MCM Expo 2013 aka London Comic Con

Here is the much promised write-up of the London Comic Con, which took place last weekend. I realise this is very different from the stuff I usually write about – it isn’t just about video games for one thing, but what the hell, I figure it’s something you guys would enjoy reading about, since you guys are probably all geeks or at least geek-curious, right? Also, bold statements like ‘I met Commander Shepard and Kaidan Alenko’ need to be backed up by documentary evidence! Unlike my usual posts, this one is doesn’t really have a point, other to show you guys some awesome costumes I saw and to share with you guys a few experiences I had while there. I confess that although I did play a couple of demos, I didn’t really focus on the gaming side of the con at all, so I won’t be covering anything substantive about upcoming games at all. This post is intended as more of a fun look at an up and coming convention. I hope you guys enjoy it!

Can you spot the cheeese toastie?

Can you spot the cheeese toastie?

NOTE: This post is coming a bit late, because (for those of you not on Twitter) I was on a plane Monday/Tuesday flying back to Hong Kong to visit my family. I’ll be away for two weeks, but not to worry, I’ll still be updating as usual. Other Sam (Grumbl3dook) will be holding down the fort in terms of uploading videos, so you may notice that he’ll be writing up the video blog posts until I return to the UK (I’ll be preemptive and tell you guys not to believe any of his slanderous lies – I wasn’t there! I didn’t do it! It was someone else!) The only minor change will be that I will not be uploading my usual Amnesia videos until I return. Instead, there should be an Oculus Rift video up this Saturday and possibly a Dota 2 video up next Saturday. After that, things should return to normal!

Did you have fun? What was it like?

We had tons of fun! The MCM Expo isn’t one of the biggest cons out there, but every year it attracts more people. It’s held twice a year during May and October. I attended the one back in October as well and the growth is really evident. The tickets don’t really sell out like many of the biggest conventions, but to be honest, I’m quite enjoying the fact that it’s busy, but not suffocatingly jam-packed (although Saturdays do get a bit crazy). Fridays are much quieter and personally I love it. I get to take my time buying up all the stuff I want to, without constantly being elbowed out of the way. Also, if I hadn’t gone on Friday, would I have managed to nab these? Not likely methinks:

I said that I was going to fully explore the area before buying anything, but I had hardly been in there for 10 mins before snatching these up. I mean COME ON! Wouldn't you?

I said that I was going to fully explore the area before buying anything, but I had hardly been in there for 10 mins before snatching these up. I mean COME ON! Wouldn’t you?

If it gets any bigger (which it probably will) they might end up needing to hold it at a new venue. At the moment they can just about manage it on Saturdays! Like many conventions it covers video games, anime, manga, sci-fi and more. Oddly enough, even though it’s often called London Comic Con, the only thing it’s seriously lacking in is comics! It would be nice to see a few more comic book bigwigs there in the future.

The best things about the MCM Expo are without a doubt the signings and cosplay! I may be biased of course, because the two times I’ve been, there have been Mass Effect voice actors in attendance, so that pretty much made my weekend.

Cosplay costumes

COSPLAY! Man, I love seeing all the awesome costumes! Unfortunately, I yet again failed to get a costume together in time, but I was content with ogling everyone else’s. I will do it next time though, you’ll see! It’ll be amazing! Alright, now that I’ve set your expectations at unrealistically high, let’s get on with those pics!

P1010262

Kiba, Akamaru and Tsume (Kiba’s mom) from Naruto – EPIC CUTENESS! I almost died.

P1010279

Shanks and a female Buggy from One Piece

P1010264

Borderlands 2 cosplay – I especially love Mordecai, but they’re all beyond awesome

P1010275

Borderlands 2 showdown

P1010274

GO ZOMBIE! I mean… um…

P1010271

No friggin’ idea what this one is, but this guy was literally traveling around the con like this. Wish I had one of those…

P1010267

Kyubi from Naruto! DAWWW! You just want to hug him don’t you? Fierce tailed beast indeed…

P1010266

Now this one I really did hug the crap out of. I considered kidnapping him, but Sam stopped me just in time!

P1010268

I’m Batman

P1010325

Warhammer 40K

P1010327

Ryuk from Death Note!

Meeting Commander Shepard and Kaidan Alenko

I spent much of my time lining up to meet these guys I’ll admit, but it was totally worth it! Raphael Sbarge (Kaidan) was just the sweetest guy. It took forever to get to him, because he spent so much time talking to every person, so you better believe that I milked it when I finally got my chance to chat to him! I’m pretty sure all the words I said came out in the right order and I didn’t make too large a fool of myself, because he smiled and responded instead of looking at me like I’d grown another head. He was there mainly for the TV show he’s in called ‘Once Upon a Time’, but judging from all the Mass Effect memorabilia everyone in the line was holding, I’m pretty sure most of us were there for Mass Effect. Did I already mention how nice he was? He was really nice. Super nice. I also wanted to kidnap him, but Sam said no again (he’s a bit of party pooper sometimes).

