When our team member and writer Kathryn went to Comic Con last month, she was so surprised to find so much literature and creative writing content and she couldn’t wait to do an Event Review on it!
When you think ‘Comic Con’, you don’t generally think ‘literature’ do you? But, over recent years comic conventions, such as MCM Comic Con have expanded their content to include a whole host of guests, panels and products to interest even those who might not be interested in comics. I went to MCM London a couple of weeks ago; I used to go a fair amount when I was in school but then fell out of the habit when I went to university so this was the first time I’d been in a good few years. I’ll admit, I wasn’t expecting there to be all that much to do with literature and, honestly, I was okay with that because that wasn’t why I was there. I was there for the pop culture, the guest appearances, the incredible costumes (and the fact that I could go in costume) and the food. So, I wasn’t expecting to be able to come back and write anything really that we could use at The Student Wordsmith and yet, here we are.
Now, my first disclaimer is that, whilst there are now a lot of really cool authors attending Comic Con’s and lots of stalls that could interest any book nerd, I’m not going to suggest you should go to a convention like MCM London if you have absolutely no interest in pop culture. Con’s are an immersive experience and you will find yourself in the middle of a sea of costumes that, if you don’t enjoy pop culture, you won’t recognise, accompanied by a myriad of stalls and vendors selling everything from matcha flavoured Kit-Kats to actual swords and knives. But if you have a fondness for the occasional Doctor Who (I, for example, only like David Tennant as the 10th Doctor), have been known to play on a Nintendo, Xbox or Playstation from time to time or read manga here and there and are the person who goes a little bit overboard on their Halloween costumes, then maybe you should give Comic Con’s a try. My second disclaimer, or more of a rule I guess, is never go to a Con just for a single guest appearance. Tickets aren’t cheap and there is always a chance that the guest will cancel last minute (it happens, unfortunately and then you’ll be left with a ticket and no one to see). Make sure you want to attend for more than just one person or panel and you won’t end up being utterly devastated if they pull out.
Before I scare you away completely, let’s move on to the literature. I attended the Sunday part of MCM London (26th-28th October) but I’ll be including some events that went on across the weekend. So, what literature-based content was there? First, and probably most exciting, was the attendance of Laini Taylor as a guest (and panel contributor). Laini is the author of Strange the Dreamer and is currently publicising Muse of Nightmares. Across the weekend she appeared in the Author’s Corner signing autographs and had her own panel on the Centre Stage called ‘A Conversation with Laini Taylor’, which would be similar to a talk you would find at a literary convention or event. When I first attended MCM, they didn’t have such a thing as Author’s Corner; it’s essentially a part of the Con where you can meet some of your favourite authors and get autographs and copies of their new work which is really fun, especially when you see someone dressed as Star Lord from Guardians of the Galaxy completely break character and gush over their favourite book to their favourite author. This year’s Author’s Corner included: Temi Oh, Emily McGovern, M.R.Carey, Heather Child, Jamie Sawyer, Jeanette Ng, Kristina Perez, Leo Crew, Marieke Nijkamp, Catriona Ward, Chris Wooding, Claire North, Ed McDonald, Gavin Smith, Micah Yongo, Nicholas Eames, Peter McLean, Stephen Aryan, Tade Thompson, Tasha Suri, Tom Toner, Vic James and of course Laini Taylor! A lot of these authors gave talks across the weekend on the Live Stage. All of the panels and talks are free to attend as they are included in the ticket price, but there may be an additional fee for meeting your favourite authors and getting autographs, as is often the case with author events anyway. Not only are there all these amazing authors over at Authors Corner, but some of the panels that aren’t specifically literature based can also be really helpful for creative writing! For example, on the Creator Stage over the weekend was a panel called ‘Creating Humour with Heart’ which could definitely be helpful to any creative writers looking to write a piece of comedic genius.
It’s not all talks and panels though. I rounded up a few of the stalls (out of what felt like hundreds) that are definitely right up a writer’s alley! Amongst the comics and cosplay, I found that Bloomsbury had a stall, as did Avery Hill Publishing, Forbidden Planet and, a company you might remember me mentioning on my YALC Event Review, Geeky Clean! You also had some larger corporations such as the BBC, Warner Bros and Universal. These are the ones that I’ve picked out as specifically literature related, however a lot of the other stalls, especially ones with unique and personalised items, bookish clothing and up and coming talent (like new graphic novelists and writers) definitely appealed to me as a writer. So did the real swords because, come on, who wouldn’t want an awesome looking sword? I could be my own heroine! But, once you peel away the packaging of Comic Con’s, it’s surprising how much literature and creative writing content you can find.
I do know that Comic Con’s won’t be for everyone. It can be a little overwhelming when you first walk in, especially if you’ve gone alone but, if you’re feeling adventurous and want to try something new (and maybe even get a little inspiration for new writing along the way) I would definitely suggest giving a Comic Con a go. Excited? MCM have another Comic Con coming up in the Birmingham NEC on the 24th and 25thNovember! If you do decide to take the leap and head over, I’ve got a couple of tips for making the most of it!
Don’t feel like you have to dress up. A lot of people will come in cosplay, but equally, a lot of people won’t. The point is to have fun, so if you want to come as your favourite book character (I went as a Shadowhunter by the way) go for it! You’ll be surprised about how friendly everyone will be. You might even get asked to pose for pictures!
Avoid the queues and buy Priority Entry tickets. I honestly can’t recommend this one enough. MCM offer Priority tickets as part of their online booking system and that essentially means you get to avoid a very long queue at the start of the day. On that note, definitely pre-book your tickets. You can buy them on the door, but again, long queues. It will already feel like a long day without having to stand in more queues than necessary. Your feet will thank you.
Take it all in. Even if you’re not overly interested in some of the stalls or panels, don’t steamroll through everything to get to the stalls you do want. It’s completely understandable to want to do those first but make sure to slow down and have a wander around. There’s a lot of really cool stuff and you might surprise yourself by what you want to look at!
For me, discovering a whole new sub-universe of literature within Comic Con’s has given me even more reason to go again and, hopefully, I’ve inspired you too!