Before I begin you may notice that I have a snazzy new banner. Thanks to Derek at Chaos City Comics for the design and technical issues well beyond my abilities. Visit at http://www.chaoscitycomics.com/
What will hopefully be the beginning of a new series of comic conventions began yesterday with the Mark Millar sponsored Kapow. ( http://www.kapowcomiccon.com/ ).
It was an attempt to bring the style of a San Diego or New York comic convention to the UK after a long awaited and unfilled gap since UKCAC ended. (well at least in my opinion there hasn't been anything in UKCACs league for quite a few years.) And on the impression I was given on the first day they thoroughly succeeded in such an attempt.
I got there early and waited in a local Starbucks for a couple of pals to arrive and as we sat there we slowly became aware that the group of people we could see out of the window was in fact a slowly growing line for the convention. So once this realisation hit we quickly joined the end of the ever growing line (oh how I wish I'd realised that it was in fact Steve Wacker sitting at an adjacent table though!) Saying that, the que was long but it moved quite quickly and we were soon in sight of the huge Green Lantern Movie image at the front doors to the Business and Design Centre in Islington where it was being held.
Entry to the hall was slick and easy and took only moments and it was once I got in that the whole 'American experience' was evident. The lower level hallway was full with video game promos and the IGN stage. Walk up a small set of stairs and you are on the main comics area. Above was a surrounding higher level walkway that was a great place to view the hussle and bussle.
The place was after a while packed and we wandered the stalls and the signings. I am pleased (on purely a selfish level) that it was not full of cosplayers and their figgin' papier mache swords or 'hug me' nonsense. (but that may just be the grumpy old man in me speaking!) The mood on the floor was friendly and just whilst walking around you found yourself bumping in to the likes of John Romita Jnr, Nick Spencer, TV and Movie actors or even good old (enough of the old) Dez Skinn.
There were loads of things to look at on the Convention floor from a small back issue area to a comics history art exhibition and some small press tables. All the major companies were represented and I can see that if this event carries on through to next year (and I really hope that it does) that they might need some more space.
There was even a Tardis but sadly it seems locked (as Paul found out)!
Big hello to Paul Cornell. Who as always gives his time generously to us comics fans. I saw him a few times walking and chatting both on his own and with his good lady wife. He stopped and spoke to us and enquired what we had been buying. And this kind of meeting seemed commonplace for a lot of people in attendance.
We all decided to dodge the crowd for the Jonathan Ross' Gameshow and made our way to Marshall Law and More with Pat Mills and Kevin O'Neill. The pair have had Marshall Law dusted down by DC Comics and were infectious with their enthusiasm for the project. I have seen Pat speak before and he is extremely engaging and with Kevin next to him the two men kept the audience in chuckles. Especially when they gave it away that they were not that fond of Tharg and the famous 2000AD letters column. Another great story about Pat asking if he could have an Iron Cross as a freebie give away on a comic he was writing for at Fleetway. Strangely this was refused as 'we do not want to attract that sort of reader'! (not sure there is a large Nazi reading demographic out there?!)
If you get a chance to see these guys talk I can thoroughly recommend it!
After slipping off for a few beers at a local pub (who were woefully under prepared for the geek nation's drinking habits). We headed back in to the hall and had a bit more browsing. Good to see Dead Universe Comics there is full effect and I eventually plumped for the five for the price of four deal at the Cinebook stall. Really beautiful stuff that is going straight to the top of my read pile. Crusade Volume 1, XIII Volume 1: 'The Day of the Black Sun' and The Chimpanzee Complex Volumes 1 - 3. (all for £21 - can you believe it.) This company is putting out some really interesting titles that I have not seen before. Pop over and have a look at their website http://www.cinebook.com/ to see what they have to offer.
Also in attendance of course was the mighty John Romita Jnr. I find it hard to believe that he finds the time with his monthly schedule of The Avengers and Kick-Ass 2!
We finally made our way to the Marvel: Pint O' CB panel that strangely didn't have C.B. Cebulski at! Never mind, it was made more than lively with Nick Lowe and Steve Wacker carrying out the energetic hosting roles. It was packed out and the heat in the room soon got to one of my comics companions who dozed off (must be a DC fan) and let out a slow gentle snore (you know who you are!) For me this was a great panel with a couple of bits of news that I had not heard yet.
Rob Williams (who is a bit rubbish at doing impressions) spoke about his pleasure at taking the reins of Ghost Rider (if you see what I mean). Nick Spencer was allowed to announce his writing of the new Cloak and Dagger series and there was much talk about the exciting year coming in the Marvel Universe including some plans for characters who have big anniversaries coming up. What followed was a Q and A session that was very Captain Britain centric. Nick Lowe seemed sympathetic to bringing the character back as he expressed what a joy it was to edit Captain Britain and MI:13 with Paul Cornell.
We the headed back out again for a few more pints before heading home.
All in all Kapow was a really enjoyable, enthusiastic and encouraging experience. It worked. It really did. I will be going every year to this convention and fully expect it to grow and grow in prominence!
I think we need to admit in this country that the American Comics marketplace (due in no small part to the British writers and artists help and influence) is producing some of the best comics ever (yes ever). We seem to dwell too much in the British comics of yesteryear and fail to celebrate what is happening right now. A convention like this has been a long time coming.