Published on September 3rd, 2014 | by JCDoyle0
Sheffield’s First Film And Comic Convention
At the end of August the Motorpoint Arena played host to Sheffield’s first Film and Comic Convention and guests and visitors flocked to the event. There has been a growing excitement over the last few months in the geek quarters of South Yorkshire and surrounding area’s because this kind of thing doesn’t happen here, on our doorstep. People in some larger cities may have grown accustomed to these types of events being just around the corner but up Sheffield way, there hasn’t been anything like it before. And not only is this Sheffield’s first convention, many of the visitors have broken their convention virginity over the August weekend.
The format for the event would be very familiar to anyone who has attended a Showmasters convention before; there was a main arena filled to the brim with stalls and tables selling merchandise and collectables; there was a concourse of tables laid out with one delegated to each of the guests for signing purposes; there was a selection of large scale props dotted around the arena floor, mostly vehicle related; And there was a couple of area’s marked off for guest talks. Once inside the arena, it was fairly easy to navigate once you managed to get your bearings although it appeared that some people weren’t able to do this and left not having seen some of the exciting stuff on offer.
The Main Arena
The main arena floor was bustling and busting with people making it at times difficult to stop and browse or in some case even get to the stalls. This is however an unfortunate downside that I have experienced at most conventions that I have been to and I don’t know how it can be improved. The goods on offer ranged from old and new comics to film memorabilia, replica props, original art and, if you looked really hard, a superhero based erotica poster stall. My advice for the ‘arena floor’ would be to shop around: don’t buy something the moment you see it as it may be cheaper on another stall (unless it’s the erotica, there was only one stall of that) and you may in fact see something else you want more just a few feet away. Example time, on one of the stalls they were selling single Lego figures on mini plinths for around the £10 mark. One of these was Hawkeye, with bow and two faces (which is apparently important but I’m not sure how). A couple of rows over, I managed to get the exact same Lego figure (with bow, two faces and a little armoury set) for £1.50. Obviously, this will not be the case for everything but it’s worth bearing in mind and there’s nothing worse than seeing something you really want only to discover you don’t have enough money left because you just had to have that cute Captain America Plush which now seems irrelevant next to the all dancing, bobble headed, Groot figure.
The Alley for Artists
The one area of the event that seemed a little unrepresented was the comic creators Artists Alley. There was a small handful of wonderful British artists perched behind their desks way at the end of the concourse but not many punters filing down to take a look which is a massive shame. Maybe if there had been a larger creator presence it would have been easier for people to find them and get an idea of what was going on from a distance but this was not to be. I’m not sure how the creators are booked for the show, if it was an oversight by Showmasters by not inviting creators or the creators themselves not wanting to turn up but the ‘comic’ part of the convention should have received more attention. Especially when the talent that was there are some of the stalwarts of the British comic industry. If you’d taken a handful of Transformers comics from the late 80’s (a comic that was instrumental in creating a certain generation of comic readers) you could have passed them down the row of tables and got a host of signatures on them.
The Causeway of Guests
When it came to the TV and Film guest’s there was a surprisingly good range and selection of people to meet. Unfortunately the star guest Kristanna Loken (of Terminator 3 fame) was unable to attend but the late announcement of Anthony Head and David Prowse were welcome additions. Scattered across the concourse were stars of The A-Team, Star Trek, Doctor Who, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Game of Thrones (although no Sean Bean, it’s a home town gig, he could have made the effort)*, Farscape, Red Dwarf, a bond girl, a couple of wrestlers and one or two big name movie actors. From what I saw the majority of these were taking time to talk to each person who’d queued to meet then and there wasn’t the feeling of being rushed which you sometimes get at this type of convention. I think this is down to the fact that it didn’t ever seem too busy. There were a large number of people walking through but the queues themselves remained relatively short, even for the more popular names like Dirk Benedict and Paul McGann. Some of the guests were posing for photo’s at their desks which again is something that you don’t often get.
The Forum for Chats
If you prefer settling down in a folding chair and listening to the stars tell anecdotes of their antics then you could easily fill your day. The arena had two sites for ‘talks’: one was the home of the Cosplayers with a selection of talks about the different aspects of Cosplaying, everything from advice on costume design to discussions about harassment. The second stage played host to the guest speakers and TV related group talks. The Red Dwarf one was popular and there were two Doctor Who talks over the weekend, one focused on the 7th incarnation and one on the 8th. Another recommendation: If Sylvester McCoy is doing a talk, go and see him. He’s a very funny man in those situations and he never stays on topic. The show could have had a few more organised talks or made the ones they did have last a little longer, the Doctor Who ones for example, were only 30 minutes long but had five or six different speakers all baying for microphone time. And no Comic related talks? That was a shame (a shame I covered earlier with the Artists Alley).
The Final Verdict
Over all, the event was very well organised and seemed to run smoothly (except for that one moment when someone was kicking off because the doors hadn’t opened and it was 2 minutes passed 9. There’s always one and they’re always the first in the queue for some reason), Despite the main arena being very busy at times the rest of the event wasn’t too hectic and you would have had time to do everything you wanted to do, meet everyone you wanted to meet. From what I heard they only had to use Virtual Queuing on a couple of occasions and even then only for a short period of time. This is impressive considering the guests they had and the number of people that turned up to the event. Obviously as the event grows so will the queues but for now, the Sheffield Film and Comic Convention was a success and hopefully the few minor bumps can be ironed out for next year’s show.
My final recommendation: If you’re only going on the Sunday, don’t leave it until the last minute to meet the stars, a fair number of them switched their schedules around and left early. Although the main arena was so much quieter that you could browse at your leisure. It’s swings and roundabouts.
But what were my highlights I hear you ask.. well join me later as I run through them in a list style format. But here are a few titbits:
‘shoddy TARDIS design’
‘new movie excitement’
‘mind blowing Withnail & I news’
*I’m only joking Sean, I know you’ll be busy filming a death scene for whatever project you’re currently working on.