So… what just happened?
This weekend was finally Walker Stalker Con London, a massive convention for fans of AMC’s hit television show, The Walking Dead. And after seven long months since booking tickets, it was well worth the wait.
Firstly, in order to fully understand the importance of this weekend you need to know two things about me:
- I go to a lot of fan conventions. My Mum took us to meet Colin Baker at my first convention when I was twelve, and since then I’ve moved onto going to as many cons as I can – now I just go on my own. So I have a LOT of similar events to compare this weekend too.
- I used to have a huge, full on phobia of zombies. For real. I was shown Shaun of the Dead when it first came out on DVD, making me seven. It was at my aunt’s house, and they’d just got surround sound so I had two hours of zombie moaning and guts being pulled out in my ear. This led to countless nightmares and planning zombie escape plans everywhere I went, until one day back in 2012. My sister had been home ill, and when I was on the bus home she texted me to say beware of the living room because I wouldn’t like what she was watching. When I asked and she told me it was the first episode of The Walking Dead, for some reason I decided to join her. The rest as they say, is history (and my zombie phobia is now gone. Mostly).
So, on with My WSC London diary…
Saturday 20th February: Day One
After a 6.30 start in my hotel room that involved stressing about my hair not drying and eating dry cereal straight from the packet I headed over to Olympia London for day one of WSC London. I got my first taste of what the weekend would be like before I even got in the queue, as producer/ director/ makeup magician Greg Nicotero arrived with actor Josh McDermitt, walking right in front of me to get into the venue. Once that excitement was over I joined the queue, where I entertained myself by watching pigeons and eating a whole of mints. I’d collected my weekend pass at the Box Office the previous night, so I didn’t even have to worry about admittance, and it wasn’t too long till we were let in and the weekend really, properly started.
The first person I went to meet was the lovely David Morrisey, who played The Governor in the show. Not only did he say I was gorgeous, but he gave me a big old squishy hug after I told him I saw his show Hangmen in the Royal Court Theatre when my cousin was working on the play Lela & Co in the same building upstairs. My cousin was taking me backstage every day in that theatre as she went to work, so he was in the same building as me every day too. Hangmen has now been moved to the West End, but it’s only running until March 6th I think – definitely go see it if you get the chance.
Don’t you think he could convincingly play my Dad?
I then just moved straight opposite to meet Alexandra Breckenridge, who was kind of a three for one deal because she’s been in three of my favourite tv shows: Buffy, American Horror Story and The Walking Dead. In the queue in front of me a couple stopped me to ask if I was Lauren Cohan’s stunt double because I looked just like her, and that the guy’d had to do a double take. We then went on to chat about my husband Glenn, the details of our wedding & how he’d cancelled coming to the event this weekend. Very enjoyable. Alexandra was then so nice, she said she really liked my coat and I told her I really liked her necklace. Then she took my phone & took like a million (22) selfies with me. Before I left I asked her about Buffy, and mentioned that I started watching it when I was four.. then she felt old because she’s now 34. Sorry Alexandra.
The event also had a load of vendors with stalls of merchandise and other goodies. My first purchases – bearing in mind, this is a convention for The Walking Dead – were Buffy items from the Bleeding Marvelous store. I bought a teeny weeny surprise Buffy figure (which turned to be Oz) and my now prized possession: a Mr Pointy stake plushie. I will never be unhappy again.
Then, after nearly a year of talking on twitter, me and Tom finally met. He texted me asking where I was, and then creepily snuck up on me and tap pen me on the shoulder to say hi. He is SO Scouse, and made me feel SO posh with my Oxford accent. We only had a 20 minute window before he went for a photo op but it was weird seeing his face in 3D, and talking face to face after typing for so long – his twitter is @MrBumbleBeeTuna and you should go follow him pronto (he’s funny).
I then got through the surprisingly quick queue to meet Jon Bernthal, who played Shane. We got off to a good start with a “Hello lovely how are you?” from him, as well as a very polite introduction (honey I know who you are). The staff were trying to get people through quick so I passed my phone to the lady to take photos & then completely turned my back on her to tell him that I knew most people were coming to talk to him about his role in The Walking Dead & his upcoming one in Daredevil (which by the way I am very excited about), but that I just wanted to say that me & my sister really loved Night at the Museum (he played Al Capone in the sequel. He laughed really hard, proper threw his head back & everything. He said that nobody had told him that before & then after we had our photos, he told me to say thank you to my sister. Ace.
Also a quick little hello to the guy in front of me who struck up a conversation in the queue – you were really nice & I hope you had a great weekend! If you ever read this message me on twitter & we can be bests forever.
