Ah. MCM Expos. What a pickle. We hardcore comics fans feel bad in our gut if we don’t support the industry but come over all They Live with shades on at the actual reality of the event. This year is a bit different for me as I have come here to report for the mighty downthetubes.
‘Stay Positive’ is my mantra, as I am packed onto the Friday afternoon Docklands Light Railway with a cardboard Pickachu, a Joker, a cross dressing nurse and some fat bloke in a manga (?) costume.
“Leave them alone!” I hear my left-wing liberal self shout at me. They are just having fun.
It’s a well organised event, this London MCM Comic Con, I will certainly give them that. We are marshalled in to our funnels as we walk fast/ shuffle/ stop/ walk (repeat). I’m lucky enough to have a press pass so I am not forced in to the outside queue, thankfully, as the sky is threatening and I need coffee. Without the line, the main hallway is almost eerily quiet. I manage a quiet table and drink.
For those that have never been there the Excel is a purpose-built convention and events centre. It’s got hanger size halls on either side and a big central concourse with food and drinks outlets. It’s even got its own underground stop. It’s a long way from the UKCAC conventions of the 1980s with packed staircases and a west end road of traffic to cross between events.
Let’s face it. Conventions have moved on in the most part since those early days. They are now big business opportunities. They are grasped on as the perfect launch point and sounding board for TV series, movies, computer games, toys and yes on occasion comics. MCM Expos are the big pop culture destinations in the UK these days with events all over the country. What they do have in their favour is Comics Village. The UK Small Press head to these events with new issues and loads of enthusiasm.
The MCM Comic Con: London – Official Show Guide even has a pretty cool prologue to a comic by writers Dan Watters and Neil Gibson and artist Caspar Wijngaard called Tortured Life out of TPUB. Not many conventions can boast a free comic in their programme. This is definitely to be applauded.
I was pleasantly surprised to see the space handed over to this year’s Comics Village. It was, admittedly laid out at the back of the hall but had plenty of room to walk about and chat to creators. This year I managed to get some great new books and chat to some really interesting writers and artists.
Here are just a selection.
Tom Digby-Rogers is a machine. He’s been putting out a title called The Jabbercrow all on his own for around the last decade. I was embarrassed to admit that it was a new title to me but he was kind and told me that he hadn’t been doing that many conventions up until recently. It’s an epic storyline that’s now up to Volume 22. I picked up the first collection and it looks really beautiful. It’s a fantasy tale of warring nations and has real scope to it.
Chatting to Tom, he tells me that the Hellboy Universe is a real inspiration to him and I can see reflections of Mignola in the art, especially in the colour palette. I can also see a little Ben Templesmith in the line work as well. It’s genuinely breath-taking in scale and I’m really looking forward to picking up more.
I had a great chat with Elizabeth Querstret. She’s got a couple of projects on the go in the small press arena but the one that caught my eye was Party Tips for the Socially Awkward., a laugh out loud autobiographical account of embarrassing moments she has had whilst out. They include tips on fancy dress, dancing with your granny after a few drinks and when not to look like a yellow submarine. Great fun.
I finally got to meet Sam Webster. I reviewed the first two issues of Joe Cape earlier this year and really enjoyed them. He was telling me that the third issue is solidly on the way and that he has another slightly darker and more serious project in the works that he’s going to start working on after he wraps up the first arc of Joe Cape. He’s got a really fresh take on the medium and I can’t wait to see what he’s got up his sleeve next.
I also had a great chat with Jon Scrivens. He’s got a few different ideas and books on the go and his ongoing series Little Terrors is going full steam ahead. He’s got a strip coming up in a forthcoming Hallowe’en special that is due for release soon with The Kill Screen‘s Mike Garley, which sounds intriguing. We also chatted about some recent Marvel Comics colouring work that he was over the moon about and looks awesome.
In the new to me box was also the incredibly beautiful series Curia Regis by Robin Hoelzemann. Now onto its fourth issue, I snapped up the run without hesitation. It’s a period drama set around the French Revolution full of court intrigue, spies, heroes, heroines and double agents. I am at a loss as to how I missed this series before now. I can’t wait to dig through it. It’s also available as a web-comic at the address below. Well worth a look.
The Friday on a Convention of this type is definitely the way ahead. It actually started out pretty calm. But by 5.00pm it was rammed full of cosplay traffic jams. But I suppose we are used to that these days? I was a little disappointed at one stall selling Manga that verged on the distasteful, but other than that it was pretty well organised and full of happy customers.
I also got to chat to American boxer and actor Jack O’Halloran, perhaps best known for his role as the villainous, mute Non in the Superman films, and get a cheeky photograph with him (no you can’t see it). So stick that in your pipe.
Many thanks for reading.
• For the latest news on all MCM London events visit www.mcmcomiccon.com/london