Always Write

Peter Rogers – Writer

Tag: convention

Two weeks until Bristol

The first ever comic convention I attended was the Comic Festival in Bristol in 2002, a few months after I’d attended a smaller event in the city where I got advice on becoming a comic writer from both Andy Diggle and Paul Grist. At the main Bristol show my first ever panel was the Marvel one, hosted by their Editor-in-Chief Joe Quesada.  I was also a minor sponsor of the event, originally as part of The Philistine Fellowship (a group of comic creators that was my first foray into creating a studio) but in the end I opted to do so in my own name.

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Joe Quesada

Fast forward 12 years and Bristol is no longer the only comic convention in the UK, in fact there are new ones popping     up in towns and cities all around the country every month. Shows like Thought Bubble and London Super Comic Con are now the most likely places to see the largest publishers, the biggest name creators and the most fans, but Bristol in its various incarnations still has an important place in the UK comics scene. I was there last year (I think I’ve only missed one year since I first went) launching Dapper Chimp Press‘ first title Chris Smith and the Nazi Zombies from Hell and I’ll be back again in a fortnight’s time.

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Dapper Chimp Press at Bristol Comic Expo 2013

However this time I won’t be standing behind a table pimping my wares, as I’m going as a punter rather than an exhibitor or guest, at the new venue of Future Inn.  Back in ’02 it was quite a lonely experience, not knowing many people at the event, and spending the day wandering around on my own. This time I’ll be there with my daughter, who’s been keen to go to another con, having been to the Cardiff International Comic Expo and Cardiff Film and Comic Con in recent years.  It will also be my last convention as a 30 something, and I’m very much looking forward to it.

 

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Bubble Burst?

I won’t be at Thought Bubble this weekend, and to say that I’m gutted about that would be putting it mildly.  The Leeds based comics festival has developed into probably the UK’s best convention, it’s well organised, well funded, slick and welcoming.  I went last year and in 2011 (complete with Movember moustache and some killer dance moves) and thoroughly enjoyed myself both times.  The writer’s panel last year was my second favourite I’ve been to, beaten only by Tony Lee interviewing Howard Chaykin in Bristol back in 2006.

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Lots of my friends are going and the guest list is, as always, full of stellar names like Matt Fraction, Fiona Staples, Geoff Darrow, Kelly Sue Deconnick, David Aja, Rafael Alburquerque, Image Comics’ Publisher Eric Stephenson and Director of Business Development Ron Richards. I also usually get to do some in person co-writing at TB too, as my writing partner Steve Aryan is based locally.  We did a lot of work on Flux (our creator owned mini series with Iranian artist Maysam Barza) in Leeds, and we could have spent some time working on our new project (with art by Simone Guglielmini from Image’s Near Death). We also recorded an episode of our podcast Bags of Action from Steve’s house last year, about Enter the Dragon if my memory serves me correctly.

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Sadly, Thought Bubble wasn’t to be for me this year, but you can still pick up books with my name on them at this year’s show. If you head over to the Markosia stand in New Dock Hall and pick up British Showcase Anthology, 144 pages of stories including my own Blood Dolls with Cheuk Po.   Over on the Orang Utan Comics stand, they will have limited copies of sci-fi romp The Intergalactic Adventures of Zakk Ridley, which I co-wrote with Ian Sharman and features art by Ewan McLaughlin.

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I was originally meant to be sharing table space with my good friend Chris Lewis (my singing partner on Warren G and Nate Dogg’s Regulate at last year’s Mid Show party) at the convention.  So if you see him, please say hello and pick up a copy of his excellent mini series Drones, the trade paperback debuts at the show.  He’s also in New Dock Hall as well.

And if you really want to make me feel better about missing the comic event of the year, feel free to back the Forgotten Planet campaign on Kickstarter 😉

The first Cardiff Film and Comic Con

It seems crazy to look back at a time when Bristol was essentially the one and only British comic convention.  Nowadays not a week goes by without another new show or two popping up in various cities and towns across the UK.  As of last weekend, Cardiff, the city I call home,  can say it boasts two such conventions.

