We spoke to Mike Towers, chairperson of Alcon 2007 and the forthcoming Alcon 2008, on how the 2007 event went and he and committee are planning for 2008.  Mike Towers appears on the Anime League/Alcon forums under the name 'Freesaiyan': 

Q. Alcon 2007 was the first convention that you ran and managed.  How do you feel it went?

Overall it went very well.  The atmosphere and general spirit was great and the vast majority of attendees seemed to go home very happy.  Of course, there was a lot that we feel that we could have done better and we hope to address this for Alcon 2008.

Q. What do you think could have been done better and how will you improve on this for 2008?

A.  Organisation was a key problem at Alcon 2007.  A lot of issues we simply did not foresee and in many ways it was a massive learning experience for our entire committee.  For example, on the first day of the event, we did not anticipate that handling the registrations would be as intensive as it was.  Another example would be timetabling and allocating gaps that were too large or too small between events.

How can we improve?  Now that we have more experience, proper forward planning is possible.  In identifying the issues (we had several reports handed to us which reviewed our strengths and weaknesses, along with our own committee doing this as well), we have almost an entire year to tackle them and ensure that Alcon 2008 runs extremely smoothly. 

 Q. What do you think went well with Alcon 2007 and what positive feedback did you receive?

A. The camaraderie that developed from the ninjas vs. pirates was awesome, and quite unexpected.  It was a remarkably simple idea, yet it really did set our convention out as unique and something special.  It broke down a lot of boundaries and definitely encouraged people to make new friends, which is part and parcel of what a convention should be about.  What else? Well, the dealers room was very popular, and I think it had a good mixture judging from how many people were carrying around bags in the closing ceremony, I'd wager our members appreciated this! On the subject of ceremonies, I really enjoyed doing the opening ceremony, and felt that its casual nature (such as allowing questions from the audience) really did help everyone (Including me!) settle in!

Also, the Artist Ally did tremendously well. It drew a lot of attention and the Iron Artist was a huge hit and a lot of fun.  Studio Shoebox did a wonderful job there, as did ADV in sponsoring and filming it (I believe you can get a link to watch it on ADV's YouTube site).  Also, I feel that we really did help push the boundaries back with some of our events.  The Iron Artist was a first-time event in the UK, as was the cosplay Blind-Date and the 5 Minute cosplay. For Alcon 2008 we plan to have at least half a dozen completely new events or ideas, if not more. 

Also, it's wonderful when an event's special guests can sit down in a bar and simply hang out and have a drink with the normal members.  To me, our guests (David Bircham and Akemi Solloway) really helped embody the general spirit of the convention.  Very dedicated in what they do, yet also very down to earth and friendly.



Q. You mentioned that you have new original ideas for 2008 - can you go into more detail about these ideas?

A. Our events co-ordinator ShadowJam has spent the last month brainstorming with myself new ideas for 2008.  So far we have confirmed the make your own plushie workshop, the video gaming party, the battle of the DJs (which any one of our members can enter), and Alcon assassins.  To my knowledge, these four events are entirely original to the UK anime convention scene.  When you signup for Alcon assassins, you're working with the rest of your clan (ie: vampires, ninjas or pirates - actually how we are doing our clan system is something else that is quite unique to us) to "assassinate" the members of the other clans.  Don't worry, this merely involves clothes pegs, a list of names, and several refs out to spot whose been pegged and who has not!

Of course, the beauty of the game is that you don't know who your assassins are.  The game is a bit complicated to explain in this interview, so just stay tuned for an announcement on how exactly it'll work closer to the time.  As for the video gaming party, Saturday night in the lower bar will include VG remixes being played, the large screen being switched over to various VG tournaments and contests, and other smaller screens allowing the playing of a mixture of other games.  Think of it as a mixture between a fun party with the dancing, and a enjoyable night playing video games with your mates.

 Q. There are more events in the anime calendar next year then ever before.  Do you worry that the calendar will become saturated next year and it will become harder to attract guests and members to Alcon 2008?

A. In all honesty it does not overly concern me.  Firstly, the anime community continues to grow, so there will always be a lot of newcomers to bring on board.  Secondly, we view other conventions not as a threat, but as something positive to the whole.  What better way to make the anime community more mainstream as a culture in the UK?  Thirdly even if it was to become genuinely saturated, Alcon has a large enough base of loyal and dedicated members to keep us going.  This is not even counting that our publicity campaign is much stronger this year, so expect to see Alcon flyers all over the UK come next year!


Q. How else are you planning to publicise Alcon other then the flyers?

A. Press releases on news sites, affiliating with websites, spreading the news in forums, and encouraging our members to tell their friends via simple word of mouth.

Sum up why our readers should attend Alcon!  

A. We're extremely friendly and the convention has a terrifically fun atmosphere.  Pirates, ninjas and vampires fighting it out in the same convention is wonderfully wacky and we genuinely want to provide something fresh, different and innovative. 

Q. One last question: ninjas, pirates and vampires - whos your money on?

A. Being the Chairman, I'm entirely neutral on this issue (YARRR!).


Read our preview feature of
Alcon 2007 here

For further information on Alcon visit the official site at www.alcon.org.uk

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