Published on September 5th, 2014 | by JCDoyle0
Sheffield Film And Comic Con – Highlights
Everyone’s convention experiences are different and what one person finds exciting is another person’s very definition of boredom: this is the nature of fandom and each person is entitled to their own opinion.
With that, what follows are MY highlights from the recent Sheffield Film and Comic Con (see here for further information) and may differ from your own experiences although I bet that your highlights filled you with the same excitement that these did for me.
One of the biggest draws, not just for me but the convention as a whole was the 8th Doctor himself, Paul McGann. I had heard rumours that he’s always extremely popular and therefore never had time to chat for too long but there is the beauty of a new convention: it’s never as busy in its earlier years. This meant that I barely had to queue and when I spoke to him, he had time to answer several questions I had, for example, did he know anything about a sequel to Withnail & I which has been rumoured? Obviously not, he told me, they would never make a sequel (or a remake which in some ways would be worse) but he did explain why the rumour seems to be circulating again: the original film is due to be released at the cinema later this year (he believed it to be in 4 to 6 weeks time but wasn’t definite). This is fantastic news. Withnail & I is an amazing movie and a big screen showing, in front of an army of fans old and new, would be an experience not to be missed – let’s hope no-one decides to play the Withnail drinking game at any of the showings.
Unfortunately, my conversation was cut short when my youngest son decided to throw his 8th Doctor figure onto the table and declare that it was the Doctor and not Paul McGann.
(Actual conversation went:
Paul McGann: Is that me?
My Son: No. That’s the Doctor.)
McGann was thrilled by toy and signed the back of it, drawing on a number 8 as if it were a player in some fantasy Doctor Who football league. Despite losing it (as it is now a ‘collectible figure’ and therefore not to be played with) my son has enjoyed telling everyone that the Doctor drew on his toy, an experience that we both can remember with fondness.
No Defiance Here
You may know Stephanie Leonidas from her role as Irisa from Defiance or her starring role in Dave McKean’s MirrorMask from 2004. She was the first guest that I met over the weekend and she was a total joy to talk to. She was excited to see that I had a copy of MirrorMask with me and we talked about the film and how it’s probably not suitable for my children, yet. I then asked her about Defiance as series 2 has just finished airing in America. She is obviously impressed by the reception that the show is getting and has her fingers crossed for a third series, which the cast a crew should find out about this week. So hopefully some good news announced soon.
Stephanie was most animated when it came to talking about a new Dave McKean film due to be released next month. The film is called Luna and Stephanie filmed it about 6 years ago. She said it was a magical film to work on but she has yet to see the finished version because of the time it has taken to get to a release stage. The trailer for the film looks amazing and there is more information about it over on their web site. Seriously, go check it out. It has an element of Pan’s Labyrinth about it and appears to feature comic strips in the story.
There are people you meet at conventions that you don’t know that much about beforehand but the experience you have in those few minutes makes you want to find out more of what they’ve done, whether they are writers, artists or actors. Stephanie Leonidas was one such person. She was friendly and excited and happy to chat away, everything you want from a convention guest.
Sweet, Sweet Smelling
Quite possibly one of the most surreal moments of my life would be testing perfumes with an ex Australian Fashion model who starred in one of my all time favourite Sci-Fi television shows and yet this was not a dream, this was reality! For those who don’t know, Virginia Hey played Zhaan in Farscape and now, in addition to doing the convention circuit, she makes and sells her own soaps and perfumes. And she’s very passionate about it. I contacted her via e-mail a week before the convention curious to know if she’d have samples in Sheffield and she was quick to respond and even took a selection of perfumes just for my girlfriend to try.
And try we did.
We spent a long time talking to her about a whole range of things (none of it related to her TV or film roles) while we sampled the collection of perfumes she had with her. We then took a stroll to let the smells settle before happily returning and buying our favourite.
This was a truly different convention experience, nothing like any I’ve had before and that is why it was so special. Virginia Hey remembered my e-mails the minute I mentioned them and allowed us to take up a large chunk of her time. She really was a star and the perfume we bought has gone down a treat. I’m sure I will be revisiting her online shop in the future.
Speeeeeeend Some Dough At Table Three
Pretty much all conventions will have some merchandise that you haven’t seen before (or at least not very often) buried beneath the mountain of 90’s comics and re-issued ‘reto’ toys. This is both a blessing and a curse because everyone likes to see exciting things but some people (cough, me, cough) like to take those nice things home but very rarely do they have small price tags. This weekend was no different.
Saturday was so busy on the ‘shop’ floor that I didn’t really get chance to look at very much. My eldest son however seemed to spot every single Lego figure for sale which is why we ended up with a Lego Hawkeye, a Lego Thor and a Lego Wolverine. All we need now is a Lego Black Widow to have a nice set of Avengers.
My youngest son was more than happy with a battered Egon Spengler toy from the early 90’s, who pulls a ‘frightened face’ when you squeeze his am.
The Sunday proved to be my downfall as I looked through a long box of Amazing Spider-man comics from the 60’s (we left with the online shop details) and folder after folder of Original film posters. There were a few I would have loved to buy, an original Planet of the Apes poster which was about 6 foot square and a Belgium Maltese Falcon poster proved to be too expensive. However I couldn’t walk away without buying something so we picked up Clash of the Titan’s and Battle for the Planet of the Apes posters and left the charming couple who ran the stall in peace.
That’s the beauty of these conventions: they have a wide range of products on sale and if you don’t have much money to spend you can still get a little memento of the day.
You Drew What?
One of the problems I had with the convention as a whole was the lack of comic creators. I’ve mentioned this before and will no doubt mention it again. However, Lee Sullivan was there. Lee Sullivan has produced art work for some of my all time favourite comics: he worked on the Marvel UK Transformers comic which is the publication I blame for my addiction to comics. He has also worked on Doctor Who, Judge Dredd and Robocop. He is also one of the friendliest people you could possibly meet. The fact that the Artist Alley was quiet meant that I could spend a long time talking to him about all sorts of things, not all comic related. If you ever need to know anything about building a life size TARDIS for your garden, go to Lee Sullivan. He has experience and pictures.
He had a selection of his prints for sale and was more than happy to sign the comics that I took along with me. He also had a brilliant anecdote about Sylvester McCoy and Peter Jackson but that’s his story to tell.
I had a few niggles about Sheffield’s first convention of this type, things that I’m sure can be ironed out for future shows but overall it was an experience I enjoyed and, from what I saw wandering around the arena, most of the people there also enjoyed themselves. I have friends who have never been to a convention before but they’ve said they’ll be going to next years and even started looking at conventions in other places. This is a testament to how hard the Arena and Showmaster staff worked to make sure it was a success and I think they did a very good job.