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Saturday, 4 June 2016

SHOWMASTERS FILM AND COMIC CONVENTIONS

SHOWMASTERS FILM AND COMIC CONVENTION MANCHESTER
21ST – 22ND OF MAY 2016 EVENT CITY.
Review by Darren Green photography by Annabelle Clark.
Written by Jennifer Clark

Yet again Event City played host to Showmasters Film and Comic Convention in Manchester.  We sent down two volunteers to scope the venue out, review the event and talk to the cosplayers, attendees and the guests. So off went Annabelle and Darren on the Megabus early on a Saturday morning at 6 am to spend the day at the convention.
The venue was very spacious and easy to navigate for someone in a wheelchair. There where spare wheelchairs near to the entrance of the venue along with the toilets which were very spacious and also extremely accessible. For a change at an event like this there was also plenty of room in the aisle to access vendors, making it relatively easy for wheelchair users or families with prams to move around and view the wares on display.

As usual Showmasters offer free carer tickets upon application (good idea to send a copy of a carer’s letter for proof) for their events which allows one person to access the event for free when accompanying someone who needs assistance to attend an event like this due to ill health or disability. Like other events Showmasters have ran there was no area where someone could take a break if over stimulated, over stressed due to sensory overload and no changing facilities were noticed for older children or adults who may need personal care other than the standard baby changing facilities. Also there was no indication of anywhere for someone in a wheelchair or unable to stand for long periods to obtain a slip giving them preference or return time for autographs and pictures.
This ever popular event was very busy with queues lasting all day for guest’s autographs with the line-up including Michael Biehn best known for his role as Kyle Reese in Terminator and corporal Hicks in Aliens, Ken Kirzinger from Freddy Vs Jason, Noel Clarke from Dr Who and Star Trek and Dave Prowse best known as Darth Vader in Star wars along with many others. Staff where plentiful and available at all times coming across as very calm being able to direct you to where you needed to be and how to help with any issues you might be experiencing. Everything at the event was very well signposted so easy to find and as cosplaying is becoming ever more popular Showmasters had set aside an area for people to change and store their bags and was easily accessible for any one in a wheelchair. Both Darren and Annabelle got changed at the venue into their cosplay outfit and set out to brave the  crowds to look into every nook and cranny, interview attendees cosplaying and non-cosplaying and hopefully some guests to find out what they thought of the event, cosplaying and services on offer.
So Darren managed to talk to some fellow cosplayers regarding their views on the event.
He asked what people liked the most about cosplaying and attending the event and the general consensus was the atmosphere and how friendly everyone was, meeting new people who like the same things. Darren then asked how cosplaying made them feel. Again there were mixed answers to this but feeling that they are popular and people like them, giving them the confidence to approach people and ask questions were some of the most voiced reasons. Encouragement all round from cosplayers that he spoke to on anyone who is thinking of attending a Showmasters event in or out of cosplay and for those people who have always wanted to give it a go a resounding try it. I myself have attended conventions ran by Showmasters in cosplay in my wheelchair and have felt part of one big family where you are accepted no matter what.

So With the thumbs up from the cosplayers it was the turn of the general attendees and what they thought.  There was a mixed reaction regarding Cosplayers ranging from families who attend to see the costumes and the children who look forward to coming face to face with their heroes and posing for a picture and think they add to the event to people who thought that showmasters aimed to much towards the cosplaying community and not enough in providing bigger named stars outside of London or getting comic book artists to attend.
They managed to grab two minutes with legend Dave Prowse before leaving for the long lonely ride home on the mega bus. He was asked his opinion on people cosplaying as Darth Vader and cosplaying in general, if he thought it added to the conventions, “Yes it’s great to see someone dressed as Darth Vader and it is very flattering. Makes me feel like I have achieved something if I have instigated them to cosplay as a character I have played. Cosplaying is an accepted part of these conventions and I love seeing all the different costumes people attend in and all the hard work that has gone into making them.”

So as the sun sets over another successful day for Showmasters in Manchester our two intrepid reporters get changed and wearily tread off for the bus leaving fame and their adoring fans behind them to return to real life. When asked their personal opinions of the convention, services, staff and venue it was a huge thumbs up and well worth the early start.  So still room for some tweaking here and there and work on coordination, but definitely on the right path to make these shows more accessible to everyone.

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