On Sunday 8th April 2018 the city of Worcester played host to EM-Con which took place at the University of Worcester Arena. I’d never been to a convention by this particular company before, and I’m glad to report that it was a very enjoyable day, and well organised.
I also took my Uncle (Chris) with me this time, which was his first ever convention. He definitely seemed to enjoy himself!
Right at the beginning, I managed to get myself accosted by some of the JUDGES from 2000AD! There are photos and a video (via Chris)!
Will they? Won’t they?
The celebrity guests were from a good variety of shows and movies, in particular (for me) some of the cast of Red Dwarf, Robert Llewellyn, Norman Lovett, Danny John-Jules, Chloe Annett, and Mark Dexter ; and from Stargate Atlantis, Rainbow Sun Francks. Slowly I’m completing my collections! Other guests included John Rhys Davies (Lord of the Rings/Indiana Jones), Arthur Darvill (Doctor Who/Legends of Tomorrow), John Challis (Only Fools and Horses), Colin Baker (Doctor Who), and several more. There were also a selection of artists.
Me & Chris
Me & Rainbow Sun Francks (Aiden Ford, Stargate Atlantis). Blurry, ‘cos I suck at selfies!
It was a relatively small and intimate venue, which made you feel much more relaxed than some of the larger events, and you had more time to chat to the guests and browse the merchandise stalls.
Chris, as a Red Dwarf fan, got his Holly T-shirt (which he was wearing) signed by Norman Lovett! Great fun. We also sat in for the Red Dwarf Q&A session in the afternoon. Many laughs were had by all.
What is now considered an annual love-in for us faithful Fannibals (fans of Hannibal), the Starfury Red Dragon conventions are a weekend outing with no equal. I’ve been to all 4 so far, Red Dragon 1, Behold the Red Dragon, and Red Dragon 3. Celebrity guests this year included the always lovely Katharine Isabelle and Kacey Rohl, the insightful Rutina Wesley, “scarf dad” (!) Tom Wisdom, the brilliant Vladimir Jon Cubrt, the fun Joe Anderson, and the unexpected joy of Ricky Whittle. Ricky, who is Shadow Moon on Neil Gaiman’s/Bryan Fuller’s American Gods (watch it on Amazon Prime in the UK), became immediately one of the Fannibal Family (despite having not, YET, seen Hannibal!), exuded constant enthusiasm and had the ability to make everyone feel included and important. Very little was off-limits with that naughty boy… check out all the various photo ops with the fans on twitter, instagram, and tumblr. My photo is included below… you get the picture.
Amongst the guests there was a dance-off at every possible opportunity! Who can forget the constant “battles” between Vlad and Ricky?! With a stunned Kacey in the middle at one point.
But the most important element in this fantastic convention are my fellow Fannibals. The fan attendees are by far the nicest bunch of people you’ll ever meet. Massively creative, talented, and generous. The amount of gifts exchanged within and between the crowd is unmatched by any other fan gathering. People spend hours… days… weeks… months even, on art projects and jewellery, and so many other things, that are just shared with love. No other convention does this, and it came out of nowhere from the beginning. Fannibals are simply generous and kind… considering the subject matter that brought us together, you might have expected the opposite!
A selection of selfies with other Fannibals, the wonderful gifts from various attendees, and my contributions, the Baltimore State Hospital for the Criminally Insane Visitor IDs (complete your Hannibal scrapbook with a sticker from my RedBubble page!) and Calligraphy Invitations (congrats if you ended up with a gold one!). Click to enlarge:
My Calligraphic Invitation from Hannibal himself! I taught myself Copperplate Calligraphy just to produce these.
Minus flower crown, but plus Monica!
My favourite cosplay of the weekend, Lucy as Anthony Hopkins Hannibal.
Me & Paul. Catch his awesome artwork as SketchyMagpie & in an up and coming 2000AD comic!
The wonderful gifts from all the many talented Fannibals. No one could collect everything, there was simply so much!
Literally only saw Caitlyn for this image, then missed each other for the rest of the con..
Me and crochet (amigurumi) Kaecilius!
Home made ID badges for the Baltimore State Hospital for the Criminally Insane. I brought these with me to give away.
A jaunty angle, me & Debbie.
