Category: WCC


It’s Wales Comic Con season – one of my favourite times of year. Unusually for Wales, it’s a glorious day, which makes the always-cheery Comic Con atmosphere even more potent.

We’re lucky to have such a positive event in Wrexham, especially one that celebrates its tenth anniversary this year. For such a special occasion the organisers had pulled out all the stops to attract some huge names (Val Kilmer, Hayley Atwell, Sylvester McCoy to name three). The unfortunate last-minute cancellations which often blight this kind of event did nothing to dampen spirits, and when I arrived on Saturday the excitement was palpable.

When I first started coming to Comic Con about six years ago, I remember I had to queue for 3 hours just to get inside. I’d since become savvy to this and made it a tradition to arrive extra early and enjoy the parade of cosplayers from a spot near the front of the queue. This year I was naively relaxed about the need to queue and, after arriving just after 11am, I joined a queue so long it showed me parts of the Glyndwr Campus I’d never seen before (and I studied there for three years). Despite the mega-queue, there were very few complaints and organisers worked super-hard to get everyone inside in just over an hour. Shout out to all the cosplayers who must have been absolutely sweltering in their heavy costumes (Stormtroopers, Lady Olena Tyrell, Marvin the Martian and Catwoman to name a few!)

The main hall was packed to bursting and I fought my way past superheroes and the odd villain to get to my favourite stall, Goblin Dreams. This is a real gem of a stall which has some truly gorgeous things to offer, especially the handmade mini costumed dragons. This year I bought a beautiful Phantom of the Opera dragon to add to my collection.

One thing that I did notice this year was that due to the huge crowds within the main hall the access for wheelchair users was poor. There may not be much the organisers of WCC can do about this but I did notice a lot of people struggling to move through the hall. It did make me think whether WCC need to reconsider their venue. Glyndwr University is a perfect spot for this event so I wouldn’t suggest moving but perhaps expanding across the campus. Although Welsh weather is never reliable, it was a beautiful day so it would have been nice to see more outdoor events. The heat was so stifling inside the main hall and the vendors tent that it became uncomfortable to stay indoors for too long. It would have been good to see organisers think on their feet and expand into the outdoor spaces.

The crowds and queues, however, just go to show the success and growth of the event over the last ten years. People are travelling from all over the country to Wrexham and that is fantastic. However, it is sad to see the guests capitalising on that growth, as I couldn’t help recalling my first visit, when selfies were free and autographs were averaging at £15. This weekend some guests were charging fans £20 for selfies and £30 for autographs. I suppose they have to make their money somehow! Some of the guests were sat alone when I wandered through, which did make me wonder if people were too scared to talk to them through fear of being charged per word.

Cynical gripes aside, I do really love this event and I am being very picky. I always take away from Comic Con a feeling of safety and community. In recent years there has been a notable increase in police presence but, in my opinion, that is unnecessary as there is never any noticeable trouble (besides with all those Stormtroopers strutting round, there’s no need for police). It’s not just physical safety, but the safety to be whoever the hell you want. You could rock up dressed as a Pikachu and no one would judge. Everyone is welcome and it’s just what our town needs.

 

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Wales Comic Con 2016

 

Wales Comic Con comes round so quickly, it hardly seems a few weeks since the last one in April, but there are no complaints here, as WCC  never disappoints. On Sunday we joined the crowds for another day in Geek Mode (it’s the new beast mode, by the way) and it’s safe to say this event is going from strength to strength.

Organisers have certainly learned from earlier conventions, when you could queue for hours before getting into the building. The process has got increasingly slicker, with the doors for general entry opening half an hour earlier yesterday. We barely queued at all, for anything, which is a huge achievement considering how many people were there.

Most striking about WCC is the atmosphere. You’ll be surrounded by people from all walks of life, in varying levels of Geek Mode, but everyone is there for the same reason. You find yourself talking to strangers like they’re good friends and there’s a welcoming atmosphere that immediately makes you feel very comfortable.  WCC is a much needed injection of positivity in a pretty grim era.

As is tradition, we attended the Torchwood Q&A which was, as is tradition, x-rated. It’s good to see Gareth David Lloyd is still refusing to accept the Cardiff shrine is in memorial to nobody but Ianto Jones, and we’re yet to see Naoko Mori without her nibbling on something (food of choice this time was a croissant, for those keeping note.) We also got a bit of closure on a question we’d been wanting to ask Naoko for a while – why wasn’t she in the Ab Fab movie?? Naoko gracefully dodged giving a reason, but did emphasise that she was really disappointed not to be involved. So were we, Naoko, so were we.

WCC always has great guests and this year was no different. Any Torchwood/Doctor Who/Harry Potter star is enough to get me there but It’s odd to think that ten years ago I would have totally freaked out if I’d bumped into Ianto Jones or Toshiko Sato. Now, I’m so used to seeing them, I can casually say ‘Hi’ without having a full on sweaty meltdown. The question still remains, though, where the hell is John Barrowman and why hasn’t he returned to Wales yet to attend the country’s hottest Con? Also, we decided our dream guest for next year would be Annette Badland. She’s just joined twitter and seems like lots of fun, plus she was brilliant in Doctor Who (and is still deliciously evil in EastEnders.)

My favourite stall is still Goblin Dreams. Captain Jack Harkness is the latest addition to my dragon collection. Jack, the Doctor and Harry Potter – what a team, eh?

So, as always, a fun-filled event. I’ve said it before but WCC is an asset to Wrexham and we’re so lucky to have this event on our doorstep. We’re looking forward to next year already!

 

 29TH November 7.30am.

My alarm goes off. Fuzzy from the wine the night before, I burrow deeper into my cocoon of blankets and try to think whether it’s a week day and if I have to get up for school. (FYI, I don’t drink on school nights. Thought I’d better clear that one up).Then I realise – it’s Comic Con day! Suddenly enthused, I’m up, showered and dressed within half an hour.

I have loved Wales Comic Con since my first visit in 2013. This event has something to offer for everyone and we always consider ourselves so lucky that we have something like this so close to home. The entry queue is always enormous – a testimony to just how popular it is – but, weather permitting, the queue is one of the best parts. The buzz as the people begin to arrive is amazing and it’s great to see so many people putting in so much effort to cosplay. This is an event that people really care about. Each year we comment on what a lovely atmosphere the whole event has. There’s never any trouble, everyone is friendly and there to have a good time. People chat to each other in the queue as if they go back years. It’s a refreshing change and a great opportunity to meet some amazing people as well as try to spot Doughnut Guy (selling…not ‘dressed as’) as he mixes with the crowd, selling refreshments and cracking jokes. (OK. This might not be for everyone but it has become a bit of a tradition for us. Doughnut Guy is becoming just as much of a legend as the folks signing autographs….)

Once you’re inside the Con, that’s when things get even more exciting. The main hall is geek-central (doesn’t that sound like the best place?) with stalls and stars galore. The stalls this year were fantastic, as wi12313851_10156337727425381_3106644287043449912_nth every year, offering everything from homemade geeky trinkets (check out my Fourth Doctor Dragon courtesy of Goblin Dreams) to the most fantastic (and under-priced) fudge I’ve had in a long time.  If you’re after something quirky and interesting then this is the place to find it. There are also tons of comics, books, prints and memorabilia to buy – it’s dangerous time to have it so close to Christmas!

Now, I’m a Torchwood fan and the past few WCC’s have given me the chance to talk to (A.K.A., stand awkwardly in front of person whilst staring at the floor and muttering ‘hello’ like some sort of lunatic) the cast. Eve Myles, Naoko Mori and Gareth David Lloyd have all had the pleasure of seeing my most star-struck facial expression. (There was also an embarrassing incident with Shane Richie which I can never repeat. Ever.) Each one of them has been absolutely lovely and completely down to earth. I’m so used to seeing Gareth (first name terms there) now that he was stood right next to me yesterday and I didn’t turn into a gawping, stuttering mess. The teenage-me would never have thought I’d be so calm about standing next to Ianto Jones. Further proof that Comic Con is amazing.

Finally there’s the Q&A sessions. In the past we’ve only visited the Torchwood Q&A which never fails to be totally hilarious as well as totally X-rated. Yesterday was no exception with Gareth, Naoko and Kai Owen answering questions on everything from the best kisser to Ianto’s shrine. We also got chance to see the first WCC Doctor Who panel featuring Sylvester McCoy, Colin Baker and Terry Molloy. Watching them discuss google glass was like watching your grandads discuss technology and it was interesting to hear their thoughts on the new series (12 year old Doctors, CGI, Jennifer Lawrence and sonic sunglasses featuring heavily).

