Photo Report: Dundee Comics Expo 2014

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Since 2007 the University of Dundee has run various annual events that are now tagged as the Dundee Comics Day which consist of talks and workshops by comics creators plus a handful of sales tables. In Easter 2013 they added the Dundee Comics Expo to their calendar which was more like a small convention with several dealers rooms as well as exhibitions of original art and creator talks.

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In addition to these comics events since 2009 there has also been an annual manga/anime convention at the University which has gone under several names over the years including D-Con and Doj-Con but is now known as Dee-Con. Like all Dundee University comics events, Dee-Con is free, and it is popular – very, very popular – with some 2000+ attendees in previous years. So it was no surprise that this year the University decided to hold their Comics Expo the same day as Dee-Con to allow the two events to cross-populate over the university green.

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Arriving at the university some 30 minutes after both events kicked off it was obvious where Dee-Con was from the enormous queue full of cosplayers that snaked around the university green towards the Dundee University Student’s Union (DUSA) building. The location of the Expo’s unfamiliar Queen Mother’s Building was less obvious and not helped by the Dee-Con queue stretching past its entrance but on entering the building the familiar face of Pete Renshaw of Glasgow’s Plan B Books and the stock on his dealers table showed attendees that they were in the correct location. The sales tables were mainly in the long hallway of what seemed to be a very oddly designed building, indeed one attendee described the building’s lecture theatre where the Expo’s talks and workshops took place as a lecture tower due to its tight, circular and somewhat vertiginous layout.

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This year’s Expo was smaller than last year’s with around twenty tables. Local creators Montynero and Dan McDaid (above) were the headline guests and they were joined by Jim Devlin, Tanya Roberts and Commando editor Calum Laird, backed up by the cream of Scotland’s small press from the familiar Team Girl Comic and Black Hearted Press both over from Glasgow for the day to the more local Treehouse and the university’s own UniVerse publications. The Expo was initially a haven of tranquillity from the hordes of Dee-Con attendees outside but as the day progressed cosplayers started to appear at the Expo while Expo attendees ventured into the maelstrom of the Dee-Con building.

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Not having attended Dee-Con before the event was something of a culture shock with a moderated queue to get into the packed dealers room, a room that gave more of the feel of a local craft fair than the professionally printed publications available at the Expo did. Mind you given that many of the cosplayers would made made their own costumes perhaps that was to be expected. The sheer number of people meant getting around the DUSA building proved difficult at points with attendees shoulder to shoulder on the staircases while seeing what was going on in the war games and computers games sections proved difficult.

Like Expo, Dee-Con had a selection of guest talks including Professor Kenny Mitchell and Maggie Kosek of Disney Research talking about animation and CGI effects. This talk was the real reason for my venturing into Dee-Con, and had been highlighted on several comics sites beforehand, yet despite several thousand people being in and around the building at that time there were barely twenty people in the room to hear an interesting talk about Ralph McQuarrie’s preliminary Star Wars designs, Transformers film special effects and the creation of animation characters. Dee-Con-ners seemed to be there to chat, pose and look – listening to talks didn’t appear to be high on their list of priorities for the day.

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Back over at Expo the small pressers seemed to be busy enough but never overwhelmed by attendees yet that allowed the guests and sellers to chat away to attendees which, despite the new venue, maintained the friendly social side of Dundee University’s previous comic events.

Some of the guests and sellers there on the day were –

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Commando editor Calum Laird was giving away free issues as well as free 2014 calendars. There are more details of DC Thomson’s Commando on the comic’s official website and Facebook page.

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Writer/artist Dan McDaid had a mixture of requests during the day mainly for Marvel superheroes and Doctor Who. There are more details of Dan McDaid’s work on his website and blog.

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Writer/artist Montynero had a selection of issues of Titan’s editions of Death Sentence for sale including many variant covers. There are more details of Monty’s work on his website.

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Artist Tanya Roberts was there selling her own small press title Forgotten Muse as well as a wide selection of her sketches and published comic book art. There are more details of Tanya’s work on her Deviant Art page.

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Accent UK publisher Colin Mathieson (right) shared table duties with his son Adam. There are more details of all Accent UK’s titles including the excellent WesterNoir on their blog.

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Planet Jimbot writer Jim Alexander also had his son David on hand to help out. There are more details of Planet Jimbot titles, including the intriguing SF comic Savant, on Jim’s blog.

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Rough Cut Comics’ Ed Murphy was helped out by Dundee student Kirsten Murray. There are more details of Rough Cut Comics titles including the excellent Rose Black series on their website.

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Black Hearted Press had tables on both side of the university green with writer John Farman (above) at the Expo and artist Sha Nazir at Dee-Con. There are more details of the many Black Hearted Press titles including the new Royal Descent on their website.

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The Team Girl collective were there with editor/contributor Gill Hatcher (left) and contributor Claire Yvette (right) selling the large selection of Team Girl Comics (now at issue 9) and well as publications from individual contributors. There are more details of Team Girl and their titles at their website.

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The new Dundee Treehouse collective were also there with their anthology title Treehouse which is now on its second issue. Contributor Neil Scott (left) was helped on sales by Anna Rathband (right). There are more details of Treehouse on their Facebook page.

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Another creator over from Glasgow was writer/artist Craig Collins with his selection of darker themed titles including the intriguingly named Haunted Bowels. There are more detaills of Craig’s work on his blog.

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Finally the university’s on imprint UniVerse was there with new titles Tales Of The Universe!, which tied in with the science-fiction themed 2013 Dundee Comics Day, and the fourth and latest issue of Anthology which promotes the students of both the University Of Dundee’s MLitt In Comics Studies run by Dr Chris Murray and Duncan Of Jordanstone College Of Art And Design’s Animation degree course run by Phillip Vaughan. These are shown here by student Rossi Gifford who has just been announced as the artist for a new comic strip for DC Thomson’s Sunday Post newspaper, the home of The Broons and Oor Wullie, that is due to begin later in the year. There are more details of Rossi Gifford’s work on her blog and of UniVerse’s titles at their webshop.

There are more details of the Dundee Comics Expo, Dundee Comics Day and Dee-Con on their Facebook pages.

DC Thomson’s Courier newspaper covered Dee-Con and its many cosplayers and put the number of attendees at “more than 3000”.

Published by

Jeremy Briggs

News, reviews, interviews and features for print and on-line: Spaceship Away (since October 2005), Bear Alley (since February 2007), downthetubes (since June 2007), and Eagle Times (since October 2008). Plus Titan’s Dan Dare and Johnny Red reprints, Ilex’s War Comics: A Graphic History and 500 Essential Graphic Novels, and Print Media’s The Iron Moon and Strip magazine.

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