Dublin Comic-Con has been on my radar for a few years now. A convention I’ve kept meaning to check out but haven’t got round to before now. I live in Belfast so the 120 odd mile drive is always off putting and until now the range of guests , venue and comic presence didn’t really persuade me to take the trip.
This years Dublin Comic-Con changed my mind on this completely.
I’m going to take a look at some of the things I expect from events like these and explain just why.
At 20 Euro per person for general one day entry the organizers of Dublin Comic-Con have got this bang on the money. This is a fair price for an entry to a con. The ticket purchase was easy online. I had always intended to go just for the one day and it’s just as well because I left ticket purchase to the week before and the weekend passes & VIP passes had sold out, I was lucky to even get 2 single day passes, If I hadn’t got them there and then I would have missed out. The VIP option didn’t seem great value for money and something they may want to work on improving for future cons. VIP should mean VIP not just a word organizers stick on a ticket to ramp up the price & hand over a plastic bag with some tat in it to try and justify it.
Dublin Comic-Con did a great job with their queuing. We arrived a little later than we hoped as we got stuck behind a funeral procession in Dublin City Centre for 45 minutes and got there at around 10.15. We parked at the venue and made our way to join the queue which by that time had snaked its way round the Conference Centre. One of my main bug bear with MCM & Showmaster cons is that they NEVER open their doors on time. Not so with Dublin Comic-Con, doors opened bang on 10.30am as scheduled which meant that despite the human centipede that had formed we made our way into the venue around 11am. Con organizers need to take a leaf out of Dublin Comic-Con’s book and gain some respect for fans that have queued for hours , sometimes in the rain and open their doors as scheduled.
Inside the venue Queuing was also well managed and controlled. I didn’t have major queue time for any guests and even the queue for toilets and food was minimal.
The media guests at Dublin Comic-Con didn’t really excite me if I’m honest. That’s down to my tastes though. Only the late addition of Michael Biehn peaked my interest. I had already met him before at a show in Belfast, but he is a high level guest and one they did well here snaring at short notice.
I know conventions can’t please all of the people all of the time with guests so even though no one set my heart a flutter there was a fantastic range across different genres of fandom. Paul McGann, Jim Beaver, Robert Maschio, Tom Wlaschiha , Thomas Ian Nicholls all had big queues for their signings. So plenty of people got to meet their heroes.
Dublin Comic-Con really shined here. The last 4 big cons I have attended have had either an embarrassing number of comic guests or in one remarkable example exactly ZERO comic presence. The clue is in the name. Comics must be a part of these events and Dublin Comic- Con had a great range of comic pro’s to meet & greet. Pop Culture Icon, creator of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Kevin Eastman was a great guest to land.
He is the only comics pro I’ve encountered in years of attending events like this who charges for signatures & table pics. You know what though 20 Euro a pop was worth it. He has the stature in the business to back it up and just look at that Turtle signature.
He took time to speak to every single fan who approached him at this table. Was an absolute gentleman to talk to. Again an amazing coup by Dublin Comic-Con to get him to Ireland.
Freddie Williams II artist on Batman V TNMT was equally as gracious to speak to. His commission prices are out of my league starting at 145 Euro for a single character head sketch but watching him work was an amazing experience. He took the time to sign a full run of books for me.
Irish professionals were out in force and this was fantastic to see. Cons should be supporting their local artists & writers. Stephen Mooney, Nick Roche, Ryan Brown, Ruth Redmond as well as Mike Collins & James Roberts from the UK who work or have worked for the likes of Marvel, DC, IDW all took time to sign and talk to me as well as having a great range of art books, prints and sketches for sale.
Stephen Mooney’s Con Jobs may be the best artist “Sketchbook” I’ve ever laid eyes on and at 20 Euro is great value for money.
Another area of conventions I have seen completely ignored by so called “Big” convention companies, Dublin Comic-Con had a huge indie small press area. One I wish I had more time to explore at greater length.
Dave Hendrick’s “3” was easily the book of the convention for me and if you get a chance you should pick it up
Katie Fleming’s “100 Times” was also an other highlight for me, a beautiful little book.