You can't tell, but I was dying with excitement inside

I don’t know if you can tell, but I was dying with excitement inside

By the time I tried to buy tickets for the Mark Meer signing on Saturday they were sold out. You know the phrase ‘selling like hotcakes’? They should change it to ‘selling like tickets to a Mark Meer signing’, because DAMN they sell quickly. As a result, I woke up super early the next morning, so I’d be there when the con opened and Sam and I managed to bag two tickets. They sold out within the hour and because of the huge demand they opened up another signing in the afternoon. I knew that if I couldn’t get Mark Meer to sign my Mass Effect art book, I’d follow him around the globe until I could, but I’m glad it worked out this way. I was so happy to meet him, you have no idea. I kept telling Sam to ‘shut up’ so I could stare without interruption at Mark Meer while I was waiting in line. Luckily he didn’t take offense as he knows how obsessed I am. When I finally got to meet up, he turned out to be as nice a guy as I’d expected (even for a Canadian)! He was in a bit of a rush by the time he got to us, because he had to get to the talk on the Games Stage, which I attended (see below) and he’d already spent a lot of time talking to everyone in front us in the line, but he still really made an effort to chat, even though I was probably just muttering a lot of useless crap. He also did Commander Shepard-esque poses for pics whenever people asked for them (I didn’t, because I was focusing on trying to act natural and not obsessed like I truly am).

This is the picture where I feel I may have inadvertently tickled Commander Shephard

This is the picture where I may have inadvertently tickled Commander Shephard

Sam (in a Konoha jounin costume), Mark Meer and me

Sam (in a Konoha jounin costume), Mark Meer and me

Yes, I do realise I’m wearing my N7 t-shirt like in my pics from the last con I went to, but I swear I do have other clothes and I don’t just wear that N7 t-shirt every day! I wore it last time as well, because there were Mass Effect people I wanted to get autographs from. It usually proves to be a good idea, because they pretty much always comment on it (like Raphael Sbarge did). The only person who didn’t comment on it was, oddly enough, Mark Meer (Commander Shepard himself)!

Panels

I attended two panels over the course of the weekend – one on the Cosplay Stage and the other on the Games Stage. Both were, surprise surprise, Mark Meer panels (I’m not obsessed at all really)! In case you didn’t realise this, Mark Meer is a giant geek. The first ‘acting training’ he received was by being a Dungeon Master during Dungeon & Dragons games. He’s more of a traditional, hardcore nerd than I am or pretty much most of the geeks I’ve met in my life (and that’s seriously saying something). He’s also a huge gamer, cosplayer and regular convention attendee (as a fan – although I guess that’s probably changed now that he’s gotten so big). During the cosplay panel, he chatted about his love of RPGs and open world games (like Baldur’s Gate and Skyrim). He’s also been with Bioware for a really long time and voice acted for them many many times. Unfortunately, I only managed to get one pic of him during the whole time he was on stage, because that guy never stops moving! I can’t remember what his costume was from (let me know if any of you have any idea). He also mentioned that he likes to cosplay as Commander Shepard when he does signings if he can, but that means his suitcase is reserved for the N7 armour and he has to stuff all his actual clothes into the bag he takes on the plane. See, this is why I’d rather hang out with Mark Meer above pretty much any of the Hollywood actors or video game voice actors out there. He’s a huge, dedicated geek and he’s proud of it. As he said during the talk, the benefit of this is that whenever he voice acts for stuff like Baldur’s Gate, they don’t have to explain any of the concepts or characters to him like they have to do for non-gamers. He knows his stuff.

P1010296

On the Games Stage the next day, there was a surprise guest – Mr Raphael Sbarge himself! He only stayed for a little bit, but it was amazing seeing them together. I couldn’t really get any good pics of them, because I’m no photographer and it was tricky trying to get good shots from where we were sitting. They chatted about the difficulties of voice  acting and their experiences of working on Mass Effect. They explained how neither of them really had much leeway in terms of how they acted their lines, because both of them had counterparts (FemShep and Ashley) who they had to match. If Jennifer Hale went first, Mark pretty much had to follow her lead, but if he got to do a specific line first then he had some creative control in how he wanted to voice it. In terms of plot or the wording of the lines they had no input at all, but as they said, that wasn’t really an issue since the writers of Mass Effect were so talented.

Mark also discussed what it was like providing the voice of Commander Shepard. He discussed the progression of the character of Shepard over the three games and how that affected his acting. In ME1 he was often told to express less emotion, because at that point Shepard was just your dutiful soldier, so he wasn’t really supposed get emotional at all. As the trilogy progressed, he was allowed to really be a lot more free with it as Shepard grew more comfortable  and open with his comrades and became more than just your regular Alliance soldier. He also explained some of the difficulties he faced with having to voice both renegade and paragon options. There were many lines of dialogue shared between both routes, which meant that they always had to be voiced very neutrally so that it didn’t seem like Shepard was prone to wild mood swings.