The existing show, Cardiff International Comics and Anime Expo, has been running for a couple of years.  Bristol Comic Expo stalwart Mike Allwood has helped grow the event around the strong comic community here in the capital city, with the support of a hard working and dedicated team. I’ve been lucky enough to attend each of the shows and have thoroughly enjoyed them, I’ve also been involved in panels as host and also guest.  The organisers next event is SCARdiff in October, the city’s first horror themed convention, which I’ll also be attending for Dapper Chimp Press.

The new event, which launched last weekend, is an entirely different animal, Cardiff Film and Comic Con  is run by Showmasters, who also run London Film and Comic Con and Collectormania in Glasgow and Milton Keynes.  The closest I’ve experienced to it previously was MCM Expo in London and my first trip to that show inspired a number of key scenes in my graphic novel The Interactives. Rather than a dedicated comics show, this was definitely a multi-media affair with autograph hunters seeking out the likes of David Hasselhoff, Robert Englund, Brian Blessed and one of my all-time heroes Lance Henriksen.  It was also the first convention that people outside of the comic world seemed to be talking about, with colleagues in work, non comic reading friends and parents in the school yard mentioning it prior to the event.

The comic section of the show, run by another industry stalwart Mike Conroy,  was relatively small, but it boasted lots of well established indie creators.  People like the local guys behind Lou Scannon, Stiffs and The Pride, as well as Steve Penfold, the artist on highly regarded series Moon and Subversive Comics, home of Bearlands zombie bear series.  It also played host to a strong artist’s alley with local names like Simon Williams (whose who is currently working with The Hoff himself), Mike Collins and Dylan Teague, as well as Liam Shalloo and Lee Bradley.  Some big names from the other side of the pond had ventured to our fair city too, with Marvel Zombies artist Arthur Suydam (whose Predator v Batman print had sold out before I managed to get myself one), The Crow creator James O’Barr and ex-hairdresser turned superstar writer Gail Simone (Batgirl, Red Sonja). There was definitely a different vibe from any show I’ve been to before, especially as an exhibitor. There were people buying their first ever comic from us, people asking how comics were made, people asking how much extra is was to have the comic signed, people who wouldn’t buy a comic if their life depended on it and, of course, your more typical comic buyer. It was also extremely busy, with huge queues of people waiting hours to get in.  The upside of that was that footfall was pretty constant, we actually sold more books on the Sunday, which has certainly never happened to me before. The downside was that some people queued for so long, then waded through such a large volume of people on the Saturday, that they reached our table at 5.15pm, tired, weary and out of money!

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On Saturday one half of Monkeys with Machine Guns Stuart Tipples was with me, helping to man the Dapper Chimp Press stand, sketching and selling prints and original art. It wasn’t a convention where that many people wanted sketches done, and from talking to other artists their prints seemed to sell better.  I guess that’s the result of a less comic-centric audience.  The stand next to us was Soaring Penguin, whose energy and enthusiasm is definitely an inspiration.  Going to have to add their Peter Pan omnibus to my Christmas list I think.   Sales were good, the atmosphere was really positive and we had a very good first day. The unofficial After Show party in Porters was good fun and I got to spend a few hours with Stu, the Sidekickcast hosts Gavin Jones and Dan Marshall and Comic Book Outsiders’ Scott Grandison (the nicest man in podcasting) and his wife.  The comic based quiz was good fun and I was sad to leave before the superhero hip hop improvisation began.

