Of people and products

PopThorin wondering why the forest of plastic trees surrounding him is dancing and singing ๐Ÿ˜‰

Note – click on photos to enlarge

This will be an exercise in writing disciple as much as a post of various thoughts about the recent London Film and Comicon. Was there a question about the difficult part of blogging in the introspection challenge? Another thing still on my to-do list… I’m finding it really hard at the moment to battle tiredness and weariness from working 8-10h in front of a computer in order to turn it on again and sit in front of it again and do some more writing. When often i just want to let my brain cells chill and read or watch TV (not do housework! ;-)). But this is the way things i really want to say remain unsaid so hopefully i’ll get through this today.

‘Cons’….. strange events to be sure. I don’t think they can be put in any particular box and although there are many things about them that make me uncomfortable or sceptical there are also many things about them that make people very happy. I guess one has to attend one to experience it for oneself and decide if it is your cup of tea or not. Like any such Con this one also contained panels for interviews/discussions, photo/signature opportunities and stands with products on sale. For the (extortionate) high level of ticket we paid i expected many more panels but the proportion was only about 10% of the total, with 60% of the photo/signature activities and the rest trading. It ultimately makes sense as it is a business. The Comicon in San Diego is a bigger scale event, but still it is geared towards sales, just less small trader sales and more big studios/channels sales of specific films/series. However that format results in many more panels which is more interesting for somebody more interested in the details than in buying merchandise.

But i had no idea what the format locally would be in London, so it was a trial and you live and learn ๐Ÿ™‚

Several things were not quite perfect, like the organisers introducing a new, higher level ticket about a month or so before the event and then putting events in the schedule only available at that level or at an additional cost to the previous top level. As you may easily guess we decided not to pay even more…

There were no maps of the venue to pick up and none given to the high level ticket holders either. There were some on display in some corners, but you had to get to those first. Luckily i have a decent orientation sense.

The cueing system, when applicable was unclear and inconsistent; in some cases we were let through earlier and in some we had to cue. The sound system in the panel space had not been tested properly with the result that announcements about the upper floors came through on the loudspeakers at full volume while some guests were trying to talk to the audience. Guest was not pleased when it happened for the 3rd time…

Productsย 

Well, there were loads and loads and we diligently and in a very organised fashion i might add walked past every single stand in the place. This took several hours and made for very achy feet and sweaty person ๐Ÿ˜‰ Ah did i mention it was really hot and the air-con didn’t really do the job? But at least i wasn’t stuck with a wig and a complicated costumer like some others ๐Ÿ˜‰

Against my initial intention to reign spending in i did buy a couple of small things and collected a few business cards ๐Ÿ™‚ But nothing substantial. Interestingly enough although Funko dolls seem all the rage, my Popthorin was unique and i didn’t see another one like him! I also searched all Lego stands but alas, no Thorin either ๐Ÿ˜ฆ I did see the newest dwarf collection (minus Thorin) and i have to saw the likeness is amazing and they are very detailed and very very cute! Still on my shopping/wishlist for the near future ๐Ÿ™‚

Of all the swords and chains and t-shirts and stuff, there was this one idea ย i liked a lot:

wear your favourite book around your neck ;-)

wear your favourite book around your neck ๐Ÿ˜‰

Little pendants, barely 2cm long, made like books with the original covers ๐Ÿ™‚ Cute, isn’t it?

There is another thing i bought but it shall be revealed at a later date.

There were the autograph sellers of course, i can tell you the going rate for himself is ยฃ25 for a small one and ยฃ45 for a A4A size one ๐Ÿ˜‰ The funniest thing of all was on stand where i could see pictures of the guy behind the stall with all these celebrities handing all around the stall. And i wondered what the point would be and why would anyone buy a photo of that man with some famous X or Y?? Until it actually dawned on me he was displaying them as proof he had actually been close to the X or Y and had gotten their signature… riiiiiight. Of no interest to me whatsoever. Unless they would be really old photos of film-stars or singers from the 40’s or such or even older, i have little interest in buying a person’s signature on a photo had nothing to do with me. And i certainly would not buy them from people who are in the business of getting stacks signed for the purpose of profit. I am not opposed to signatures/autographs, i have a selected few, less than the fingers of my hand (except classical music CDs ;-)) but those are in context, i remember the circumstances, the event, the chat that preceded them and some have my name of the person was kind enough to ask for it. They are ‘mine’ ๐Ÿ™‚ ie signed for me, even if i was one in hundreds ๐Ÿ˜‰ And i know why i was there and why i wanted that particular thing – essentially tickets or CD/DVDs only – signed. Before this weekend i didn’t have a single signed photo of anybody. Because really the ticket for the event, even crushed in my handbag, or the actual CD or DVD, preferably of something i’ve seen live, is just so much more meaningful because it comes with many memories attached. ย So,…

People

There were so many, the place was packed and it was hard to move and hard to breathe..