For those of you who don’t know this, Bioware used Mark as to develop all the alien voices in the Mass Effect Triology. He also actually voices the whole of many of the alien races such as the hanar, the vorcha and many of the volus, including Niftu Cal (the ‘Biotic God’). I think he also voiced the elcor, but I’m not sure about that one and I can’t seem to find any info about it online. Whichever Shepard you prefer (both were great in my opinion, although Mark’s Shepard will always be my favourite) Mark is clearly a multi-talented voice actor, capable of both serious and comedic roles. He says that he hopes to return for any future Mass Effect games (although they’re still in the early stages yet, so there won’t be any info on that for a while). Considering how many of the alien races are voiced entirely by him, it seems likely they probably will bring him back for those roles at least!

At the end, Mark very kindly spent about 15 minutes saying whatever the audience wanted him to say in his Commander Shepard voice. My favourite was ‘KHAAAAAAAAAANN!’

Mark’s an awesome guy. I’d love to kidnap-I mean chat with him more in the future. I’ll be honest, part of my desire to become a games journalist is so that I’ll get to interview him properly someday (as well as other people of course, but mainly him). Creepy? Probably, but you guys are probably used to it by now, right?

P1010319

P1010317 P1010314

Yikes, so this seemed to be more Mass Effect-oriented than I thought it would be, but there you go! I hope you enjoyed my write-up of the MCM Expo! Let me know if you’d like to see more of this in the future. I’m planning to attend more cons, especially in the US and Canada, so hopefully I’ll get to meet many of you guys there too!

Advertisements

8 responses to “MCM Expo 2013 aka London Comic Con

  1. LOVE this post! I don’t care if it was more of a Mass Effect theme con experience at MCM, but it looked like you had an amazing time! I’m also detecting a theme with you and wanting to “kidnap” people. 😛 You must be a handful with your boyfriend. I’m jealous that you got to meet Mark Meer and Raphael Sbarge. That would have been the highlight of my day too!

    Now more than ever you’re one of the people I want to attend a con with! We can help stop you from kidnapping people or help you map out a strategy for the kidnapping. Depends on the person. 😉

    Super cute photo with Pikachu! I’d want to take him home too if it wouldn’t be obvious that I’m dragging a humongous Pikachu out of the convention center.

    • I’m glad you liked the post and didn’t mind that almost everything other than the cosplay photos seemed to have revolved around Mass Effect! I did have an amazing time, in no small part thanks to all the Mass Effect stuff there!
      Haha yeah, luckily my boyfriend is used to my urge to kidnap people. He was on high alert anyway since we were meeting Raphael Sbarge and Mark Meer, so he knew anything could happen. It was really awesome meeting those two, not just because they’re Kaidan and Commander Shepard, but because they were so damn nice! I was literally glowing the entire weekend. I think I probably still am actually. Aww I ‘m sure you’ll get to meet them sometime too! In fact you probably have a good chance being in the US.
      That sounds like lots of fun! Haha good to know I’ll have someone to either prevent me from kidnapping people or to join in and plot our escape with! If we’d been to this con together, the headline the next day would probably be ‘Mass Effect voice actors disappeared from con’. The Pikachu would probably have gone missing too! Hmm, you’re right though, a giant Pikachu is a little conspicuous. Also, we’d have to somehow get the guy out of the suit first. 😀

  2. Sounds like you had so much fun! I love all the pictures and info, thanks for sharing. I hadn’t thought about Mark Meer and Jennifer Hale having to match each other’s lines, depending on who went first! God, I really want to attend more cons and go to these kinds of panels now…

    Also, it sounds like it’s good you had back-up with you to keep you from committing “kidnapping” crimes. You should never go to a con alone, Sam!

    • I did! It was crazy amounts of fun. 🙂 Also, thanks to Mark Meer and Raphael Sbarge it was the best con I’ve been to yet! You’re very welcome, I’m glad you enjoyed all the write-up and all the pics!
      Yeah, the panels were really eye-opening. It seems like voice acting can actually be a lot harder than just regular acting in a lot of ways, since they’re pretty much isolated in small room by themselves and they usually don’t get the script until they’re in there, so it’s often a cold read! I’m definitely glad I went to those panels. They’re definitely worth going to if you get the chance!
      Haha, yeah, very true, I’m not sure I could be trusted by myself. But then again… if I’d gone alone, I would have Raphael and Mark at home reinacting all my favourite scenes over and over again… hmm, although I think that’s the problem really!

  3. “I said that I was going to fully explore the area before buying anything, but I had hardly been in there for 10 mins before snatching these up.”

    I swear that every time, too, and it’s usually about fifty yards from the front entrance that there’s a booth with a giant sign that says “All comics: $1” and then I pretty much just throw one of the folks manning the booth my wallet and dive in headfirst . . .

    • Haha yeah, that’s exactly what happens! It’s just impossible to resist. Cons are like geek heaven and the people selling stuff know it! All they need to do is wave their products in your general direction or lay them out where they might catch your eye and you’re gone. At least that’s how it works for me. All the cheap comics and manga always gets me too! I took quite a bit of money with me and figured I’d still have a lot left over at the end of the weekend, but thanks to the geek haze that fills my mind as soon as I enter the con, I pretty much emptied my wallet. Oh well, I don’t regret it. 😀

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s