So, now that the dust has settled and I have gotten over my latest bout of con induced nerd-flu, it's time for me to recap what was once again a great weekend at the ExCel centre.
Starting off on the Friday, we helped the guys from Uncanny Comics in Worthing load the van with swag (and thankfully our suitcase!) then headed up to London on the train, in my case accompanied by Seduction of the Innocent, the now much maligned Dr Wertham treatise on why comics were the root of all evil in the 1950s. sadly for my fellow passengers, especially given the knowledge (recently revealed) that large amounts of it are bunk, I found it to be a rather amusing read, prompting many looks from my fellow travellers as I laughed and chuckled my way through the first few chapters.
Upon arriving we were very disappointed by the shoddy reception at the Ibis ExCel Docklands, but once we blagged our way through security in the centre to pick up our passes - Mr Giantwoman exchanging nods and smiles with George Perez on the way - we were in and unpacking with the guys. The pre-con room looked pretty huge, but once it started filling up with dealers and exhibitors it started looking a lot more like I remembered it from last year.
Once we were all set we took a sneaky look around to get our bearings, then headed off to wash up and meet a friend for dinner. Which accidentally involved wine. Then we slipped and fell on the way back to our hotel, landing in the bar of the Novotel (seeing as our hotel didn't have a bar at the time!), managing to meet up with some fellow con-goers, including the talented Joe Ward and friends. Oh, and we may have accidentally supped on a Talisker and three whilst there...
Saturday dawned bright and a little too early for our liking, so we schlepped back to the Novotel for breakfast (yep, no restaurant in our hotel either!), then got a call from our lovely twitter friend Phil to get our cosplay on for the day. He may have over-estimated our skills, asking us to apply his Cable scar and hair colour, but a mere hour or so later our Victorian-style X-Men were all set and we headed in to the centre. As with last year, we got to walk past a number of bemused looking patrons of the Baby Expo that was on, many of whom did not seem to appreciate my homemade Wolverine claws as much as they clearly should have done! I am always a bit nervous about wearing a new cosplay, but as we were asked for photos before we even made it through the doors, my fears were allayed pretty fast. Cable, Gambit and lady Wolverine (or Wolverette as Joe suggested) were having fun.
Saturday was taken up with snapping up lots of swag, one of my best purchases being the slipcase box set of Freekangels, complete with artist signature and a cheeky sketch inside of the first book. We were all pleased to be asked for a few photos here and there, and despite being asked to help out on the stall once or twice managed to fit a couple of cheeky pints of cider in around lunchtime, and picked up a fair few more books too, including the brilliant Manhattan Projects by Jonathan Hickman, which is highly recommended by both of us. Sadly the list for Mark Buckingham sketches was full by the time I got to him, but Phil got a lovely Madea to adorn his walls, as well as picking up a few other quality pieces he had ordered in advance.
The evening led to a few more drinks, still in costume in my case, with another twitter friend, Rosie (a great artist who drew the Zatanna adoring my lounge wall) and her mister, then a slightly earlier night before the second day of madness. We did manage to make our hotel room look like something out of a spy movie though, as there were liquid latex bottles and contact lens cases left over from Cable, and Mr Giantwoman had to cut his Gambit hair off with clippers ready for his Sunday costume. Helpful hint kids - don't drink several pints of cider then try to cut your own hair. You may need help!
Sunday morning was moderately less painful, and saw us costuming up in Firefly garb, myself as Kaylee and Mr Giantwoman in his Wash outfit. After breakfast he went back to the room to tidy up (oops!) and I headed down to get in the queue for the Dan Slott signing, making it fifth in line thanks to my magic exhibitor pass. Despite that, it was still a good hour - and a terrifying nerd-stampede when the doors officially opened - before I was able to get a couple of books signed, mostly thanks to the guys in front of me having between 15 and 30 books EACH to have signed. Grr! All of that went by the wayside though, when Mr Slott applauded my Kaylee outfit. Day made.
Once I was all done there we met up with Phil and his lovely wife Bims, or Jayne and Zoe as they were for the day. Our costumes went down even better than those of the day before, and all my worries went by the wayside once again. I didn't think my day could get much better, then I tried my luck again with Mark Buckingham, and whilst he wasn't able to fit in a sketch for me, he gave me a postcard with a drawing of Alice in Wonderland that he had done, and was slightly shocked at how madly happy that made me. I literally jumped up and down in excitement, Alice being my favourite book and character of all time. Day made, again.
But wait, there is more! A few times I got roped in to covering for the Uncanny guys as they went off buying bits and pieces and chatting to friends in the business, and as I was talking to the chap on the stall next to theirs, I mentioned the wonderful Sandman bookends on the Diamond stand opposite, which will hopefully be making an appearance in Previews - and therefore my house - quite soon. He mentioned to his boss that I was a fan of Neil Gaiman, and his boss, the utterly lovely Mike Lake, then started producing item after item of Gaiman ephemera, which had me squee-ing like a goodun! Turns out Mike started Titan books many moons ago, and knew Mr Gaiman back before he became a full time author. Obviously, stories like that are always taken with a pinch of salt, but after he showed me the sample of Stardust that was sent out to publishers I was all ears, and when he let me look at the signed Christmas card Mr Gaiman sent out one year, featuring an excerpt from American Gods that never made it in to the final book, I had what can only be described as a Gaiman-gasm. Day made, for the third time. I'm actually shaking now just thinking about how amazing it was to be able to see, touch and read such a wildly rare item.
The rest of the day (unsurprisingly) passed as something of a daze for me, even packing up and storing everything in the van couldn't ruin my good mood, and the tube closures meant nothing to me!
All in all, the Sunday was a much more chilled out affair, but the whole weekend went swimmingly, with great organisation from all the staff and volunteers at the con once again. Just need to see if they can top in next year now - good luck guys!