Game of Thrones people everywhere..

Game of Thrones people everywhere..

There were quite a few costumes and i’ve seen quite a few intricate ones, GoT themes long dresses seem to be favourites with the ladies and David Tennant’s Doctor is still very popular with the gents ๐Ÿ˜‰ (i guess the fact that the costume is comfortable and not complicated adds to that, but i have to say they did put a lot of effort in the right shoes and the right hair-do and that isn’t easy ;-)) I even went on a quest in my own wardrobe myself and dug out the yet unworn Dr Who t shirt i bought many years ago ๐Ÿ™‚ Forgot to take a pic, but it is essentially a black T, with a profile Schattenriss of DT’s head at the front, only filled out with an image of the universe (stars and all that) and a tiny black Tardis flying across it with Rose popping out of it and the words ‘Bad wolf’ scripted in small next to it. Essentially you’d have to really really know your Doctors to recognise it, which is what i liked about it. Still i never wore it before this weekend, when even wearing it i felt distinctively ‘under dressed’ ๐Ÿ˜‰

And annoyed, because i only made the effort as Saturday was due to start very early at 10am with a Dr Who panel, for which we dragged ourselves out of bed only to be kept waiting.. and waiting and.. waiting… only to be told after some 30 mins that the guests had probably gotten stuck in the crowd and never made it. Humph! Not sure what happened but it wasn’t nice. Anyway, water under the bridge (especially since David was not among the guests ๐Ÿ˜‰ ).

GoT panel - Finn Jones, Carice van Houten, Daniel Portman, Keisha Castle-Hughes

GoT panel – Finn Jones, Carice van Houten, Daniel Portman, Keisha Castle-Hughes – Daniel is talking about the hardships of doing a brothel scene

There were a few entertaining panels. The GoT actors raved about the beautiful locations they were lucky to film in and Portman, Scottish ๐Ÿ˜‰ turned out to have a very dry humour ๐Ÿ™‚ I watch the series, but am not the biggest fan so didn’t particularly care if Jon Snow was really really dead or not quite yet. Carice giving birth for hours in a dark damp cave to the shadow baby via an inflatable tummy was more fascinating :-p

Speaking of guests, what made me uncomfortable at times was the ‘meat market’ aspect of some things. At least it felt to me like people become very much a product; which in a strict business sense of course they are, but for me it creates difficulties and emotional barriers in the interaction. It is straight forward to buy something from a stand, but how do you deal with the person put on sale in a way that still makes it humanly relevant?

Hayley Atwell or Marvel's Agent Carter, a really funny lady

Hayley Atwell or Marvel’s Agent Carter, a really funny lady

We didn’t intend to join the photo or autograph cues, however there is a certain freedom at such events to elbow one another and whisper ‘hey, look, that’s what’s his name from that movie’ ๐Ÿ˜‰ ย And it did turn out the one thing we had in our tickets were some vouchers for autographs and photos. Not enough as it turns out for 2 of each as we were told because individual signatures/photos turned out to be more expensive than the 1 voucher but enough so that we decided it would be unwise to have it as a total loss. We couldn’t bring ourselves to cue for photos. But, while searching for stairs to avoid the cramped and steaming hot lifts to get from one level to another i stumbled upon an open, aired area and suddenly had in front of me a table with people sat for signing and there was one of my Musketeers ๐Ÿ˜€ Sorry to say Tom Burke/Athos must have been out for lunch, but this one sat at his desk so i walked over to at least give the GoT cue at the next table some competition ๐Ÿ˜‰ (gotta support in house productions too ๐Ÿ™‚ ):

The Musketeers with D'Artagnan/ Luke Pasqualino in the foreground. I liked this photo best.

The Musketeers with D’Artagnan/ Luke Pasqualino in the foreground. I liked this photo best because it had all 4 in it.

We chatted a bit about leather costumes in hot summers and nice horses. He thought my name was beautiful ‘ggg’ and i wished for more seasons of the series ๐Ÿ˜‰ And i can confirm he’s got the most chocolatey sparkly eyes and looks even younger in person than on screen. Really nice fella.

