Dear Showmasters LFCC,
I am writing this open letter in regards to this weekends convention at the Olympia London specifically Joseph Quinn.
Firstly I would like to state that I cannot comment on how Joseph felt during the weekend because I am not him and I do not know him personally. He stated during his talk that he was being treated well.
However I can comment from a fan perspective. As I'm sure you are aware, alot of Josephs fans have given negative feedback on the event, specifically on the Saturday. This includes but is not limited to;
- Overbooking of tickets/passes
- Rude and aggressive event staff
There are many reports that on the Saturday Joseph was being told not to hug or even to talk to fans during photos and signings and that at one point he was yelled at by a member of staff. It is also the opinion of many people that Joseph seemed to be over booked and over worked and looked to be quite "sad" towards the end of the day.
I was personally at the event on Sunday. I traveled a 300 mile round trip to meet Joseph. What i witnessed was a watered down version of the reports that came from Saturday.
I had a number of encounters with rude members of event staff. My first encounter was with a woman who was sat at David Harbour's autograph desk. I have been to a couple of conventions previously but not a Comic con so I wanted to find out how the autographs work. I went over to the desk because David Harbour was no longer there. As I walked over the woman sat at the desk turned around in her chair to turn her back on me and began talking to someone. It quickly became apparent that she was talking to a friend. After a minute or two of waiting and having her turn round to look at me, ignore me and then turn back I interrupted their conversation. This was met with a stern look and not particularly helpful information on how the autographs work.
By the time I had got the information Josephs autographs were sold out.
Next was Josephs paid talk. I had downloaded the Showmasters app before the event and I got a notification not long before the talk saying that more tickets for this talk has been added. The queuing system for this talk was awful. Diamond pass holders queued with general entry so when they were called in first the queue lost all structure and became more like rabble struggling to get into the main stage. This would have been very difficult for anybody with anxiety.
Later in the day I had a photo opportunity with Joseph on the upside down set. This was the worst experience I have ever had at an event. The queue was understandably very long, it was very obvious that tickets for this had been over sold. Despite the fact that fans had already formed an orderly queue a very loud and aggressive man began shouting batch numbers, which was useless as there were people queued all the way down the length of the Olympia and could not hear the numbers being shouted. Maybe this time it would have been easier and quicker to just move the queue through as they were. Eventually the fans took it upon themselves to make sure the batch numbers being shouted were passed down the line.
As people were moving through, the orderly queue once formed became a crowd. At this point the loud aggressive man screamed at everyone to move into an alcove which had a metal gate at the back. This to me seemed a very dangerous suggestion, asking a crowd of people to get into a blocked area when there is a risk of people rushing just screams "Hillsborough" to me. Therefore i refused to move. Eventually our batch was called. I moved through the mob and got into an extremely fast moving queue. I got to the front of the queue. It was time for the thing that I had traveled so far and paid so much money for. I was moved through so quickly I hardly had time to say hello and then it was over.
It was clear that Joseph was trying his best to interact with people as much as he could/was allowed.
I then had a standard photo with Joseph. This time nobody queued, everybody just crowded round. However this was much better and I believe this to be mainly down to the man who was organizing everybody. He was kind and fun and regularly checked in with the crowd to make sure everybody was ok. Because of this I was able to find a spot to sit down and wait until my batch was called. Again I was placed in a very fast moving line. The experience inside the photo room was much the same as before. Very fast and no time to speak. There were people there who were obviously anxious and Joseph was trying to comfort them but was not being allowed. Fans were bringing him gifts and letters which would have been quite personal, however he was not able to look at them while the fan was with him.
All in all the experience was not much different from having my photo taken with a wax work at madame tussauds. At no point is this down to Joseph and the way he interacted with fans. He was an absolute gentleman and the seconds we all got with him were a pleasure.
I believe this to be down to the greedy over booking of tickets/passes by Showmasters LFCC. In little over 1 hour Joseph was expected to do 600 photos. At £55 each this earned Showmasters £33,000.
However the money that every single fan paid for those photos was also for the privilege of meeting Joseph, not just having a photo to take home but the memory and experience of meeting someone who has portrayed a character that has resonated and touched so many of us.
I know alot of people went home from LFCC very disapointed, some were even reduced to tears. Considering the money that people paid I find this unacceptable and I believe we are owed an apology.