WALKER STALKER CON – LONDON 4th/5th March 2017

The Olympia Exhibition Centre in London played host for the second year running to the only UK convention of one of the greatest TV shows ever… The Walking Dead. Such is the popularity of this show that it has spawned its own convention dedicated to the show and all things zombie, namely Walker Stalker Con 2017. Boasting a larger cast list then last time it was set out mostly the same as last year (report here) which I was pleased about as I was concerned they had moved the panel area to a more enclosed location but they kept it out in the open for easy access.

As well as Norman Reedus, Ross Marquand, Chandler Riggs, Greg Nicotero, Charlie Adlard and David Morrissey who attended last year. We also saw Scott Wilson (Herschel Greene), Tom Payne (Jesus), Lennie James (Morgan), Lauren Cohan (Maggie Greene/Rhee), Austin Amelio (Dwight), Steven Ogg (Simon) and Irone Singleton (T-Dog) to name but a few. The main pull for most of us though was to catch a glimpse of the most talked about cast members in recent times; Andrew Lincoln (Rick Grimes) and Jeffery Dean Morgan (Negan). Andrew Lincoln was only there on the Saturday this year. He only did the Sunday last year which I was gutted about as I missed him, but this year I finally managed to see him! He was the only cast member that didn’t have an autograph booth, but I’m figuring he was crazy busy doing photo ops. He did do a panel which you had to pay extra for to get in but they did have large screens either side of the stage and because it was quite open you could see him without actually going into the panel area so we could see and hear everything that was going on. It was great! He is a funny, happy, out going person who was pleased to answer the silly questions as well as the serious ones. He talked a lot about the emotions he went through shooting the scenes from “The Day Will Come When You Wont Be” which saw the deaths of 2 loved characters and left Rick a broken man for a time. He was also joined on stage by Chandler Riggs who plays Carl Grimes and it was great to see the way they interacted with each other. There did seem to be less panels going on this year but I think I picked the best day for panels, as not only was it Andrew Lincolns day but we also had a panel from Scott Wilson and David Morrissey together talking about their time and experiences on the show as Hershel and The Governor. There was also a brilliant and informative panel from Greg Nicotero (Producer, Director and SPFX artist on the show) who once again made my day. His panels are always so much fun and he buzzes with enthusiasm its hard not to get excited when you see him. This year we were treated to truly amazing viewing of videos from his own personal phone of Andrew Lincoln trying out Lucille on Greg and then JDM having a go as well!! 

Something I would never have seen had I not been there so felt very privileged. He also talked about the process involved with creating a fan favourite of the current season, Winslow, the gladiator type zombie from the episode “New Best Friends”. This year I even managed to pluck up the courage to ask him a question; I wanted to know what his thoughts were on the social media outcry about the violence used on “The Day Will Come When You Wont Be” and since then had noticed that it seems to have toned down a little, was this intentional and when will the violence return? I got a really awesome response if a little long winded but the main gist of it was a resounding “no” he does not listen to or read anything on social media, so he says, so couldn’t give a fuck if people are offended and yes we will soon be getting back into the violence we are all used to on the show very soon. Since Walker Stalker Con we have now seen what he means by this in the recent episode “Bury Me Here” which brought some harrowing scenes to the forefront. A great man that I could happily listen to for hours. That was about it for the panels, I was a little disappointed that I missed JDM’s panel which was on the Sunday. 

There was a rumour going round on various Walker Stalker FB groups that they were trying to stage a mass “kneel” when JDM turned up which would’ve been great but that never happened. Might have been something to do with the fact that we didn’t see JDM at his booth until late into the afternoon on the Saturday, I’m guessing he too had a lot of photo ops that day or he was just being fashionably late?! His booth was next to Norman Reedus’ so once he’d turned up we got to see quite a lot of them posing together which was every fan girls dream, its hard to describe just how hot they both are in the flesh!! I was pleasantly surprised at how close we could get to them this year as last time you couldn’t get anywhere near Normans booth, this time it seemed much more relaxed. When we were sat in the panel for Hershel and the Gov, Norman Reedus walked round the back of the panel to get to his photo op session, which totally took us by surprise and left us wishing we had sat further back in the panel as he was shaking hands and taking selfies on the way through! They really had managed to squeeze in a lot more guests this year as they added a whole new row of booths along the mezzanine. As well as all the cast members from TWD there was also Freddie Highmore and Nestor Carbonell from Bates Motel, M.R.Carey author of The Girl With All The Gifts, Eugene Clark aka: Big Daddy from Land Of The Dead (again!) and the great Denis O’Hare who I adore in all his forms in the American Horror Story series.

The cosplayers were out in force again this year with Negan being the most popular to portray, I’ve never seen such a collection of leather jackets and baseball bats in one place! The Walkers wandering about were really awesome too. In another part of the building there was a Walking Dead themed Walker maze complete with a Negan character re-enacting the last part of “Last Day On Earth” from season 6, plus a green screen zombie photo booth all run by the guys from Silent Studio Productions which was great fun for a fiver. The shopping and official merch was pretty much everywhere, with so much to choose from shame it was all so ridiculously overpriced but this did not stop me buying a few bits that I just had to have! I said in my report last year that I would have to get myself a weekend pass this time around but when I saw the prices I kind of wept a bit. I nearly ended up not coming at all this year as even the day tickets had gone up quite a lot just for general admission, but they did do a deal where you could get day passes on a buy one get one free offer which worked out nicely. It really isn’t worth forking out for anything more as pretty much everything is charged on top of what you’ve already paid, plus there was a massive cock up in the queue for wristbands. Some of the VIP ticket holders had been mashed into the line with us General Admission people which meant they didn’t get in any earlier then us which for them was not cool!! The whole thing is a massive money making exercise and one that probably a lot of us really cant afford but we still make the trek down, for what I paid I had an amazing day and hopefully will be attending again next year!!

Article by Sarah Budd

Photos Courtesy of Sarah Budd

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