I’ll be reviewing both of the above books as soon as I get a chance.
Again I’m genuinely distraught due to time constrictions I didn’t have time to see more of the Small Press stuff on offer. Dublin Comic-Con’s artist alley should be the blue-print for how all conventions treat Artists Alley.
Prop Display & Photo Opportunities.
Dublin Comic-Con had hands down the best set displays I’ve seen. All for free. Star Wars, Aliens, Agent of Shield, Fall Out 4 and a plethora of others. I didn’t have time to get pics at them all unfortunately but this was one of the highlights of the show for me. This sort of thing is so much fun for all ages, and great for con attendees for who budget is a concern. Fantastic job.
Another win for Dublin Comic-Con. Recently when I’ve been attending conventions it’s been like wandering into my local Forbidden Planet. One or two comics ( if that) and every stall having the same merchandise. Not so here! The area set aside on the ground floor was massive. Every major Dublin Comic Book store like The Big Bang, & Dublin city comics had stalls. Classic comics. Be still my beating heart. These if my wallet is anything to go by TOO well catered for
I picked up two key 1st appearance books I’ve been chasing at exceptional prices She-Hulk & Spider-Woman from Crafty Comics.
From Paddy’s Comics I grabbed 3 original Secret War issues and Uncanny X-men 167. ALL FOUR cost 20 Euro. Exceptional. Sadly I couldn’t stretch to the Amazing Fantasy #15 he had for 20,000 euro because unfortunately I had to pay for parking… An amazing range of classic books, the real key issues and big hitters sitting right there was a pleasure to see.
Hats , belts, toys, replica weapons, pictures, posters, statues, figures you name it it was available to buy in the Merchandise area of Dublin Comic-Con. I would attend for their merchandise stalls ALONE next year.
Unfortunately I didn’t attend a single one. I was so short on time & it was so busy it wouldn’t have mattered if Jesus was having a talk on how to get a sure fire date with Jennifer Aniston I couldn’t have gone. The range of talks available from all guests though was impressive and I stuck my head into the venues for the talks and they were pretty impressive,
The Dublin Convention Centre is MASSIVE. Four floors. It was still heaving to the gills with humans. This was easily the busiest con I have ever attended. A really beautiful location for a convention. It’s made of glass though so unfortunately it was like spending the day trapped in a greenhouse. At some points early on before they got the air conditioning up and running on the guest floor and merchandise floor it was pretty unbearable. I can only imagine how some of the cosplayers felt. The organizers can’t help the weather though and later on in the afternoon when A/C kicked in it got better.
Parking was steep. 3.50 Euro an hour. I was there 8 hours – capped at 20.00 for the day. Locals obviously had no bother due to the excellent transport links to the city. I was surprised to even get a space, but it was right there which in itself was a godsend.
Toilet facilities were excellent – on every floor and easily accessible.
ATM machines… were there any if so I couldn’t find them. The Curse of Comic Conventions. I’d have spent 3 x what I did if I could have got more money out.
Food & Drink was expensive on site – and not great to be honest. Not enough seating for the huge volume of people.
Another huge tick in the plus column for Dublin Comic-Con. Every volunteer I spoke to was friendly, helpful and a credit to the event. John on the Fallout 4 photo display asked us straight away if our group wanted a pic taken together which was a great touch I appreciated. Venue staff less friendly and pleasant, but I guess having a gazillion people descend on your working environment dressed in spandex would put a crimp on anyone’s day. One specific incident I can’t heap enough praise on the volunteers for was when my friend keeled over due to the heat in the guest area upstairs. As soon as I asked for help they raced off, came back, checked on her and then got St John Ambulance volunteers to administer first aid. Really great service which at the time and now is greatly appreciated.
In conclusion Dublin Comic-Con was the best large scale convention I have attended. It’s the first time I haven’t managed to do everything I wanted to in one day. I really wish I’d been there all weekend. Next year I will be attending for both days so I can relax a bit more and see everything that this wonderful show has to offer properly.