Last weekend, I went to MCM’s Manchester Comic Con with my Footloose Comics co-conspirator, Emily Brady. We sold print copies of our comic (along with our trademark Pirate Faerie Pants), hung out with old friends, and generally had a rather good time.
Manchester MCM is one of the four comic conventions we’re attending this year. we’ve already been along to London’s May MCM, which we’ll be going back to in October, and November brings with it Thought Bubble in Leeds. Four conventions might seem like a lot, but we’ve actually narrowed down the number we attend – these are the ones that we simply couldn’t miss.
Comic conventions are hard work. Lugging two suitcases full of heavy books to a different city, setting up, being on your best, most sparkly sales-person form for two (or sometimes three) days straight, and then dragging everything home again? It’s pretty exhausting. But even so, I love comic conventions, and here are my four reasons why:
I’ve cosplayed precisely once in my life, unless you count fancy dress parties or the time I helped out at The Story Museum while dressed as Snape. Which I don’t. I’m always a mixture of envious and awed at the cosplayers I see at conventions – particularly group or family cosplays. My heart still goes squishy over the mother and baby I saw dressed as Princess Peach and Toad.
In Manchester this weekend, I chatted to Tiny Princess Darth Vader, who told me all about the drawing competition she’d entered. I saw a woman in a wonderful Effie Trinket costume, complete with hair full of butterflies (fake ones, of course), and a baby Yoda, who for some reason had decided to communicate by “baaaaa”-ing at everyone he passed. Surprisingly, there were only ten Elsas – I was expecting at least twice that many – but they all had interesting and different twists on their costumes. The amount of creativity I see in cosplayers every convention is astounding, and I’m always blown away by the amount of effort they must have put in.
Don’t get me wrong, I love traditionally-published comics. I’m currently gobbling up Ms Marvel and Batgirl, and Terry Moore’s Strangers in Paradise series didn’t just get me into comics, it brought me some of my closest friends (thank you, online fandoms!) But one thing I really love about comic conventions is looking through all the self-published comics that you find there. It takes a lot of restraint not to throw all my money at the other indie comic creators, because their work is so good, so professional, and so utterly different from anything you find anywhere else. Plus, it’s not just the comics that are good…
Team Footloose have been doing the convention scene for a long time now – first as visitors, then as exhibitors. In that time, we’ve made so many fantastic friends amongst the other comic creators. As I said before, attending a convention as an exhibitor is tough, and so it’s great to have a group of people around you who Get It. Offline and on, we’ve become a tight-knit group who support each other through the difficult bits and congratulate each other when things go well.
I know, I know – I’ve just talked about how tough and exhausting comic conventions can be. And, for an introvert like me, they’re particularly tiring because of the crowds – 110,000 at one of the recent London MCMs. Much as I love seeing people in their beautiful costumes, being stuck in the middle of several thousand of them all at once is pretty anxiety-inducing.
So, I’m eternally grateful for the little oasis of space behind my table. I can sit down, and even stretch my legs out a tiny bit. I can breathe, and get on with my writing, and not be jostled about as I try to fight my way across the hall (well, except when I need to make a toilet run). It’s a little thing, but sometimes the little things can be very helpful.
If you’ve never been to a comic convention, I can seriously recommend going. They can be tiring, and bewildering, and a little bit overwhelming – but they can also be some of the best fun you’ve ever had.