So, Barcelona Con is done. It's my first time attending a con in continental Europe. I had heard that the larger cons in France and Spain nearly equalled SDCC in terms of headcount (at least until SDCC went crazy with attendance figures in 2007 to the present.) I can confirm that this is indeed the case with there easily being 15,000 at the Barcelona Con on Saturday the 13th.
I only went to one day of the convention because there were a limited number of guests that interested me and I figured I'd be able to see them all in one day. I was wrong. I'll do a quick list of Pros and Cons and then an overview. Away we go!
- Ticket prices: €7 for a day pass with a booking fee of €2 if you buy them on-line or in El Corte Ingles. That's an amazing price.
- Location: The Convention takes place in Fira De Barcelona near Montjuic. It's easy to get to via Metro or bus and the area, like most of Barcelona, is lovely looking. The Catalonian Art Museum is five minutes away at the top of a nearby hill. The Sonar Music Festival is held across the road so the area is well able to handle large numbers of visitors.
- Sales floor: The sales floor is easily the equal of SDCC, mostly focusing on merchandise but with comics as well. Most of the comics are in Catalan or Spanish as you would expect. The range of merchandise was pretty impressive. If you were looking for T-shirts, DVD's or action figures etc. then you would have no bother finding what you're looking for at fairly reasonable prices.
- Cosplay: Easily the most impressive Con I've been to in terms of people dressing up as characters. I'd say easily ten percent of the attendees were in costume. Many of these were impressive. A Big shout out to the Danerys, Zatanna, Ezio Auditore and Matt Murdock with Elektra who were as good as their screen counterparts.
- Decent film and TV presence: Fox, Microsoft, Nintendo and Warner Bros all had booths giving out freebies and showing trailers upcoming releases.
- Art displays: There were several of these. One focused on Superman, one for the Avengers and X-Men and another on western comics. The Superman display had original artwork and comics going back to 1943 up to date. The Avengers and X-men display had original art from many of the artists who have worked on those characters (George Perez, Stuart Immonen, John Byrne, Mark Bagley, Jim Lee etc)
- Beer: Beer was sold at a few places inside the convention hall. Think about that for a second.
- Crèche: There was a crèche for the Kids in case you didn't want little Eduardo hanging off you all day.
- Big retailers: FNAC and El Corte Ingles had massive stalls selling books and comics at standard retail prices. It kept manners on the other retailers as they knew they couldn't fleece you. They also took credit cards, which is rare at a convention.
- Media: The con was well advertised with posters on bus stops, the metro, lampposts and even TV coverage. It drew lots of crowds of day trippers and families which added to the atmosphere.
- Editors: Marvel and DC and Spanish publishers were there looking for talent in a portfolio review area similar to that of San Diego.
- No artist alley: I usually try to buy comics and get sketches from Artists and writers at conventions. There was no opportunity to do this at Ficomic.
- Guest access: There were some great guests but they were difficult to talk to or even meet. The fact that they had no set tables that they were going to be at during the day meant it was hard to find them. Signing sessions were generally short and crowded, limiting chances to speak to the creatives.
- Panels: The three rooms set up for the panels were fairly small so you'd little chance of getting into them. The one for the artist presentations was minuscule. Barely one hundred people would fit in it.
Overall? It was fine. There would be better cons to attend if you wanted to break in to comics or chat to creators (i.e. smaller ones) but the location was great and the sales floor was worth it if you had an infinite amount of money and were into vast amounts of merchandise. (I ended up buying more Mass Effect T shirts at reasonable prices, which is never a bad thing.)The art displays were very impressive. Worth going to if you want the SDCC scale experience without the €1,500 in air fare. It's probably best done as a one day con attendance in the midst of a larger city break (which is what I did) as I don’t think that there’s enough going on to keep you there for multiple days
Next up is Arcade Con in July, DICE in September and Roll Out Roll Call in October.