It's been a frantic fortnight. Hot on the heels of the Bristol Expo was the London MCM Expo held at the Excel Centre in the heart of London Docklands, and our experience of both couldn't have been more different.
Expanded into a two-day event over the weekend, this year's Small/Indie Press aspect of the Bristol Expo in the Mercure had much more going on. More exhibitors, more talks, more attendees - and more of an opportunity to relish being in a spacious, well-lit, air-conditioned room rather than the Ramada sweatbox! As usual, Bristol had a cap on ticket sales and there were the same issues with poor signage as last year - including worrying reports that a fair few came and left the Mercure not realising that the huge main exhibiting room existed, just the smaller sized room - and grumbles about the event being split between two venues.
It's clearly impossible to have everything under one hotel roof in Bristol - there isn't a hotel big enough to accommodate the entire thing - but there were still a fair few conference rooms free at the Mercure that could have been utilised I reckon. My option would be to use the Ramada solely for panels and the Mercure solely for signings and exhibitors, but what do I know? Niggles aside, Bristol remains one of the highlights of the UK comics industry and it was great to be a part of it.
The UK comics industry is a very small part of the MCM Expo, a show dominated by gaming, anime and hollywood stars. We really weren't sure what to expect. We certainly didn't expect to see 41,000 people turn up, about a quarter of them in costume! MCM is being referred to by many as the British San Diego - it's a good analogy given the numbers attending and how comics are such a small aspect of both. However, that's not to say we felt marginalised - the comics village was a wonderful place to be and the Time Bomb table received constant attention! Some of our fellow villagers we'd seen at Bristol the week before, but there were a good number of fresh faces too, and a fascinating display of steampunk paraphernalia just across from us.
This was the first time we'd been to any London event, so many of those we spoke to hadn't had the opportunity to check out our comics before - not every London comic fan shops at Orbital and Gosh it seems! We took a lot of comics to the show, but we didn't take that many back. Dick Turpin and the Restless Dead was our most popular purchase - we returned from London with just 3 copies - but all our titles seemed to be well-received, and we also met a few very talented artists interested in working with us.
It was a great weekend, and we've decided to make future MCM Expo's one of our regular events. There are two MCM shows a year and the next one falls on Halloween weekend, between BICS and Thoughtbubble. It's going to be a busy Autumn...