ComicCon in the UK?

(Updated, 3 June 2009, see also “Mystery” 5 By 5 Festival: Details Emerge story): Web site ComicRelated reported earlier this week that Liam Fisher, the man behind the upcoming 5 by 5 Festival in East London which starts 18th June, had apparently secured the rights to do Comic-Con outside the US. However, downthtubes has since learnt that ComicCon has not sold any license for a UK show bearing their name in the UK.

According to ComicRelated, the first event would take place next year in the 02 Centre in London and represent the first expansion of Comic-Con outside the US and a major growth in the convention scene for the UK. However, Shane Chebsey, co-organiser of the British International Comics Show, has now had two official denials of the report from the San Diego-based event.

“I just received a second official notification from Comic Con in San Diego that they have not sold any license for a UK show bearing their name in the UK,” Shane told downthetubes on 1st June. “They are now looking into the matter urgently.”

Mystery surrounds the origins of this report and, indeed, the distinct lack of PR – or even, it seems, a web site – for the upcoming 5 by 5 Festival being organised by Liam Fisher, especially given that the event “celebrates the ever changing world of pop culture and brings together the world of music, art, comics, films and fashion under one roof, regardless of genres or cliques.”

In fact, a quick web search for the festival turned up little more than this Newsarama thread, which reveals the festival will apparently include exclusive advance screenings of some of the biggest summer blockbusters such as Transformers: Revenge Of The Fallen and G.I. Joe, a variety of themed art exhibitions, live music, fashion shows, and celebrity signings and Q&As from the likes of Stan Lee, Alan Moore, the cast of Transformers, Kevin Smith, Christopher Nolan and Jamie Hewlett.

Apparently the Festival is all free to the public. If anyone has more info or contact details for this event we’re more than happy to give it more of a plug but given Alan Moore’s avoidance of conventions for years and subsequent research with downthetubes contributors, we are beginning to wonder if the 5 x 5 Festival is a real event.

downthetubes is aware that several major commercial companies have looked at putting on a large-scale comics-oriented event in the UK – some have even approached us for advice and contacts. A French ComicCon will also take place this July in Paris, with a license bought from the US to use the name.

But, as yet, we’d argue only the MCM Expo seems to have begun to challenge the more popular, grassroots organised events such as the Comic Expo in Bristol and Birmingham’s British International Comic Show.

• Since this news story was first posted it’s become clear that ComicRelated’s initial story, while perhaps correct in some respects, was not entirely accurate. Liam Fisher has since issued a press release about the upcoming 5 By 5 Festival and hinted at some of his plans for 2010: read our news story here

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5 replies

  1. The UK convention scene has been decidedly… homely… since the end of the big London UKCACs. Surely it makes sense that there should be a decent sized event in the capital, rather than just lots of small events out in the sticks.

  2. I don’t know Mark. For one, the small events place the issues of creators rights at the centre. For a second, while UKCAC was running there were those people out in the sticks who couldnt afford to get to the larger festivals. Ireland, North or South, I’m talking about. This is a situation thats only begun to change in the last five to ten years. Hasn’t London got enough?

  3. I would actually be interested in knowing where more information can be found as well.

    I also agree tha we the growing presence of comics within the MCM Epxo eventin London I can see where they will go with this.

  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

  5. Hmm…there are actually already a few mass media events around the UK, and London also of course has the MCM Expo, as you say (which was, for the record, INSANE! – in a good way). But right now, it’s balanced.
    Much as, as a creator, I’m always excited about the idea of fresh ideas in the industry, I’m curious as to whether adding another mass media show in london will actually help or dilute the fanbase for this kind of event; splitting retailers, exhibitors and attendees between it and shows like the MCM. I’m not sure we quite have a big enough geek culture in this country to start splitting them between events just yet.
    I love the NYCC. But I love going to NY for it. For London, I have the MCM. And when I want a solid comic event, I have shows like Bristol, Brum and Leeds to go to. As mightygosh says, we’re seeing a nice variety of shows at the moment around the UK, I’m not convinced yet that this is a good thing for our fledgling industry…
    We shall see, I suppose.

    EDIT – having had a look-see around the web, this seems to be a bit of a ghost event so far….0_o

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