On Saturday I went to the London Film & Comic Con (LFCC) at Earl's Court. The big attraction this year was Stan Lee, who was signing autographs and doing photoshoots and talks in his last ever trip to the UK for a convention. So I got my earlybird ticket, with the plan being to get the man to sign my Iron Man bead picture. I also took along my Judge Dredd bead picture, as co-creators John Wagner and Carlos Ezquerra were due to be there too.
I got there at 9am, which was when the venue was open to earlybird tickets. The crowds and queues were immense. Without any signs to direct people to the correct queues, I asked a steward, who pointed me in the direction of the earlybird line. After half an hour of being stood in the ever-growing, non-moving queue, I spoke to another steward and they gave me directions to a different queue for earlybird ticketholders who want to see Stan Lee. On the way to this queue, I asked another steward who told me something different, but he didn't seem interested in helping, so I ignored him and kept on to the second queue I'd been told about. Luckily, this happened to be the right line. Within about 10 minutes of joining the queue, I was in the building where I could get a Stan Lee Virtual Queue Ticket (VQT). To get in, I had to pass under an Amazing Spider-Man 2 display archway. Way to promote a film that has long ago left the cinemas!
Another 10 minutes later and I had a VQT in my hand. Number 988. Yes, the organisers expected 91 year old Stan to sign at least 988 autographs, as well as pose in multiple fan photoshoots on this day. I was told to come back in 4 or 5 hours to join the actual queue for autographs. I couldn't help thinking that if the queues had been signposted properly, and the stewards were giving out the right information, I wouldn't have wasted half an hour at the start, and I would have been able to get a significantly lower numbered VQT.
There was a lot of cosplay on display too, with a lot of effort going into the outfits. Here are some pics I took:
I managed to track down John Wagner to sign my Dredd pic, but Carlos Ezquerra had to cancel so I'll have to see if I can track him down at another convention sometime.
He was a very nice guy and seemed impressed with my work, which really made my day! Unfortunately I didn't realise Gail Simone was going to be there too, otherwise I would have taken a Red Sonja comic (I have a few) for her to sign. Of the celebrity guests, the only other one I was really interested in was George A. Romero, writer and director of zombie classics such as Night of The Living Dead and Dawn of The Dead. Luckily, the VQT I got for him was more attainable - number 362. By around 1:30pm I was able to shake the man's hand and have him sign my Dawn of The Dead poster.
By about 2pm I had seen everything I wanted to see. I'd managed to get around the traders' hall, despite major overcrowding and bottlenecks occurring along the way. I bought a rather nice technical drawing of a Gameboy from a guy calling himself The Retro Draughtsman. He does technical drawings of vintage toys and games, and I think they look great.
Exhausted, I decided to check on the Stan Lee autograph queue in the other building. To be honest, it was a hassle moving between buildings, as there was a huge bottleneck by the exit as people were trying to get their hands stamped for re-entry. When I got to the autograph line my heart sank. There was a sign up saying "Stan will return at 2:30pm, seeing VQT numbers up to 350". That's right, 350. My number was more than double that, and we were well into the afternoon already. I realised that it was very unlikely they would get to my number, and I didn't fancy hanging around another 4 hours or so to find out. I had things to do that day, and was exhausted. Getting food or drink in the venue wasn't really an option, due to the queues, so I decided to cut my losses and head home.
As I left, I witnessed huge queues outside the building in the beating sun. I assume these were people who hadn't bought tickets and were still hoping to get in. A lot of them clutching Marvel merchandise, like they were hoping a certain comics legend would sign it... I didn't have the heart to tell them not to bother. I got in at 10 and didn't have a hope. The LFCC forum tells tales of angry customers who never made it into the venue after hours and hours of waiting. Poor organisation made this event a bit of a let down for me, and an utter disaster for many others.
My name is Iain and my addiction is making pixel bead art. My main inspirations are comics, video games and movies.