Throughout the weekend there were various Q&A sessions with one or two of the guests at a time. My photos from these are within my Red Dragon 4 Album on Flickr. During which we learned that in an early job working in a hotel, Ricky secretly wished to be whisked off to a better life by a rich cougar, “Pretty Woman” style (hence the title of this blog). He also spoke at length about his experiences on Strictly Come Dancing (he was a finalist the year that Chris Hollins won, 2009). So I can check “hugging a strictly-finalist” off my to-do list! He laughs and jokes around 110% of the time, but also is very respectful to everyone around. Rutina Wesley fielded lots of very intelligent questions pertaining to her character of Reba McClane, revealing a lot of depth regarding the relationship between Reba and Francis Dolarhyde. She’s knowledgeable about Shakespeare, and a fan equated Reba’s character with Hamlet’s Ophelia at one point… very insightful indeed! Rutina stated that Reba was her favourite character to have played so far, particularly because she was chosen due to her own acting versatility, and not being typecast in any way.. big thanks to Bryan Fuller for being a fair and honest casting-genius! Tom Wisdom appeared slightly apprehensive at the beginning of the con (the crowd are fans of a cannibal.. what can you expect!) but quickly realised we’re all having a bit of fun, and became much more at home with the title “Scarf Dad”! He sent everyone #ScarfLove on twitter after the fact, and confirming on everyone’s autographs that indeed “it is that kind of party”. The funniest line from Tom, was probably in answer to the question “Why did Dimmond gravitate to Hannibal in the opening party scene on season 3?”. Answer: “Well, you saw the motorbike leathers right?!”. Say No More! I sadly missed much of the Vlad and Kacey talks, but as usual they are both very cute and fun-loving people; acting against each other must have been a blast. Vlad and Ricky seemed to have developed a bit of a competition of one-upmanship throughout the 2 and a half days.. crashing onto the stage of each other’s talks, the previously mentioned “dance-offs” were commonplace, and they were generally trying to each win over a larger proportion of the crowd. Joe Anderson spoke about enduring the makeup for Mason Verger, where taking it off was more traumatic (and smelly!) than putting it on. He frequently transitioned into the Mason voice when answering various questions, and did a few funny lines from the show (“spitters are quitters..!”). He also talked about another show “The River” that I had enjoyed watching a couple of years ago; as well as previous roles including where he’s had to play an extremely violent character, and how people react around you at the time. During Rutina and Katie’s Q&A on Sunday, Tom staged a faked fire alarm just to shake things up – whilst the ladies were trying their hardest to answer a sensible question! Katie, on the Saturday was unfortunately ill, but came back to us on Sunday (and gave us a graphic description of what she was going through the night before!). As a Red Dragon regular (along with Kacey), Katie is as enthusiastic today about Hannibal, AND our con environment, as she was from the very beginning. She says coming to Red Dragon is like “coming home”. She’s always a delight. Bless!
Oh, and to fill in a gap in Ricky’s knowledge… Leighton Buzzard is between Watford and Milton Keynes! He asked me where I was from during the Q&A, and he had NO IDEA where it is! Pop in for a cuppa any time… *wink wink*.
The rest of the weekend was spent lining up for photographs, and autographs, and catching up with my awesome friends, and handing out my own gifts of Calligraphic invitations (from Hannibal), and my ID Badges from the Baltimore State Hospital for the Criminally Insane! I did manage to get on the dance floor for a little while on Friday night, but I have pain issues, and can’t keep it up like all the others! On the Saturday night Ricky also made it onto the convention dance floor – you can imagine how that went…
My paid-for photo ops from across the weekend. Click to enlarge:
Autographs & a (slightly risky) photo of Ricky Whittle!
I asked for something “a little sexy, maybe?” – Ricky Whittle delivers!
Rutina Wesley & Me, Tara in True Blood, and Reba McClane in Hannibal.
Tom Wisdom, Anthony Dimmond in Hannibal.
Joe Anderson, Mason Verger in Hannibal Season 3. Leather on leather!
The cover of the Hannibal Cookbook
Autographs are filling up the inside cover of my Hannibal Cookbook.
Sean Harry and the crew from Starfury put on a fantastic convention. They’re intimate affairs, and you get to know the guests on a personal level, and they also begin to get to know you all a little bit. Starfury have got more and more efficient as the years go on, and I can’t fault them for any tiny thing. The stewards are all volunteers, and they do a really brilliant job. Applause and love all round!
Fannibals. We are literally the fragments of a shattered teacup. Once a year, that teacup comes together and reality as we know it stops as we form into a whole being once again.
The first year was “Red Dragon“, the second was “Behold the Red Dragon“, and this third convention was “Red Dragon 3” – on all social media it’s #HannibalCon. For other random pics from the con, see my Instagram feed (and search all sites using the #tag).
