / pop culture merchandise too, just in case! I figure, if you're a fan of cartoons, you're probably into video games and sci fi, too, right?
I'm super pleased with these mugs I ordered, too! I used Awesome Merchandise, a company I'm forever buying badges from, and I was a little apprehensive because I've never ordered anything as substantial as a mug before, so I was worried the art wouldn't translate very well. I'm so happy to say they look lovely! I ordered 12 and I'm hoping to sell them all this weekend. Wish me luck!
Last weekend was Manchester MCM! I've never attended Manchester MCM before, much less sold there, but this year was the first time the convention ran for two days, which finally made it worth the long journey up from Dorset!
The original plan was to get there by 6pm Friday evening so we could set up (and avoid the early morning set up on Saturday!) but Friday traffic had other ideas! I picked Moose and Luke up in Bristol and set off a little later than usual. Then we ended up at the very start (fortunately) of a standstill jam on the M6. It was quite fun in an admitting-defeat kind of way! Once we realised we absolutely were not going to get to Manchester before the 8pm set up close, I was able to relax, embrace the journey, and eat my melted McFlurry while standing on the motorway with hundreds of other people (who did not have ice creams, and therefore weren't as merry as I.)
The plan in Manchester was to stay with some very old friends of mine who moved up there a long time ago. I rarely get a chance to see them anymore, so when they offered their couches I jumped at the chance! We spent Friday evening nomming spaghetti kindly cooked by my old uni buddy Matt, playing Amplitude on the PS2 (my game, that I left at Katy's house in Manchester about seven years ago and never got back, until now!) and introducing the gang to Space Dandy. The 7 hour drive must have taken its toll on me though because I zonked out half way through the third episode, which is just as well, I suppose, because Saturday morning was con-time!
Manchester MCM is held at Manchester Central, a lovely old venue just a ten minute walk from where our friends live. It's way, way smaller than its London counterpart, but that was actually a giant plus in my books, because the whole event felt so relaxed and calm and... nice. I love London MCM, don't get me wrong, but the event is a crush. This one was a much slower pace, still busy and full but on a much more toned down scale.
One thing I did notice lacking was a gaming section. They had a dedicated eSports area devoted to League of Legends, which is always lovely, but there was no DDR-UK which I pretty much assumed was a staple at these conventions. They had plenty of room to put in a couple of machines, and I don't know if other Manchster MCMs have had them in the past, but it seemed like a pretty large oversight.
Table wise, I did pretty decently! The crowd seemed a lot younger than at London, probably due to the fact it's an inner city convention people can easily travel to without the stress of a big trip into London, and I think that always affects sales a little bit. It had the same feel as the old Bristol Comic Con days, similar venue too, before Bristol moved to a tiny hotel and stopped on the door entry. Sigh.
One thing that hugely inspired me was that I actually sold some original artwork! Most of my stuff is pop culture parody fandom silliness, because I'm a huge advocate of draw what you love and I love all of the video games. However, I do have a few original pieces, mostly old furry fantasy stuff or cute animals being adorable, and this time I decided to put them out on display since I'm finally using folders and figured I had no reason not to. And they sold! I have spent the week after Manchester brimming with inspiration to create more cute, adorable fantasy animal stuff, because it's where my original art passion used to be. I'm working artwork for BUCK now, but between that and certainly after, I'll be trying out some of my old ideas that I've always had and never made real. So that's nice! Yay inspiration!
Saturday evening, we met up with our TF2 friend Fillin and my buddy Ollie and headed into Manchester for food and drinks. On Ollie's recommendation, we went to an amazing buffet called Tops that served char siu buns so it was an instant winner in my books. We spent the evening playing a dumb drawing game in a pub, so the usual standard, really.
