I was rejected for a press pass for this summer’s London Film and Comic Con. Just putting that out there first thing because I am still full of bitterness. Why would someone choose the Daily Mail over this fantastic blog? I mean, what the hell is a Reuters anyway? Okay, so perhaps it is easy to see why such an in-demand event would not choose me, but still – I’ve got sass.
Alas, missing out on a press pass (and not being notified until a week prior to the event) also meant I missed an opportunity to buy tickets to the nearly sold-out London Film and Comic Con. Thankfully there were still a few tickets left for the Friday Preview Day to be snatched up by me and my constant-con-cohort Virginia over at Corleones and Lannisters. Thankfully, there was still much to be seen on Friday.
And it was no surprise that this summer’s convention had such in-demand tickets. The con had a plethora of high-profile guests like Sigourney Weaver, Michael Gambon and a whole slew of Game of Thrones cast members. Oh and just a little 30th anniversary reunion of Back to the Future. But I’m sure no one has ever watched the movie to care or anything like that…
Jokes aside. The reunion of Back to the Future was also there support The Michael J Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research. The campaign called ‘Up to 88!’ is fundraising all weekend to help the foundation reach its goal of $88,000 by October 21, 2015 – Back to the Future Day. At every corner of the convention there was solidarity and support for this wonderful foundation. People who donated were given a poster that was exclusive to the convention in London. The convention also sold exclusive ToonStar Toys which donated a portion of the proceeds to the foundation.
In its 11th year, the London convention moved to its new home at the Kensington Olympia. This was a much-needed move as they had very much out-grown their old haunt at Earl’s Court. New digs also brought new problems, but things seemed to move quite smoothly for a first try.
But there is something so much bigger and better we need to talk about here. We need to talk about Billy.
Zach Galligan and faithful side-kick Gizmo
I GOT TO SEE ZACH GALLIGAN. ZACH GALLIGAN, EVERYONE!
Oh the fangirl in me had to restrain myself to not squeal in delight when the actor walked on stage for this panel with a small Gizmo plush. My friend and I have noticed a trend that most 80s actors have ceased to grow older (see last October’s LFCC for Ralph Macchio proof). Galligan looked absolutely amazing. The actor was joined on the panel by his on-screen mother, the wonderful Frances Lee McCain. The two hadn’t seen each other in almost two decades, but got along as wonderfully as old friends.
The discussion at the Gremlins panel was lively and friendly, and it even got a bit naughty (lots of sexual innuendos – all greatly appreciated for a good laugh). When an attendee asked if Galligan of McCain ever thought the puppets were life-like when acting with them, the responses were all gold.
“The sound editing on Gremlins was amazing. I didn’t get to hear any of Howie Mandel’s voice saying ‘bye Billy’ or anything,” said Galligan. “When I acted with the puppet, all I could hear was machine sounds. Acting with Gizmo was like working with an escalator.”
They were both thoughtful with their responses. Galligan had an unique view on a possible Gremlins sequel. One that was positive more than ornery or negative. He made valid points on puppetry vs CGI that made me even second-guess my own opinions on the matter. They were very gracious to fans for their love and engagement. A refreshing take on the cult-adoration. This was one of the most engaging and entertaining panels I have seen at any convention thus far.
Zach Galligan and Frances Lee McMcain pose for a quick photo
The last panel of the day was simply titled ‘horror panel’ which is even less descriptive than I am. But there were some real legends on the stage on Friday, including the one and only Tom Savini. Joining the iconic special effects make-up artist were Canadian stunt man and Jason Voorhees Ken Kirzinger, Saw II director Darren Lynn Bousman and actor J Larose.
While there were some horror fans in attendance, it seemed as though the emcee had no idea what was going on. I do have to say he was quite good on many other panels (as he hosted the Q&A’s at the last LFCC and did a fantastic job with the Gremlins panel), but he seemed a bit out of his league – he even forgot J Larose’s name and the poor actor sat in silence for most of the panel, which is a shame because he’s a really cool guy.