The guests this year were phenomenal (they are always great, of course!), we were graced with the presence of Will Graham himself, Hugh Dancy; Writer, Creator, (and Our Lord and Master!) Bryan Fuller; Demore Barnes (Tobias Budge); the amazing comedy duo that is Aaron Abrams (Brian Zeller) and Scott Thompson (Jimmy Price); and the very sweet Ellen Muth (Georgia Madchen).
Our new home for these events is the Radisson Edwardian Hotel in Heathrow, their conference rooms become the guest halls for Q&A sessions, parties, and the autograph and photograph sessions with the guests. It’s a weekend of standing in lines and swapping homemade gifts with other fans (something no other fandom does.. we Fannibals are a unique and creative bunch!). I took a batch of my Visitor Badges from the Baltimore State Hospital for the Criminally Insane, and I loved giving them away to random people.. gives me an excuse to start a conversation anyway!
Although it says not to give the guests gifts during the signings, they still end up with a pile of stuff next to them! So I couldn’t resist offering Bryan one of my IDs.. and he grabbed it with such glee, and put it on his collar… and it was still on his person when he came on stage (finally… he’s a slow signer!). It made me so happy to be appreciated for my silly bits of art.
My loot, photo ops and Flower Crown selfies from the con:
Photos, signatures and Bryan drew me a clock in the Hannibal Cookbook!
Those are REAL Roe Deer antlers! This flower crown took me ages to make, and I’m quite proud of it!
Photo ops with Demore Barnes in my “Sassy Science” Cosplay, and with Bryan & Hugh in my Ravenstag Cosplay.
I took my useful big Canon camera with me, plus a decent zoom lens, so that I could get some good photos of the stars during the Q&As. I also have to use a monopod, as I have a bad hand tremor.. so I hope it didn’t get in anybody’s view too much. But the zoom and the steadying is required to get any half-decent photos from a viewpoint behind the Gold ticket holders and the Stewards! My photos can be found on Flickr here:
Towards the end of Demore’s second Q&A session, he asked the Fannibals why we are all so fervent in our devotion to this particular show. He went around the room and a few people spoke up about what Hannibal means to them. The general consensus was (with my own opinion added here) that Hannibal is basically a show about two loner characters, they’re the odd ones out, they don’t fit into “regular” society, one is a criminal (but that’s incidental) he’s on his own and although has particular “tastes”(!) he is basically looking for a human connection. The other character has social anxiety and is slightly on the autism/aspergers’ spectrum. Both are incredibly smart, and yet have difficulty integrating. But they find each other, and they understand each other, and they accept each other (for all their many faults!). Ultimately, it’s a story about survival and friendship, against all the odds. THAT is something that resonates with a lot of us. I can definitely say for myself, that I have trouble sometimes making those connections with people. Yet this show has given me hope that there are others out there who can understand where I’m coming from. And now, that’s what I live for. Our Fannibal Family! Fannibals are totally inclusive. I have found us to be a safe and supportive group comprising every type of person. Together, we make sense. And as an additional bonus, I’ve re-connected with an old school friend, who I hadn’t seen for years, and now we’re really close again. How lovely is that?!
One of the absolute highlights of the weekend, was the performance by a group of Fannibals of “Hannibal a Fannibal Musical”. A parody/homage of all three seasons of Hannibal. It was an absolute triumph of a show, brilliantly funny, and very cleverly put together. AND performed by a group of people who had only fully met that day! Well done indeed. AND all of the celebrity guests came in to watch it too, and they showed their appreciation with huge laughs, applause, and running up to them after the show to congratulate them all. Bravo! Find out more about the musical by following them on twitter @FannibalMusical.
Until fate and circumstance bring us back to this moment, and the teacup shatters once more…
Red Dragon 4 will take place on 23rd to 25th February 2018 at the Radisson Edwardian Hotel, Heathrow. Grab a ticket while you can from Starfury Conventions.
Cast your mind back to early October 2016, can you remember what you were doing? Some of us will remember vividly the events that took place. Us being the Fannibals. A voracious group of fans devoted to Bryan Fuller’s exquisite, yet short-lived, TV show Hannibal. This was the second Hannibal Con, and as far as we knew at the time possibly the last (more about that later!). The first was simply called Red Dragon and was so good that I ended up waxing lyrical about it the second I got back… This time it was Behold The Red Dragon! We do have an appetite for the dramatic.
