Glyndwr University played host to a galaxy of stars for WalesComicCon on Sunday 23rd September, many of whom sung the praises of the town and the event – but some attendees were rather less than impressed by huge queues to get into the event.
The presence of Red Dwarf stars Robert Llewellyn and Chris Barrie, Only Fools and Horses actor John Challis, and a large contingent from fantasy hit Game of Thrones, including Jerome Flynn and James Cosmo, was a real coup for the town. It’s a shame that organisational issues stopped everyone from enjoying the convention as much as they wanted to.
With early-bird tickets permitting entry at 10 am, and the organisers telling others that they could turn up and pay to get in at 11 am, many people aimed to do just that, only to find themselves finally reaching the front of the queue after a two-hour wait.
At 11 am, the queues already stretched onto Crispin Lane, but initially seemed to be moving at a reasonable pace. Unfortunately there were several occasions when movement ground to a halt, which was eventually explained to us by a member of staff who came out to say that the hall was at capacity and people were only able to get in when others left. This was at 12:50 pm, a full 110 minutes after many had initially started queueing!
The staff member admitted to being taken aback by the number of people there, saying, “I’ve been coming here for four years and this is the busiest I’ve ever seen it.” Most people in the queue showed remarkable patience, passing the time by spotting the costumes – with Hogwarts pupils, Spidermen, Pikachus and Doctor Whos being just some of the costumes around, although some took to Twitter to express their frustration and warn others of the delays. @GreatGothNinja said “I got here 10mins early. And it took over a hour to get in. It seems the venue is too small for numbers” while @ChrisStoneFilms said he was “angry“, telling us it was “The WORST convention ever. Their communication and people skills are terrible.”
Inside, the mood was rather more positive, with most feeling the wait was worth it to see so many big names. Steve, TheGingerPrince, UK reporter for the Star Wars Action News podcast let us know that in his opinion, “WalesComicCon is better than ever. They’re going to need a bigger building next year.” @MattTooCool4U told us that he’d had a “Great day”, and particularly enjoyed the moment when he “Met a Star Trek legend in John Billingsley.” Also on Twitter, @RebelliousGav said “#ComicConWales was awesome! Worth the two hour queue to get in! Stalked Boycie and left with a mini TARDIS -back again next year!”
As for the big names themselves, they genuinely seemed thrilled to be here – most notably American Pie’s Thomas Nicholas at his first ever convention, looking forward to a busy day both appearing at the convention and performing an acoustic set at the Central Station after-party. Speaking to Wrexham.com he described Wrexham as “a great place” and said “I had an amazing lamb dish last night! Now I’ve found out there are so many lambs around, I might have to get a vacation home here in Wrexham.”
Digital colourist Kris Carter agreed, telling us “I’m really enjoying the convention. The atmosphere’s great and it’s a fantastic turn-out.” Author Raven Dane, who won last year’s VSS Steampunk Novel of the Year award, was also very impressed, saying to us that she was “overwhelmed” by how brilliant the convention was.
Perhaps the highlight of the convention for me was discovering the wonderful Tangerine Art Company, who showed us their excellent comic book inspired art. Artist John Marc Allen told us this was only his second convention but he was really enjoying it, adding that he’d received “lots of positive comments” about his hand-made art.
All in all, organisers Mercury Promotions (UK) deserve praise for bringing so many talented people together but a venue change, and better communication with people waiting to get in, surely need to be top priorities for next year.
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