After that, I passed Chad L Coleman on the stairs – which is funny because I’d met him last May at Collectormania con in Milton Keynes, and we’d met in the stairwell there too before our photo op. So Chad, I don’t know if this is intentional or not but I’m never paying to meet you again, and instead will be hanging around in stairwells waiting for you.
One of my favourite places of the weekend was the Walker Stalker Con Live teeny little stage, hosted by a really brilliant guy called Dave. Here he held interviews with guests, and the fun thing about it was that each guest was a surprise so you had to just wait around to see who’d you get. Because of this I was right close to the barrier for my first interview – Ross Marquand! He plays Aaron, who is actually now one of my favourite characters. Ross was wonderful, really funny & even did some impressions of people like Harrison Ford for us. Very good. After a snack break upstairs I came back to this stage & waited for the last interview, which Dave was hyping up to be a very, very exciting interview you would not want to miss. I was close again for this one, which was brilliant because this exciting guest turned out to be Chandler Riggs! It was a really good interview that gave us a little insight into what’s coming for his character, Carl Grimes, stories from set about shooting that infamous shooting scene, and also his favourite video games.
I then headed over to say hello to Sonequa Martin-Green, who plays Sasha. Not only is she beautiful, but she’s one of the most badass ladies on the show so I was really happy to meet her! After befriending the volunteer, I stepped up to take my selfie with Sonequa. She was such a lovely and graceful lady, and look at how gorgeous her lipstick is.
Then after catching the end of Sarah Wayne-Callis’, Jon Bernthal & Cahndler Riggs’ panel I checked out and headed back to my hotel, where I crashed, absolutely exhausted and fell asleep before 10pm.
Sunday 21st February: Day Two
The queue for today entry was inside, so instead of standing and shivering I sat on the floor and watched an episode of Buffy on Netflix, which was a fab start to the day. The organisers were brilliant at creating this so quickly after queue problems the day before, and i’m really impressed with how fast they acted (well done).
As soon as I got in I headed straight over to meet Josh McDermitt, who plays Eugene on the show – aka the guy with the mullet. He told me I had beautiful eyes, and me being the hilarious soul I am said “thanks, I grew them myself”. He replied “That is such a Lauren thing to say, you have the same personality as Lauren Cohan.” I’d wanted to talk to him about how he’s spoken out about approaching the acting business, and how he used to be a fan of the show before he was cast but after a comparison like that my brain kind of fell out so we just moved on to take like 20 selfies, including ones where I choked him.
Then I moved straight round to Ross Marquand, and got in easy peasy as it was still so early. After a nice little conversation with his friend/ manager/ nice supporter lady about how nice her jacket was and how she had to fly back to America that afternoon, I had a big old chat with Ross about how beautiful the venue was and how he was liking England. He then said I really looked like Lauren Cohan (I really really could get used to hearing that), and made me promise that next year when they come back I’ll cosplay Maggie & go hang with him again. We’re officially best friends now. Everyone in this cast is the nicest person ever!
After that I stood at the Teeny Stage (my official name for it) and watched an interview with Josh McDermitt & Alanna Masterson, which was really funny. Highlights include Josh claiming he would have Kim Kardashian and Kanye West as his Michonne-like walker pets in a real zombie apocalypse, which you can’t really top comment wise can you?
Then I bumped into Tom again, who was still shaking from meeting Andy. He was a MESS, honestly. We were just strolling round all the stalls when we saw someone at a booth wearing the same hat that Andy had been wearing, so we went out & asked him and apparently Andy had sent someone out to go buy a hat before he started his photo ops. CLASSIC.
Then I met Ryan, my other friend from twitter! You should follow him too – @Whittingham96. We’d agreed to meet just so we could recreate this photo I’d badly photoshopped of us back in June/July last year…
… but we ended up spending the whole day together! Our first stop was to the sidelines of the anticipated and ticketed panel with Andrew Lincoln and Norman Reedus. Whilst we were waiting for it to start, Andrew Lincoln walked right behind us. And we MISSED him because we were too busy TAKING SELFIES. SERIOUSLY.
Were they worth it? Maybe. And before you check – no, Andy is not in the background of any of these photos. Though that would have been hilarious.
Andrew Lincoln and Norman Reedus’ panel was so, so good. They talked loads about their characters, on set stories and pranks (Norman filled Andy’s trailer with chickens) and insider exclusives about what’s to come in the show before opening up the questions to the crowd. That got really funny , with loads of laughs and inside jokes. Smurfs and bowling just won’t make you laugh as much if you didn’t see this. Andrew also brought out a decapitated dead cake as a belated birthday gift for Norman, and got everyone to sing for him with was super cute.
After that exciting event I went & got prostheticed up at the Face Candy stand! I got a big old walker bite on my neck and the ladies who did it were so lovely! It only took like 5 minutes to do aside from letting the latex (??) dry, painting, fake blood and all. We had a right old giggle and then they gave me a massive plastic bag to save my white coat from getting bloodied.
I then went back to meet Ryan, and the sweetheart he is leant me his VIP pass so I could skip the queue to meet Christian Serratos, who plays Rosita on the show. She also played Angela in the Twlight Saga, so I told her I owed it to my thirteen year old self to tell her I did have a massive Twilight phase. She laughed and said that meeting her was a like a two for one, & said I had pretty eyes. Which is a lot coming from a GODDESS.
Then me & Ryan ran over to meet Alanna Masterson, who plays Tara! Meeting her was amazing because I really think that Tara is one of the most important characters on the show. She was so super nice, in a Union Jack shirt & took a bunch of selfies with me after complaining how tall I was. Sorry Alanna.
Then, the unthinkable happened – Chandler Riggs (who plays the one and only Carl Grimes) started allowing selfies at his booth, so I ran over & joined the queue. His mum was sat at the table with him, and we actually kept Chandler waiting a moment while we were chatting (she said I looked like Lauren too). Chandler was really nice, though I was way taller than him and his hair was longer than mine. Cheers!
Then, it finally happened – my two walking dead boys in the same place. I’ve been talking to Ryan & Tom on twitter for like seven plus months now and it was SO WEIRD to see them in 3D. Also we’re all the same height? Weird. We got our squad selfies in quick, because Tom was off on another mission.
And that’s when me & Ryan started getting a little bit over excited.
First, we stopped by Sarah Wayne Callis’ now-empty booth. We got behind the table and asked someone to take a photo of us pretending to be famous, and accidentally created a riddle. There was only one chair, so one of us had to pretend to be sat down – but which is it?
If you want to see what others thought, go see the results of the poll on my twitter.
We then took selfies with every cardboard cutout we could find, and every cool cosplayer we could find. We talked for a while with one massive cosplay group we found who had even won the cosplay contest with their Rick & Jessie cosplays. We got photos and business cards from them, and after being told how I looked like Lauren Cohan was told to get in touch when I piece my Maggie cosplay back together. Very interesting.
Here are my other favourite cosplayers:
I’d do anything for that old man Hershal. And that Dale face killed me.
Then we went upstairs for a lie down (and more selfies). We were nearly run over by a bin so we got up, and bumped into James Frazier – the organiser of the event! We had a big old chat with him about how amazing the con was, all the British things he was experiencing (beans for breakfast etc) and all about next year’s too (already confirmed for 18th & 19th February 2017!). Ryan then asked if James thought I looked like someone – and he said he’d been thinking I looked like Lauren Cohan the whole time. He said I ever had her height, and that I should definitely cosplay as Maggie next year. He then took a selfie with me & tweeted it to his 13.7k followers with the caption “It’s @LaurenCohan’s doppelgänger!” He tagged me in it but didn’t leave a space between the caption and my @ name so it doesn’t link to my profile, but he followed me too! He was a really nice, genuine guy who pulls off these amazing amazing events and works really hard for them.
We then ran round and got photos posing with the Teeny Stage microphones:
Photos in the booth where Andy had his photo ops:
Photos at Norman’s booth:
Photos in Norman’s rest area:
Photos on the MAINSTAGE:
And then photos at Sonequa’s and Alanna’s booths (the volunteer at Alanna’s even put the sign back up for us what a sweetheart):
Really want to know the story behind that yellow pom pom on Sonequa’s table.
Then we finally admitted to ourselves that we had done everything we could do, & that it really was time to leave. It took us a good few attempts to leave Olympia and say goodbye to such an absolutely amazing weekend, but we left with the most amazing memories and experiences that leave us counting down till next year.
I will admit, I was a bit apprehensive about how this weekend would turn out. I was going completely on my own, meeting actors from my favourite television show (that’s currently airing) as well as meeting friends I’d only ever talked to over the internet. I had no idea what to anticipate, but it turned out to be the best weekend in a long time, and the best convention I have ever been too.
Thank you so much to everyone who made this weekend as great as it was. That goes to all the actors who came, all the volunteers, venue staff, vendors, James Frazier and of course, my Walking Dead boys Ryan and Tom. You’re all the best.
There’s a big old video about this weekend coming to my youtube as soon as possible, so keep your eyes peeled for that too.
Times I got compared to Lauren Cohan this weekend: 28
Times I nearly cried this weekend: 28