Sunday was much of the same at the con, we watched the mini League of Legends cosplay masquarade, went for a wonder, walked into a panel Warwick Davis was on, and I bought art supplies! Sunday night is usually DnD night at the house we were staying in, but because we were about, Matt changed it to 'generic game night'! I'd brought along Netrunner and Cards Against Humanity and Katy had a copy of Avalon she wanted to try out. It was a riot! Seriously, between Cards Against Humanity and Avalon, a game of deception and deduction where you try to work out who the two bad guys are in your group, I was sure Moose was going to get kicked out of the house! We all learned a lot about each other that night - mostly which of us has a horrible sense of humour and who lies entirely too convincingly for comfort! I'd never played Avalon before but it was genuinely very fun and easy to pick up, even if I ended the last game early by accidentally putting down the wrong card, causing my side to lose. Oops. It was late! I was tired! Honest!
On Monday morning, Moose and I played some Netrunner, we all grabbed breakfast and it was time to head home! This time, without Friday traffic, car fires and accidents on the road, we did incredibly good time and got back to Bristol in just over three hours, so that was good.
Here's a small selection of photos from the convention! I really do need to get better at taking photos of amazing cosplay!
I'm so behind with blogging lately, but May was a super hectic month (three conventions in one month? Aaagh!) but now I've literally nothing on until our holiday in July so it's time to catch up and get active again!
Last weekend was MCM Expo (gosh, was it only last weekend??), which is now called London Comic Con and it's our largest event of its kind. My dad kindly drove Moose and I up to the venue on Thursday, where we settled in before heading out for the evening in Canary Wharf to meet our buddy Kingsley for a meal and some drinks at the local Wetherspoon. The food prices are extortionate around the ExCel so finding a local Wetherspoon is such a bargain!
After dinner, we went for a lovely walk around Canary Wharf. I've never actually mooched around the place before, and with Kingsely as our guide, we explored.
It reminded me so much of New York in a lot of ways, all new and high rise. Which reminds me, I haven't actually blogged about New York yet! So much to talk about! ANYWAY...
London Comic Con / MCM Expo!~
I had a table in the 'Comic Village' area as usual, but this time Comic Village was huge! It spread down half the hall. Unfortunately, the layout was a little disjointed, and I've heard that some people were split up away from the rest of the tables and didn't do the best trade.
I'll be honest... trade on my end was pretty disappointing too. I did well, don't get me wrong! Had it been any other convention I attend I'd probably be bouncing up and down with joy, but in MCM Expo terms? I took literally half what I usually pull at this convention. I've no idea why! I've heard a lot of people also complaining that it was their worst Expo ever, including some big time dealers. But then, I've also heard from some people that it was their very best.
I guess that's the "joy" of freelancing and being self employed, and dealing at conventions. I've taken Expo for granted as a con that helps me out a lot, but that complacency meant I put a lot of purchases on my credit card (art supplies, table supplies and stock) that I can't now pay back entirely! Ouch. Still, I guess it's a harsh lesson to learn. Each con is a gamble and you can't expect them all to pay off just because they "usually do". Like I say, I did well enough that I feel bad even grumbling, but not London-Expo Well. Oh well!
Aside from trader grousing, the convention itself felt so different this time around! They had larger hall space, which was fabulous, but only half of it was full of stalls and exhibits. They purposefully left the far end pretty empty, save for the MCM eSports stages and some food stalls, which I later learned was a condition of obtaining the extra space cheaply. As a result, it meant a crush down one end of the hall, and sparseness on the other end. I'm not sure if they'll repeat that again in October - having somewhere to run away for some space was a good idea, but it felt wasted to me. Why not expand the stalls across the whole hall?
Another big change was how the ticketing worked this time around. Usually tickets are arranged in some sort of holding pen inside the hall, where people queue. This time, the queue was outside, and it was huge. It spanned from the train station, down past the local hotels and snaked back again up the convention hall. It took hours for people to get through. And the queue was outside for most of it, in May. In England. It was a disaster. Rain and a hail storms wrecked people's costumes. They closed the side doors so even those who already had wrist-bands had to queue in a 're-entry' line. In the rain and hail. Yeah. I am so glad I have a dealers pass. It was a literal multi-pass to the convention and we managed to miss all of the weather problems. I feel so bad for people who spent months on cosplays only to be destroyed in the rain. :(
For me, business aside, however, this was the best MCM Expo I've attended! Friday is always a fun social day for me as I don't sell then, so we had time to check out the convention, play on a few games and grab lunch at The Fox Bar. I wore a sort of casual cosplay as an Aurin from Wildstar, my new favourite thing. Nobody recognised me though :( (maybe a little too casual?).
