Don’t you hate it when you get a present and aren’t allowed to play with it? Well in the case of the tickets I got back in February as a birthday gift from colleagues, I wasn’t actually able to use them until the weekend just passed – and for me and my travelling companion it was well worth the wait.
In case I haven’t said it before, I bloody love Manchester. I went to university there and, despite the reservations I’d been brought up to have about the place (as a Leeds United fan), I was lucky to spend three years in that great city. I still go once a year for their Christmas Market which, I promise you, is a million times better than the Leeds one.
So with two of my loves coming together – Manchester and comics – I knew it would be a great weekend at Manchester Comic Con.
We spent the Friday walking around town and doing some shopping – plus we found a place that does bubble tea called I Come From Taiwan, it was delicious. At Fopp Records I picked up two My Bloody Valentine albums to satisfy the secret shoegaze fan inside me, (damn, secret’s out) and we had an awesome fish and chip dinner before retiring for the evening to our digs in Castlefield.
This was the view from our room; the rather ugly Beetham Tower, whose rather ugly aerodynamic shape at the top means the wind blowing through it causes a low hum which can be heard for miles around. We heard it a lot.
Oh, and we were staying in room 316. Cue the incessant Steve Austin/room service impersonations.
I don’t do well on Saturday mornings. Scratch that; I don’t do well most mornings, but planning an early wake-up after a full day’s walking around town didn’t have me raving to start the day. Multiple coffees and a big breakfast solved that problem, and just before 9am we headed out to Manchester Central, which was hosting the MCM Manchester Comic Con.
First things first; the amount of cosplayers there was incredible. Even as we joined the queue we were overwhelmed by the number of attendees showing up in their costumes, representing every nook and cranny of geek culture. It was really encouraging to see so many people expressing themselves so avidly – go take a look at any MCM Manchester-related hashtag right now for the evidence.
The line to get inside moved quite speedily, and before long we were cast into the huge convention hall with what had to be thousands of other attendees, even at that early hour. It was all quite overwhelming actually, and I really, REALLY don’t do well in crowds so was quite upset for quite some time.
To get away from it all, we crept into a panel being held by the guys from All The Anime, who were discussing upcoming releases and answering questions from the assembled audience. Most of the questions and answers being supplied sailed clean over my head, as I don’t watch much anime at all – certainly nothing current, my knowledge is limited to old Studio Ghibli and Akira – but I really dug their enthusiasm and easy-going nature as they answered questions and shared opinions on what’s happening in the wide world of anime.
Most of the day was spent checking out the merchandise on offer at the various stalls, and what a selection – everything from comics, video games and clothing to cosplay props, imported food and drink and even a few film-makers, like Redshirt Films who made the excellent Nights At The Round Table.
We even saw a live Robot Wars event – my goodness, that was fun. My lady was always a bit partial to the metal mayhem of a weekday evening on BBC2, and it was really cool to see it happen live. Only issue for me was that every one of the robots competing in the same round was a ‘flipper’ type – you know the sort I mean:
So there wasn’t any real harm done to the combatants – any time one got flipped over, they just re-flipped themselves back into action. Apart from that, it was a lot of fun to see.
Someone also recognised the Scrivens 3.14 t-shirt I was wearing on the day. That was a highlight.
In one of those who-are-you-and-what-have-you-done-with-Vincent moments, sadly I didn’t pick much up in the way of sweet merch from the con – although I did pick up a copy of The Everyday by Adam Cadwell, who has not only written a funny and touching autiobio anthology but was also a lovely bloke to chat to at the end of a long day.
I also got this t-shirt, because I had to.
And that’s yer lot. We had a bit of a mad dash to Piccadilly for the train home, but thanks to my ninja shortcut skills we were there in plenty of time. The con was a lot of fun, and Manchester is always lovely to me whenever I visit. It’s been emotional.