Tag Archives: Con Report

A very late report of Starfury: Behold The Red Dragon, Hannibal Con 2.


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).

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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.

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Home made ID badges for the Baltimore State Hospital for the Criminally Insane. I brought these with me to give away.
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Loot! Given away by various fans during the weekend. What a wonderful bunch of people to share so many hours of work with us all.

My best photographs can be found in my Flickr album for the Con, and a select favourites are shown below:

https://www.flickr.com/gp/crownjulesrules/21x9e5

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Images above are: Hettienne Park, Katharine Isabelle, Kacey Rohl & Vladimir Jon Cubrt, Lara Jean Chorostecki, Eddie Izzard, and a group shot from the closing ceremony on the Sunday evening.

My photos and autographs with the guests can be found dotted around my social media accounts at twitter.com/crownjulesb and instagram.com/crownjulesb

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.

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London Film and Comic Con July 2016


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.

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See the full-size photos on Flickr

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!

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See the full-size photos on Flickr

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.

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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.

See the full-size photos on Flickr

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!

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See the full-size photos on Flickr

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!

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See the full-size photos on Flickr

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!

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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.

SHERLOCKED – London ExCel 24-26 April


Wow, what an extremely busy weekend that was!  For two (and a half) days, the London ExCel Centre was inundated with deerstalkers, cosplay, and crowds of hundreds (thousands) of excited people.  Those marathon runners, who were also there on Friday and Saturday for their own registration, had no clue what was going on!  And when I wandered around the marathon exhibition on the Friday whilst waiting for the con’s doors to open, I looked so out of place! (but I didn’t care).

Here’s how I got on throughout the con; I attended on my own, and decided to get the train there and back each day (I’m only 40 mins outside London) rather than getting a hotel – because it was way cheaper.  This was also my first time buying a “Gold” ticket to any con or event.

Friday (preview evening):
I’m glad I came down for the Friday evening opening. I got my registration out of the way, and the venue wasn’t too busy once the doors opened at 6pm. All of the sets and exhibition pieces were up and ready, and we could leisurely walk around and take lots of photos of the props, clothing, and special effects. This meant that come Saturday I didn’t have to worry about missing out on these displays, I could concentrate on getting where I needed to be, hopefully on time! The Gold pass holders also received a “goody bag”with some lovely special edition art print, a Sherlocked event poster, some other art cards; and on Sat we also picked up the autographed pictures from Benedict Cumberbatch and Mark Gatiss (which hadn’t been sent through in advance). The Gold pass holders did get photo opportunities with the lead guests, but we didn’t get to have an in-person signed autograph (for that you had to buy either the “Platinum” or “VIP” tickets – which were out of my price range!).

Here’s a selection of the displays that were available (click to enlarge and display as a slideshow):

Saturday:
Well, Saturday was the first big day, and it certainly was big, and busy, and fun, and many other adjectives that I can’t currently think of! I was in autograph group C, with the Gold package, and I think I must have been quite lucky not to have a number much higher than 200 (I was 204!), so that when my number was “called” (so to speak) I hadn’t been waiting too long, and it therefore didn’t create too much of a problem with the clashes. I did miss the photo op with Una Stubbs on the Saturday, but I was able to go to the next timeslot on the Sunday. I would also have liked to have sat and listened to all of the talks, but in the end I attended the Benedict Cumberbatch talk (of course!), and the Andrew Scott talk; both of whom were kind, articulate, and gave heartfelt responses to the audiences’ questions.

Also, I must give a “shout-out” to my queue-buddy for the day, Anne-Marie – you know who you are! Thanks for keeping me company! ❤

Here’s a small selection of my photos from  Friday/Saturday, and my “loot” (click to enlarge, etc.):

Sunday:
Don’t be fooled by thinking that the Sunday would be any less busy than the Saturday for an event like this one… I was just as run off my feet, trying to fit everything in, as I was on Sat. During the one “free” moment in the afternoon, I managed to sit in to the talk by creators and writers Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss; who were immensely entertaining, and exuded intelligence and love of the subject of Sherlock Holmes, and gave some brilliant advice for prospecting writers:

(I’m paraphrasing from memory, but the gist is..)