On Sunday my daughter was with me, helping increase the amount of Forgotten Planet Kickstarter flyers we gave out.  Who can say no to a 6 year old?  Despite being petrified by the Red Skull cosplayer, she stayed for most of the day and was even sketching at one point. Her Zombie Panda was given to the Jeremy Biggs at Subversive Comics and she hand-delivered her Batgirl to Gail Simone, with far more composure than I did when approaching Gail later in the day (wish I’d taken a photo of that sketch now).  It was a case of Smith and Jones assisting on the table in the afternoon with Gavins of both varieties covering for me at different points in proceedings. One thing I am gutted about is the fact I missed Lance Henriksen, who walked around the comic section and had his picture taken with the Lou Scannon guys at the next table while I wasn’t in attendance. For them it was Bishop from Aliens, for me he would have been just as much Emil Bouchon from Hard Target and Chains Cooper from Stone Cold.  What would the world be like if James Cameron had stuck to his guns and cast Henriksen as the Terminator I wonder?  Anyway, instead of getting Lance’s autograph, or any of the other actors or sports stars for that matter, I used my time away from table to pop over and speak to Gail Simone.  As well as getting a Secret Six trade signed I also gave her my last copy of The Interactives, it was one of those rare occasions when I was rather tongue tied and I probably came across extremely awkwardly to her and her husband.

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So, what was the weekend like from an exhibitor’s perspective?  The crowd was a very different one than the one we are used to, but that didn’t hamper sales at all.  We had a good weekend, with enough copies of Chris Smith and the Nazi Zombies #1 sold to mean we’re very close to needing a re-print for Scardiff.  People were interested in the book, how it came about and what the story was, even those who didn’t end up buying a copy. There was also a lot of interest in Forgotten Planet and the premise seemed to really capture people’s imaginations.  All in all, I’d say the convention was a success, we had plenty of custom, things ran smoothly and the overall feeling was resoundingly positive and full of enthusiasm.  Would we attend again?  Definitely.  It’s really good to have two such truly diverse conventions in the same place, because for comics to thrive we need both the hardcore fans and those who are just passing by.  I sincerely hope that there’s room in Cardiff for both these shows, as they each scratch a very different itch. It also gives me a great excuse to catch up with lots of my favourite people without having to travel to London or Leeds to do it.

 

 

 

 

Three is the magic number

It’s been an interesting year in the world of UK comic conventions, with notable  additions and omissions to the calendar for 2011.  We’ve had the added goodness that was Cardiff International Comic Expo and  Millarfest Kapow! Comic Con.  And the sad news that Hi-Ex won’t be happening this year and that Brumcon  BICS is not going ahead either, well until it morphed into Birmingham Comic Con that is.

And 2011 has also sparked a change in my own convention plans.  When I was on the other side of the table I only used to do one convention a year, namely Bristol.  Over the years as Orang Utan Comics started to take off I’ve added a second con appearance to my schedule, initially Birmingham and for the past two years London MCM Expo in October (The May one being too close to Bristol).

This year Cardiff was my second convention back in February which left a gaping hole in my comics and in turn social calendar.   With “The Interactives” due out in a few months it was more important than ever that this wasn’t the case.  If I could afford it I’d be at all the conventions, but realistically I can only make it to one more.    And the 1 in 2011 is going to be Thought Bubble.  For lots of reasons it was the obvious choice.  It’s in Leeds, probably the only major UK city I’ve never visited, it’s oop North so I’ll get to see people who don’t make it to the other cons I attend, it’s in November so I can pay myself back with Christmas money, and most importantly it’s the con that everyone keeps telling me I should go to that I’ve never been to before.

Looks like my new convention mantra will be Cardiff + Bristol + 1 and I quite like the idea of rotating that third convention.  So now I have an old favourite to look forward to and something totally new, so if you’re going to Bristol or Leeds I’ll see you there.  Right then I’m off to buy a scratchcard in the hope of adding at least one US con to the mix, wish me luck.

See you in Cardiff

If you are in Cardiff this Saturday the 26th make sure you make it to the Mercure Hotel on Newport Road. I’m one of the guests at the first ever Cardiff Comic Expo. And you’ll have the chance to pick up your copy of 10thology featuring work by the likes of Mike Collins ,Patrick Goddard, Simon Wyatt, Stu Art, Chris Lynch and yours truly. Find out more about this landmark comics event here.