I had so much fun actually attending events this time around. There was a panel on Wildstar on Saturday that Moose and I attended. During that panel, we learned that there was going to be a special community event that evening in Canary Wharf, funded by the guys at Carbine. Suddenly we had evening plans! And they were amazing.
The community event was a semi-private function held in a bar called Corney & Barrow. They had a projector set up playing Wildstar trailers, and provided free beer, wine and food! It was incredible! Chad Moore, creative director (main lore guy!) at Carbine even bought us all tequila shots at the end of the evening! They even gave us a tonne of Rowsdower plushies and t-shirts!
We also got interviewed by MMORPG about Wildstar and our reasons for playing and they featured a photo of me (and my new Rowsdower plushie!) in the article!
The evening was extra cool because we were joined by Anastasia and her mister, Paddy! Anastasia is an amazing artist I've known a little while now, but we hardly ever find time to hang out socially since we mainly meet up at conventions! They're both interested in Wildstar too so I invited them along and we had a great time! Definitely need to hang out more often socially when we're not stuck behind dealer tables.
Sunday was quiet (Sunday always is), so we had another quick chance to look around the hall before MCM was over for another year. I picked up some Magic The Gathering boosters from two dumb sets they released years ago called Unhinged and Unglued. I also treated myself to a TF2 Balloonicorn plushie and a Poro plushie from League of Legends. I don't often buy things for myself at Expo but this year there were lots of things I wanted to buy. I held myself back a lot, believe me!
Sunday evening was lovely. We had dinner, then Moose and I went for a walk around the ExCel in the dark which always has such a wonderful atmosphere - cosplayers just hanging around by the waterfront. I don't get much "alone time" with Moose at conventions so it was a nice ten minutes of peace. :) We had been told that the bottom of the Fox Bar had been hired out by MCM eSports to stream some League of Legends LCS games, so we headed down there for drinks after dinner. It was great! Speaking of MCM eSports, though, I donated a few prints to them for prizes and goodie bags for the tourneys they were running during the convention! :) I heard they went down well, so that's cool!
Okay, well that's about enough of that for a recap I think! All in all it was a really great convention, and a wonderful con for hanging out with people I don't normally get to spend much time with (Anastasia, Archer, Scifox!) Takings were down, sure, but this must be my favourite MCM so far!
So, to close - here's some of the killer cosplay I saw this con! I didn't take many photos (as usual!) and it's mostly League of Legends (as usual!)
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. :)
Sorry for the absence guys! I've been down in Plymouth having a killer weekend and selling art at DevCon!
My table at conventions is always growing and evolving, and I'm still learning how best to present everything! The trouble is, I have so much stuff I can hardly fit it all in a 6ft table now, so it's turning into a little bit of a headache! At DevCon I didn't even hang out any larger A3 sized prints, but it was the first time I had the chance to sell my necklaces and accessories properly. I was so excited to find I'd been given an extra little side table, so that was perfect to use for the 'stuff' while the main table held all my art. I think I'm going to have to start using folders to display more prints, which is something I've always wanted to avoid (I prefer people to be able to glance across and see everything in one go), but I'd rather a folder than just not display the art at all.
DevCon is a nice little convention, with a friendly attitude. It sort of feels like a mix between a toy fair and a comic convention, with lots of dealers geared towards nostalgia and second hand merchandise over the traditional anime/modern popular culture dealers found at a lot of cons. The meet and greets were free, which was a nice plus, but there weren't any panels or scheduled events to my knowledge, not even a cosplay masquerade, which was a shame given the number of great costumes I saw there.
This weekend is Bristol Comic Expo, so I don't get much time to prep between cons this time! Eep!
