The thing I really liked about the MCM was the diversity of the attendees and getting The Rainbow Orchid in front of a totally new crowd of people (for instance, I had my first Roman Centurion reader!). Most were probably manga/anime hard-liners and walked by with just a glance, but quite a number stopped to investigate more, wondering about this comic that reminded them of Tintin. Telling them I had the same UK publisher as Tintin seemed to legitimise me, in their eyes, and then I was able to tell them a little more about the whole Franco-Belgian scene where there are even more comics like this. Hopefully a few will go on to read the story, which is not quite so Tintin influenced.
It was a great weekend, and I was really pleased to be able to meet up with several friends and quite a few new people too (I was especially delighted to get my copy of Helen McCarthy's Osamu Tezuka book signed). I must say a big thank you to Dave West and Colin Mathieson (Accent UK) who brought me tea and lunch on Sunday when I was manning the table on my own.
I also thought I'd ask Elyssa if she'd like to write up her day at the MCM from her point of view - so here it is...
Elyssa's MCM report
Forget drugs and knife crime, today's teens are more interested in dressing up as cute cartoon characters and handing out free hugs, if last weekend's MCM (Movie, Comics, Media) Expo is anything to go by. A reported 20,000 young people [40,000 say some!-G] - and a few bemused parents - bought excitement and colour to East London's normally drab and soulless Excel Centre for two days of manga, anime and the latest film and computer game releases.
Garen and I were there to sell copies of The Rainbow Orchid (well Garen was there to sell RO, and I tagged along because attending comics events is the only way I get to spend time with my chained-to-the-drawing-board husband these days). After taking a wrong turn down Computer Games Alley, where kids were giving it their all on the latest addition to the Rock Band franchise - Lego Rock Band! - we found our table in the Comics Village. Alongside us was Philip Spence of Ninja Bunny fame, and opposite the ridiculously talented and utterly lovely Sarah McIntyre and Gary Northfield, selling copies of Morris the Mankiest Monster and Derek the Sheep respectively.
While most comics conventions I've been to in the past have been populated predominantly by white males, MCM brought steady sales from a hearteningly diverse range of customers - guys and gals of all hues, and a disproportionately high number of the aforementioned bemused parents. And when the novelty of selling stuff wore off, as it invariably does after a couple of hours, there was plenty to keep us entertained.
First up on the nearby stage was a couple performing Japanese karaoke. Next came a British guy who performed a cheesy dance routine (think the Macarena or Whigfield's Saturday Night) to a Japanese pop song, badly [it was para para -G]. Then he invited loads of punters on to the stage and taught them the dance, badly, and then they all performed it together, very badly. (This happened twice more during the day.) Rather more talented was the troupe of Taiko drummers, who drew a large crowd to comics corner.
Most entertaining of all, however, was the endless parade of weird and wonderful cosplay costumes that passed by our table. Among my personal favourites were the smiley fat Jedi with flashing teeth, the not very muscular Lion-O, and the cardboard-clad and streakily painted Lego man. Our most spectacularly dressed customer was a Roman gladiator, attending the Expo with his teenage daughter.
Mid-afternoon, I went for a wonder through the crowds, feeling like a foreign tourist amid the buzz and bustle of an alien culture. Back at our stall, Garen had been joined by John Wigmans, all the way from Holland. Garen and John have been corresponding for a couple of months, but had never met in person before. Now, at last, G had the opportunity to thank the Dutchman in person for his generous gifts of ligne claire comics from the Low Countries.
At the end of the day we migrated to the pub with John, Sarah, Gary, his sister, his young nephew in zombie make-up [wasn't it the Joker? -G], and several other comics friends, including Tozo creator David O'Connell, Beano illustrator Laura Howell, and Colin Mathieson and Dave West of Accent UK. After lots of fine conversation and greasy pub grub we headed home for a well-earned cup of tea and morsel of chocolate. Then I enjoyed a big, long lie-in while Garen got up early to do it all again the next day...