This was the second ever MCM Scotland Comic Con and my second time going. The big difference was in the size of the venue. Still housed in the SECC but in a much larger hall, MCM had enough space to create a table and chair area, serve food from within the hall and look after traders.
The first MCM Scotland Comic Con was too crowded. I couldn’t get into much of the Comic Village or trading stands because of the constant flow of visitors through the passageways between stalls. If anything 2014 felt even more well attended than the first year but it was not as crowded. I was able to look at shops. I was able to buy goodies. This is important because commercial success is it we need to improve on the 2015 and 2016 Comic Cons in Scotland.
The other significant change from 2013 is that this year’s event was a weekend long convention and not just a Saturday. This made a difference. For example, Sunday’s cosplay masquerade was better than Saturday because they had time to recruit/persuade more cosplayers to take the stage.
Queuing was much better too. The queues are still very long. If you turn up on Saturday with the intent to buy a ticket on the door then you’re very brave and will have come with supplies to sustain you in the wait. We had priority tickets but still had to join a huge, snaking queue, filled with cosplayers. Thankfully the queue moved swiftly once the doors opened but MCM/SCEE staff filed us in quickly so there wasn’t a rush. It still took a good while to get just the priority tickets inside.
One last note on cosplay; lots of people did it. On Saturday I’d estimate maybe as much as 1:10 in cosplay, perhaps down to 1:20 for Sunday. So what? Don’t feel shy about turning up in costume. Even better; most attendees turned up “in theme” with geeky t-shirts, hoodies and the like. I barely saw any jock, chav or yah clothing. Bliss.
The main theatre was not in the main hall.
On the downside I fear that some attendees spent two whole days at the Comic Con without ever leaving past the security guards on the edge of the hall, crossing the corridor of the SECC, exploring down a short little tunnel and discovering the theatre. That’s a real shame and would have easily have been sorted with some signs. Those same signs could easily have displayed the Saturday and Sunday schedules. After all – this was a chance to meet Luke Evans (The Hobbit) and see an exclusive clip from his next film Dracula Untold.
On the upside the theatre was great. Stacked seating and plenty of it! Professional light and sound ensured you could see and hear who was on stage. I can actually show you what the theatre looked like via this Vine from D.C. Douglas.
D.C. and Courtenay Taylor, in the video with him, are actors and geeks may know them best as voice actors from Mass Effect (Jack, Legion) and Resident Evil (Albert Wesker).
The surprise success of the guest circuit for me was TomSka. Famous for his YouTube channel, Tom came across as hyper but clearly rather intelligent. He was even kind enough to let the audience peek into some of the jokes in the next asdfmovie. They won’t be spoiled here except to say he’s wrestling with the idea of the suicidal muffin meeting a mine turtle. What would happen?
In terms of merchandise there are a few categories that make up the bulk of the trade. In the Comic Village you’ll find artists and writers there to introduce their work. You can often commission illustrations then and there for not very much money. I also recommend taking any business cards offered so you can check out their own online and in the peace of your own home. You can buy anime from a few stalls and they tend to stock each other’s main titles for your convenience. There are plenty of places to buy t-shirts and models. Expect lots of printed art and jewellery too.
A sign of how popular the dealers’ den area was in 2014 was reflected by the length of the queues for the ATMs. I spent well over half an hour in one on Saturday. This wasn’t MCM’s fault. They’d brought four additional machines into the main hall as not to rely on the SCEE’s supply. All kept running out.
The main news from the event came from Manga UK and their buyer Jerome Mazandarani. Two new titles; Ben-To and Good Luck Girl will be released in 2015 but not on DVD. Manga UK had looked at the stats; Blu-ray is outstripping DVD sells and in some cases on a 5:1 level. Blu-rays are easier to make as the raw computer format for the titles comes Blu-ray compatible but needs to be converted for DVD.
I think Manga UK are making a very sensible decision here. They’re experimenting but they’re beginning to test for the inevitable – the move away from DVD. The catch? The news didn’t seem to go down well with the audience at all. Anime buyers in the crowd bought on DVD they insisted through a show of hands and not on Blu-ray. I don’t think this is a regional difference between Scotland and the rest of the UK. I think this is part of the Collectors phenomenon. Some anime buyers are building collections and want those collections to be homogeneous in format.
Equally as interesting was Manga UK and Scotland’s own All the Anime promoting Netflix and Crunchyroll placements. Last year I asked Jerome about the influence of Crunchyroll and if I understood his answer correctly that sort of deal was usually made between Manga’s owners, license holders and the platforms.
This year the anime vendors were keen to promote legal digital streaming. The success of Kights of Sidonia on Netflix suggests that digital is the platform to awaken a larger audience to anime. No wonder that rights owners would want to promote the concept. I wonder if it transforms the international anime buying interesting into one of price and rights arbitrage though.
I look forward to a MCM Comic Con Scotland 2015.
One last thought. Are there any other Comic Cons named after the country they’re in rather than the city? MCM run a London Comic Con, Birmingham Comic Con, Manchester Comic Con and even a Belfast Comic Con. Glasgow has a population of about 0.6m which is more than twice the size of Belfast. However, Scotland’s not alone as in addition to the “Midlands Comic Con” MCM also run “Ireland Comic Con”. I can only wager that the name of the convention is a reflection of MCM’s belief in their own marketing.
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