Since we still had more vouchers to use we perused the list and decided to intentionally pick one ๐Ÿ˜€ to do the next day. And i can’t believe i’m saying this, i actually cued for 45!!!!! mins for a signature. Well, i nearly left every 10 min because i was tired and fed up and just don’t have the patience anymore. But just when i was about to say ‘that’s it, you stay here and i’m walking and looking for a place to sit’ i turned toward the exit/entrance/lift and there he came slowly walking along. It seems people didn’t realise he was coming that way as nobody reacted and few people were turned that way so i looked at him and smiled and he looked back and smiled at me all the way. Guess it was worth the wait ๐Ÿ˜‰

Again, i picked a less standard photo, ie not standard for autographs, most in the stacks on offer are against plain backdrops with significant white/grey spaces on the sides so that the actual signature can be more visible. But i just picked the photos i liked best and this one seemed like a lovely portrait:

yes, it is Iain Glen, portraying Ser Jorah Mormont in Game of Thrones

yes, it is Iain Glen, portraying Ser Jorah Mormont in Game of Thrones

Yet another Scottish actor, i seem to like quite a few of those. I still wonder what drives really busy actors to spend entire days at cons but he certainly seems calm and serene in spite of the masses. He’d been there from about 10 am, had done 2 photo sessions as well and signed the rest of the day, hundreds and hundreds. If i had to take a wild guess he was easily one of the most popular actors there, judging by the never ending cue.

Iain Glen, busy signing and smiling

Iain Glen, busy signing and smiling

Because it was so busy they said no personalised signatures ย (few people stuck to it as i realised afterwards) so i stuck to saying i was hoping to see him on stage in London again and he said he hoped so too, soon. But, that smile before he sat down to ‘work’ was worth a hundred signatures ๐Ÿ˜‰

Ah, on a funny note, immediately after as we went in search for a place to sit down we started googling his other films and this photo came up instantly:

Iain Glen in Mountains of the Moon, photo from official site here : http://iainglen.com/film/mountains-of-the-moon/

IKR ๐Ÿ˜€ He’s also aged really well.

Ultimately, because i wasn’t a particular fan of any of the films with panels, the ones i ended up enjoying most were the ones i knew least about, and those were the comics related panels.It has been ages since i’ve read comics but i loved them when i was a kid, Pif and Rahan in French (especially the latter), Donald Duck &co, Winnetou, etc. I must still have a couple of the books at home…

We were quite privileged to have some of Marvel’s UK top artists in attendance and they participated in a variety of individual as well as group panels talking not only about their work for Marvel but also about their other activities, one of which is storyboarding for series and films. We had artists who have storyboarded for several series of Dr Who , including the 11th doctor last one (Matt) and the 2nd series of the 12th doctor (Capaldi) – Mike Collins, Game of Thrones – ย William Simpson, ย Back to the Future, Star Trek – several versions and much more. They shared not only funny stories from behind the scenes, but also insights into working on set with the director, the actors, the CGI artists, the designers, etc. There was a lot of fascinating discussion about translating movement, spacial organisation into drawings, about learning to draw through the lens of a camera, respecting ‘the line’, about being a crucial trial space for expensive shots and about the excitement of seeing the scene on screen as you have drawn it out ๐Ÿ™‚

It was great to then have the same people talk about their work on comics for Marvel, the connections to the heroes on the big screen and the gap between where the comic book universe has evolved to and where it is on the big screen. And luckily they also had their own presentation stands in the exhibition where you could admire some of their actual storyboards for the series as well as original work, inspired by the same characters or completely separate comic universe. If i had walls to fill and money to throw at it, i could have bought some very original stuff. But i have kept in mind for future purchases the artist names, the drawings were stunning and very cool as well ๐Ÿ™‚

And i’ve plugged in yet another piece of the puzzle that is the film making process ๐Ÿ™‚

I was completely exhausted after those 3 long days and not entirely satisfied, not sure i’d repeat this particular experience. But i’ve learned a few new things, had a few entertaining moments and although this may not be exactly my thing i can see why they are popular as i have seen many many happy people walking away with photos and signatures and all sorts of fan-product. The stuff i took away myself is nice too ๐Ÿ˜‰

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7 thoughts on “Of people and products

  1. Fascinating! I’ve never been to one of these, but your description brings it alive, both the frustration and the fun. I love the tiny book pendants–could buy up a whole library of those ๐Ÿ™‚ And oh my word, Iain Glen, what a stunning smile! He’s lovely, and I had no idea he was so breathtaking as a young man. One of those who looks good at every age!

