Assorted Musings and Advice from MCM Manchester Comic Con
Attack of the Voice Actors!
Manchester Comic Con took place over the weekend of July 28-29 and Coaching for Geeks overlord Robin asked me to go and cover it, gifting me with a nice, shiny press pass. I had only been to MCM Manchester Comic Con once before, about eight years ago when Stargate Atlantis actor Joe Flanagan had been the main star. While a Stargate actor was once again one of the big draws, Christopher Judge this time, the most startling change was the sheer array of voice talent that was attending the Con. These included some of the biggest names in voice acting, such as: Nolan North (Uncharted), Troy Baker (The Last of Us), Vanessa Marshall (Star Wars Rebels), Phil LaMarr (Samurai Jack), Khary Payton (Teen Titans Go!) and Jennifer Hale (FemShep is best Shep).
In the press room, we tried to theorise why that might be. Maybe it’s because video game fandom has grown exponentially in the past decade. Or maybe it was because London Film and Comic Con was scheduled for the same weekend and took all the TV actors. Either way, they can keep the cast of Dr Who, because I got to meet Nathan Drake!
One big advantage of having so many prestigious voice actors in attendance, was that we got treated to an exclusive Twisted Toonz panel with the actors listed above. Donning various ridiculous personas, the panel performed the script of The Force Awakens. It was hysterical! Some highlights included Hale voicing BB-8 as Dora, LaMarr doing General Hux as Donald Trump and North taking on Poe Dameron as Herbert the Pervert. The only downside was that it wasn’t longer. Definitely check it out on YouTube when you can.
Who Knew Overwatch was Such a Big Thing?
I tend to think of myself as fairly nerd-literate. I’m usually aware of the big fandoms and movements happening in nerd culture even if I’m not directly involved. But I did not realise how big Overwatch was until attending MCM. Three of the voice actors from the Blizzard shooter were guests at the convention and the lines at their signing stations rivalled even Christopher Judge’s. I’ve never played Overwatch, and I had assumed the lack of a story mode meant that the voice actors weren’t that important. Obviously I assumed wrong.
There was a huge amount of Overwatch cosplay on display as well, and it was probably the best represented franchise on costumes alone. I let my ignorance show when I saw a guy dressed in a very cool robot costume and asked the person next to me who he was dressed as. “Genji!” she exclaimed, and looked at me as if I’d just asked who that guy in the black suit, helmet and cape was supposed to be – you know, the one with the deep voice and the flashing red stick. I dutifully slunk off into the crowd and stopped asking questions.
Press Passes and Ivy Doomkitty
Attending events like this with a press pass is always a fairly different experience than turning up with a ticket. We had a nice, quiet press room upstairs, which was used for the press interviews but also doubled as a place to take a breather from the hustle and bustle of the convention floor. Although, I’d recommend always checking these rooms before entering as I accidentally interrupted an interview with the professional cosplayer Ivy Doomkitty. She was very friendly though and spoke about the impressive cosplay she’d seen at MCM. She also told us that she was in the process of transitioning into a more different role, as the stress of being a professional cosplay artist is so great that it has started to cause some health problems for her. An occupational hazard that had never occurred to me.
Too. Much. Walking.
When Robin first asked me if I’d be interested in going to Manchester Comic Con, I was hesitant. For the better part of the past year I’ve been recovering from adverse reactions to the antibiotic Ciprofloxacin (which you should not take) that messed up my legs. However, as the weeks passed and I started to get stronger, I thought I was up to the Convention. It would be a good test of the returning strength in my legs. Besides, I thought, I can always limit my amount of walking. How wrong I was.
The convention centre itself wasn’t huge, but it was packed to the brim with stalls, shops and displays. Beforehand, I had drawn a crude route along the floor map on which I would only walk around the centre once. But, for some inexplicable reason, I ended up doing multiple laps, staring at different stalls and items even though I knew I was unlikely to buy anything. It was OK in the end as my legs held up, although they spent the next few days aching as if to say “What were you thinking, you twat? There were chairs there.”
If you do have any slight mobility issues like me and you want to reduce walking at the Con, I’d suggest not following my example and instead:
- Plan Your Route. Find a map of the centre online and plan in what order you will see everything. Stick to that route.
- Go round the stalls once (at most twice), ideally at the start or end of the day when the queues disappear.
- Sit down every once in a while
- Know the closest public transport stop to avoid spending an unnecessary twenty minutes walking through the city centre like a complete melon.
Good by Yourself, Better With Friends
I returned home, wearied and beaten, but had a great time. I went to the convention by myself and really enjoyed it, thanks in large part to the press pass allowing me to interview Christopher Judge, Vanessa Marshall and Nolan North. However, I couldn’t help thinking that the Con would be a better experience as a group. The Con Floor had many cool attractions that weren’t very exciting on my lonesome, including a Counter Strike battle bus and some escape rooms. Even though I spoke to people in the press room and the autograph lines, it still felt a little isolating going without company. So next year, I’ll be coming back with friends and I’ll be cosplaying Mortal Engines.
Daniel Fine – Running a CfG D&D session every Monday (geek credentials validated)