I share my thoughts on the October 2009 London MCM Expo.
The sixteenth MCM Expo was utter chaos, a blistering assault on the senses. As I dragged my worn body onto a homebound train, it was apparent that there was so much to take in that my brain had simply dropped its shutters halfway through the day. Anyway, such sensory overload is obviously a good thing for anyone who loves their movies, comics and videogames; and with over 38,000 visitors reported (11,000 in the first hour alone!) it’s reassuring to see evidence that people still do.
Due the shell-shocked nature of my experience at the October 2009 MCM Expo, rather than write extensively of the various treats on display, I’m going to comment on the most memorable elements of the show.
MCM Needs Super Sizing
Given such brilliant attendance figures, it’s evident that the MCM Expo’s audience has outgrown the show. With queues to both buy tickets and return to the Expo hall frequently reaching several hundred people long, the show had none of the charm or hostility of the recent BICS in Birmingham; getting from one stall to the next was often a struggle.
Still, it’s promising stuff, and proves that the people in attendance aren’t the mythical reclusive minority of ineffectual comic book geeks and antisocial computer nerds that modern media so frequently paints them as.
The expanded videogame section was indeed a welcome development, but they definitely needed more cabinets. The persistent crowds gathered around just two Capcom vs. Tatsunoko displays made it difficult to see the game, let alone play it, and the constant flow of eager gamers at every display pretty much deemed my press pass redundant.
Cosplay is Huuuge!
As an ignorant hermit who only leaves the home to buy his weekly comics, I was aware that cosplay had a following outside of Japan, and had gained popularity in America… but nothing could quite prepare me for the thousands of fans who attended as their favourite manga, anime, movie and comic personalities. There were also plenty of young ladies displaying the latest in lolita fashion, which only further emphasised how old I am and feel.
As ever, the hilarious or oddball costumes were infinitely more fun than the more professional looking efforts, but it was great to see such exertion and affability from everyone involved. The variety on display was likewise impressive; my friend devised a game where we would come up with a reasonably obscure fictional character and see how long it would take to come across someone dressed as him/her. It was rarely longer than a few minutes.
The various panels on the Main Stage were fundamentally the same on both days, with a few exceptions and some scheduling rearrangements. It’s always great to hear a veteran character actor such as Ronny Cox (Deliverance, Robocop, Stargate SG-1) share his stories, and the discussion with the crew behind no-budget zombie movie Colin was expectedly insightful.
The creative talent behind the upcoming comic adaptation The Losers also made for an interesting panel – though as ever, it’s a shame to see that for the most part actors are favoured over directors and writers. These guys may not have recognisable faces, but they generally have the most interesting stories to tell.
There was also a 10 min clip of the upcoming V miniseries. Like everything at the MCM it was tantalising enough, but not substantial enough to come away from with anything resembling an opinion.
Sequels, Threequels, and Tekken 6
Graphically, games appear to be reaching a peak, and there’s only so much further the current tech can be pushed. Perhaps that’s why Tekken 6 and Left 4 Dead 2 felt so utterly underwhelming. Both are looking to be top quality titles, but neither offered enough immediately visible progress on their predecessors to feel like anything more than a slight upgrade. Then again, fans of Tekken and L4D probably won’t let this perturb them one bit.
I’d been completely unimpressed with everything I’d read or seen of Bayonetta, but it took about five minutes to game for my apprehensions to be demolished. Devil May Cry creator Hideki Kamiya hasn’t strayed too far from that series; it’s typically slick, accessible and hyper-stylised.
Star Trek Online
Screenshots alone don’t do Star Trek Online’s graphics justice. It has to be the finest looking MMO we’ve yet seen, and since Cryptic’s last effort was the stunning Champions Online that’s saying something. The dozen-or-so machines available were limited to ten minutes a player, so I didn’t actually play the game – it’s impossible to gauge an MMORPG with a day’s play, let alone a few minutes – but from watching others it is evident that STO is going to be highly polished. The space environments look truly epic.
Capcom vs. Tatsunoko
The latest in Capcom’s Versus series was one of the most gorgeous Wii games we’ve yet to witness, and the characters (including Dead Rising’s Frank West) all look like immense fun. Still not completely convinced about the Wii (or Gamecube) controls on a fighting game, though.
It’s always fantastic to see the independent comic creators set up beside larger publishers such as Manga and Tokyopop. That these guys are always so willing to talk about their projects and offer advice to hopefuls with portfolios serves as a reminder of how intimate a medium comic books are.
That said, it’s always disappointing how little the major American publishers care to get involved in British conventions. Such a large percentage of Marvel and DC’s best writers and artists hail from these shores, after all.
Manga and anime dominated the show, from the manic crowds scrambling through TokyoPop’s “£1 a book” stall to the KOEI stand offering Dynasty Warriors gashapon. Given the high percentage of cosplayers it wasn’t surpassing that the games on offer from KOIE, Tecmo (Ninja Gaiden 2 Sigma, Undead Knights), Namco (tales of Symphonia) and Capcom were permanently mobbed.
The adjacent Manga Alley allowed young aspiring artists to take a break and illustrate, with a wall displaying their works for all to see. It was a wonderful inclusion to the show, and really highlighted the eclectic nature of the weekend. Beyond the zealous security and painted crowds, it’s encouraging to think that maybe, just maybe, a creative talent of tomorrow fully realised his/her passion at the MCM Expo 16.