Wales Comic-Con returned for their first event of 2023 to, once again, take over Telford last weekend and brought with them their usual impressive array of guests from across the geeky spectrum, and we managed to be there to bring you some of the panels!
If you’ve not been to Wales Comic-Con before, they often have some of the best line-ups of guests in the UK convention calendar, and this year was no exception. They included people from tv and film such as ‘Doctor Who’, ‘Firefly’, ‘Supernatural’, ‘Harry Potter’, ‘Smallville’, ‘Vikings’, ‘Red Dwarf’, ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’, ‘Lord of the Rings’, ‘Charmed’, and so much more.
For this event, they slightly altered the layout at The International Centre in Telford, and it seemed to work rather well. The main show floor consisted of a couple of large halls filled with artwork, posters, comics, toys and all the usual wallet-draining geeky paraphernalia you would expect from a convention. Outside of that, there was a separate room off to the side which housed some D&D gaming tables, which was a new addition for this year. They also moved the canteen area off the main floor to its own separate area, which seemed to work well. At December’s event, they only made use of the downstairs of the venue, but thankfully, for this one, they were back utilising the large upstairs theatre room… which was a good call, as for some of the panels, it was packed to capacity!
The atmosphere at the event, as it is with a lot of Comic Cons, felt very friendly, inviting and inclusive, with lots of people enjoying the merch, and chatting away with friends and cosplayers. Unfortunately, due to the number of panels I cover, I don’t really get to see much of the cosplay wandering around the Con, but I did manage to see the Cosplay Masquerade, which had some brilliant costumes and performances!
Generally, Wales Comic Con is a well-organised and lovely friendly place to be. From reading some of the comments online afterwards, I understand there were a few issues with queues and timings of photo ops, which was unfortunate. To be fair to the Con and the lovely, and hard-working volunteer crew, I know they were understaffed due to the train strikes, which meant a large number of volunteers had to drop out. It was still a fantastic gathering of faces from tv, film and games, and I would highly recommend picking up a ticket for the event when it returns later this year.
The Guest Panels
Both Saturday and Sunday were full of guest panels in the very packed theatre hall at the venue. Unfortunately, we are only allowed to record certain panels, so we can’t bring you videos from everyone. However, I did stay in the theatre most of the day so will give you a bit of a rundown and photos from most of the panels.
I should say, the recording of panels is at the discretion of the guests. We don’t know the reasons why the guest does or doesn’t allow it, but I suspect sometimes it’s just in case they get an awkward question in the Q&A and end up saying something they shouldn’t. It also could just be that they’re tired, or having a rough day and don’t feel their best, and just don’t want to be filmed. It’s totally their prerogative, and we respect that. The people who run the Cons obviously want the guests to be completely comfortable, have a good time, and come back to future events.
The talks I couldn’t record included a wonderful panel from Freema Agyeman, talking about her time on ‘Doctor Who’ and ‘Torchwood’. One interesting little bit from this was when someone asked the inevitable question of whether she was in the upcoming 60th Anniversary Specials featuring David Tennant. I would say her answer was… evasive… and more of a “wait and see” than an outright “no”. She could just have been toying with the audience, but I wouldn’t be totally shocked if we see a little bit of Martha Jones again later this year…
Another great panel came from Oliver & James Phelps, and Bonnie Wright (aka the other Weasley kids) from ‘Harry Potter’. They were delightful and entertaining talking about working on the movie franchise. And if you ever wondered why Warner Bros are making a new TV series based on the books, the fact that that panel was completely rammed full just shows you how much love there is for the ‘Harry Potter’ franchise! It was also the first panel I’ve been to which included (some very talented) pizza art!