I spent pretty much all today finishing up merchandise for my stall this Sunday at DevCon! I've made a real effort just sorting everything out this year. I've never sold necklaces before, and I usually just put pins and badges on loose on my table with a price tag nearby. Not anymore!
These are my necklaces, all bagged up and ready to go! I simply cut some slits in my business cards to thread the chains through, which work perfectly for a visual and obviously all my details are printed on the back! I'll be hanging a few necklaces loose on a stand and then pin the rest in their baggies to a cork board above them.
Here are my newly packaged badge packs! They'll be hanging on the cork board too, all individually priced.
Some specially cut and laminated pony bookmarks, complete with sparkly tassels!
I literally spent all day doing these things! And tomorrow I need to sit down and print actual artwork to sell, package it all up and get everything packed. I have to work all day tomorrow and Friday morning so I won't get much more time now to work on convention supplies. Eep! I'm exhausted and DevCon isn't even a huge convention.
I always joke, if it weren't for the eleventh hour, I'd get nothing done.
Days like today, though, I think the joke's on me!
Alternatively titled "Meet My Booth-babes, Luke, Moose & DC" haha.
While I'm in the middle of con-prep for DevCon this weekend, I thought it might be fun to show off some of my old table displays! This isn't all the cons I've attended by far, but it's a pretty good representation of how my table's grown! This year will be my first selling jewellery and crafts as well as art, so I can't wait to evolve my table even further.
My first ever convention was MCM London in October, I threw myself in the deep end! I took mainly old furry prints I'd made for Athrocon a million years ago, and just made back my table and transport. Fortunately for me, I've learned a lot since then :)
I LOVE looking at people's convention table photos, so I hope this post is inspiring to anyone thinking about setting up a table at a convention!
A few months ago I was invited to deal at Armadacon, a small long running science fiction convention down in Plymouth, and I jumped at the chance! I absolutely love old school fan conventions. They've got a really different feel to comic expos, which have generally consist of a large dealer's room and a few industry panels. Fannish conventions are made by the fans, for the fans, and they're more personal and silly and fun.
Even though Armadacon is open to all science fiction, Doctor Who was the primary subject (and what with the big 50th around the corner, I wouldn't expect any different!) There were some amazing costumes, including a lady dressed as every Doctor which is actually a concept I've never seen before, despite being a really fun, obvious one.
The highlight for me was meeting Mitch Benn, a comedy song writer who has done a lot of work for the BBC, and is famous for numbers such as 'Proud of the BBC' and 'Doctor Who Girl'. He had a panel discussing his love of sci fi and his new book Terra, and later he performed a couple of songs for us. He seems like a lovely chap and I was pumped he made it to the con!
We attended a panel on physics, listened to some terrible science fiction in their 'turkey reading' session, watched a little anime, played some Magic the Gathering and witnessed the tail end of a very rousing Tea Duel. The masquerade and skits were really fun and generally the whole convention was just lovely.
Sales were low, as I expected them to be. I went to Armadacon for community and fun, to meet local fellow fans and dork out at panels and games. Most of my merchandise that sold was Who related of course and the weekend paid for itself, essentially.
Armadacon was really fun and I'm so glad I had the chance to attend and see what it was all about. I wish I'd actually taken some photos because this blog post doesn't really do it much justice. I'll certainly be back next year!
Firstly, I just want to say a huge thank you to everyone who stopped by my table to buy prints or just simply to say hello! I was super ill Saturday and Sunday so if I seemed a little 'off' that's why! I love meeting you all and nerding out about ponies and video games! You were all awesome, as usual! <3
London Comic Con (or MCM Expo, depending on how long you've been attending!) is the largest geek event in the UK. It runs twice a year (May and October) and typically the October event is the largest of the two. I haven't heard official numbers yet, but this one must have been their largest ever.
Normally, I love MCM. The whole thing has a really wonderful feel to it. People go there to have fun and dork out with friends first and foremost. I don't often get to any of the events because the queues are far too long and because I'm usually behind a table selling art in the Comic Village, but the feeling and vibe of the whole place is awesome regardless.
