It is nearly that time again for Showmasters to grace Belfast with their presence, again bringing the Belfast Film & Comic Con to the newly named SSE Arena Belfast. This year the show is taking place over the weekend of the 31st October to the 1st November with a jam packed schedule and plenty of stalls and guests to keep you busy.
Last Year Showmasters Belfast Film and Comic Con was held at the Odyssey over the weekend of the 25th & 26th of October 2014 at the Odyssey Arena in the centre of Belfast. It was a lot of fun, however, I could unfortunately only attend on the Saturday but I managed to pack a whole lot into the 9 hours or so.
Looking back at the con there are some individual features and norms I’m going to take a look at which you can usually see, and that I’ll be looking out for at this years;
I arrived at the venue about 8.30am and I didn’t already have a ticket. I had to queue for roughly forty five minutes before getting in and buying a ticket. Absolutely no problem with that length of queue time to gain access without a pre-paid ticket.
This is the big one for me. This decides whether or not I attend. You can have all the fantastic merchandisers on the planet but if the stars in attendance aren’t up to much I’m not going to go out of my way to go. BFCC didn’t disappoint.
Hit by the cancellation of some of the bigger names just a few days before the show Like Anthony Stewart head & John Rhys Davies there were still a varied range of celebs on hand to meet.
The big draw obviously was Billie Piper. She was as lovely as I could have hoped. Took time to sign my photo already signed Christopher Eccleston and chatted to me about how difficult it is to get an autograph from him. She happily posed for a photograph at her signing table.
The process of getting to see her wasn’t as difficult as I expected. The girl looking after the queue could have been a bit friendlier, as she made us change formation about ten times before she was happy to let us approach the desk to get and pay for our autograph ticket. At this stage you paid your £25 quid and got to choose your photo (I took one anyway as its included in the price) and they asked if you wanted your photo personalised.
Despite her popularity the whole thing from start to finish took around five minutes and off I bounded with my autograph. This is what it should be like at cons in an ideal world.
Ditto for Billy Boyd. He was really friendly and had no queue management strategy deployed . I Just joined the short queue. Picked my photo, he asked if I wanted it personalised and off I went overjoyed at how easily I’d just met and got an autograph from one of the stars of one of the greatest film franchises of all time.
Other guests like Eve Myles, Gareth David-Lloyd, Kenny Baker, Paul McGann, Arianna Richards Claire Kramer, Rusty Geoffe, Ian Whyte, Ian McElhenney & other people from Star Wars & Dr Who meant there was a wide range of guest. Autograph prices ranging from £10 to £25 quid meant there was something for everyone at a price range that wasn’t too astronomical.
Equal now in my requirement of quality autograph guests is a quality “Artists Alley.”
I was pleased with the number and range of quality names from the worlds of comics available for sketches & signings.
Simon Bisley was the big draw for me here. I have on FIVE previous occasions attempted to get a sketch from Bis. As anyone who has ever met him, he is the definition of eccentric. Previous attempts have met with me either being told he was finished sketching for the day or on two twice being told to “F*&K OFF” This time though he was in blistering good form. I was really willing to pay whatever he wanted for a sketch. He wanted a hug. That’s right I got a sketch from one of the biggest names in British comics, or comics full stop and I paid him with a hug. Don’t be put off by his demeanour though, the man is a genius.
PJ Holden is another massive draw for me at cons. I am a huge fan of his work on his creator owned; Department of Monsterology & Numbercruncher, as well as Judge Dredd. I bought a piece of original artwork from him from Numbercruncher and he happily signed my trades as well as doing this awesome micro sketch of Zane.
Paul is the anti-Bis he is ALWAYS approachable and happy to chat or show you his original art & always has a fantastic range of prints available. I saw him draw an awesome X-Men blank cover sketch of Beast and have decided that’s my plan for next time.
Other comics guests included David Lloyd, James O’Barr, Will Simpson, Glenn Fabry, Jose Delbo
There was a smaller Indy comic area than I’ve seen at some other cons, but what was there was of exceptional quality. A prime example would be the excellent Uproar Comics selling their fantastic “Zombie Hi” locally set series.
Prop Displays & Photo Shoot Opportunities:
BFCC had a fantastic range of prop displays a particularly impressive Jabba The Hut’s throne room display and a massive Optimus Prime in the main arena were available for photos free of charge, as well as a professional option available for £5.00 in front of Jabba.
The option to have yourself green screened with the Tardis was fantastic, as was the option have your picture taken with Gollum or be superimposed in front of the gates of Jurassic Park for £5. This included your print.
Belfast Film Comic-Con had an excellent range of stalls selling everything from Photographs, t-shirts , autographs, toys, Anime, action figures.
One range I did find exceptionally well catered for was comics themselves. A wide range of stalls selling everything from £1 issues, to a couple selling REALLY high end comics. Daredevil #1 for example was one I saw with a cool price tag of £3,500. Fantastic to see such a wide range of comics available at a con.
Unfortunately due to my single day ticket I didn’t have time to attend any of the wide range of talks available. They seemed to be well attended and the venue with its abundance of seating suited them well. Also unlike the MCM talks at their venue there wasn’t problem with noise caused by the wrestling in the background making it difficult to hear the talks themselves.
The Odyssey Arena was an excellent venue for a con. having everything in one area was perfect. As previously mentioned the seating meant that if at any stage you needed a break you could just go and grab a seat. Plenty of access to restrooms & also having food and drink readily available in the venue itself was fantastic. Once your hand was stamped you could enter and exit the venue as many times as you wanted.
All the members of staff that I had any dealings with at the venue were polite and helpful. Exactly what you want from this sort of event.
All In all Showmasters BFCC was a fantastic con and I cannot wait to see what they have in store for everyone this year! If you want to check out the guest list or have a look in general as to what Showmasters is, you can visit their website here: