Now we've had a chance to settle back into reality following our fourth visit to Melksham Comic Con, here are some thoughts on last weekend's events...
James R: Every year I think Melksham Comic Con can't get any better, then every year it does. Now firmly established as our annual convention highlight, this year it was an absolute honour to be more involved than ever before.
In terms of the convention itself, Hayley and the Brians are now so experienced that the whole weekend ran like a well-oiled Batmobile and it was great to see that the things that make the weekend so special were all in place. The welcoming, family feel, the plethora of indie creators and merchandise stalls were all present and correct, but this year I was really impressed with the panels. Stretched out across two rooms, they ran all through Saturday and Sunday, offering an amazing mix of fan discussion and how-to guides - the Manga Worshop with Sonia Leong, and the 'Cosplay - A Beginner's Guide' panel were both great examples of this.
I was lucky enough to contribute to two panels, and I was really pleased at how eager the public were to discuss the topics presented. In the big cons, audiences normally sit in silence, having to queue to ask a single question at the end, but at Melksham there's an open dialogue which makes for really interesting conversations and the chance to make new friends.
Once again, we somehow managed to get through another 'Comics In Just A Minute' and even though it's strangely exhausting having to marshal comics creatives talking about Giant-Size Man-Thing for a minute, it's my personal highlight of the convention, and we were lucky to have four outstanding contestants and all-round gentlemen in the shape of Jon Lock, John-Paul Bove, Vince Hunt, and our new champion in Sam Webster (enjoy Bat-Bathtime, Sam!)
It was brilliant to extend the party on both Saturday and Sunday night this year - the Kings Arms was the natural venue for Brians and participants alike to enjoy a few well-earned pints of Brew's Wayne (the convention's official beer - even SDCC doesn't have one of those!) By the time we bid adieu to Melksham on Monday morning, it felt like the holiday weekend had been spent perfectly - and of course, we'll be back next year for more. If you've never been and if you're a creator, retailer or like us, dedicated fanboys, you should make time for MCC in your 2017 calendar. It used to be the little convention that could, now it's the thriving convention that delivers every time. Cheers Hayley and the Brians!
Matt C: I have to echo James' sentiments: what a thoroughly great weekend! Yes, there are far bigger conventions on the calendar in the UK, but I highly doubt any of them can beat Melksham Comic Con for it's all encompassing friendly and welcoming vibes. There's so much positivity in the air that even the most curmudgeonly amongst the fan community would find find it hard to remain immune to its charms. There are always plenty of small press gems to discover, back issues to riffle through, and of course numerous Funko Pop! figures to add to the collection, along with plenty of like-minded folk to chat to.
Then there are the panels which cover a variety of different subjects, from the frivolous but entertaining (that will be our own 'Comics In Just A Minute') to the more serious topics tackled in the likes of the 'Diversity In Comics' panel. Even though I try to avoid the spotlight when I can, I did find myself on the 'Rise Of Popular Culture' panel (which was actually a lot of fun - and hopefully informative!) and managed to guess correctly for one round of Big Punch Studios' always entertaining 'Comic-Con Pictionary'. Amusingly, one thing that did seem to crop up in almost every panel I attended was a clear disdain of Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice, as talk often digressed towards that cinematic disaster - man, people really hate that movie!
So, hat's off once again to Hayley and her team of Brians who always go above and behind to make the con a wonderful experience (you submit to several hours of full body painting, you're a braver person than I'll ever be!). It's a place to reacquaint with old friends, make some new ones, get a sore head after drinking one too many Brew's Waynes, and discover something fresh in the world of comics that you haven't seen before.
Until next time then, and I'll sign off by presenting a video of 'Comics In Just A Minute' 2016 (missing the first five minutes but the fun's all there on the screen, honest!). Thanks for our man Kenny J for filming this one...