Tuesday, 26 May 2015

MCM London Comic Con - May 2015

MCM London 

Firstly an apology for the lack of recent updates, we are currently working hard on getting our initial, full, range of t-shirt designs done and printed ready for Collectormania in a few weeks so have been rather busy to say the least. In fact so busy that we were only able to spare the Sunday to visit MCM.

MCM London has, of recent years, garnered something of a poor reputation for organisation and numerous other issues. MCM do seem to try and address these, but with limited success. How did they do this time around? Are things finally getting better? The answer has to be a guarded Yes.

This event was by far the biggest MCM London yet, and that makes it the biggest event of it's kind in the UK, both in terms of floor area and number of people attending, is it the best though? Probably not but it was clear that huge improvements have been made which can only be a good thing.

Firstly, finally, they seem to have largely sorted the queuing issues which have dogged the last few events. Taking people in primarily via the North 'Lorry Way' makes so much sense, it is covered so there is (predominantly) shelter from any inclement weather, there is space to ensure that the queues don't back up and block exit from the DLR platforms and the queues seemed to move much quicker than previous events. There were still some issues which, as they could so easily be addressed, were disappointing, issues such as no signage, even though the website clearly stated that there would be, so you had to rely on stewards directing you to the right queue/entrance, and that is an issue because as ever it appears that some of the stewards don't seem to know what they are doing. By and large, most people had no problems or issues, but there were some people who were directed to the wrong entrance/queue or whom had other problems. Even though we had priority tickets for the Sunday, we arrived just after 11am as General entry opened, there didn't seem to be a priority queue/entrance by that point, again even though the website clearly stated that if you arrived after general entry opened you must still join the priority queue. We were directed to join the general entry queue, even though we clearly stated we had priority tickets. This meant we had to queue and wait with those who had bought general entry tickets and were given a general entry wristband - this is something that simply shouldn't happen, though thankfully as the queue was moving reasonably quickly this wasn't a complete disaster. Poor communication and arbitrary changing of key elements, such as where you could re-enter is still a major problem. All the information on the website, forums and facebook groups prior to the event clearly stated the valid re-entry points for various classes of ticket. As seems to be the case now, this information was either incorrect, the stewards were unaware of the correct information and unwilling to check, or this was changed at the last minute without communicating the changes in any way - this caused needless grief to some, and again simply shouldn't happen.

Once indoors though things were better than previous events. Effectively now taking up the whole of Excel, with all the exhibition/event space in most of the South Halls, the North Halls were used for queuing/entry, a cloak room, catering and chill out areas. This ensured that even when at capacity the central atrium and even the stall aisles weren't as totally jammed as they have been previous events, there was, just about, space to move which was an improvement over this event last year. It is still too crowded though, numerous people complained on the Saturday in particular about being barged into by rude people who have no thought for anyone but themselves and several cosplayers suffered broken costumes/props as a result. Even on the Sunday it was uncomfortably hot and airless and still too crowded to be really comfortable. Though it is never going to happen, it would be a more enjoyable event if capacity was reduced somewhat.

This leads to what is now the largest problem this event suffers from, which is a problem which isn't directly down to the organisers. That is simply this event now attracts a significant number of complete morons who have no idea how to behave in public. There were a number of thefts, and more seriously sexual assaults, as 'thugs' grabbed and pawed at some of the female cosplayers. There was a major problem with litter and general bad behaviour. Such behaviour is unacceptable anywhere but should certainly not be tolerated at an event such as this. Though there wasn't the typical bad or nasty behaviour from 'Security' that has been reported at previous events so the Security clearly had been improved, and whilst some were clearly concerned at reports of such behaviour, there was little they could do about it as they were so thin on the ground in relation to the crowds. This is something that is difficult to deal with at an event of this size, but MCM could do more, they could clearly display posters (as other events do such as LSCC) which make clear that any kind of harassment or bad behaviour is unacceptable and will result in ejection and potential prosecution, they then need to increase the number of security teams patrolling so such behaviour is less likely and can be dealt with when reported.

This is though an area where 'we' as a community need to also do more, 'we' need to make clear to these utter morons that the type of behaviour they were engaging in, bullying, harassing, groping etc. is simply not acceptable and where we see it, we need to step in to stop and prevent it (whilst remaining within the law of course) - If this behaviour isn't stamped out, if it isn't made clear to these idiots that they are not welcome if they are going to behave like that, then this event, and others, will become events 'we' no longer wish to attend.

Ignoring those issues though, we had a great time, the number of cosplayers and the standard of cosplay is improving all the time, there were some amazing costumes about and, thankfully, the vast majority of people are there to have a good time, whilst being friendly and respectful to others. Most people had an amazing time, but it is sad that for some the weekend was spoiled. So as we said, a guarded success, big improvements over previous events, but still room for improvement, though this event is now so big, and so many people attend that there are always going to be some idiots amongst them. Hopefully this event will continue to get better, though the size attracts it's own problems and for some, this is no longer an event they wish to attend. Thankfully there are numerous other events/choices now and for many this is still a highlight of the con year.

Photos from the Sunday are being added to our facebook page and will be added to the con galleries page on our website in due course.

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