MCM Expo May 2010

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.

Oxford Twestival 2010

This year I’ve volunteered to help organise Oxford Twestival 2010. I went to the first event last year, which was a great evening bringing together Twitters from all over Oxfordshire to raise money for charity. This year’s event is being held at The Living Room on 25th March 2010 (doors open 7pm), and playing will be Will Phipps, Ben Walker (aka @ihatemornings ) and Invisible Vegas!

All money raised by the event will go towards the education programme of the global charity Concern Worldwide, who provide funding and support to 28 of the world’s poorest countries. As an example, they have an emergency team in Haiti at the moment, assisting in the support effort following the recent severe earthquake. As well as providing general survival supplies and assistance, they are presently providing education for 30,000 children.

So it would be great for people to show their support for Concern, and to do so by enjoying a top evening’s entertainment. Tickets are only £3, or £4 with a raffle ticket for the evening’s charity auction. Book a ticket now!

frylift – Basically Stephen Fry stuck in a lift

Have had a little fun tonight following @StephenFry on Twitter. Following this tweet:

he posted a picture of his predicament to Twitpic:

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There then followed a deluge of tweets with the hashtag of #frylift, and even some cash-in merchandise:

@stephenfry I've already designed the cash-in t-shirt for #fr... on TwitPic

Okay that was me. My favourite was from Father Ted co-creator Graham Lineham who called for help:


and also provided a photo:

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Happily both Stephen and Graham were rescued and are now safe. This should say something about Twitter, given the numbers of posts and views involved, but I think more than anything it says it is a load of wonderful silly nonsense at times.

Sunday Times Oxford Literary Festival: 29th March-5th April 2009

This year’s Oxford Literary Festival lasts a little longer than in previous years, and there are some good speakers to look forward to. My personal highlight will be an appearance by Bad Science‘s Ben Goldacre on Sunday 5th April at the McKenna room. Also appearing of note are Ian McEwan, Aravind Adiga and Raymond Blanc, and many others.

For more information see the Oxford Literary Festival site.

Upcoming Gigs in Oxford

Soon we shall be speaking no more of The Zodiac on the Cowley Road, it shall now be the Carling Academy Oxford. It does look like the new owners are going to get it off to a good start. There are a lot of gigs due there over the next few months, but my personal recommendations are:

  • Ska Cubano – Carling Academy Oxford – 27th September 2007
  • Happy Mondays – Carling Academy Oxford – 5th October 2007
  • Super Furry Animals – Carling Academy Oxford – 26th October 2007