MCM Com Con has built up quite a lot of fame with its conventions in the United Kingdom, in particular the one in London. They are now expanding to mainland Europe and slowly building up that same reputation here. If the first edition of MCM Comic Con Belgium is anything to go by, they’re on the right track.
I visited the convention on Sunday, so obviously I can’t say anything about the Saturday.
For a Comic Con, especially an MCM one, you would expect a huge convention. So for those expecting something along the size of FACTS or Made in Asia, I can imagine they were disappointed. This convention took place in Palace 7 of Brussels Expo, which I think is the smallest palace I’ve been in so far.
What the convention lacked in size, however, it more than made up in atmosphere and a great variety in things to see, do and participate in.
On first sight, it may have seemed that there was little to do, but once you started to investigate what was going on, you discovered there was actually a ton of things to do.
Of course, there was the usual presence of guests that you could get your picture taken with or ask for an autograph (sadly not for free).
And the shopping, which was actually quite good. There were a lot of stands from Britain, so a lot of stores we don’t often see at this kind of event in Belgium.
Of course, there were also things we see every con, like the decorative weapons shop.
There was a good mix of established stores that also have stands at conventions, convention sellers and young artist sellers. I would say the available wares ranged from fandom, art, (LARP) weaponry to stores selling furs and taxidermy.
The food was really lacking in variety, with Ellis Burger’s food truck and an ice-cream stand (while it really wasn’t ice-cream weather). There may have been more food, but we didn’t see it.
On one hand, it’s great that you are allowed to bring your own food and drinks. On the other, due to conventions like FACTS, who hammer down on customers that home-brought food and drinks are not allowed (great way to exclude people with special dietary requirements, by the way, so not the way forward), many people don’t bring their own and when options are limited, that’s not a good thing. So if there is a next edition, they should definitely improve on this.
I also found that if there had been a bigger crowd, there would have been far too little space to sit down and eat or to simply relax and catch your breath for a moment, which is also something the convention needs to pick up on. Not all visitors are able to stand and walk around all day.
Much unlike other conventions, where the focus is on sales, sales and more sales, this one was very much focused on experiences and doing things. The most hands-on was probably the laser tag area, which was so much fun.
They had several video-game setups, including a small Nintendo Village with a Pokémon Sun and Moon demo, among many other games.
Fandom organizations, such as the Belgian Potterheads, a Star Wars group and the Belgian Whovians United, all brought beautiful interactive setups where you could take photos to your heart’s content.
These weren’t the only photo opportunities. Where other conventions often prove a real hassle to take photos at a decent backdrop, this one had several really fun photo areas, going from simple backdrops with a fun wallpaper to a proper event photo location with décor. Very well done and a very nice touch indeed!
It was also a great event for cosplayers, with several cosplay clubs present, as well as cosplay competitions each day.
A nice touch was the presenter specifically stating that it was 100 percent fine to also cosplay just for fun. Speaking of which, there were some real cool cosplays at this convention. These are just a few. Click here for more.
Whereas the presence of steampunk has been rather lackluster at conventions recently, that was definitely not the case here. Even though there were few people actually wearing steampunk or dieselpunk fashion, you could find nice steampunk things for sale at many stands. Most of them decently priced.
We have to mention the Steampunk Emporium here, who brought with them absolutely stunning steampunk creations.
The convention itself had also done the effort by dedicating two pages of their program booklet to the Steampunk Emporium, encouraging people to stop by and admire their creations, learn a thing or two about steampunk or meet new people in the community. And maybe even join the next edition of the Steampunk Asylum, which was being heavily promoted at the stand.
While this may sound like a terrible mish-mash, the variety was something that really made this convention such a fine event, in my opinion. This amount of diversity, with no discrimination for genres, subcultures, fandoms and people’s interests in general, is exactly what makes a convention great and MCM Comic Con understands this.
What they also understand perfectly is that pop culture is a family affair, and so they had several areas especially for children on top of their “kids go free” policy.
Basically, for us, with the exception of the lack of food and resting space, and the rather pricy cloak room (€2 per item), this was an A+ convention. The atmosphere was fantastic, the stewards were friendly, but the variety really did it for us.
And we loved how, for once, you could actually get around and look at things properly. Of course, low attendance had something to do with that, but the setup was clearly built with crowds in mind. Which again proves that MCM knows what they are doing.
I hope they’ll be back next year in any case, because the Belgian convention scene would really benefit from having them on the calendar!
For more photos of this convention, click here.