There was a time when UK conventions tended to all start with a B (I’m looking at you, Bristol and Birmingham), these days the location of the two most unmissable shows begin with an L (Leeds and London). Last Saturday I ventured up to the big smoke for London Super Comic Con and I’m very glad I did.
Just like last year I travelled up in the morning and headed back the same day, but I’m already planning to make sure I can experience the whole weekend in 2016. I got to the ExCel Exhibition Centre at about 11.30, following two hours on the train and forty five minutes on the tube. For the first hour or so I must have only moved about twenty feet down the first aisle, as I tended to know lots of people who were either behind tables or walking the floor. It felt like Bristol conventions of old, everywhere I looked I saw familiar faces and old friends.
It’s a very different show from Thought Bubble, with a much more big two and US focus and it’s good to have two well run shows that cater to slightly different needs. The venue is big, the layout spacious, the air con a god send and the overall vibe very laid back and positive. The crowd is diverse, with lots of families attending and with a far more even gender split than at conventions of old. I had my first professional pass for this year’s show and that, coupled with so many people I knew being in attendance, meant I was the most relaxed and socially adept I’ve probably ever been at a show, certainly in the pre pub stages of proceedings anyway.
Where 2014 was about talking to publishers, I spoke to IDW, Boom and Titan about pitches at last year’s event, 2015 was all about friends, contacts and the social side. I got to catch up with some of the no (comic) code creators, like Marc Laming, Mike Collins, Ron Marz and Brett Uren , grabbed lunch and compared career notes with Martin Fisher, hung out with podcasting behemoths like Barry Nugent from Geek Syndicate, Gavin and Dan from the Sidekickcast and the comic book cardboard crappy cosplayers Tim, Matt and John from the hat decides and QPAW!. I got to check in with my old Orang Utan Comics colleagues Ian Sharman, David Wynne and Holly Rose, talked shop with Cy Dethan and Nic Wilkinson and met up with some of my Comics Experience workshop buddies – Chris Hurst and Ryan O’ Sullivan. The only thing I didn’t really find time to do was to actually see any of the exhibitors to get sketches or pick up books, considering the stellar line up that’s a crying shame.
Mark Millar turned up, which suggests any hope of Kapow! returning looks even more unlikely. Jonathan Ross had a table to promote his trade paperback collection for Revenge from Image Comics, with artist Ian Churchill, and Johnny Vegas turned up on the other side of the table seemingly buying every small press book in sight (expect to see him writing for 2000AD before the year is out).
Despite having to curtail my time at the pub, whisking myself away from The Fox by 9 to ensure I got the 10pm train back to Cardiff, I thoroughly enjoyed myself. I’m already counting down the days to next year’s show.