Most of the discussion seemed a bit stuck on repetitive questions, unfortunately. But interesting people will always deliver good answers regardless of the monotony in the conversation. I wish the panel would have been directed a little bit better, but alas most of the discussion was centred around favourite this and favourite that.
I really have no right to complain because I didn’t have the guts to ask my own question during the panel (which was of course about Deranged). While I love interviewing people, asking questions in large groups where I have a funny accent really isn’t my idea of fun.
Perhaps the most interesting story of the hour-long discussion was Bousman’s talk about how he got his film Repo! The Genetic Opera into theatres and into the hearts of cult movie lovers. After Lionsgate gave the film little promotion and a very limited release, Bousman took it upon himself to get the movie out there. He drove across the US paying theatres to show his film until it gained the momentum it has today. It was a great story to hear from a director so passionate about his film and not giving a flying fuck about the studio.
I don’t think it was the fault of LFCC that the panel was a bit bumpy. It was fantastic to see some horror legends up on stage, but they really ought to be where they belong – in a horror convention. Unfortunately there doesn’t seem to be a better fit at the moment than a comic convention (in London anyway, there is always the Sheffield HorrorCon where Savini was the previous weekend). Maybe next time I can be hired to ask questions. I have zero personality, but at least I will never forget the name Larose.
Despite the impressive array of guests, this summer’s LFCC definitely had hit a few bumps in the road. The lack of rooms to watch panels was a bit of a mistake. Having more talks and more places to wander would be a great improvement. That was one thing MCM Comic Con has a leg up on – there is always something to do.
The new layout also meant that it was difficult to find anything. There were a few posters on the walls with the daily schedule and a vague map, but something more would have been nice. MCM Comic Con always gives a really in-depth programme for their weekend party. Plus the layout had become very confused, which was a little surprising considering how well everything had been planned when it was held in Earl’s Court.
That being said, this convention is really bigger and better than ever. That’s exactly what it said on the press release I stole, but I actually mean it. This convention was an absolute monster in size. We were there from about 2 until close at 8 and I’m not even sure if we got to explore every part of the convention.
I also got to pick up a few things at this convention. The first was a selection of three comics written by John-Paul Kamath. These independent comics were a great buy (but more on that later). He was extremely friendly and clearly passionate about his work. Meeting artists and writers at conventions has now become one of my favourite ways to spend my time at conventions. These comics are definitely worth picking up. Check out their website at The London Horror Comic and Graveyard Orbit.
The second purchase had to be something Gremlins because at this point in my life, this movie obsession has seriously taken on some kind of disease in my brain. The poster I bought at this convention is done in the now very popular minimalist style. I bought this in hopes that it wasn’t too offensive for my husband that I would be allowed to hang it up in our flat. The verdict is yet to be reached…
Unfortunately there doesn’t seem to be a name of the creators anywhere on the poster. That and the vendor didn’t give me any flyers. So if anyone can point me in the right direction, please do. I would love to give credit where it is due. They make loads of movie posters and its all on great heavy-grade paper for a much more high value feel.
On a different note, the Young Adult Literature Convention (YALC) was a wonderful breath of fresh air (literally – it smelled in the main area). Working as one, yet seperate, the YALC boasted some major names in young adult literature, such as Judy Blume and Robert Rankin. This was a much more quiet area of the convention. It was a wonderful place full of books and chocolate cake.
The one disappointing part was seeing several of the comic artists squashed in upper floor with the YALC and the video games. I make it a point to buy either art or independent comics when I go to these conventions. Seeing them cut off from the main area was a bit sad, but thankfully many people seemed to have ventured out of their way to seek out the artists.
While I might still be a bit sore about missing out on a press pass, I do have to admit I enjoyed the convention. There was still so much more to see. Definitely worth seeing every day. Just remind me to buy my tickets ahead of time from now on.