Covering 2 and a half days between Friday 7th October to Sunday 9th October 2016, the celebrity guests were (L to R on header image): Hettienne Park (Beverly Katz), Katharine Isabelle (Margot Verger), Kacey Rohl (Abigail Hobbs), Lara Jean Chorostecki (Freddie Lounds), Vladimir Jon Cubrt (Garret Jacob Hobbs), and Eddie Izzard (Dr Abel Gideon – pictured below).
Each of the guests had one or more Q&A session to an audience of 500+ people (it was a long room!), all of which were entertaining, interesting, funny, heartfelt, loving, and so very appreciative of the fans and our occasionally random and bizarre questions. Throughout the days each of the guests posed for photographs with most (if not all) of the attendees at organised times, and also sat to sign autographs for several hours on both Sat & Sun.
With a Regular ticket I got to do everything I wanted to do, meet all of the guests and chat face to face. Photos are always extra, so you need to budget for that (between £15 and £30 per celebrity guest), and any of the “extra” guests – i.e. those that were announced much closer to the event than originally stated in the advertising also cost extra for both photos and autographs.. but these are very reasonably priced considering the experiences had during the weekend. The main benefit of getting a Gold ticket is to have a “meet and greet” where you have an evening round-table meet up with the guests who circulate around the room, and Golds also get seating in the talks that are the closest to the stage. Which is why I brought my camera with the telephoto lens! I always end up a little further back in the audience than anticipated (which is fine). Still photos (without flash) are allowed during the talks, with flash photographs only allowed for the first couple of minutes. No video is allowed AT ALL. With my big camera, I had to keep assuring the stewards that I was only taking stills. I promise I was!
As for the guests themselves, I cannot praise them enough for their generosity, their excitement to meet everyone, their continued love of Hannibal and us the fans. “Big Daddy Vlad” is a joy, I don’t know where he gets his energy from! Non-stop laughs and anecdotes all weekend. Kacey is a sweetheart, and the other ladies on the show treat her like a younger sister. Katharine is a fantastic woman, and is always happy to talk about the odd, strong, clever, and sometimes gruesome, roles that she has played; both before and during Hannibal! American Mary has become one of my favourite movies since the previous con, and I got Katharine to sign the DVD this time around. Lara Jean (the only Freddie Lounds to survive the Red Dragon!) is a wonderful caring person, she shared many insights in what goes on in creating the character and what she would like to see Freddie get up to in a potential season 4 (if and when we get one!). Hettienne Park is also lovely, her talk was so interesting and enthralling. She shared some very personally stories of her work on Hannibal, and of working with other well-known actors on stage and screen. Eddie Izzard comes across as an extremely intelligent, dedicated and interesting guy. He literally took a day off from working with Dame Judy Dench in order to visit us at the con! In short, they’re all super clever, extra nice, and brilliant at their jobs!
The other thing, which is becoming a little bit of a tradition now (I think only for Hannibal Cons) is that those fans that are artistic in any way, will bring along a batch of cool items to give away and share with the group. I brought with me some home made ID badges for the Baltimore State Hospital for the Criminally Insane! And I returned with a whole lot of artwork, bracelet jewellery, and items that I will forever cherish.
My best photographs can be found in my Flickr album for the Con, and a select favourites are shown below:
During the course of the Saturday evening was the infamous Cosplay contest, which is always a highlight (but I was so far at the back of the room this time, that I got no good photos!). The range of subject matter (not always Hannibal) and the amount of love and effort that is put into every costume, skit, characterisation, and presentation is enormous. I’m in continual awe for all of you! The recreation of *that* final scene, with an actual Red Dragon… seriously impressive.
We also found out on the Saturday that Behold the Red Dragon was NOT going to be last Hannibal Con, because our illustrious leader – Sean Harry of Starfury Events – has managed to secure HUGH DANCY for February 2017! Cue the scramble for tickets… Yes, I’ll be there (with a regular ticket once again)! There are still a few more regulars available at the time of publishing, so take a look at starfury.co.uk and maybe you can join us too.
So, all that is left to do is save up some more money for photos with the lovely Mr Dancy, and all of the other guests already announced – and more promised soon! I’ll be bringing with me another batch of “Baltimore State Hospital for the Criminally Insane” ID badges to give away… try and find me, I plan to wear a “Sassy Science” lab coat this year.
