MCM Comic Con Belgium
What: pop culture convention
Where: Palais 7, Brussels Expo, Laeken, Belgium
When: November 5 and 6 2016
I’ve already posted the interview with Enver Gjokaj, which happened at this event, so now it is time for the actual event review!
MCM Com Con has built up quite a lot of fame with its conventions in the UK, in particular that 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. Looking at the event’s twitter, where a lot of live tweeting, was going on, the Saturday was just as fun. But like I said: I wasn’t there that day, so this review is focused on the second, shorter, and final day of the MCM Comic Con Belgium.
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 that they were very 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, they more than made up with atmosphere, and a great variety in things to see, do and participate in.
On first sight it may have seemed that there was very 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 an autograph (sadly not for free) and the shopping, which was actually quite good as there were a lot of stands from the UK, so a lot of stores we don’t generally see at this kind of event in Belgium. Of course there were also things we see every single 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 (whilst it really wasn’t ice cream weather). There may have been more food, but we didn’t notice those spots. It’s a little double. On one hand it’s great that you are allowed to bring your own food and drinks. On the other hand, 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 btw, so not the way forward), a lot of 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 simply to relax and catch your breath for a moment, which is also something the convention really needs to pick up on, as 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 set-ups, including a small Nintendo Village with a Pokemon Sun and Moon demo, amongst many other games.
And where you could meet Pikachu. The area was actually really nice, we just ran into him at the far end of it so hence the boring hall backdrop.
Fandom organisations such as the Belgian Potterheads, a Star Wars group and the Belgian Whovians United, who all brought beautiful interactive set ups 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% 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 a rather lackluster at conventions recently, that was definitely not the case at this one. Even though there were few people actually wearing steampunk
or dieselpunk fashion, you could find really nice steampunk things for sale at many stands. Most of them really decently priced.
Of course, we simply have to mention the Steampunk Emporium, who brought with them absolutely stunning steampunk creations. The convention themselves 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.
Whilst 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 has a perfect understanding of this.
What they also understand perfectly is that pop culture is a family affair, and thus they had several areas especially for children, on top of their “kids go free” policy. This made that at comic con, people bringing their kids had actual areas that their kids could enjoy. Basically, this convention made kids welcome, and made them feel welcome, and gave them things to do so they wouldn’t get bored whilst their parents did their thing.
Basically, for us, with exception of the lack of food and resting space, and the rather pricy cloak room (€2 per item is a bit silly), 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 at a convention and properly look at things. Of course, we know that the rather low attendance had something to do with that, but the set-up was clearly built with crowds in mind. Which again proves that MCM know very well 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.