On 31st October 2010, The Walking Dead first aired on our screens here in the UK. It gave us a glimpse at Robert Kirkman’s interpretation of what life would be like in a post-apocalyptic world where the dead don’t always stay dead. Now on its 8th Season, TWD is going from strength to strength and throughout the series we have been made to question humanity, sometimes fear the living more than the dead and to never get too attached to a character.
After the huge success of previous years, we saw the return of Walker Stalker Con for its third year, taking place at London’s Olympia Exhibition Centre on 10th & 11th March. Whether or not it lived up to the hype was another question. One which I intended to get an answer to. I arrived early on Sunday morning and the queues of excited fans were already growing, ready to fully submerge themselves in the ultimate Walking Dead experience! With some negativity surrounding the Con on social media (mostly due to confusion and long queueing times to get into the venue from the previous day), I was preparing myself for it to be the kind of chaos that only Neegan and his saviors could cause. Thankfully, there was no sign of this when I arrived. The venue staff were friendly, really helpful and had the queues well under control.
This convention boasted an incredible guest line up with the likes of Jeffery Dean Morgan, Melissa McBride and Michael Rooker pulling in the crowds. Autographs and selfies with your favorite celebrity were available on the day at an added cost and ranged from £40 – £60 depending on the star. This applied to everyone apart from the incredibly busy Norman Reedus, who unfortunately due to the sheers volume of fans who wanted to see him, was only able to get through people with Gold and Platinum passes. These were considerably more expensive than General admission, but offered a number of added bonuses and gave you the ultimate fan experience. Unlike other conventions where you get moved along like you’re on a conveyer belt, I was pleasantly surprised by the length of time I had to talk to the guests at WSC. I was lucky enough to meet Tom Payne and Stephen Ogg who play Jesus and Simon on the show. Both were happy to pose for pictures, have a chat and genuinely make me feel valued as a fan of the show and their characters.
All passes gave you free access to vendors, the artist alley and celebrity panels which gave audience members the opportunity to ask questions directly to the cast. The panel stage was located on the top level of the exhibition hall with lifts and stairs accessible making it easy to come and go as you please. I managed to catch Tom Payne and Katelyn Nacons’s panel where Katelyn treated us to a beautiful performance of three songs that she had written herself from her forthcoming album ‘Love in May’. The panel itself was a lot fun. The actors were asked a range of questions from whether Jesus would ever rock a man bun to what Katelyn’s musical inspiration was. The most touching moment however was when Katelyn was asked about Chandler Riggs leaving the show, with her reminiscing about them working together and recanting tales of them studying on set. I can say on behalf of all TWD fans Chandler will definitely be missed.
Like any Convention, Cosplay played a huge part at WSC and you couldn’t walk anywhere without seeing tributes to the characters in the show. From Rick to Neegan and even a baby Abraham, the effort that goes into these costumes is remarkable and one of my highlights of the weekend. Silent Studios were also in attendance thrilling everyone with their walker scare maze, and with a team of SFX make-up artists on hand to transform you into the living dead it was easy to get in the spirit of Cosplay. If you wanted a more permanent memory of your time at WSC there was even tattoo artists on hand with plenty of people lining up to get work done.
By the end of the day my feet were tired and my pockets were empty, but, the day had truly been memorable. FanFest have really set the bar when it comes to conventions and I would recommend this one to any TWD fan. I absolutely cannot wait to go back next year and get amongst The Walking Dead.