There’s only one thing I wish I had done more at the last cons, and that was to spend longer at the evening parties and get to know my fellow Fannibals better. I know a few of you a little, but it’s just not enough… This time I must persevere through my fatigue and party harder! See you in February… I can’t wait.
This year at LFCC was my first ever foray into the world of Cosplay. Which, I’ll be honest, had me quite nervous for about a week before the actual day. I attended this year on Friday and Sunday (missing out Saturday), and I only went in costume on the Friday as I wanted to look different in the photo session on the Sunday (Because: Jeremy Renner!).
Originally there were going to be three of us in costume, but on the day I was the only one in full Star Wars Rey Cosplay, my other friends had some elements from the characters/genres only. So on the train to the venue at Kensington Olympia, I was the one that people looked at funny! And I’m normally so VERY shy… Oh well. Once at the venue, you blend with the crowd, which is much nicer.
I have yet to properly integrate myself into the Cosplay community (see my earlier comment about shyness!), I’ve only really made a few posts in the UK Cosplay Facebook group in order to “test the water” so to speak; maybe next time I’ll feel more bold and join the groups when we’re face to face. Those people I did speak to in passing were all really nice. The occasional person also asked to take my photo and have a go with the light saber! So a small, and mildly successful attempt at the cosplay scene in general. I’ll have to kick it up a notch next time around!
With a second keen interest in photography, it was a little difficult juggling the two things.. being in photos and trying to take some good ones myself. I’ll have to prepare to do just one or the other on convention days, or just learn to juggle better! So I’ve got some really good photos, and others not so great. A selected few of my favourites are dotted throughout this post, some of cosplayers, some of the celebs. You do feel a bit sneaky on occasion when you’re taking photos of the celebs that you’re not planning to get autographs from, but when you’ve got a strict budget to adhere to, you can’t get everyone on the day sadly.
Regarding the last picture above: on the 13th August 2016, sadly we said a final goodbye to Kenny Baker, our R2D2, and frequent guest to any and all conventions. He clearly enjoyed interacting with the fans. He will be missed.
The first day at LFCC was mainly filled with wandering around all of the stalls and buying some bits and bobs of merchandise. I’m more of a t-shirt buyer than action figures and the like! I did get the chance to talk to the main guy at Dark Bunny Tees (www.darkbunnytees.com) who designed the “Rey’s Salvage” bag that finished off my costume (I think he was pleased!) and I got myself a lovely “Nelson & Murdock – Avocados at Law” t-shirt (yes, it’s supposed to say “avocados”! Daredevil inspired), which I then wore on Sunday. On the Friday I also did manage to get autographs from Sean Maher (Simon Tam in Firefly, the best show in the ‘verse, #BrowncoatsForever), and Laurie Holden (Andrea in The Walking Dead, and Marita Covarrubias in The X-Files). And I may have got a picture of me as Rey in the Delorean from Back to the Future! Wrong universe, but hey, my light saber matched the neon on the side of the car!
I wasn’t originally planning to attend more than one day of LFCC, but then they announced Jeremy Renner.. and well.. that decided that.
I was glad to go back for a second day, with a rest in between, as I was then able to get a couple of things from the big named guests. I had already booked a photo session with Jeremy Renner, and that ended up being the last thing we did on Sunday, so we ended on quite a high! He was lovely, and squeezes you *really* tight… he’s rather strong! I got autographs from Famke Janssen (James Bond: Goldeneye, X-Men, Hemlock Grove, etc.) and Elden Henson (Foggy Nelson in Daredevil, Pollux in The Hunger Games Mockingjay 1 & 2) – hence the “Nelson & Murdock” t-shirt! Another of our favourites, Mads Mikkelsen, was also in attendance at the con; we already had his autograph from Starfury’s Red Dragon back in October, so rather than doing that again we went to his talk in the afternoon. It was lovely getting to hear him speak again (he has a lovely voice!) and he was asked quite a well rounded set of questions about Hannibal, Star Wars Rogue One, and Doctor Strange. For the most part though, he couldn’t really say too much about the films that have yet to be released. Spoilers!
All in all, I had a great time during the weekend. I’ll definitely be more bold with the Cosplay again next time around. I’ve already got some ideas for new costumes. Winter Soldier, perhaps? Captain Mal? Han Solo!? Noticing my theme yet?
Last, but not least, take a look at my loot!
The next thing in my calendar is the Nine Worlds Geekfest, for which I’ll be a first-timer! Got a few workshops and talks that I plan on attending.. a bit more academic this time maybe. Just good plain fun. Looking forward to it.