In recent years, WCC has become a bi-annual event, which is bloody brilliant as it means we don’t have to wait as long until the next one. I would recommend this event to anyone. It’s a fun-filled day run by people who genuinely care about your experience and, again, it’s incredible that we have something like this in Wrexham.

5.30pm

As the kettle boils, I look out of the window and spot a bunch of cosplayers heading from the direction of the Uni. They are huddled together against the rain but still have excited grins across their faces. The weather hasn’t ruined their fun. I admire my new dragon which is perched on the top of my bookcase. He’s looking pretty cool. As I settle down with a mug of tea, I look forward to April, when I can buy him some little friends.

‘Torchwood. Outside the government, beyond the police…’

Just when I thought nothing would top my Doctor Who obsession, everything changed in 2006.

I’d returned from a trip to London to see Wicked (I know….when obsessions collide!) when BBC3 introduced me to Torchwood. I loved it from episode one. As a 16 year old, I was able to look past the clichés and faux-adultness of the first series (something which is easier to pick up on when I re-watch as a 25 year old). For me it was fresh and brooding and totally exhilarating. Not only was it brand new, but it had the familiarity of my favourite TV programme. I loved them all – Jack, Owen, Gwen, Ianto, Susie and Tosh. Each in their own way.

Toshiko Sato was my favourite. Sensible and understated, she was a complete contrast to the rest of the team. Unlike Gwen, Jack and Owen, she wasn’t brash and bold. Toshiko was modest and quietly calculating. Toshiko was often the one to come up with a conclusion without getting the recognition within the team that she deserved. She was wonderfully flawed, with her insecurities and moral deviations explored in Greeks Bearing Gifts. Naoko Mori had created a classic character for me. I thought she was brilliant and quietly (and sometimes noisily) cheered every time Toshiko delivered a stinging one liner.

The second series saw a spikier Toshiko. She’d clearly had enough of Jack’s swaggering charm as Toshiko got ballsy – airing her disagreement with Jack many times. It also brought some of my favourite Toshiko moments. From subtle comedy (‘All. Telephone lines. Are. Down!’) to high emotion (Walking through the bay at the end of To the Last Man. *wipes tear*). Naoko certainly flexes her acting muscles in this series. I will never…NEVER…get over Exit Wounds. The fact Naoko did that scene in one take just proves her ability and what an asset she was to the series, and of course, Toshiko left doing what she does best; saving the world. Toshiko doesn’t do this with dazzling flare or swaggering arrogance. She does it quietly without any expectation of credit. She’s just doing her job. I need to go away and weep about this for a moment…. 

So anyway, having been such a Tosh-fan for so long, you can imagine my excitement when Naoko was announced as a guest at Wales Comic Con. I never miss WCC but this year I had no excuse – I had to be there. I’d already met Gareth David Lloyd and embarrassed myself in front of Eve Myles (and Shane Richie….but that’s another story) and this year I was given a fresh Torchwood member to meet. And by ‘meet’ I obviously mean ‘stare at with a terrified expression on my face as my best friend tries to force me to make cringey small talk’. It was Naoko Mori’s turn to get the full starstruck-me experience. What a lucky lady. The excitement I had harboured for weeks dissipated as I entered the main hall and turned to an anxious, stomach twisting panic. I could see her through the crowd, no queue at her desk. A normal person would have seized the opportunity and rushed straight over. Not me. I circled the room several times, building up the courage to go and speak to Naoko. Eventually my friend encouraged/bullied me to bite the bullet. Naoko was, of course, lovely and I had no reason to be such a mumbling idiot. She shook my hand (she touched my hand! That means we’re engaged, right?) and even rubbed my hand through her hair to prove she was ‘just normal’ (and obviously the photos look like I’m awkwardly trying to slam her head into the table. Classic.) The Q&A with Naoko and Eve Myles was hilarious. Like, actually cheek-hurting hilarious. I bet they had lots of fun making Torchwood.

So anyway, now that I’ve confessed my love for a fictional character (again) and her non-fictional actor, I suppose what I’m really trying to say is:

Torchwood writers, stop messing about.  Just bring it back.  You know it makes sense. You’d make a lot of people happy. Oh…and, even though it had its perks, we’re all willing to forget Miracle Day if you just bring back Tosh, Owen and Ianto. Just bring them back, no questions asked. It’s fine. We will forgive the lack of plausible explanation just for the chance to have another series with the full team. We miss them.

Oh and Naoko, call me.