The final stop of my summer convention tour landed me in Ireland where my conventions usually start in Galway. This time though, I was in the Irish capital of Dublin for the second largest anime event in the capital – Nom-Con. This is a con I went to three years ago with LittleKuriboh and Marianne Miller and hadn’t been to since due to conflicts in my schedule but now it was clear for me to return and put on some panels! I was paying my way this time as I wished to show my support for the con that had been so welcoming to me in 2011. Has it changed much in the time between events? Let’s find out!
Nom-Con is situated on the outskirts of Dublin in the area of Ballsbridge in the suitably named Ballsbridge Hotel and Conference Centre. It has been there since its first outing in 2010 and has maintained a strong presence in that part of the Irish capital. A ten to fifteen minute bus ride from the city centre gets you to the event. When it comes to transportation links to the venue, they are there and you can find it relatively easy – the two simplest routes are either driving to the centre and parking or getting the bus. Walking is possible but it’s a little long for the average person, especially carrying luggage for a weekend stay. The hotel itself is a little on the small side but it was sufficient for fitting over a thousand people over the three day con allowing for a dealer’s hall, a main stage as well as four or five smaller panel rooms. There was also a common area where tables were placed so people could talk or play games with one another in between panels and still be in the vicinity of them and the bar which served snacks, drinks and basic meals. It was enough to sustain the average con-goer for a day’s traipsing the halls.
The basic layout hadn’t changed from the last time I was there but the hotel itself had in terms of appearance; it had been refined a lot since I was there. Gone was the internal supermarket and instead was a barber’s shop and an extension for the hotel’s pub. An attendee told me that the hotel had undergone four of these renovations in the last three years. It was hard to imagine but they seem to have come up with something good this time around – who’s to say it’ll be the same should I return in 2015? The main stay for con-goers is the dealer’s hall and it’s a good size for a con of this scale. Three aisles of vendors selling both home-made and imported goods for people to buy. Some of the standout highlights of the room was the guest Mr.Balloonatic who was constantly producing balloon figures throughout the weekend. It culminated in him producing a life-size Dalek which sold in the charity auction! Suffice to say, the dealer’s hall was decent but my wallet wasn’t hit much throughout; still was busy though!
One standout event occurred on Saturday evening when the Man of Action panel was about to start. It had been raining the whole day and as a result the ceilings were dripping with water at a constant rate. There were fears that the roofs in the Redwood rooms [four of the panel rooms] would cave in and be a major safety hazard; thusly the rooms were cordoned off and closed for the rest of the event. The con staff were quick to react with moving events around in the immediate aftermath and then producing a revised timetable and map the next day. Quick action indeed! An associated issue with the space was what defined a line for a panel/signing and what was simply people mingling. It was a little hard to fathom and there should’ve been more marshalling or at least more consistent marshalling. It led to people sometimes threading between lines or leaving lines accidentally. Things were going on all the time and late into the night which is rarer for British and Irish conventions; usually they close around six or eight o’clock but Nom-Con closed as late as one in the morning during the weekend which was good value for money as well as allowing for more panels to be scheduled.
Time to talk about my panels. I had three which I was hosting [which granted me guest panellist status]. These were a Q&A session, a voice acting presentation and an audience-driven game of Cards Against Humanity. I was then invited onto three more panels – the Anime Hell panel hosted by my good friends Fionn and Adrian [the hosts of Kaizoku-con, another Irish convention based in Cork], the Insane Fanime panel hosted by Cal from Man of Action and the Super Gore panel hosted by my friend Sorika. All these panels I got to sit on were fun and were mostly used to try and shock me with bemusing and disturbing videos from the depths of the internet. All I’ll say on the subject is: cardboard and hoovers. You’ll get it if you were there. They were fun though! As for my panels, I managed to get a strong showing for my main panel which ended up being a mix of questions and answers, Anifile screenings and then bad fanfiction reading – it was such a fun turnout. It also led to me giving out mints to everyone after someone asked for a mint from the panel table – curious! You can even find a recording from the panel here courtesy of David Brennan. My voice acting panel was the first outing for my Keynote presentation on the subject which helped me so much. It meant that I could stay focused throughout the panel and seemed to go down well with the people that showed up on the Sunday morning – I applaud them for focusing so early in the morning! The best panel was the Cards Against Humanity panel. It packed the room you see above! I got four people up from the audience as well as my friend Fi from Akumakon to play the game with me with intermittent contributions from the audience who read out some of the cards. It went down a storm and led to Fi winning! Thanks Chloe, Robert, Jessica and Gary for joining us on the table! I will definitely do this panel again at my next con.
One of the best parts for me was getting to meet Christopher Sabat again and Ian Sinclair for the first time. Even though I didn’t get to hang out with them as much as I’d like to [Chris’s panel about dubbing was cut short when a fire alarm went off mid-panel] it was still fun to see his panels in the flesh as well as see a special extended clip from the new Dragonball Z movie, Battle of Gods. Fun stuff from these delightful gents!
In all, I would say I enjoyed Nom-Con and felt that it was a good way to finish my summer tour; my fifth convention in seven weeks! Ouch! The convention hasn’t changed much since I was last here meaning that the formula that they had originally settled on rings true today. Organisation for the event was good and the quick improvisation after the flooding of some rooms was swift and led to a suitable rearranging of con space. I did have a small quibble with the closing ceremony running an hour late, but the entertainment on the stage did make up for this for the most part. I felt looked after and it was nice to see everyone I know from the last convention here as well as the people I’ve met at Akumakon as well! I feel very comfortable at Irish conventions; everyone’s so friendly and keen to chat. This trend continued here and over the course of the weekend the committee started to warm to me as a ‘guest’ of sorts and even refunded my pre-registration ticket even though they didn’t have to! Really kind and thoughtful of them. I had fun here and I was glad I came back. My big thanks and love to Fi, Jess, Sorika, Hollie, Phil, Joey, Fionn and Adrian for keeping me company throughout the weekend! You guys rock!