I have been an attendee at Wales Comic-con since 2012, even attending both days since it moved to a two day con last year. I do this because I love the atmosphere, the increasingly impressive guests they manage to book, the informative and entertaining Q&A’s, marvelling at the ingenuity of the cosplayers and getting the odd photo op with a childhood hero. Wales Comic-Con started as an event that attracted an attendance of less than 200 people, it has since grown in stature and reputation pulling in crowds in the thousands during its twice annual 2 day run at Glyndwr University in Wrexham. Organised by Jamie Milner, a man who must have the patience of a saint and a true love for what he does, he hasn’t failed yet to put on an excellent con each time I have gone.
We arrived at the Con at just after 9, bright and breezy or so I thought as I had purchased an Earlybird entry which grants the holder a 1 hour advanced entrance over those with general entry tickets, I made the mistake at my first Wales Comic-Con of buying general entry and turning up 30mins before doors opened, never again!, anyway, I digress. I always believe the time I arrive to be early, thankfully the queue isn’t too long and I know my wait to get inside won’t be long either. It’s in the queue that you overhear conversations amongst your fellow attendees, “Someone down near the front has been here since 07:30” one person said, it really does go to show the eagerness and excitement this Con can illicit. A 20 minute wait past door opening time and me & my wife are in and have our wristbands and are on our merry way to have a browse before the throng of general entry outside is released.
I tend to head straight to the main hall whenever I arrive to have a look around the stalls before they get too busy. The perimeter of the hall is lined with guests at the Con, set up at tables to sign autographs for the fans. Prices range from £10 up to around £30 depending on the guest, the centre of the hall is set up with varying stalls selling anything ranging from Pop-vinyls & action figures to posters & comics, always a good variation. Walking into the hall this time round I can see the layout it pretty much the same as other times I have attended, the tent that is usually outside has gone this year and its stalls have now been incorporated into the main hall. Looking around, autographs are already in full swing, people like Michael Biehn & Ric Flair are already drawing a big crowd, these however are nothing compared to the ridiculous queue for Manu Bennett which runs up the hall and snakes into the stall area which is a little irritating for getting around, I think his popularity may have been slightly underestimated and a better location of his table may have been required.
Once we have had a good browse, we head for the Q&A halls to begin our day. A huge part of Wales Comic-Con for me and one of the main reasons I enjoy going so much are the Q&A’s, a panel where an attending guest/guests take to the stage and answer questions from the assembled attendees. They are frequently hilarious, occasionally awkward but always informative and entertaining.
First of the day was Lord Of The Rings with Royd Tolkien, Jed Brophy and Sadwyn Brophy. Warm, engaging and funny, it’s a wonderful talk to start the day.
It is followed by GOT featuring Ian McElhinney, Ian Hanmore & Tom Wlaschiha. The GOT panel is always a massive draw and today is no different, each guest gamely answering questions even if they haven’t a clue what they are being asked. Again, a very entertaining Q&A.
The wrestling Q&A started as a really awkward, teetering on car crash experience as Billy Gunn, Adam Rose & Ric Flair were all present in the room ready to begin but not one person from Wales Comic-Con appeared to be. The mic’s were not working, but thankfully Adam Rose was and gamely tried to “fix” the mic’s for a few cheap pops from the audience. When the Q&A finally got underway, predictably, Flair was in control with some fascinating stories, the guy can talk! As good a storyteller as Ricky Steamboat a few Con’s earlier. The Q&A overran by 20 minutes but I didn’t notice or care as I was thoroughly enjoying the experience.
Last up for the day was the Buffy Q&A with James Marster’s, Kristine Sutherland and Nic Brenndon. The hall was RAMMED for this, completely full, luckily we managed to get really good seats 3 or 4 rows from the front which was pretty awesome. James Marster’s comes across as another great storyteller, when he speaks of his time on Buffy, as do Kristine & Nic too, it is with seemingly great affection and nostalgia that is infectious.
It’s not long before the whole first day has seemingly flown by and it is time to leave. It has been an enjoyable first day, the bulk has been predominantly Q&A’s but they have been a good batch this time despite the delays. The obstruction caused by queueing for Manu Bennett in the main hall was a real drag for the rest of the con goers as it made stalls really difficult to get around. With a good deal of past experience and forward planning, day 1 overall was a win. Same thing tomorrow but with the added bonus of photo-ops with Michael Biehn & Ric Flair!! Stay frosty, WOOOO!!