Generally (to get a little Bagginsy about it), the worst thing about conventions is the journey there and back again. Travel is tiring and time-consuming, hotel/hostel rooms can either break the bank or make you worry for your health (I’m still surprised that the last one I booked didn’t leave Team Footloose with a serious case of tetanus). So I was already a little biased towards OxCon, since it was literally just up the road – no buses, no trains, and my own bed at the end of each day. Bliss.
But OxCon proved to be more than just convenient. There were so many good things about this first-time convention. For example, Em and I were given the biggest table we’ve ever had at a convention:
It was so nice to be able to stretch out your legs. Most conventions involve bunching yourself up like a cat trying to fit into a very small box.
The con took place at the Examination Schools. I’ve been there a couple of times before, as an illicit interloper at Oxford Uni’s Freshers’ Fair, so I knew the space could deal with large amounts of stalls – but the con was laid out particularly well, with proper use of the space and none of the people-traffic-jams I’ve seen at other conventions.
There was also a full and very interesting selection of panels and talks on geeky topics (with a typically Oxford twist – ‘Jungian archetypes in Doctor Who’, for example). I went to one talk on diversity, and nearly ended up cheering along – it was so great to hear so many positive thoughts on how to promote and encourage diversity in storytelling.
In fact, the whole convention was positive. Over the course of a weekend, I spoke to so many people who hadn’t attended a comic convention before, and who seemed to be having a fantastic time. I don’t know if OxCon set out to attract people who were new to the idea of comic conventions, but they certainly succeeded in doing so, and made it a fun and welcoming experience. The volunteers were universally friendly, and always able to answer questions – and on the second day, they checked in with us salespeopleses to make sure things were going okay for us, which I really appreciated.
There were a few minor drawbacks to the convention. It would really have benefited from a tea/coffee/snacks stand (Emily and I brought snacks and four Thermoses, but this caffeine addict got through that and had to pop out of the convention for a coffee run). There were some really good songs being played over the speakers – but, unfortunately, only ten, on a loop. This is okay when you’re an attendee who can wander around and go and find a spot where no music is playing, but when you’re stuck in one spot at your table and Smooth Criminal comes on for the fiftieth time, it’s really difficult to carry on loving it. Finally, even though the con closed at 6pm on both days, the number of visitors dropped to nigh-on zero in the last hour – an earlier closing time might have been better.
But, as I said, these are only very minor points – overall, OxCon had a brilliant first run, and I’m really looking forward to going back next year.