This past Saturday found me at the MCM Expo in London, a massive collection of Manga and Anime exhibitors, cosplayers, comic authors, game previews and more. It takes place at the Excel Centre in London’s Docklands, and your first experience of the day is being surrounded by cosplayers on the DLR. I had been to last years show, but even so this in itself is a wonderfully bewildering experience. Perhaps even more fun watching the reactions of the other commuters on the train wondering quite why they are sitting next to a kid with foot-tall spiky hair and a four foot long sword.
Once inside the centre itself, you join the world’s longest queue to change your ticket for an wristband. It is fun being in the queue, seeing all the fantastic and not-so-fantastic costumes going by, but I could have had even more fun if they’d sent me an wristband instead of a ticket and let me go in straight away.
Inside the exhibition hall was a bewildering array of stalls full of everything Manga one could wish for. Being old and weary from my ultra queuing, I headed to the back of the hall for a nice sit down, which happily co-incided with the second half of the industry panel on anime. Very interesting to hear the British industry perspective on the state of the industry and their potential market for anime, which seemed to be a blend of slightly beligered mixed with a pleasing amount of optimism. An interesting question on their take on the Digital Economy bill brought a lot of responses, including the very memorable response on downloading from Manga UK: “People are used to doing it everywhere. today you’ve got people hanging around in costumes outside who won’t pay for a ticket, yet the organisers still have to pay to look out for them in case a fucking 10 foot carrot decides to top themselves”. On a more serious note all of them seemed refreshingly up to date and knowledgeable about how the Internet relates to their world (which from a business point of view hasn’t always been the most up to date always), with one of them pointing out “we have to offer as good a digital service as the pirates to succeed”. this holds so true in most areas of digital business, if it is easy to steal your service, you have to compete by making your legitimate business at least as easy, comprehensive and enticing to use as your pirate competitors (see iTunes for how mainly to do this).
I then moved on to watch an exhibition match by the wrestlers of the FWA, which was a pleasant surprise for me to see, especially as I thought they had gone bust a few years ago. They had, but this was them back together again, and hopefully heading in the right direction.
The important business for me of the day was making the most of both the great stock of the main publishers, and wandering through the comic village where many indie authors and artists sell their own comics. The latter is a great place to discover and browse comics you just might not find otherwise, and I picked up a good few new ones to try. I also picked up several volumes of Naoki Urasawa’s 20th Century Boys and Pluto, my favourite mangas at the moment.
Along the way I met up with some friends and had a good time touring round, chatting and enjoying being pointed towards new anime to try.
A good fun day in London all round, may well nip along to the next one in October.
UPDATE: Posts on the expo from other people I met up with there, Tim Maughan and Andrew Proom. Also met socialistgamer and Sheentaku.