When I heard that Bournemouth, the relatively small town that I've lived in all my life, was throwing its very own comic convention I was excited but I couldn't escape this bad feeling in the back of my mind. I thought to myself, does Bournemouth really have enough comic-book fans to sustain a whole convention? Does Bournemouth have the capability to effectively run a convention? My fears about the event only grew when I saw a remarkable lack of comic creators attending as guests, and by the time the day actually rolled round I had all but written off this event in my mind as a sure-fire disappointment. Imagine my surprise then, when Film and Comic Con Bournemouth (FCCB), turned out to be one of the most enjoyable conventions I've been to in my time as a comic-book fan! The event organisers Showmasters are quite prolific in the UK for putting together comic-conventions around the country, and so really in the run-up to the big day I should have had a little more faith that these professionals knew what they were doing. My fears of a small turnout, and/or an unimpressive selection of vendors were quashed upon my very first step into the Bournemouth International Centre, and the two day event which ran from the 29th-30th August turned out to be a lot of fun. Stretched across two large halls connected by a small dining area between them, FCCB housed an impressive number of stalls each selling their own supply of geek-friendly goods. Every fan seems to have their own personal preference when it comes to what goodies they look to take away from a convention. Some go looking for original artwork by unknown or up and coming artists, for others it's valuable toys and collectables that would be hard to find anywhere else. Me? I make it my aim to stock up on as much reading material as I possibly can. As every comic reader knows, comic-books and graphic novels can soon add up and become a rather expensive hobby particularly if (like me) you have something of a restricted budget. Conventions provide the opportunity to grab some of the books on your radar at a reduced price - and that's exactly what I did. Some of the books I picked up are a little obscure, and I admit that I probably spent a little too much on titles from the big two rather than from indie creators. Still, I'm really happy with the books I bought and with the competitive prices at the convention - you can find out exactly what I bought by reading my FCCB haul article here!
Another highlight of FCCB was the cosplay which went above and beyond what I was expecting. Indeed, the costumes on offer were so good that it led to one of the longest cosplay masquerades that I've ever witnessed, with fan after fan after fan walking on in some impressive attire. A fully armoured shock trooper from the Halo franchise looked great, with other stand-outs for me personally being a Groot which looked surprisingly realistic, an awesome Green Lantern, and a pair that came together dressed as Deadpool and his Hydra assistant Bob who did their best to make the crowd laugh. By far the most attention-grabbing costume was a huge armoured beast coming in at roughly eight or nine feet tall; a character from the Warhammer series this stunningly crafted costume was definitely the most popular among attendees. It is at this point then, that you might want to see some photos of said great costumes, which leads us to one of the few problems I had with the convention: space.
The Bournemouth International Centre is likely the largest venue in the town for this kind of event, and yet still the convention felt quite overcrowded particularly on the Sunday when simply moving around the halls became a slow and long-winded undertaking. An abundance of people who inexplicably brought their prams is one possible cause for this, but the greater issue is that there were just a little too many people there. I think many thought that the staging area where the cosplay masquerade took place would give them respite from the crowds, however the opposite turned out to be true. The area was hugely busy which meant taking photos was awkward for all involved. I want to stress that I still really enjoyed the convention, but it would have been nice to have just a little more breathing room, something the event organisers could potentially consider when they return to Bournemouth in March next year.
The biggest guests at the convention included Michael Biehn (Aliens, Terminator), Lou Ferrigno (the 1970s Incredible Hulk) and Robert Englund (aka Freddy Kreuger from The Nightmare on Elm Street). One of my regrets of the convention is that I was unable to attend many of the Q and A's with the convention guests, although I was able to sit in on Biehn's for a short while where the actor talked about the new Alien film in development with director Neil Blomkamp. Biehn mentioned that the new instalment was to take a leaf out of Jurassic World's book and disregard the disliked later instalments. Indeed, according to Biehn the events of Alien 3 and Alien: Resurrection are to be all but forgotten, meaning that he has been able to reprise his role as Corporal Dwayne Hicks in the new film. Ultimately though, Biehn came across genuinely humble and said he thought of himself as very lucky to have worked with such talented people in his career, particularly James Cameron who he had nothing but good things to say about.
As enjoyable as Biehn's Q and A was, there remained one key thing missing from Film and Comic Con Bournemouth, and that was the comic creators. Altogether, there was a grand total of three comic book writers and artists in attendance, as well as one storyboard artist. I know for a fact that this dissuaded some of the people I know who love comics from checking out the convention, and so that would be my only other area for improvement for the folks at Showmasters. Overall though, I had a fantastic time at Film and Comic Con Bournemouth and if you live nearby and you love genre entertainment, you should really check it out when it returns to the BIC on the 12th-13th March 2016.