Swansea ComicCon 2023
There’s not a lot in the way of traditional SF&F conventions in Wales, but we do have a thriving and successful ComicCon in Swansea. It is currently housed in Swansea Arena, which also hosts pop concerts and the like. This year it overflowed into the sports hall of next-door LC2 (LC standing for Leisure Complex – LC2 also houses a swimming pool). As some people I know were exhibiting, I figured I should check it out. Roz, Jo and Chris came too.
As I kind of expect from these things, it took a while to get in. It was a lovely day, so this gave us an opportunity to admire the cosplay, of which there was much on display. As a con-runner, I was interested in why there was such a delay. I thought perhaps they were having to manage the crowds inside. As it turned out, the cause of the delay was actually because the security gates were processing people much more quickly than the ticket desks, and every so often they had to pause to allow the ticket desk lines to clear before letting more people in.
The Comics bit of the name is a bit of a misnomer. There were some small press comics on offer (including my friend Joe Glass), and a number of artists with signing desks, but most of the stalls were more what I’d call “popular culture” than strictly comics. There were jewelry stalls, stalls selling things like Funko Pop figures, some rather nice steampunk guns, which I restrained myself from buying, and a great deal of very kawaii merch for the many anime girls in attendance.
The gaming side was mostly hived off into LC2, which actually worked very well because they had a lot of space and were mostly unbothered by the merch-buying crowd. There were many tables set out for people to use, some of which were already covered with Warhammer figurines, others of which had people playing board games, and quite a few available for use. The stalls that ringed the hall sold mainly gaming products.
There were a lot of scheduled events as well. The cosplay stage was active throughout the weekend with various contests. There were panels, and talks about how to make comics. I have no idea who the Rocket League are, but they had a whole programme stream to themselves.
I didn’t spend a lot of time at the event. I had only gone to see friends, after all. But the £15 Saturday admission fee was a lot less than I would have paid for an equivalent SF convention so I’m not complaining. Given the enormous number of people who attended, I was wondering how much dealer tables cost, and how much interest there would be in actual books. Waterstones had a stand, but it was more than half games and other merch-type stuff. However, having found out the price of a table, I am rather less keen to book one for next year.
It was very crowded inside the Arena (but much less so in LC2). The only people I saw wearing masks were doing so as part of a costume, which is actually a cunning way of getting round the social issues. However, as far as I’m aware, there was no rash of COVID cases as a result of the event.