We all do stuff for the love of comics. We do it for free, especially on great sites like downthetubes. Sadly, it would seem are there those on the edges of our industry, our community, with a different view point, such as event organisers whose intent is to charge fans admission to their events, then rinse you of your coins before booting you out the other end.
This we know.
But, sometimes, you discover an event that is all about the love of the medium; the love of the comics community and the art that cheers up your day. Nottingham Comic Convention, again held at the Nottingham Conference Centre and now in its fourth year, is just such an event and one guaranteed to brighten up your day.
Kev Brett, creator of the all-ages comic Koala Konspiracy and Kel Brett (AKA blogger @Moolbots) are the organisers and a hardworking pair of people they are, too. I personally attend a couple of comics events every month, and I can’t recall one that was so smoothly run with a genuine enthusiasm and sense of humour.
Couple the above with the fact that this convention is run to raise money for some really worthy charities, the Royal British Legion, the Ear Foundation and the Marfan Trust – and for me, you have all the ingredients necessary to deliver a must attend event.
Kev and Kel were keen to encourage the growing small press and indie scene to this year’s convention and the line up of over 150 exhibitors included the publishers such as mighty Avery Hill Publishing, Dead Canary Press and Improper Books, and comic creators such as Rachael Smith and Sally Jane Thompson.
For this attendee, this was a one day event that managed to merge the cool small press scene with a big dollop of the professional ‘Big Two’ US publishers, DC and Marvel, and blend in a colourful mix of cosplayers and stalls. After getting in early I set about buying some back issues before the doors opened, including some reader copies of The House of Hammer and The Halls of Horror to fill some gaps in the collection – a really great find from a stall that seemed to specialise in 1970s and 1980s UK magazine format comics.
There was also a healthy selection of reasonably priced back issue sellers at this event too.
Once the doors were open it was all about getting round to see pals and creators.
First on the list was my favourite collaborator Jen Brown. Jen and I have done a short page strip for the Nottingham Comic Con anthology, Forest Tales. We did a pastiche on the old girls comic Misty and called it ‘Shifty’, a story telling the story of a plucky 1970s, East End, shoplifting vampire girl.
I then popped over to see pal and comics creator Nick Prolix (seen above with Dave Robertson on the left). His webstrip The Sheep and the Wolves, telling the story of a London long gone by full of cool kids, has just been packaged into a comic and is is chock full of character and a joy to read.
“The comic collects the first 24 pages of The Sheep And The Wolves,” says Nick, “as well as some additional strips and illustrations set in the same narrative world and a two page essay on the background to the project.”
• Head over and grab a copy at www.thesheepandthewolves.com
Nick turned out to be as a big hit on a “Create Your Own” panel he shared with equally funny and educational guests Chris Imber and Sally Jane Thompson. (Wiith Alex Martin asking questions).
Chris Imber and Chris Jenkins run the indie publishers Reckless Hero. This company is fast becoming a really slick operation, producing books of real quality that could easily be part of an Image or Dark Horse comics stable – and they do so with bags of wit and talent. I had a chat with both the guys and they have got some really interesting projects in the pipeline with some new creators onboard.
• Pop over to www.recklesshero.com and find out some more
I also got to chat to Darrell Thorpe (aka Forpe) and hear about all the new projects he has in the pipeline (yup, that’s an axe he has there – in your face ‘MCM Weapons Policy’!)
His comics and prints were full of crazy imagination and individually observed quirky humour. It’s genuinely refreshing to read and Darrell is a fun guy to chat to. I thoroughly recommend a click over to www.forpe.co.uk to see some more of the same.
As a big friend of The Awesome Comics Podcast it is always great to chat to Chris Baker from Dead Canary Comics. His book The Last Driver (with art by the National Treasure Shaky Kane) has just dropped after a hugely successful Kickstarter run is eye-poppingly good. So do yourself a favour and go pick it up!
What you going to do at a comic convention without Christian Wildgoose and Laura Wildgoose? Two of my favourite people and comics artists, they were there with the equally spot on Matt Gibbs and Sara Dunkerton. I managed to keep up with them in the drinking stakes in the pub and also got to hear some great news from Improper Books.
Matt and Sara have just launched the third issue of their ruddy excellent series MULP: Sceptre of the Sun on the public (reviewed here), Laura was gearing up for Hallowe’en with her intricately detailed and gorgeous kids comic The Night Post — and Christian showed me pages from his third instalment in Improper’s Porcelain series and his upcoming run on DCs Batgirl.
To a person, Improper puts out beautiful product. Get on this and don’t be late to the party for a group of creators who are going places.
I hadn’t seen the prolific Andy Bloor for quite a few months, so it was great to chat with him and look through his portfolio. Andy is without a doubt one of the secret weapons of the British indie comics scene. His use of bold characters and solid blacks works excellently in the horror/action genre he has been working in of late.
• Pop over to www.andrewbloor.blogspot.com and have a look for yourself
My old mucker Marc Laming (seen above with Vince Hunt looking like the doormen on a nightclub you probably wouldn’t go to sober) was on hand to sketch and chat to fans about his recent work for Marvel on their Star Wars comic, Avengers and Planet Hulk. He also had a fit of the giggles later on a panel with Chris Wildgoose (obviously the trouble maker) and Roger Langridge, who has a great new “silent comic” collection out called The Iron Duchess, which you can pick up here on his web site.
Pop over to @monkey__marc on Twitter and have a look at some of the art Marc is producing for his upcoming stint on Ninjak for Valiant Comics. Stunning stuff indeed.
Matt Harrower was there and it was great to see him after his triumphant strip I recently reviewed in Dark Matter Issue 2, available soon. Matt was showing off some artwork from quite a few upcoming projects that are bound to open your eyes to this exciting artist. I have been a fan of Matt’s work for a couple of years now and can’t wait for others to catch on.
Those two talented maniacs, Emily Owen and Gavin Mitchell were on hand to abuse me. Gavin is just finishing up on a graphic novel that will show the British comics industry that this is a guy they should been fighting over!
It was also great to see Will Overton (pictured above with his son) had a table. Always there with a witty comeback he is a ball of energy and the creator of the fun and jam packed Smart Bomb magazine!
This combines retro gaming and amazing visuals to produce a magazine that is well worth your coin and time. A great guy to chat to at a Con.
All in all, you are going to have trouble finding an event as friendly and fun as Nottingham Comic Con. Our comics frolics continued into the night and it would be remiss of me not to namecheck comics pal and excellent panel co-host Alex Martin and comics drinking pals Sarah Harris and James Gibbs. Much hilarity was had.