Sadly, this year was really soured for me because I got struck with a horrible cold Saturday morning. I guess I'm glad it hit then and not earlier, because it allowed me time on Friday to bounce around the convention. Friday's my favourite day of the con because it's far quieter and, frankly, more fun. I don't sell on Friday generally because it's my day to actually have fun with the con and I don't feel I'm missing much potential trade. Saturday and Sunday were pretty awful for me, though, health wise, and I ended up leaving Sunday night instead of staying on until Monday like usual. It really made me upset because, heck, I look forward to MCM for months and months and then bam, illness. It made it extra hard because MCM Is my busiest convention in terms of table sales, and I had to be 'on' with customers and friends when all I really wanted to do was curl up in bed and sulk. I even debated not selling on the Sunday because I was feeling so rough. Ugh. But anyway, enough about being ill! More about MCM Expo!
This year, MCM made a huge point of hiring out both sides of the Excel Centre, doubling its size, we thought. It really didn't work out that way, though. The extra halls were entirely ticketing, a huge Yu-Gi-Oh tournament area and a smaller hall dedicated to some signings, the main stage and a few things that just felt shoved out of the way, including the ever popular Steampunk section and Origami workshop. I'd really like to hear feedback about the extra hall because I can't imagine any of the dealers or exhibitors got the exposure they're used to in the main hall.
Having both sides of the hall open for events also created the worst case of crowd management I've ever witnessed at any event. Usually, MCM demonstrates a flow where people are directed in a one way system towards the doors, but this time it just became a manic crush. I'm not one to whine about health and safety nonsense but I absolutely despair to think what would have happened had there been a fire or other emergency while we were crushed in the entrance! I've heard of people being sick and unable to get out, so that must have been really unpleasant. I had a friend leave early on Saturday because he has difficulty walking and couldn't avoid being pushed around. I dread to think how people in wheelchairs or with prams dealt with the Saturday crush. It was absolutely horrible. Even with my exhibitor's badge, it took me a good ten-fifteen minutes of slow shuffle-walking from the doors to my table.
The show itself is great but they really do have to sort out the crowding issues. I don't know if the best option is to either open up more room or limit ticket sales, but I know it can't continue this way. I'm very lucky I can attend Friday (and even Sunday, as that's far less manic, too) but anyone only attending on Saturday must have such a horrible time trying to see or do anything. I've heard of people queuing up for hours for signings only to be turned away. I've even heard that people were told certain celebrities would be doing later signings, only to find out that they weren't (and later heard that those celebrities were in the local pub because they didn't know they'd been scheduled for extra signings!) just lack of communication and organization all over. I'd be surprised if people stick with MCM if it stays like this, and I find that such a shame because, frankly, it's my favourite nerdy event and I'd hate for it to be ruined and soured like this.
Grumbling aside - as I said, Friday and Sunday were actually pretty good days to have a look around and get involved. We managed to play some boardgames, and I ended up buying a copy of Zombie Dice after playing it. Great, simple fun! There were some video game demonstrations we tried out, but nothing really outstanding to me apart from maybe Dark Souls 2, which had a queue a mile long the whole time. I was really disappointed to find out I'd actually missed a Wildstar panel on the Sunday! I'm eagerly anticipating that game and had initially hoped there'd be playable demos at MCM, which there weren't, but I'd have totally attended the panel if I'd known about it! Oh, well! I can't wait for May, when hopefully I won't be ill and I can make up for this one.
Anyway, here are some photos! Mainly of League of Legends cosplayers, because Moose and I tell ourselves every time that we'll join in the League cosplay fun, and maybe someday we actually will!
I love you, MCM, crowds and all. I'll be back in May, in full health and able to make the most of you!
I'm Selena, an artist, blogger and gamer - but maybe not always in that order! Dream Somehow is a blog dedicated to travel, art, geeky adventures, vintage style and a little bit of Disney Dreaming! If you'd like to know a bit more about me, click here!
Adorable icon of me by Tinrobo ❤
Want to see my art? Click here to go to Reaperfox.com!