Writer, editor and comics event organizer Richmond Clements reports on his visit to Malta as a guest of the island’s increasingly popular annual comic convention. British guests this year included Dave Gibbons, Sean Azzopardi, Tim Perkins, Dez Skinn and other creators from around the globe…
I was lucky enough to be a guest at the Malta Comic Con this year.
So, while this is a kind of review/overview of the event, I will freely admit that a lot of what I say may be swayed by my position as a guest.
First off: Malta itself. It is gorgeous. A truly stunning place with thousands of years of history oozing out of every corner, and inhabited by some of the most warm and friendly people I have ever encountered. The weather was, for the most part, great. (Well, I thought it was great. The locals seemed to consider temperatures in the mid-teens to be signalling the next Ice-Age, but it was t-shirt and shorts weather for me!)
The venue, St James Cavalier in Valletta, is one that any other convention on the planet would struggle to match. Certainly, it’s the only convention that I am aware of that is held in a 700 year old fort! Tables are spread throughout the venue on multiple floors. This did make for an initial bit of confusion when finding your way about, but after a lap or two, things were a lot clearer.
And there were an impressive array of books for sale. They ranged from the usual dealers selling graphic novels and action figures, to some incredible local talents.
One of these books is Pilot. The publishers and creators, all local Maltese folks, had just published the second edition in time from this convention. It is an astounding book, both in the production value and content. It is something all involved should be very proud of. In my opinion, it’s matching in quality anything I have seen for a UK publisher. Seek this book out and order yourself a copy if at all possible.
As usual, the event was held over the weekend, and even though there were a few last-minute cancellations, most of the guests managed it, and from what I heard, all of them enjoyed themselves.
The venue and general size of the event help lend it a wonderful, friendly atmosphere. The kind of atmosphere that Hi-Ex!, which I co-organize in Inverness has, in fact. There were a lot of families and children there, and all were enjoying themselves.
It is always pleasing to talk to people who don’t read comics, but thought they’d turn up and have a look, and then they end up buying some stuff. This, to me, is what these events are all about: introducing comics to a new generation and showing them the possibilities and scope of the medium.
So, on our final night in Malta, we had a wonderful meal with all the remaining guests and organisers. I was forced to eat octopus. (Not like in Oldboy, though).
After the meal, there were, of course, a few speeches.
During one of these, organiser Chris Le Galle said that one of their ambitions is to try to create a comic community in Malta.
Well, Chris, from what I seen over the weekend, you can stop trying. You have already done it. There is a vibrant and exciting comics community in Malta, and these guys are to be thanks for it.
What they need now is support to help make it grow. So, buy their comics and visit their convention! And don’t think it’s out of your price range either. It cost me less to go to Malta than to the Bristol Convention, after all…
• The Pilot Comic Anthology Richmond mentions above is a collection of short comics, each drawn and written by a different artist or author. Every volume of Pilot features a new theme, the first one being Steampunk and the second and latest book being Medieval. The book places a strong emphasis on variation of comic styles and stories that can be enjoyed by a wide variety of audience.
If you’re interested in purchasing Pilot, drop an email to firstname.lastname@example.org