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    • yes i got the business card off the nice gent who does those pendants ๐Ÿ˜‰ will definitely be purchasing some stuff. And yes Iain Glen ๐Ÿ™‚ I tell you his smile and still melt one and he’s so nice and calm and friendly, i was impressed. And my friend and i both went OMG! when we saw that photo and went immediately searching for the DVD LOL. But his 54 year old version is just as gorgeous i thought.
      I would go again to a con but i’d try and get more information in advance about the programme, i’d want many more panels and more content that would actually interest me, then it would work much better.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Sounds as if the whole thing was *very* commercial. Of course, as you said, it’s a business, and the selling of merchandise makes total sense – and yet, I always think that it is a bit of a rip off if the visitors have to pay for the dubious privilege of being a customer… That’s why I would’ve expected more content at the con, especially in light of the ticket prices. From your post it sounds all a bit unorganized – no maps, tricky sound system, long queues. Tbh, it doesn’t really entice me to go and experience it myself – unless I got in for free :-D. Oh and aw – those little book pendants are so cute btw. Did you buy one for yourself?
    Buying autographs – I have often wondered how the professional autograph hunters are in business at all. Much like you, I do not really have any interest in autographs (she says from the smug POV of someone who calls three autographs of her favourite actor her own *ggg*). OTOH I can understand that someone who may never have the opportunity to see their favourite star in the flesh, might buy an autograph in desperation. Funny story about that guy with all the photos of himself and the celebs, though…
    When it comes to the celebs who work these cons – I am torn between wondering why they do it (is it lucrative for them? is it fan service? do they simply enjoy the atmosphere and the contact with the audience? probably a mixture of all three) and admiring them for their stamina. It may sound easy, simply standing around to be photographed or to sign autographs, but it always involves small talk and being friendly, and boy, doing that all day long must be overkill. So fair enough if they get a fee for that, I guess. It’s work. And it sounds as if Iain Glen was a total pro. Nice one!
    Thanks for this comprehensive recount. It was definitely enlightening to read.

    Liked by 1 person

    • yeah it was mixed bag i am sure there is better out there ๐Ÿ˜‰ and ever the money counter i actually did a quick mock up calculation. When we got into the cue close to the end of the day they were past nr 500 in autograph cue. So i estimated some at least 600 from signatures, at ยฃ15 a pop comes to ยฃ9000. Assuming the artists gets only 50%, maybe less? ยฃ4,500… not enormous for a day’s work but not at all shabby either, And this would be only signatures, there were photo sessions too, i think also at ยฃ15 or maybe even ยฃ20.
      I don’t judge in that respect just had to do the maths for myself to see if it would matter. He really was a total pro and even after the long wait i still enjoyed the couple seconds especially since we had paid for the tickets way way back so didn’t feel i actually spent on the day ๐Ÿ˜‰ That smile contact was lovely, i have to say ๐Ÿ™‚
      And yes i will openly admit i do lust after a signature from R, provided it was given in front me me… or maybe i just regret lost opportunities ๐Ÿ˜‰
      And no didn’t get the pendant though i was tempted, but the option is still open, i really needed to curb my spending this month. I would not have resisted Lego Thorin but couldn’t find one ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

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      • Whoa – 9000 ยฃ is a pretty sum. I’d say that’s worth it… for organizers and celebs. And sure, those couple of seconds and the eye contact were worth the wait!
        Re. Richard’s autograph – well, why don’t you write in to him? It’ll take a long time, but you will get a signature back. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with it. You didn’t think of it back last year, so doing it via mail is just a late stage door souvenir. You could easily print out your favourite Crucible photo, enclose it and ask him to sign it for you. He’ll probably even write your name on it, too. (That’s what he did with the autograph I received. It was mz favourite photo that had been printed out, and he signed my name on it, too.)
        Aw, so no souvenir???

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        • yes, it sounds like a good idea, i am considering it, tbh it is one of the Crucible posters i’d love to have signed and then i would frame it, it would be a lovely pair to the other poster i have of my first opera in London, signed by all the cast. Have i shown you it? i need to take a pic ๐Ÿ™‚ Since i bought the poster i wanted to hang them together or for the Crucible one to be a sort of theatrical counterpart. Mind you the framing of the other one cost me 130, which is why the Crucible one isn’t behind glass yet.
          Oh i got a tiny souvenir, you saw the bounty at PopT’s feet ๐Ÿ˜‰ There was in truth little that was tempting from my pov. Comes back to the problem of now being a fan of any of the films featured…

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        • Well, my advice is this: Send in your poster with your request. And don’t worry about having the funds for the framing yet – it’s going to take MONTHS until you get it back. I know that from experience.
          BTW, just remembering STL’s latest stunt with the signed poster to be won. Whatever happened to that? Have to check it out…

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