“This is the country!” I heard someone shout as the Awesome Comics Podcast crowd (Dan Butcher, Vince Hunt, Tony Esmond and buddies Shaun Dobes and Marc Laming) arrived in the lovely town of Melksham for this year’s Melksham Comic Convention. What they discovered was a small yet enthusiastic festival full of indie press, comics professionals, talks and competitions and some great back issue selections.
Comic Con came to Melksham for the first time in 2011 and was promoted to a two-day event last year. Getting great word of mouth, this is a fun and friendly convention and a great venue for all avenues of our hobby. This year, guests included Mike Collins, John Paul Bove, Emma Vieceli, Sonia Leong, Dylan Teague, Lee Townsend and Cavan Scott. Split between a main hall for dealers, indie and small press and professionals and a gaming room/talk hall just a short walk across the car park it was a buzz all day with energy and activity.
Straight opposite the door into the main hall was the talented (and dare I say wacky?) comics creator Jennie Gyllblad. Creator of Skal, a richly detailed web-comic (and in print) she also had some beautiful prints and sketches for sale. She hinted at a peculiar incident in the lady’s toilet but refused to reveal the details… She was also there with her partner known only as ‘The Beard’.
Big Punch Studios were there in full effect (Jon Lock, Alice White, Nick Angell and Lucy Brown). These guys have really got their game in order and with the main titles of AfterLife Inc and 7String they have also got a great Anthology title BPM (plugged recently) which is about to hit its third issue,a quarterly magazine with 46 full-colour pages, available on a subscription service through ‘The Punchers’ (as I have now named them!) Patreon page at www.patreon.com bigpunchstudios.
You can find more examples of all these excellent series over at www.bigpunchstudios.com
Mike Collins was busy sketching and chatting all day at his table. Fresh off his storyboarding work on the BBC’s Doctor Who television series this veteran (sorry Mike) is always great company, who took some time out to be a guest of a really great Doctor Who panel in the main building.
Find out more about Mike and have a look at some of the great commissions he did at Melksham this year pop over to his Facebook page
Officially my favourite couple in small press comics is now Gavin Mitchell and Emily Owen. Part of the Stiffs crowd (and beyond) they were cracking company and I have quickly adopted Emily’s filthy catchphrase as my own (**catchphrase redacted**). They joined us all for a spot of dinner in the pub afterwards and I can’t wait to see what they have out next!
You can look into the soul of Emily on Twitter @TomboyPrincess and you can find more about Gavin and Stiffs over on Facebook at facebook.com/StiffsComic or grab a copy at www.stiffs.bigcartel.com (well worth your time, trust me.) Gavin can be found on Twitter @BobGobLynn
It was these blokes again! Full of sarcasm, humour and the great horror comic The Kill Screen were its creators Joshua Sherwell and Mike Garley. Heading towards its next issue soon, this is a book that is well worth catching up on.
I managed to catch up with Emma Vieceli as she arrived back at her table from being one of the guests on the LGBT panel. Emma was very honest and spoke to me at length about the need for diversity and most importantly support for the LGBT community in comics; her comic The Breaks features gay characters growing up. Recently a fan approached her and thanked her for co-creating a book with this subject matter and that it was in fact this comic that helped them come out to their parents. This really shows what comics can do, and well done Emma, inspirational stuff.
Emma is currently working on an Eighth Doctor Doctor Who mini-series for Titan Comics written by George Mann, which launches at the end of October. You can find out more about at www.emmavieceli.com or follow her on Twitter @emmavieceli
Melksham certainly wouldn’t have been half as exciting without these two ex-convicts. Shaun Dobes is fresh off the release of his second issue of Descending Outlands, a cracking space-opera in the vein of Guardians of the Galaxy and Firefly we took a look at it recently. You can grab a copy at www.evilkat.com and follow this twisted individual on Twitter @dobes2 (just don’t ask him what he asks Siri at night…)
Vince Hunt (leader of the might Awesome Comics Podcast) was selling the first two issues of The Red Mask from Mars (reviewed here) and his comedy monster strip book Stalkerville. This is a Not Safe For Work masterpiece of the lewd, crude and monstrous and is well worth you shelling out a few quid. You can find more about this Jester at www.theredmaskfrommars.com or on Twitter @jesterdiablo
It was great to finally meet downthetubes co-writer Owen Watts, and Jasmine Woods. They were there with a another volume of The Psychedelic Journal of Time Travel with one of the best covers I have seen in a while! Great company and I had a really interesting chat with them both. You can find out more about their ongoing anthology at thepsychedelicjournal.blogspot.co.uk or find it on Twitter @Psych_Journal and check out some of Owen’s review columns for downthetubes here.
This year was the first time I’d attended Melksham and I can guarantee that I will be back. Although busy earlier in the day, the crowds slowed down into the afternoon and the exhibitors milled about and chatted before we all headed off to the pub. It would be nice to see some more mainstream names there as guests as this event is really getting a good name. The back issues were solidly there as well and I came away with pretty much a car boot full! (And Marc Laming bought all the others!).
As the day progressed I have not laughed so much for a while. It was really well organised and the volunteers were always on hand to help out.
Many thanks for reading.
Antony Esmond is a comic reviewer and writer – his hips don’t lie.