Wales Comic Con returned to Wrexham for its first ever weekend event over the last couple of days.
I see lots of parenting bloggers doing reviews of days out and trips, so I think it’s about time I do the same – with a geeky twist, of course! So here’s my review of how family-friendly Wales Comic Con has been.
As I wasn’t sure whether I’d be working on the Saturday or not, we went for Sunday-only tickets. In hindsight this was a good plan – friends who had weekend tickets told us that Saturday was absolutely rammed, and trying to navigate a toddler around heaving crowds of nerds (said in the most loving way possible, promise) is tough at the best of times.
What comic con would be complete without cosplay? We didn’t quite have the time or ingenuity to live up to last year’s Mr Staypuft effort, so it was a shop-bought costume for SB this time, as a little rebel pilot from Star Wars.
Who says shop-bought costumes can’t be totally frigging awesome, incidentally? I think she looked cool, and that view seemed to be shared by people we met around the con. As for me, I put together a cosplay of Peggy Carter from Captain America (Daf didn’t cosplay this time).
Queuing was fairly painless for us – we bought Earlybird tickets, enabling us to get in from 10am rather than 11am, and I can’t recommend this enough if you’re visiting with children. It gives you an hour of time where it isn’t totally manic, to get your bearings if you don’t know your way around the university (thankfully we do – after three years, I know it like the back of my hand!) and to make your way over to the main hall before the crowds descend.
The guest line-up this year was amazing, with Jason Momoa from Aquaman/Game of Thrones/Stargate Atlantis signing and posing for pictures among others, but the person I knew I wanted to see was Miriam Margolyes. She was absolutely lovely, despite me having a total fangirl moment and descending into gibberish about Hufflepuff (which she must hear all the time, and yet she was still so sweet) and made a fuss of SB too – and we got this picture, which I am still fangirling about now.
I’ve seen a few comments about a lack of organisation at the con, but if there was, I didn’t see it. The majority seems to have come from people who didn’t buy tickets in advance, who are upset that they weren’t allowed to go in immediately. The simple solution to this is to buy your tickets in advance – and if you’re a parent, I can’t stress the importance of this enough!
There was plenty to do for young and old – SB was more than happy to ride around in her trike and look at the owls and the cosplay while I indulged my inner retro gamer with a turn on the Sega Megadrive (those controls are way trickier than I remember!) in the Gaming Tent. The crew were so welcoming towards people of all ages, and the university being accessible and disabled-friendly is obviously also a major benefit if you’re using a pushchair or trike.
There was very little sign of impatience or people getting annoyed – it was a lovely relaxed day, and I think they’ve really benefitted from making it a weekend event, as it spreads out the footfall. If people were annoyed at us for manoeuvring a trike around the event, they didn’t voice it – in fact, the only comments we did have were people saying how sweet SB looked in her costume.
That does bring me on to one of my few criticisms of the day – and it isn’t anything to do with the event itself, but with other guests. If you’ve ever attended comic-cons, you’ll be familiar by now with the rule that cosplay does not equal consent – it doesn’t matter how revealing or attractive someone’s cosplay is, you don’t touch them, grope them or do anything else to them/with them, without their consent.
That rule actually extends to taking pictures – and, you’d hope, people would be particularly observant of that when a child is involved. No such luck – most people were lovely and asked before taking photos (and we were more than happy to say yes; we have no problem with it as long as people ask first) but a few just came over and stuck a camera or phone in SB’s poor bewildered little face. It’s not nice, and it’s not what cosplay is about.
Some people say that the convention has outgrown its home at Glyndwr University, but I couldn’t disagree more. At the moment, the con makes use of the car park, the gym, the Catrin Finch centre and the William Aston Hall theatre. There are plenty more outdoor spaces around the university, not to mention places like the drama studios; the student lounge; and even the Racecourse football ground. Glyndwr University is easy to reach by all forms of transport, has fantastic facilities right on campus, and makes the perfect location for Wales Comic Con.
I’m hoping to visit a couple more cons this year – MCM in Manchester for one – and will be sure to review their family-friendliness. However, for me, there’s only one convention that will hold the special place in my heart of not just having been my first con back in 2013, but SB’s first con too – and that’s Wales Comic Con.