Steven Moffat: “Each sentence that you are writing must always keep the reader anticipating the next. As long as the previous sentence makes you desperately want to read the next one, then you’re on the right track. This applies to dialogue, to exposition, or a descriptive piece. Keep the reader wanting more.”

That’s great advice, and I shall remember it, and try to adhere to it from now on. *goes to check back the content of this blog post* – I guess you’ll have to let me know if I’m keeping you interested..!

The rest of my time was spent running around trying to get all of the photos and signatures from my group allocation before my time was up. The only person I didn’t get a signature from, was Louise Brealey, but I’m not disappointed as I did get a photo with her the previous day. Louise seemed to want to spend a “good” amount of time with each of the fans, one by one (she gets points for that!), but consequently the queue was just moving too slow and I had to go and catch my train home! It’s fine, I managed to get to everything else I was supposed to do. The Gold pass included the photo on the Mycroft’s Office set, but I also wanted to sit in the 221B living room set – because, of course I did, so I paid extra for that (it wasn’t expensive, luckily). Sadly, I didn’t get a chance to enjoy the offerings from the “Second Stage”, but we could hear some of what was going on from our vantage points in the queues and it seemed like they were having just as much fun with the cosplay and podcast recording, as well as the fan-oriented talks and panels. Good job guys!

So here’s the final photo-set from Sunday’s activities:

Event Organisation Feedback:
What went well:
Generally speaking, I enjoyed my time immensely at the con, and along with the great atmosphere amongst the attendees, the volunteers and staff were all very friendly and helpful.  Once you got to the front of a photo queue, the process of clipping/collecting tickets, dropping off bags, and picking up the photos was (for the most part) efficiently handled.  The talks were well organised, and I liked the efficient use of the “paddles” so that the MC on stage could easily identify where the next question was coming from.  And best of all, the guests seemed genuinely pleased to see you and gave their time graciously to us crazy fanatics (OK, I’ll rephrase – we’re not crazy, we just know what we like and are PROUD to be involved in some small way).

What could be improved upon:
Whereas the front of the queue was efficiently handled, the back end of the queues could have been organised slightly better; for example, the queue zones were far too small for the number of people expected at any one time, and therefore the lines began to spill out into the main floor areas, and sometimes blocking walkways. The one guy operating the queuing “system” in Photo Area 1 gets a special mention, as he was trying his hardest to keep the eager fans in some sort of order! He also will likely need extra recuperation time for his sore throat – by the end of Sunday he could barely speak, poor thing! With the main guests in photo area 1, I think perhaps that rather than a single block of time allocated for you to just “turn up”, allocating 1/2 hour time-slots by ticket number beforehand would have given you an idea of the best time to start crowding around the general area, before being allowed actually in the queue. Also, if a person is forced to shout for 2 days, they should really have been provided a microphone or similar to reduce the strain.

An extra mention for those volunteers who were punching the holes in our plastic tickets all day long, they will all have RSI claims coming through next..

I purchased a Gold package for this event, because having considered all the fine-print for the various packages, I decided that this one gave the best value for money. Unfortunately, a large number of people must have come to the same decision as there appeared to be more Gold pass holders than I’ve ever seen before at a Showmasters-run con. Did they perhaps “over-sell” this particular package? For the autograph and photo op queues it seemed that the queuing process was very similar to the Collectormania cons and the “virtual queue” system, except that you’re number was pre-allocated. I wonder if anyone who just turned up for the day, managed to get anything signed?

The only other tiny niggle of the set-up was the colour scheme. Grey. Lots of grey. All the dividers were grey, the floor was grey, the signs were black and grey.. muted colours all-round. Except for the bus, which was red, of course! It’s only a small point, but once I got outside again, my eyes were assaulted by the onslaught of so much colour! Perhaps a cheery colour scheme, next time!?

Conclusion:
All in all, I had an exhausting, but really good time at the con. The guests were lovely, the attendees were very lovely. I made some new friends, and twitter followers! And I came away not just with some nice pictures and other loot, but some great memories that I will treasure forever.

See you all at the next one!
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