Yes, I did go to Rome and yes, I did hold Jenson Ackles and Jared Padalecki in my arms about six weeks ago. That was at JibCon, probably the best Supernatural convention out there. Let’s not focus on how much fun Jared was or how insanely cool Jenson is, I mean, he’s Humphrey Bogart levels of cool. Let’s not focus on my being unable to speak in front of him when asking him to sign my Angel Blade. I had a whole speech prepared and everything, dammit. Let’s not focus on any of that. Let’s focus on my international convention experience.
JibCon is superb, it’s a three day, intensely focused fan event concerned purely with Supernatural the TV show. I love Supernatural so much. SO MUCH YOU DONT UNDERSTAND STOP JUDGING ME!
Sorry , yeah, Supernatural, it’s kinda great. So is JibCon, but it’s in Rome, Italy. That’s Europe. Siri tells me that were I a crow, Rome is 15,982 kilometres away. I’m not, so I have to get a couple of flights and it takes around 24 hours to fly there. Everything is a long way away when you live in Australia, especially Friday, so don’t ever moan to me about your week.
Back to the point. JibCon was my first Supernatural con and one of the few conventions I go to as an attendee. Mostly I’m at conventions as an exhibitor. I’ve been to fan cons before and I love them . People immersed in what they love. You spend all day listening to people talk about the thing you love, then you spend the night in the bar talking to other people about the thing you love, then you go to bed. After three days of it you aren’t tired, you are tired but you aren’t. You just want more and for it to never stop. Then it does. The con drop or con blues after a fan con is pretty big but after Supernatural it was like a blow. You see, I had met all these new people and I love new people. I completely geeked out over the cast of Supernatural and said some pretty nerdy things and not once did anyone blank look me, or try to stop me, or interrupt me, or not “get me” and it felt good. So when it ended I didn’t know what to do.
Except I did. I knew exactly what to do. Go to London, find my Airbnb and then go to the UKs largest pop culture convention, MCMLondon comic con. Less than one week later I was at the doors of Excel London convention centre watching all the people mass on their way in. MCMLondon comic con is a very different beast to JibCon and much more like what I am used to, only bigger. Like, WOW, bigger. These were my people, nerds, geeks, cosplayers, everyone and I smiled. In fact the only difference was the funny accents, they talked a little like me. A UK accent and not Australian. It took me a while to adjust. It’s a three day con in two large halls with an attendance of about 140,000 over the weekend. That’s big to me, the biggest here in Australia is about 55,000, but it didn’t feel crowded , it flowed well, the signage was great and there was not one unhappy face the whole weekend.
I spent a lot of my time ar MCM networking and chatting to people about their experiences there. Small exhibitors, big exhibitors, charity groups. How did they find the venue, the organisation ,the attendees. You see I was there to see if there is an audience for what I do and I didn’t hear one bad word. At one point I even met the sales director and he seemed very interested in what I do, so that sounds promising.
The panels were good and the guest list extensive, which you would expect from the UK. I was surprised, however, that the guest list didn’t flesh out until maybe two weeks before the con. It seems all cons work the same in that regards. The list of guests looked like, nothing, nothing , nothing, everything all of a sudden. Something I did like we’re the mini 20min panels they had on the con floor with guests which you could catch at random while just wandering around. I saw John Noble talk Fringe and Lord of the Rings, awesome.
Like most conventions of this kind it’s full of shops and retailers all selling the same thing. More pop vinyls than is decent and many flavours of tshirt. The fan art and indie creatives areas were well represented with some kooky and quirky booths, but nothing too out of the ordinary and no one doing what I do. Promising. Another surprise was the comic book artists. Bob Layton was there but he was the biggest name. I guess the pop culture cons leave the actual comic conventioning to the dedicated comic conventions. A little disappointing thought. The Australian scene really nails this over here.
I can’t finish this article without talking cosplay. I went in full Cap costume on the Saturday and loved it. So many photos and so much attention. There were some great cosplays there in many forms, giant Space Marines including a Female Emperor, plenty of Stormtroopers and Marvel and even Jack Burton from Big Trouble in Little China. It was all very good but nothing out of the ordinary.
The verdict is that Jenson Ackles is adorable and Jared Padalecki is a bag of kittens level fun. Also, I appear to have developed a taste for overseas conventions. Maybe next year I will be exhibiting, maybe something bigger?