One of the events that I was really looking forward to attending this year was the Wales Comic Convention. The event was held at Glyndwr University in Wrexham. The convention was spread across the campus making use of the different buildings available. The main hall which included the signing area was also where the merchandise stalls were. There was a gaming room which was popular throughout the day.The panels were held in the lecture halls (which made perfect sense); there was a comic zone (where Jonathan Ross was based) and an outdoor area which included a wresting stage.
I remember being annoyed that I had missed the convention last year since the event included Robert Picardo (The Doctor from Voyager) and Nicholas Brendon (Xander from Buffy). Almost everyone I spoke to said that they had a great time. With that in mind I was determined to go this year especially since the guest list included Torri Higginson (Dr Weir from Stargate Atlantis), Luciana Carro (Kat from BSG) and Allison Mack (Chloe from Smallville). Most of the events I have been to over the past year or so had been run by one Events Company so I was looking forward to seeing the differences between the two including the differences in venue (this was held on a university campus compared to places like London Excel or Earls Court), the way photo shoots were organised and what was available to those attending.
Apart from Torri, Luciana and Allison the guests included:
- Eve Myles – Torchwood
- Gareth David Lloyd – Torchwood
- Nicki Cyne – BSG
- Mark Addy and several members of the Games of Thrones cast
- Most of the Atlantis cast
- Most of the Red Dwarf cast
- Members of the Hobbit & Lord of the Rings Cast including Ken Stott
- Charlie Adlard – Artist on the Walking dead series
- And many more
I attended the event with Bunny and her boyfriend Gareth. We travelled up on the Saturday and stayed at the Ramada Hotel. For those that wanting to stay in Wrexham for the convention the organisers had arranged a special offer with the hotel to give convention goers a good discount compared to the Ramada’s standard prices. I was able to get a really good price for the two nights and the room itself was outstanding.
I purchased an “early bird” ticket which really was a good idea. I arrived at the convention an hour before the doors opened and I have to say I was really surprised by the numbers of people queuing. I had underestimated how many people would be attending the convention. The early bird queue Gaz and I joined (Bunny was crewing the event) was long but by the time we gained entrance to the convention the queue had lengthened considerably. I would say there was some confusion with the queuing system. People were joining the wrong queue and while they were sign posted perhaps a better system could be found for next time. For me this highlighted the popularity of the event.
My plan for the day was to meet Torri, Luciana and Allison for their autographs along with photo shoots with the three and to attend the Game of Thrones, Stargate, BSG, Smallville and Torchwood panels. I am finding that I am really enjoying the panels more and more. As well as meeting the guests the panels are becoming an important part of the con experience for me. The panels are a good way to find out more about your favourite series or character and this venue was ideal for that since the rooms used were for lectures. The sound quality was better; you did not have the distractions from the event going on that you do at some venues which meant your focus was only on the panel.
I decided I would collect my autographs first in case the queues became too long once the standard ticket holders entered the venue. A good tip is to have the right money on you. Being first can be a good thing but you are not helping the crew when you arrive with a £20 note expecting change. This happened with both Torri and Luciana. After buying a Spiderman print from After Timm I had the much needed change and returned for my autographs. I had a great chat with Torri; we spoke about her upcoming panel and of course being in Wales. I really like Torri and I love her character in Stargate. I was really nervous around Luciana, I am not sure why but she was really nice. I chose a great picture for Luciana to sign; it wasn’t from BSG but was a generic shoot photo. I wouldn’t actually get my autograph from Allison until the afternoon but again that was a nice experience. We had a brief chat and for my autograph I asked Allison which picture she liked (there were quite a few to choose from) and she chose the black and white photo.
The photo shoots were organised really well. The only difference from the previous conventions was that you would not receive your photos straight away; you would need to give them about an hour to be printed. Being a newbie to the convention circuit I have discovered that this was the system used at other events as well and it’s only recently that the faster method of printing has been introduced. This works well unless you are me and forget your photo. It was of course the one with Torri. I was not amused.
In the end I only attended three panels / talks. I couldn’t get to the BSG talk due to it clashing with the Torri photo shoot which was overrunning and to my annoyance I actually forgot the Torchwood panel with Eve and Gareth. The first panel was with Torri. Torri spoke about her time on Atlantis, her co-stars and what it meant being a role model to so many women. Torri commented that more strong female characters were needed on television and it will be a great day when the question doesn’t need to be asked anymore. During the Game of Thrones panel we heard how the cast all interact together when not filming, about shooting in different countries and some fun stories about Sean Bean. The highlight of this panel was Aimee Richardson who plays Myrcella. Aimee really stood out, she was really funny and played to the audience. The last panel for me was Allison Mack. Allison spoke about her time on Smallville, working with an amazing cast, how Chloe was a brilliant character to play and about her future projects including setting up an acting school. Allison also spoke about being a role model and how Kristen Kreuk helped her understand how important it was being a role model to so many women. Allison also told us about her role supporting women. I really enjoyed the panels I attended.
I really enjoyed the Wales Comic Con. I felt relaxed at the event; you could also tell that the guests were as well. This can only be a compliment to the organisers. I had a great weekend; I met new friends, caught up with some old ones and even managed to find a dolphin phaser at a great price. Meeting Torri, Luciana and Allison was brilliant and I am looking forward to coming back next year.