Alan Woollcombe reports on the first London Super Comic Convention, held at the Excel Centre this weekend, which had a guest line-up that included Stan Lee (seen above, meeting and greeting, video from BleedingCool), George Perez and other comic creators from both sides of the Atlantic…
It seems churlish to complain about winning a free ticket, but it did typify some of the organizational glitches that hit this inaugural event. A few days beforehand I was sent a flurry of emails, all in triplicate, reminding me to print off my ticket – except that some of the tickets had ‘complimentary’ on them and others said ‘EventBrite completed.’ Then another threesome arrived from VIP Tier 3 (the expensive, have-Stan Lee’s-autograph tickets) telling me to print off my VIP ticket – except I hadn’t paid for one. 20 minutes later yet another trio of emails headed ‘Error please disregard last email from us’.
I printed everything off, mentally preparing for my moment with Stan.
At the entrance I was told by a flustered organizer that I had won a ticket (sadly, not a VIP one) and apologies for not telling me – and no, I couldn’t have a refund on the ticket I had paid for. A small price to pay to avoid a PR triumph turning to a fail, I’d have thought – I’d have given out a VIP ticket in their shoes but I only work in PR, so what do I know?
What the heck – I was there, at my first London con in years. Well, that is after I found it – for those new to the ExCeL convention centre, it is vast, with a main concourse running the length of the building, housing an extended food court. There were four conventions going on at the same time (including the “2012 Zumba Instructors Convention”) and no obvious signage or information booth pointing out where the comics one was. Luckily I ran into David Lloyd on the phone and, with a brief come-see-me-at-my-table, he waved me towards the entrance.
The whole event took place in a giant hangar of a room, with one corner area walled off for the panels and cosplay parades, and the rest given over to dealers’ stalls and artists’ alley. There were two large empty areas, and no boards displaying the days’ events – you had to look in the programme for that information. It was OK, but not ideal. It all somehow seemed a bit shambolic.
What I did miss was a proper, old-fashioned bar-cum-lounge area for mingling and chilling between creators and punters. A food court in a huge corridor surrounded by legions of be-leotarded zumba instructors just doesn’t cut it.
But enough grumbles: the Big Draw of the whole shebang was Stan Lee, Captain Marvel himself, back for the first time at a British con since 1973. Stan was having a whale of a time, signing, being photographed, answering questions from the stage – and making eye-watering sums of money in the process (£175 to meet and greet – you’re having a laugh, surely…). The old pro knows what his fans want and gave it to them: Consider yourself no-prized! Just wait till you see my cameo in the new film! Excelsior! The old stories sounded fresh, the voice firm, the mock humility flawless. He’s looking pretty damn good for an 89-year-old.
Not that there weren’t other big names in attendance: George Perez, Howard Chaykin, Bernie Wrightson and a few dozen younger whippersnappers, but many of the big-name Brits had given the event a miss (no Dave Gibbons, no Alan Davis) along with the big-name publishers (no Marvel, no DC, no Dark Horse). Somehow though, many of the stars they had secured weren’t on panels or being interviewed, which was a lost opportunity.
All in all, it showed that this was the first such con. I hope there is another one next year, but the organizers will need to raise their game considerably (more signage, more panels, a bar/lounge area, and no more gouging the fans for getting up close to the star of the show) for it to have a hope of becoming a regular fixture.
Alan Woollcombe wrote Rupert Bear, interviewed ‘duck man’ Carl Barks on his only visit to the UK, watched a lunar eclipse with one of the original Dan Dare artists, and had a Mexican meal with Frank Miller in LA. Now in exile in Cornwall, he divides his time between journalism and PR, but is open to offers via email@example.com
|Stan Lee appeared on the BBC’s The One Show to help promote the convention
on Friday 24th February
• Stan Lee made an appearance on the BBC’s The One Show to promote the event on Friday night, with Chris Evan unexpectedly sychpophantic and Alex Jones wrongly thinking Stan was an artist
“It was a really great event. It is the first time I have ever been to an
event of this size in any capacity, let alone behind a table as a
exhibitor and it was a non-stop thrill ride!”
“It was the inaugural event of what I’m sure organizers hope becomes a European San Diego, and while there were a few kinks — notably the excessively long queues — it was a good event and featured an impressive array of talent…”
• What Culture: IDW Panel Report
Andy Diggle revealed as new writer for Doctor Who from August 2012