The news that MCM was coming to Dublin was greeted with a surprisingly divided reaction. Many fans, such as myself, are excited to see anything that encourages the growth and awareness of comics in Ireland. Up until recently, comic conventions were few and far between in Ireland. In fact, I often had to travel North of the border to the wonderful Heroes and Legends and the 2DFest. On the other hand though, there are fans who felt that MCM would be “too corporate” and would miss out on the spirit of fan-run conventions.
Upon approach to the RDS I was greeted with not one, not two, but a wall of posters for the unfathomably popular Mrs Brown’s Boys and my spider sense started to tingle immediately. Having made my way past the predictably rude security team, who seemed to think they were biding time before an occupation, rather than to stop 14-year-old girls dressed as Anime characters from sneaking in. When inside I was again faced with now even bigger posters of Brendan O’Carroll peering at me from under a wig, thankfully this was offset by the awesome Godzilla posters that renewed my now fading hope that the convention would actually have something that I would enjoy.
The Irish 501st with Warwick Davis – Pic by Andrew McCarroll
I passed through the mixed crowd of children, adults, put upon fathers and a wide range of cosplayers varying from outfits that looked like they were props stolen from movie sets to the downright lazy (FYI, putting on a waistcoat and having glasses does not make you The Riddler!!!). I found myself in front of the large Warner Brothers screen that was showing trailers for Jupiter Ascending (which is really starting to grow on me) and the brilliant Godzilla trailer (seriously come out already!!). My enjoyment of the trailer was interrupted by a loud crashing sound followed by somebody screaming into a microphone. I wandered across the partition to see what the sound was and found myself looking at… a wrestling ring. Having been a Wrestling fan previously, I don’t have the snobbery that a lot in attendance seemed to have. However, the reasons for it being at a comic convention continues to evade me. The best answer I could come up with is that both superheros and wresters wear spandex. If this is the case then I look forward to D.I.C.E adding a Jamaican bobsled section to their events!
The lovely Fiona O’Reilly with a little Jango Fett – Pic by Andrew McCarroll
The sight of oiled up men throwing each other around was jarring enough to snap me back in to focus. I was at MCM Dublin Comic Con, not to be confused with Dublin Comic Con or D.I.C.E. Dublin International Comic Expo, and had yet to see a single comic or anything comic related for that matter. A quick scan of the map suggested that the ‘Comic Village’ would be the best place to go in order to spend the money burning a hole in my pocket. On the way there I passed through the many vendors in attendance and what struck me, apart from the now weapons-grade stench of BO that my deodorant challenged nerd brothers and sisters were producing, was the price discrepancies between tables. The Irish vendors at Sub City, Dublin City Comics and The Big Bang had apparently foreseen the mark ups that their counterparts from abroad were charging and undercut them by offering items with at least a €10 difference. There was one brilliant moment when a father holding a €80 Superman Kai arts toy asked what the difference was between this and the €40 version The Big Bang Comic store was offering and when told that it was the exact same he remarked “is your super power ripping people off?”.
The ‘Comic Village’, which was tucked in the corner of the area, was a wall of noise thanks to the large screen behind it showcasing a group of people playing League of Legends – it’s all World of Warcraft to me. For a convention with the word “Comic” in the title it seemed a bizarre location to position them. With that being said, it was a great opportunity to meet a number of comic artists and writers. I was excited to speak with Darrin O’Toole, the writer of the brilliant Lady Babylon and was happy to learn that new issues are imminent. The team from Lightning Strike were also in attendance and were happily bantering/abusing fans. It was here I made my big purchase of the day, forking out for a Robert Carey commission of Batman that I was absolutely delighted with (see bottom of the page). Carey is perhaps the best unsigned artist working in comics today and I have a feeling that when this changes, my Batman picture will be worth a hell of a lot more than I paid for it. Simon Bisley who, along with being the inspiration for Simon Pegg’s character in Spaced, also did the artwork for the show, was present. Not that you would know it though as his stall was unmarked, prompting him to draw his own sign and name card. I can confirm first hand that his reputation as a comic rock star is well founded and for more details on that I recommend you check out the current Irish Pubcast episode.
Prepare to be Judged by Judge Kearns – Pic by Andrew McCarroll
The guests at the signing booth were not exactly an A-list affair as the guy who was in Ace Ventura 2 sat alongside the girl from S-club 7 that wasn’t Rachel. They were joined by the stars of the TV show Merlin, well not the stars but the guy who was in 11 of the 65 episodes. This wouldn’t be an issue except for the fact that they were charging €20 for an autograph. This, no doubt, contributed to the fact that at no point during the day was there a line and the sight of them sitting awkward and alone at their tables for the majority of the day was quite a depressing sight. Well, I did get to see Hannah paint her nails and Winston Churchill from Dr Who eat a sandwich so it wasn’t a total bust. The one truly big name attendee was Warwick Davis and during his time with the crowd, the convention showed the heart and the spirit that had been missing for most of the two days. He was charming, friendly and happily posed with a multitude of fans in various Star Wars costumes.
The buzz he created will hopefully not go unnoticed by the organizers and next year they will hopefully secure some bigger name guests. Also, if you are going to put “Comic” right there in the title of your event you should make some effort to not only showcase comic talent but also have some items for sale that are unavailable elsewhere, which is something Dublin Comic Con did brilliantly. I understand that the reasoning behind charging for autographs is to stop people coming with handfuls of items to sign but in this case I don’t think any of the guests were in danger of that happening. There is the bones of a good convention here but there does not seem to be much in the way of its own identity. The whole atmosphere was more of a shopping centre than a hive of fan culture. The feeling was that of a market for people who wouldn’t necessarily be big pop culture fans but would go to kill an afternoon, this is opposed to it being geared towards the die hards. On this criteria D.I.C.E AND Dublin Comic Con remain the gold standard in fan events. My recommendation for MCM would be a lot more comic and a little less con next time