Other great panels included ‘Red Dwarf’, with Chris Barrie (Rimmer), Danny John-Jules (Cat) and co-creator Doug Naylor; ‘Lord Of The Rings’ with Sean Astin (Sam), Sala Baker (Sauron), and Jed Brophy (Nori – The Hobbit); A Flash Gordon panel with the legendary national treasure, Brian Blessed – I technically could have recorded that one, but needed to eat at some point! However, you can see his panel from a previous Wales Comic Con here; Lastly, ‘Charmed’, which featured Holly Marie Combs (Piper), Shannen Doherty (Prue), Rose McGowan (Paige), Brian Krause (Leo), and Drew Fuller (Chris). Whilst we couldn’t record this one, we did record Holly and Brian when they previously appeared at Wales Comic Con, and they were hilarious!
Smallville Panel – Kristin Kreuk
On to the video panels, and the first one is with Kristin Kreuk, aka Lana Lang, from the beloved hit tv series ‘Smallville’. We have done previous panels with other cast members of the series, but this was the first time we’d seen Kristin, and she was delightful talking about her work on the show. Michael Rosenbaum (Lex) was originally booked for this Con, but unfortunately had to cancel. However, much as I love listening to Michael talk (check out his excellent podcast), he does rather have a tendency to take over in cast interviews, so it was lovely Kristin had to space to chat on her own.
Supernatural Panel – Mark Sheppard & Samantha Smith
Next was the ‘Supernatural’ with the irrepressible Mark Sheppard (Crowley) and the wonderful Samantha Smith (Mary Winchester). Mark is a regular at Wales Comic Con and is always brilliant in the panel talks… although never stays in one place! I had to unclip the camera from the tripod to cover Mark when he was walking through the audience, and the woman sitting next to me hilariously joked “You locked the camera to a tripod on a Mark panel? Have you learnt nothing!?” I would normally have kept it handheld if it had only been Mark, but as it was supposed to be a group of them, I stupidly thought he might actually stay on the stage! As you can see in the video Mark did do a beautiful speech about the nature of conventions, and why they are such lovely and inclusive places to be, both for the actors and for fans.
This panel was originally supposed to include Genevieve and Jared Padalecki as well. However, if you saw the queue in front of Jared’s signing table (which basically took up half of one hall) you can understand why they couldn’t pull him away! I’m told the poor lad was there until 7pm that night signing autographs, which is some amazing dedication to the fans!
Vikings Panel – Lucy Martin, Clive Standen & Jordan Patrick Smith
On Sunday the first panel was for the excellent series ‘Vikings’, which featured Lucy Martin (Ingrid), Clive Standen (Rollo) and Jordan Patrick Smith (Ubbe). They told some great stories about filming the show, including Clive talking about being accidentally stabbed, and that fall in the Paris siege; Jordan discussing the emotional filming of the final scenes; And Lucy talking about how her most taxing scene didn’t involve swordplay, but dancing! Really great panel, and a fantastic TV series!
Firefly Panel – Nathan Fillion, Jewel Staite and Sean Maher
The last panel was for a show I love, ‘Firefly’, with the brilliant Nathan Fillion (Mal), Jewel Staite (Kaylee) and Sean Maher (Simon). It was so wonderful seeing these three together on stage and discussing such a beloved (and cruelly cut-short) TV series. Just wanted to flag up that there was an unfortunate miscommunication over recording for this panel. The general public were asked not to record video, but we were told afterwards the press actually were allowed to record. However, that wasn’t communicated to the WCC crew beforehand, so I was asked to turn off the camera in the middle of it, meaning I only had video for half of this panel… Unfortunate mistake, but these things happen. Thankfully, I record the audio separately, so this is the entire panel, with video in the first half, then audio only (mixed with photos) for the second half.
Wales Comic Con Cosplay Masquerade
The last video we have is not a panel, but the entire Cosplay Masquerade… and yes, that includes the ridiculous (but hilarious) dancing whilst the judges deliberated! Some amazing cosplay on display here, and some really great performances. Of particular note are the Jungle Book group, who did an extremely funny and adorable routine, and mini Mario who went totally rogue! Just wonderful fun!
So, that is it for our coverage of Wales Comic Con: Telford Takeover – May 2023. If you want to know more about Wales Comic-Con, you can find their website at walescomiccon.com. It’s an extremely fun event which I can totally recommend, and is well worth a visit when they return later in 2023!